Things I Learned From Travel in 2013

2013 was a crazy year.  I went from learning how to be single again to learning to love living in Auckland, somewhere I’d previously hated.   And then, just when I was finally settled,  I was forced to leave New Zealand and make a new plan; finding a job in London and moving back to England for the first time in 3 years.

2013 had some huge highs and some pretty deflating lows, but as I look back at everything that the year taught me I’m grateful for both.  Here’s what I learned from travel in 2013;

Trinity Capital Hotel, Dublin

Strangers will surprise you with their kindness

The man in the doctor’s office in Singapore airport who offered to pay for my treatment if I didn’t have enough money.  I had enough money but he stopped my tears and lifted my heart in a moment where I couldn’t have felt more alone.

The complete stranger who switched seats with me on my flight from Seattle to Minneapolis so I could sit with my co-workers, even though this meant he’d have to sit next to someone who (how should I say this?) really should have booked 2 seats.  He didn’t have to swap with me but he did.

Travel bloggers in London, like Andonis and Monica, who offered me a place to stay when I started my new job and hadn’t found anywhere to live yet.  They didn’t have to put themselves out but they did because that’s what travellers do.

In 2013 these people made me realise that people are good, people are capable of caring for strangers even when they can’t offer them anything in return.

Always, always carry Gin Gins (otherwise known as ‘Never underestimate the power of ginger’)

Honestly, if you get travel sick and hate the thought of downing a load of chemical-filled travel sickness tablets, Gin Gins are your new best friend.  I wish I’d discovered them sooner, I’d probably have had a better time at The Whitsundays.

Trust the Universe to take you where you’re supposed to be

I thought I was coasting alone quite nicely in Auckland.  I’d lived there since June 2012, after 2 years in Australia, and having seen so many of my friends secure Essential Skills Visas and build a life in New Zealand I decided to do the same.

Auckland

But The Universe had other ideas: a letter declining my application, a desk at work that I’d never go back to, the realisation that I didn’t have a back-up plan, a rush to rent my room out in the apartment I was renting with my friends, a cobbled-together idea of flying back to England and finding a job in London.

Despite how upset I was when I had that visa declined I’ve since realised that it was probably the shake-up I needed.  I wasn’t supposed to be in Auckland, I’m supposed to be here in London.

Never underestimate the power of distance

One of my biggest, and most important, lessons of 2013 was something I realised when I got back to England; removing yourself from a situation is probably the best way to get over it.  In my case I was getting over a break-up and, as the plane careered down the runway at Heathrow in July, I felt freer than I had in months.

You don’t have to do what everyone else is doing

Bungee jumping in Queenstown because that’s what you’re ‘supposed to do’ in New Zealand’s ‘adventure capital’?  Worrying about meeting someone and getting married because that’s what everyone else seems to be doing?

Luging in Queenstown

By the end of 2013, fuelled by the confidence that came from seeing through my plan of finding a job and moving to London, I stopped worrying about what other people were doing and concentrated on myself and it’s something that I’m determined to keep doing in 2014.

Doing something that scares you is the best feeling in the world….

…and it doesn’t even need to be anything huge.  Even getting out there and doing something that makes you feel even slightly apprehensive can leave you with a huge feeling of accomplishment and pride.

Westminster, London

In 2013 I jumped down a waterfall backwards in the dark, underground.  I went on a helicopter for the first time, over London.  I slapped on a smile and said yes to as much as possible even though, at some points, I was so heartbroken that even getting out of bed was an effort.

Appreciate the small moments of joy

If you travel you know those small moments I’m talking about.  It’s the moment where you’re on a plane with your favourite music playing, an endless sea of clouds stretching out beside you.  It’s hanging out with a group of new friends and feeling totally content and comfortable.

It’s waking up in the middle of nowhere and being able to hear waves in the distance.  Sometimes travel is hard, sometime you’ll want to be anywhere but where you are – it’s these moments that make it all worth it.

People who want to see you will make the effort to see you

When I moved back to England I wasn’t expecting all the friends I’d had before I moved to Australia in 2010 to be lined up outside my house awaiting my return, but I also wasn’t expecting some friends to ditch me completely.

At first I was upset – it always seemed to be me doing the messaging, the reaching-out – but then I realised that the friends who do want to see you will always make the effort, and they’re the only people you need to focus on.

That, and the fact that my Dad was adamant that I should “ditch anyone who bails” on me.

