After finishing off a fantastic placement year at Smarts Communicate, I decided that I needed a big summer blowout before dedicating my life and soul to the Ulster University library for all that final year would entail.
My best friend Jess and I booked to travel to Thailand and then Bali on a bit of a whim late on a weeknight. After getting over the initial panic of almost booking to travel for a year and a month instead of just a month, we soon forgot about the trip and got on with our jobs until the trip slowly crept up on us. It is safe to say that we were absolutely petrified, and did question if we could ever make our way across South East Asia and back successfully.
When it comes to travelling I have never claimed to be a professional and would say I’m actually quite the opposite due to my occasional forgetfulness. Team that with Jess’s lack of direction and we were proving quite the team. However, against the odds Jess and I managed to:
Catch 8 flights,
Make 9 boat trips,
Visit 6 different islands.
All without losing anything more significant than the contents of my stomach due to some questionable driving on occasion.
I have briefly surmised what the experience has taught me:
Just appreciate it
Take time to take it in. When travelling from place to place I never wanted to sleep because I was constantly trying to take in my surroundings while listening to new music Friday on Spotify and battling my tiredness. These moments allowed for reflection and appreciation. You will learn a lot about yourself while travelling and I learned exactly how fortunate I was. However, on the contrary, I did also learn that I need to buy the travel socks that old people wear to help their poor circulation, as my feet, knees and ankles now double in size on long-haul flights, who knew?
It’s kind of all about the people you meet
I think that when it comes to travelling, it really is what you make it, so always make an attempt to spend time getting to know the people you meet along the way. Everyone has their own interesting story and outlook so make time to listen to it. We met some really great people and between Jess and I, we have tried to keep in contact with most of them, promising to meet up again in the future.
Plan… but don’t plan too much
The best thing to do is to make a rough list of the things that you really want to do, the once in a lifetime kind of things and aim to complete them. No need to try and jam pack 5 activities into one day because you won’t give yourself time to enjoy them and will stifle the fun. Furthermore, there will always be an alternative route, it may not be the comfiest or the fastest or indeed come with the luxury of air conditioning, but my point is don’t stress if things don’t go according to plan. Sometimes the beauty is in taking a few extra hours and travelling the scenic route.
You don’t need to spend much to have fun
Everyone assumes that they can’t afford to travel, and granted, it is pretty expensive by the end but cheap really can be cheerful sometimes. Some of the nicest meals I had cost little more than a quid and the most hilarious nights were spent in some of the most tragic hostels fully furnished with insect infestations of course. It was cool to stay in nice resorts as they are pretty inexpensive but don’t get too hung up on that. Save your money to spend it on experiences while your there.
Lastly and in my opinion, most importantly:
Pick your travel buddy wisely!I never really anticipated how vital this element would be but my trip really would not have been the same without Jess and nowhere near as fun. We worked well together as we had a good understanding of each other and respected each other’s views, opinions and space. We were able to pick each other up, laugh with each other and at each other, never letting anything get too serious.
My advice for anyone considering jetting off to explore pastures further afield is to book it, pack a bag and go! Don’t hesitate and allow for any self-doubt.
And a bonus tip: If you are ever in Bali, you need to check out La Favela, trust me!
Megan Rea is a final year BSc in Communication, Advertising and Marketing student at Ulster University. She can be found on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/megan-rea-a52437111/