My Travel Story – Zoe Williams.
I will admit that I love to travel and for so many different reasons. To see different cultures. Meet new people. See what the world has to offer us. Experience and explore new things. Try amazing food. And most importantly, to make memories that will last forever.
So far I have travelled to lots of different areas of Europe but also went to Kenya for 3 weeks; all of which were amazing!!
I have the travel bug, and I have inherited it from my mum. She used to be a tour guide in Austria, Germany, Spain and loads of other places and she loved it. She has always been so supportive of my ideas of travelling and is happy that I am so eager to explore the world.
Money saving and planing is key
One thing that she has passed down to me is the ability to save money! I started working when I was 14 and ever since then I have continued to work and save my money. I wouldn’t spend it on things but put it in the bank for a time that I would need it and use it in the best possible way. Travelling is the best way to use my money (except obviously to survive, especially as I am an university student). Therefore, I have never really set up a budget, but always been conscious and aware of how much I am spending. If I want to go out for a meal in the evening, I will make myself a packed lunch or buy something cheap for during the day. I buy the cheapest flights and places to stay possible. And I only spend money on things and experiences that I really WANT to do, not on things I feel I SHOULD or COULD do. Prioritising is important.
I am also a planner and I love to organise. I feel that it is really important to be well prepared so that there are less things to sort out when you are out there, and more time to enjoy yourself. Pack only the necessities, so the things you know you are going to use; you don’t want to add weight that won’t be used. Try and learn some of the language, I think that is important. I am currently living in Denmark for 3 months and I have felt so much happier and welcomed by others due to my enthusiasm in learning and speaking some of the language.
For next time
Something that I think I need to do next time I travel is to work out how much things are. In Denmark, there are things that are a lot more expensive than in the UK, so I have spent more money on somethings that I needn’t have if I had packed them. Research is key as it helps you prepare and save money. Always be one step ahead.
I have only needed to get a Visa once and that was with Kenya and it was easy. Just paid a Visa cost and got a cool sticker in my Passport. Adventuring around Europe is great because you don’t have to worry about Visas (well, if you are from Europe anyway).
What is the best way I have travelled? I think I will have to say by a Matatu in Kenya. Matatu’s were tiny little mini buses than were really cheap and were like taxis. If we were in Europe, the van would probably seat 7/8 people, but in Kenya there was rarely a limit. I will never forget one day when I was crammed into a Matatu with about 15 people! We could hardly move. And they drove like wild men and all of the Matatu’s looked really bashed up. Yet, it was so fun. I didn’t feel (too) in danger and it was a great experience.
But in Europe, it has to be the gondola and speed boat in Venice. I went on a Europe tour with a company and they gave us an offer if we went on the gondola and speed boat, so of course I took it. The gondola ride was lovely. Although the guy didn’t sing, he did tell us a lot about the buildings and Venice, and even took a picture of us in the gondola! And then the speed boat was epic. The driver didn’t tell us he was going to shoot off and me and my friends nearly fell out, but once we were holding on, it was awesome! I would definitely recommend them both.
Never Regret but..
I have always aimed never to have regrets, but unfortunately I have one travelling regret, and that was because I changed my mind. I was meant to go on a 4 day safari, though it was a 3 day one and then an individual extra day. I went on the safari and it was the best experience ever, so I thought I didn’t need the extra day and instead requested to get my money back. The company asked if I wanted to go to see Pride Rock and I could pay for it with the money they would refund me so I said yes. But when they told me one day that the trip was the next day, I realised I couldn’t go so didn’t have plans so didn’t go. And even worse, they couldn’t refund me because they had already used it to book me to go. So I lost money and didn’t get to see Pride Rock!! Basically, take every experience and opportunity to do something and never EVER change your mind. Regretting something is the worst thing.
Save money with your feet
When it comes to travelling around, I find the cheapest way possible. Sometimes it isn’t always possible but try. I have been to many big cities now (Paris, Munich, Oslo, Copenhagen) and spent of the time walking around and not using public transport. As long as you plan where you are going or have Google Maps, you don’t always need to pay for transport, or you can just use your feet. Or even better, hire a bike. I hired a bike in Copenhagen and it was the best decision ever. It was so fun and I saw so much of the city in no time. But if you need to get transport, look out for deals. From cities have cards you can buy that give your free transport and entry into places (like the Scandinavian countries do it, e.g. Oslo card) and they are awesome. Check them out.
Talk to people
But I think my most important piece of advice and something you must do on travelling to any place is to talk to people. No one knows the country or the place better than the people who live there. Ask them the best places to go, ask how is the best way to travel or what you should eat. You never know, you might find some really good friends (I certainly have), and you never know, single people may find the one (I’m still searching for mine).