When you are travelling, everything seems to light up with excitement! The flowers smell sweeter, the air is cleaner, the world is brighter. Often, when we stay in one place for a long period of time, those new things we once loved grow old and bright colours seem to fade. It is only when we plan to leave that our immediate surroundings seem to light up once more, reminding us of all those little things that make up home. That is how Melbourne feels right now – it is glowing with beauty! We head off in a week and now I find myself noticing things I haven’t appreciated properly in a while. Here are just some of the things I will miss as we hit the road:
Family and friends
With only one week to go, it is hard to squeeze in catch-ups with all my family and friends that live nearby. I will miss every one of them but I am absolutely sure we will meet up again in the future. Whilst it’s often sad to say goodbye, real friendships don’t disappear. Years might pass but the reunions will be wonderful when they arrive!
I have just finished up for the year (allowing myself a little bit of time to pack up the house) and I find myself really appreciating the work I’ve had, not only because I don’t know when my next pay check will be (!) but also because of all the warm farewells from principals, teachers and students. Even though it can be rather stressful at times, work really helped me establish a home here and become part of the community. Nonetheless, it is exciting to take an early holiday and I know there will always be more work if I return!
It may sound funny, but showering in bare feet is a luxury! Hostel dorm showers are often dirty and, depending on where you stay or how you travel, it is always handy to have a pare of flip-flops at your disposal.
My own spacious room and queen-sized bed
I will shortly be sending my bed up to my sister’s place in Geelong, before we head off on our trip. Each night recently, I have been enjoying the large mattress, soft pillows and fluffy quilt! There has been no need to worry about creaking bunk beds, or other travellers snoring or coming in late at night. I will miss my privacy.
Cheap, fast internet
Depending on where you go, the internet can be slow, unreliable and expensive. Obviously, this is improving over time as technology advances at such a rapid pace (even South-East Asia had readily available wifi). But regardless of where you go, you will constantly be asking for wifi codes and sometimes the connection will be terrible, probably just at the moment you want to skype home with your family. Appreciate it while you have it!
Having a consistent power supply
We have tried our best to make our van self-sufficient. It now has a secondary battery and a solar panel on the roof. But there will be certain appliances (such as hair-dryers and fridges) that will draw too much power. Also, if you are planning to stay in hostels, the power points can be few and far between. If you’re lucky, you will get one per bunk bed, but you will need to linger around while your phone is charging in case anyone decides to ‘borrow’ your charger!
Having shampoo, conditioner and soaps permanently stationed in the bathroom
If you leave these items in hostel bathrooms/shared campsites, they are likely to be stolen by poor backpackers who are struggling to support themselves. This means having to bring these items to and from the facilities every time! So enjoy that bathroom while it lasts.
Having a fixed postal address
It is easy to take this for granted, but when you leave for an unlimited trip, postage can become a real pain. All those addresses on your bank card, drivers licence, medicare, electoral role, superannuation account (the list goes on) need to be changed to a permanent address (thank you Mum and Dad)! Luckily, with most things online these days, it is less of a hassle than it used to be. Nonetheless, for anything official, you will need to have some kind of address to give them. Also, if you are travelling and someone has sent you a package, you need to think ahead of time as to where they should send it. You don’t want them posting it to your hostel in Sydney, when you have already moved up the coast to Byron Bay before it arrives.
After a hard day of work, cooking is often the last thing you feel like! But sometimes, when you are travelling and either eating out a lot of the time, or feasting on two-minute noodles because they are cheap and easy, you look back on your kitchen as a haven and wonder why you didn’t use it more. Cooking is possible on the road if you are well-organised and careful with what you buy. But remember, if you are staying in a hostel, you will be sharing an often-dirty kitchen, complete with wet tea-towels, broken fridges and slippery floors. Sometimes, you have to put a deposit down on saucepans and crockery if you don’t have your own. If you do own kitchenware, be sure to put a lock on it! I have had countless mugs, plates, cutlery and bits of food go missing over the last few years. It’s nice to trust, but sometimes there are dodgy characters lingering around.
All the little quirks that make up Melbourne
I will miss the exciting hustle-and-bustle of Flinders Street Stations as I step off the train, the hipsters walking up and down Brunswick street with their purple hair, man-buns, beards and giant blow-up carrots. I will miss the $4 pizzas at Bimbos on whatever-night-of-the-week-I-fancy and the trams rattling up High Street, not to mention the eclectic mix of people from all over the world and the buskers in Bourke Street mall.
Despite missing all of these luxuries, I am thrilled to be setting off once again. To turn that whole list on its head, I am excited to explore new forms of work, live in a cosy van, make new friends and catch up with old ones, try out ingenious ways to stay clean (like swimming under waterfalls), live with less technology, become more grounded by focusing on the things I love (like writing, music and art), try out new cuisine, experiment with camp-cooking and explore new states and territories.
My next post will be written on the road – I can’t wait to share it with you!