New Zealand has the most amazing sunsets

Auckland sunset

Sunset from my balcony

The first apartment I rented in Auckland had city views.  I’d sit on my balcony and watch the sky turn a dusty shade of pink, the buildings almost silhouettes against the clouds.

Then I moved to a different apartment with harbour views where I watched the sky burn with yellows and oranges.  I felt like the luckiest girl in the world.

Moving to London was definitely the right thing to do

Finding a job was hard, finding somewhere to live was even harder, but once I found my feet it was really easy to fall into life in the capital.

St Paul's Cathedral, London

I’m busy all the time, which I love, and Europe is so close that I’ve literally just finished planning an upcoming weekend break there.  It doesn’t have to be all about my 9-5 because in London there’s always something to do.

Of course I miss my friends who still live in Auckland; I miss road trips to the beach and walks along the harbour.  I miss the weather, and the laid-back attitudes and my co-workers.

But life moves on, a new chapter starts.

What did you learn from travel in 2013?  Let me know in the comments below or on my Facebook page

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34 Responses to Things I Learned From Travel in 2013

  1. nina January 8, 2014 at 3:49 pm #

    I never did the queens town thing either!
    another good post. cant wait to see you in feb.. ON MY TURF! woop

    • Beverley January 9, 2014 at 3:49 am #

      We rocked Queenstown! Can’t wait to see you in February either :)

  2. Sally January 8, 2014 at 4:05 pm #

    You put a really tough year for you into some incredibly eloquent words. Beautifully done. Here’s to new chapters, whether you’re the one who chose to turn the page or not.
    Sally recently posted..Photoessay: Holidays in Pittsburgh, PennsylvaniaMy Profile

    • Beverley January 8, 2014 at 10:58 pm #

      Thank you so much Sally!

  3. Wai Ling January 8, 2014 at 7:51 pm #

    Hi Beverley, I really enjoyed reading this post of yours. I have been following your story and all your adventures. Not many people have such amazing stories to tell.

    What did I learn from travelling in 2013?

    I took my first ever solo vacation to New Zealand and it has changed me significantly. First lesson, we all have our own journeys to complete. While I was on the road, I’ve met people who I wished I could extend my time with but I couldn’t because I had to go somewhere else. This is a lesson which can also be translated with life. We all have somewhere to go to and these are sacred journeys which we need to complete.

    Second lesson, don’t be too hung up on goodbyes. Yes, parting is sad but it has also taught me to really treasure the time spent with people. That little time may be all we ever have. Don’t dwell on farewells because there is another Hello nearby.

    Third, travelling not only brings you to places you’ve not been but it brings you to people whom you would never have met otherwise. Listening to their stories have opened up my world – that we all have this one powerful tool to change our lives, to take a road less traveled or work at a job that’s out of the norm. It’s called choices and it’s up to us to use it or not.

    • Beverley January 8, 2014 at 11:00 pm #

      Hi Wai, thank you so much for your comment :)
      Firstly, I’m so happy that you made it to New Zealand – you’re right in that we have to appreciate the time we have in different places because, when you’re travelling, more often than not you have no choice but to move on and even though sometimes it’s really difficult (especially when you’re saying goodbye to people) we all have other places to go.

  4. Kasha January 9, 2014 at 12:37 am #

    Beverley, I really loved reading this.

    I’ve only recently met you in real life, and I thought that you were absolutely lovely. It’s wonderful to be able to get more context about your past year.

    I also came out of a long relationship, and I definitely relate to how difficult it can be to keep going and to even do the simplest daily routines. You’ve had an incredible year of adventure, and I’m so glad that I get to read about all of your 2014 travels as well.

    Hope to see you around soon,
    Kasha.
    Kasha recently posted..Amsterdam: The RijksmuseumMy Profile

    • Beverley January 9, 2014 at 12:40 am #

      Hi Kasha, it was so great to meet you too and finally put a face to the name!

      Thank you for your lovely comment. Going through a break-up while you’re travelling is so hard, and I had no idea that you’d experienced the same this year – how amazing does it feel to have kept ploughing on and still had a great time regardless??! :)

      See you soon!

