A lot of people tell me I’m brave for having travelled on my own for an extended amount of time, but I’m not completely sure why they say so. Maybe they simply believe it’s dangerous because they think there’s a high chance of getting robbed, assaulted or even killed when going abroad alone. Maybe it’s because they wouldn’t know what to do and where to go if they were by themselves. Maybe it’s just the scariness of doing something for the first time; going out into the unknown. I can’t really put a finger on what they mean, especially because most of those ‘scary’ things just require you to be smart and not necessarily to be very brave. What I was actually afraid of while travelling were completely different things. I’ll discuss the top three.
About a year ago I tried to hitchhike for the first time. At the time I was in Australia, and had already been travelling in the cars of strangers by means of rideshare. I would look on a website called Gumtree to find people who would be driving to and from certain places, and they would take me along to share the costs of gas and of course to have some company. Up to that point, I had been lucky and even found a couple who took me along on their road trip from Sydney to Uluru to Byron Bay. In Byron Bay it suddenly got a lot harder. There didn’t seem to be any people driving up the coast, so I would either have to wait for someone to show up, or buy an expensive hop on hop off bus ticket for a bus that would take me a long way but wouldn’t give me a lot of options. I was a bit torn until a girl who worked for a tour operator suggested to go hitchhiking. I decided to just give it a try, and ended up hitchhiking for the remainder of the time I spent in Australia (and a few times in Malaysia).
People tend to ask me a lot of questions when I tell them about having couchsurfed on my trip. I slept on the couches, spare beds and extra mattresses of sixteen hosts, which adds up to nearly two (out of nine) months in total if you count the days. That’s an average of over one day for every week I travelled. To me, it’s one of the best decisions I’ve made on my trip, but to others it seems to be a strange option. They just don’t get why you would want to stay at a random person’s house, even if it’s for free. That’s why I want to use this post to answer the questions I get asked a lot. This is going to be a tad long, but whatever.
While preparing for their own trip a lot of people have asked me how I find cheap flights. I generally tell them I use websites such as Skyscanner and move on, but they often come back with more questions. More than once I’ve ended up helping them by finding the tickets myself and showing them exactly where to book. This is easier and probably takes the same amount of effort as explaining exactly how I found them. The thing is, doing this doesn’t really help. Next time they need to book a flight they’ll come asking again. So in this article I’ll try to explain some of the general ways to find cheap tickets. Not the kind of ridiculous deals you may find on websites like Secret Flying, but just cheaper tickets for any trip. My advice may mostly seem like common sense, but common sense is probably just the way to do it.
On Friday I returned from a ten day trip to central Portugal. It was my first time visiting the country, and the first time since 2011 going abroad together with my parents. We hired a car and after staying in Lisbon for a few days we moved to the little fortified town of Óbidos. From our quiet B&B we visited a different town every day. We visited monasteries and went to the beach, saw castles and peered over the edge of daunting rock cliffs. Wherever we went little white houses with red roofs lined the green hills. The walls of both simple houses and amazing cathedrals were covered with many varieties of azulejo tiles. A beautiful setting usually accompanied by the sun and a cool breeze coming in from the Atlantic.