All posts by outofofficereplyon

It was written in the stars, as they say - I am a Sagittarius, the sign of travellers.

The perks of travelling solo

“Are you really going to Vietnam on your own???”

puzzledThe look on the lady’s face said it all. She kept staring at me, then at my suitcase (yes, suitcase, easier than backpacks these days…), then back at me. And then she added “Who are you going to talk to, if you travel on your own?”.

At that point I couldn’t help laughing. “You are soooo last century, even the century before last” I wanted to comment back. But I just laughed. Then I launched myself in an enthusiastic description of the advantages of solo travel, only to leave her even more baffled. When the bus finally arrived to the train station, on the way to the airport, she wished me all the best while shaking her head and walked away.

It was not the first time that I had to explain why I often travel on my own. Family and friends have asked that more than once. Like I am some sort of oddity :-S. Yet there are thousands of people out there who travel on their own every year – they must be all surrounded by a similar level of surprise/disbelief. If they are not, I’d like to meet their friends and families!

Anyway, back to the main point. Why do I travel on my own? And what are the perks of travelling solo?

Well, it’s great! And it’s freedom!

Yes it can be scary because it takes you out of your comfort zone. I’m not ashamed to admit that I’m always apprehensive before travelling solo. But also you realise – trip after trip –  how much stronger you have become.

Every decision you make is yours, and yours only. From deciding where to go and when, to the proper planning to the actual travelling, and everything that happens along the way. This is so empowering!

You have to fight battles on your own, and usually in a foreign country with very different habits and customs. It makes you a lot stronger. And if you think you can’t do it, get that thought out of your mind! Now! If I can do it, you can do it too.

People are often more inclined to help you or show you around when you are alone.

I will never forget “Thai mama”, the lady who ran the guesthouse where I stayed in Koh Lanta (Thailand), who took me with her every time she went to the market or to the other side of the island. Without her, I would have missed out on a lot of amazing places and experiences.

Thai mama and I - Koh Lanta
Thai mama and I – Koh Lanta

Not to mention the bus driver in northern Sweden who gave me a free lift from the airport to my hostel while he was on his way to the depot, as the next scheduled bus was three hours away (my uttermost gratitude to you, man!).

Also let’s not forget about all the new friends you can make along the way!  Travelling on your own is the most socialising experience ever :-). You start talking to someone asking for information, or just general chit chat while killing time at the airport/bus station/train station/hostel, and then next you find yourselves travelling together for the following days or weeks. Suddenly you are not on your own anymore, and a friendship for life is born :-).
And if you are lucky you may even have a blog article written about you by your new travel companion (click here for mine. You’ll have to scroll down half page).

Of course travelling solo has downsides too.
But I will leave that for another post.

Hunting for cardboard boxes

Cardboard boxes?!
What’s that got to do with a travel blog, I hear you wonder.

Well, the combination of planning medium-term travelling and living in a rented house share may result (like in my case) in having to move out and put all your belongings into storage. And eventually move home.
So you need cardboard packing boxes!

Did you save any from your last house move or large items purchase? Are they in a reusable state and you don’t need any more? Great! You are done. No need to read further :-)

Do you need more boxes and are trying to save money? Well the good news is that you don’t have to pay for them, you can get them for free! No, I am not suggesting stealing them from the nearest self storage company, don’t get me wrong.
Hunting for free cardboard boxes can make for a fun afternoon, so here are a few tips on where to go:

# Large chain supermarkets. Just go and ask if they have any spare boxes, they don’t usually need them after the goods have been delivered and will be able to give them to you. Funny enough as I walked into the big supermarket here looking for the Customer Services desk, I spotted a big sign saying “Cardboard boxes” which I had never noticed before. Unfortunately no cardboard boxes under the sign so I left.

# Your local supermarket or off licence shop. This is another option to get boxes. Explain to them what size you need and you are most likely to find something you can take home and use. The owner of the little Asian shop round the corner from my house was more than happy to get rid of a few boxes kept in the back room. Different experience at the small supermarket down the road as they leave all free boxes outside: “Go and help yourself” I was told, and so I did. boxes1It felt like Christmas !

# Shoe shops, book stores, clothes’ shops. All good especially if you are looking for small boxes. I didn’t have much luck though: as I arrived, a man carrying lots of spare boxes was leaving the book store I had targeted, so nothing left for me. Is everyone moving home?!

# The local wine shop. They usually have good sturdy boxes.

# Freecycle. People who have already moved may want to get rid of their boxes and are happy for you to pick them up. You can then do the same when you are back from travelling and no longer need storage etc.

Slowly getting there! me_002

A globe and a 6-year-old girl

It was written in the stars, as they say.  I am a Sagittarius, the sign of travellers.

My birthday present for my 6th birthday was a globe. I had asked for it. My colourful globe became my best friend and my escape route from ordinary life. I would spend days playing with it. I wanted to travel the world. I wanted to live in Australia and have a koala as a pet. I eventually made it and lived in Australia for some time. But I didn’t have a koala as a pet. I guess that would have been a different story.

Last month I “suddenly” resigned from my job (reasonable salary, permanent post) to take a break and go travelling.  With 20 working days to go and every night spent on the internet for the research and preparation phase, the excitement is just growing!

The 6-year-old girl playing with the globe is back :-)