For the young person, travelling overseas after high school or during tertiary education has almost become a rite of passage. Most have a longing to see another part of the world, especially considering that Australia is quite isolated from our other worldly counterparts.
There are different kinds of travelers. Some of us plan our trips meticulously. Some of us take the easier route and do a tour. Some of us (which includes me) do neither and just hope for the best. So I thought I’d pass on some handy anecdotes-cum- tips, as experienced by yours truly — a professional let’s- -see- what-happens kind of traveler.
Tonga: Destination Unknown
The romanticised dream of taking flight without any prior planning is not always the best of ideas. It’s easy to buy that plane ticket,— but when you land on the other side, not having the address of where you are staying written down, or not even knowing which island you are on ,Customs officers will not be impressed with you.
Luckily the Kingdom of Tonga is a small country and when you mention the family whose wedding you are here for, turns out, the officers are friends with them and let you through with an introduction and a smile.
China: Cry- baby Tears
When the airline calls you with the news that your flight has been cancelled and offers you a flight for either, the day before or the day after, always take the day before. Always. Because, if you take the day after your plans will cascade into a river of disaster and you’ll find yourself running around Beijing on a Saturday (should have been a Friday) morning with a map written in Chinese looking for the Mongolian Embassy.
Embassies don’t open on a Saturday. No matter how big the hissy-fit you throw.
Overseas: Naked and Afraid
There will be a time when your luggage does not follow you to your destination. And that time will occur when you are in a country that does not speak English, you have been awake for almost an extra twenty hours due to delays, and you’re simultaneously hot and cold and very sweaty from spending too long on a plane. You just give up and sign some papers in the hope that your luggage finds you.
It’s okay to have an ugly cry on the phone to your Mum about your lack of belongings. She will comfort you with the knowledge that ’it’s a good idea to have a spare set of clothes packed in your carry-on luggage’.
Russia: From Russia with Love
Cultures vary across the globe, and the mannerisms you are meant to act upon will frequently be unbeknown to you. Sometimes a lovely person will happily inform you of your mistakes and let you know how you should act the next time. Other times, a not so lovely person will begrudgingly look you up and down with disappointment. And on the odd occasion that person may be a Russian police officer, with his gun visible in his holster, screaming and pointing because you are walking on the wrong side of a fence in the middle of Moscow. You will not understand a word he is saying and it will be terrifying.
Извините (pronounced Izvinite) means ‘excuse me’ or ‘sorry’ in Russian.
Say this repeatedly with your hands up whilst backing away slowly. You’ll probably do this more than once. You’ll get used to it.
Trans-Siberian: On board the rave express!
Travelling is amazing. Seeing another part of the world will open your eyes to how humans experience life and likely change your world perspective, and the bragging rights to the weird and wonderful things you will do are top notch.
I did the Trans-Siberian railway: seventy-five hours; five time zones; no English; no night time; leather beds; origami lessons; Russian officers; warm beer; 90s German- electro; a bunch of new friends and a hell of a lot of pot noodles and instant potato.
I came out the other end a different person and to this day I’m still not sure how I really feel about the experience. Oh but, those bragging rights!
Chloe is currently studying a Bachelor of Creative Arts Honours at VU Footscray Park.