  5. Julia January 9, 2014 at 1:13 am #

    I’ve had the whole friends bailing on me thing too, and it does hurt at first but then you quickly realise that maybe they weren’t such good friends after all. I tend to find that they’re the same people who don’t want to hear about your travels because it makes them jealous (which means that they’re probably not enjoying their own lives that much and taking it out on you). As you said, true friends will always make the time to see you and it’s those people we should focus our time and energy on. Glad you’re enjoying London! :)
    Julia recently posted..Harry Potter Experience London: Part 2My Profile

    • Beverley January 9, 2014 at 3:48 am #

      Yes! This is exactly it! They’re almost like, ‘yeah yeah yeah you travelled so what?’ or (and I actually find this worse) ‘God you’re so lucky I wish I could have gone to live in Australia’.

      Errrmmm you can, you just decided to…….not. And then all of a sudden they’re resenting you for not being okay with them bailing on you to spend more time with their fiance and bam, alone.

      Thankfully I also have some other awesome people in my life who I’ve seen since I’ve been back, and I’ve made lots of new friends in London as well :)

  6. Chris January 9, 2014 at 3:37 am #

    Sounds like 2013 was a pretty life changing year Bevster! I hope 2014 brings you even more lessons….but hopefully in a kinder way!
    Stoked to see where you head next…
    Chris recently posted..Celebrating 2 Years Of Backpacker TravelMy Profile

    • Beverley January 9, 2014 at 3:45 am #

      It was definitely life-changing, but in a kind of awesome way! :) I’ll be sticking around in London for the foreseeable future (I love my new job) but I’ll be using my weekends to visit Europe, something I’ve never done before, and the rest of the UK.

  7. Derek Cullen January 9, 2014 at 3:58 am #

    Good job Beverley, nice to be happy & content … although I forsee some itchy feet !

    I decided to cycle across Africa by myself in 2013 so most definitely agreeing with feeling the Fear :)
    Derek
    Derek Cullen recently posted..Cycling Past A Bull Elephant In Africa: The Biggest One Of AllMy Profile

    • Beverley January 9, 2014 at 4:53 am #

      Oh don’t worry Derek, my itchy feet will most definitely be cured with the amount of weekends trips to Europe I’m planning!

      Cycling across Africa sounds amazing!

  8. Lindsey January 9, 2014 at 4:38 pm #

    I’ve missed your posts! I’m so glad that you were able to take comfort in the little things this year and learn to focus on yourself more. I think it’s something many of us need to learn! Realising your friends don’t care for you as much as you thought is so tough, but in a way, given time, it can also be freeing. Baggage comes in all shapes and sizes and we’re better with less negativity in our lives. It’s a ridiculously hard lesson to learn when it comes to people we thought were close to us though.

    Congratulations on finding your feet so well in London, though I hope you’re not letting more bottles of wine sit undrunk for months on end! I may just have to come over and rectify that… in your best interests of course.
    Lindsey recently posted..12 Trips ChallengeMy Profile

    • Beverley January 9, 2014 at 11:10 pm #

      Thanks so much Lindsey! I think taking comfort in the little things (and learning from them) has been huge for me this year. Everything that has happened has led me to this spot, which at the moment is working out just fine :)

      And you’ll be pleased to know that I’m not letting more bottles of wine sit undrunk for months on end. Although, of course, if you’re ever back in England, you’re more than welcome to come help me drink them!

  9. scarlett January 9, 2014 at 8:40 pm #

    LOVE this!! Happy new year gorgeous xx
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    • Beverley January 9, 2014 at 11:10 pm #

      Thank you lovely lady!!!xx

  10. Caro January 10, 2014 at 7:16 am #

    People who want to see you will make the effort to see you. Oh boy that one hit home. Finding it very difficult back home as everyone seems to have left our city or are ‘chronically busy’. Very hard to see anyone! Really makes you think who real friends are!
    Caro recently posted..Christmas abroad: how we simplified and vow to do the same this yearMy Profile

    • Beverley January 13, 2014 at 2:17 am #

      I think it happens a lot if you’ve travelled long-term; you come home and everything’s kind of….still the same, and you’ve changed so much. No-one else seems to have moved on or done anything. That sound terrible, on my part, but a lot of the time it’s true.

      I’m sorry to hear that you guys have experienced the same since you’ve been home. I think the important thing is to, like I said, focus on the people who do have time for you. And obviously you can totally come to London and I will not bail on you! ;)

  11. The CounterIntuitive January 10, 2014 at 11:22 am #

    Glad to have helped get you set up.

    Forgot to show you the tulips when you were last over, they’re starting to show, so should be ready just in time for Spring!
    The CounterIntuitive recently posted..My 7 Days in Jordan for History, Relaxation and Breathtaking LandscapesMy Profile

    • Beverley January 13, 2014 at 2:21 am #

      Thank you so much for helping me out, I really appreciate it and it made things so much easier for me :)

      I can’t wait to see the tulips!!!

