I was 19 years old when I took my first trip outside of North America. I went on a Travel Study with a group of students and two professors to Australia to learn about the Aussie sporting culture. A couple of highlights included: eating meat pies, feeding Kangaroos and attending popular Aussie sporting events (such as netball, rugby & Aussie Rules Football). This trip opened my eyes to the way the Aussies live their life, how they spend time socially and what they value work, life, balance in their lives.
After travelling through Australia, I made it my goal to travel to at least one new country each year. This goal allows me to get out of my comfort zone by trying new sports and activities, meeting new people and exposing me to new cultures. To date, I have travelled throughout 14 different countries in Europe, North America and Oceania.
You must approach each country with an open mind and have the ability to adapt to the cultural norms of that country. This mindset will allow you to fully experience all the country has to offer: different types of lifestyles, new insights and lessons about what you value in life. Here are the top 5 lessons I have learned from my travels:
1) As womxn we are lucky to live in Canada – In some cultures, the Womxn are not allowed to be educated, work outside the home or have the rights that we have in Canada. I am grateful that I can have a university education, have a professional career and earn the same wages as my male co-workers. Not every culture allows women to have equal rights to males in their society. We have generations of fierce Canadian Females to thank for blazing the trail, so we can have what we have today.
2) Solo travelling is safe – Solo travelling puts your street smarts to the test. 90% of the World’s population is full of good friendly people who are always willing to help give directions to a stranger. Locals have pride in their city and country, which they want visitors to enjoy their visit and brag to their friends back home, about their positive experiences in their country. Shortly after checking into the hotel in Dubrovnik, the Hotel Manager went over and above by providing me with a walking tour of the townsite, arranged all my bus/taxi transfers and helped my book all the excursions (with the best tour companies & was able to get me discounted prices). He volunteered to do all this work for me because he was proud of his city and wanted me to have the best experience in Dubrovnik.
3) English is the most commonly used language – Many European and Asian countries offer English classes throughout grade school. Google maps, trip advisor, google reviews and google translate are super useful apps to use to navigate your way around a city or country. Most reviews will indicate if the tour operator/restaurant or hotel has English speaking staff, which will be helpful to help answer questions about the city.
4) It is easier to meet new people and experience new things – Since you are by yourself, you are more open to meeting new people while engaging in tours, cultural experiences or adventurous activities. If you want to explore the city with a group, try joining a walking or bike tour of the city’s landmarks. Commonly, you will meet other travellers from North America, that you can swap info about places to eat or things to do. This has happened to me numerous times where I met other Canadians while on a city bike tour and ended up grabbing lunch with them after the tour and shared travel information and stories. It’s always great to meet fellow Canadians while travelling since it helps beat the homesickness!
5) You become okay being by yourself – The first time sitting in a restaurant all by yourself is odd, but the more you do it, the more confident you become. Travelling solo allows you to fully pursue things you are interested in and you do not have to ask anyone for permission (i.e. to eat a specific restaurant or buy that beautiful expensive purse or try a new sport or activity). While I was in Barcelona, an opportunity came up to drive a Lamborghini for the day on a guided tour. I love Lambos so; I was doing this tour no matter the cost. If I was travelling with friends, I would haven’t done this due to the price point for the experience.
If travelling by yourself is not your thing or it’s your first time travelling internationally, I would suggest joining a Contiki or G Adventures tour group. Contiki tours cater to individuals 18-35 years old. G Adventures is a Canadian company that offers many type styles including a tour option called 18 to 30 something. Both companies offer various tours to popular destinations, offer great excursions and have great travel guides. I have travelled with both companies and I would highly recommend both of them.
Travelling provides us with an opportunity to leave our Canadian lifestyle behind, while we go and adapt to a different country and culture. It’s these new experiences of us being out of our ‘normal Canadian comfort zone’, that will help ourselves: grow, adapt and find out what is important to ourselves as individuals in the World. So, I challenge you to go out and explore the world around us, your future self will thank you!
Where will your first trip be? I love hearing about individual’s travel plans and experiences, please feel free to slide into my Instagram DMs [the_world_is_my_oyster2019] and let’s swap travel stories and tips.
Linds is the founder of the_world_is_my_oyster2019 on Instagram. Her first trip outside of North America was to Australia when she was 19. This trip opened up my eyes to a different culture, sports & Aussies laid back lifestyle. After this trip, Linds has made a point to discover the world around her, by travelling through 14 countries to meet new people, trying new adrenaline activities and experiencing numerous cultural events.