For someone who always wanted to go travelling, I never thought I’d have the experience I did. I spent years saying, “Don’t really want to go to Uni but I want to travel” and that was the only goal I had when going through college. After dropping out of college twice (obviously having no idea what I wanted to do with life) I got a job in Childcare knowing I was shortly going to leave it. I booked a round the world ticket (Thailand, Australia, New Zealand, Fiji and North America) with my best friend for 9 months later and we started to save.
At the time of booking I had a relatively long term boyfriend but he was supportive of my decision. By the time our trip came around I was unfortunately in a job that I really liked and in a strong, long term relationship. Although I tried to hide it from my friend I knew my feelings towards the trip had already changed because I was leaving behind things I wanted to pursue. She had no commitments, a job she despised and couldn’t have been more excited.
Our first stop was Thailand and I struggled… The flying, time difference and the food all made me feel terrible for my first 5 days. As quite a confident person who had always dreamed of travelling, I never expected myself to get so homesick. As much as Thailand has so much to offer I just didn’t enjoy it like I thought and found myself crying a lot (something which is very unlike me!!) I also found my best friend very difficult to deal with which was surprising. I spent most my time mothering her and making all the decisions/plans because I was more confident and independent. Travelling in a twosome is difficult and even though we had been best friends for roughly 6 years, I found the 24/7 with each other tough. My only saviour was bumping into someone from school and making a larger group, which allowed my friend to have people to be excited with and for me to talk to someone else! One thing I found hardest was being away over Christmas which we had decided purely because it saved us about £500 leaving before Christmas rather than after. I really hadn’t considered it but Christmas is my favourite time of the year and waking up on a Thai Island alone was horrible. Everybody celebrated Christmas Eve so not one person (expect my friend and two American guys) said Merry Christmas. It all felt so wrong to me and was a big mistake.
Overall, I only travelled for 5 weeks around Thailand, the Islands and Laos before heading home and abandoning the last 5 months of the trip. Possibly one of the hardest decisions of my life because being in a twosome meant someone would be left behind. Although my friend was relatively understanding (and she did the whole trip alone), our friendship was more or less over once I got home. I know that at the time it was the right decision to make but travelling is still something I want to do. Unfortunately I think it was the wrong time for me and when I got home I pursued my career in childcare and my relationship which are still on going 4 years later.
However, looking back on it now… Thailand is amazing and beautiful. I feel saddened by the fact I had such a negative experience because there were aspects that I will never forget. Elephant rides, tigers, all the islands, tubing… I do have some great memories.
My advice from my own experience would be to travel in a bigger group to ensure variety and in case you have my experience and want to leave. Also, Thailand is quite a culture shock so in the fear of becoming homesick, a more Westernised place may be better to start with. I would also advise to take as much money as possible. There is so much to do everywhere and even in places like Thailand where the exchange rate is something like 1:45, you will be surprised at how quickly money disappears. My friend ended up having to borrow more money off of her relatives half way through our trip she continued with and we had both saved £4000 for 6 months.
Lastly, if you want to travel and you have the opportunity then DO IT. It is still something I want to do, I worry about not having the chance to do it due to other commitments so just do it whilst you can!
Places of recommendation: Koh San Road, the Grand Palace and the Floating Markets (Bangkok)
All the islands are beautiful but Koh Tao and Koh Phi Phi especially. Make sure you attend a Full Moon Party in Koh Phangan too. A Lady boy’s show is a must!!
Laos is the oddest place but tubing is one of the greatest and weirdest experiences ever so head there! And lastly, Chiang Mai was lovely and this is where I had the chance to go Elephant riding and lay on tigers!