  12. Helen January 10, 2014 at 12:19 pm #

    Crazy year! But sounds like despite having some bad times, you’ve come out of it stronger than ever. Onwards and upwards.

    It was so great to meet you this year and I can’t wait to hang out some more!

    ps. Those small moments of joy are my favourite.

    x
    Helen recently posted..Kite Surfing & SUP-ing Along the East African CoastMy Profile

    • Beverley January 13, 2014 at 2:29 am #

      Yes! Definitely stronger than ever and, honestly, it’s such a great feeling :)

      So glad to have met you too Helen, definitely see you soon x

  13. Lisa Imogen Eldridge January 11, 2014 at 12:02 am #

    Wow, what a year! It always takes a while adjusting to be single again doesn’t it but it gives you the freedom to do what you want and go wherever you want to go and it’s great that you feel freer than you had in months.

    I love this one too; “You don’t have to do what everyone else is doing.” This is so true and I lesson that I’ve learnt from last year. Just because I was in Paris didn’t mean that I had to go up the Eiffel Tower. Great advice. Here’s to a fab 2014…

    • Beverley January 13, 2014 at 2:34 am #

      I think the ‘free’ feeling came more from being on the other side of the world and not having to worry about bumping into anyone I didn’t want to bump into. But having the freedom to do exactly what I want without worrying about anybody else is also very freeing and I’ve got some awesome trips in the pipeline this year which I probably would’ve have taken had things been different :)

      I’m so glad you went to Paris and didn’t go up the Eiffel Tower, there’s so much more to do! To be fair, when I was in Paris, I did go up the tower but I was 16 and had no idea there was so much more to the city!

      Thanks Lisa!

  14. Corinne January 11, 2014 at 4:40 am #

    Right, right, and right…all great lessons. Just got back from Singapore…those people are really helpful and nice…I can see someone offering to pay for your care….wonderful!
    Corinne recently posted..Travel Portrait Photography and Why it’s Worth All the TroubleMy Profile

    • Beverley January 11, 2014 at 4:49 am #

      Hi Corinne, thanks for your comment! The guy at Singapore airport who offered me help was actually British but, you’re right, everyone else who was working at Singapore airport and helped me when I was really sick was super helpful too :)

  15. Arianwen January 14, 2014 at 10:39 pm #

    I’m so glad it’s worked out for you. I think sometimes you have to just roll with what life throws at you and make the most of it. There are ways to be happy wherever you end up. Still, I’m hoping they don’t throw me out of Australia in May!!

    Thanks for the gin gin tip! I’ve never heard of them. I’ll be stocking up before I check out the Whitsundays – whenever that may be!!
    Arianwen recently posted..Outback Wildlife: the Good, the Bad and the UglyMy Profile

    • Beverley January 15, 2014 at 11:09 pm #

      Gin gins are amazing Ari, seriously! I ordered mine from Holland and Barrett, as going direct can be super expensive, just a heads up :)

  16. Giovanna January 19, 2014 at 11:20 pm #

    I like your attitude and style, and I’m pleased that London has welcomed back you so warmly. Can’t wait to hear what happens next. New love life I reckon! I’m the United Kingdom Contributor on Squidoo – look me up.
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  17. NZ Muse February 11, 2014 at 9:27 pm #

    My favourite sunsets are definitely in Santorini :)

    I couldn’t agree more on the kindness of strangers. People are generally good, and proud of where they come from, and want to share it with you.

    Being from NZ, another thing that really struck me while travelling was how young our country is – we’re newborns compared to many other nations – nzmuse.com/2013/10/seven-things-travelling-taught/
    NZ Muse recently posted..Guest post: My first time in New ZealandMy Profile

  18. Kirsten March 2, 2014 at 6:02 pm #

    I know exactly how you feel about friends becoming disinterested in friendship – happened to me when I came back from Australia! But like you say, you learn that the only people worth making the effort with are the ones who return the effort.

    The kind acts are heartwarming :)
    Kirsten recently posted..Night skiing with a city viewMy Profile

    • Beverley March 2, 2014 at 9:20 pm #

      Exactly Kirsten, it’s pointless wasting time on people who don’t return your calls or keep saying they want to see you but never actually end up organising anything. I know everyone’s busy but like you said, you learn that the only people worth making the effort with are the ones who do the same to you :)

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