It’s been nearly 6 months now since I took the leap, quit my job, moved out of my flat and left to travel. So far it’s been solely Europe, and I’ve returned to the UK periodically for events such as hen dos, weddings, milestone birthdays, etc. But as the return visits have been fleeting, it doesn’t feel like I’ve been back much, and I have actually started to miss certain things about life in England. And what, I hear you ask, do I miss? Well…
Of course, we all miss our family when we’re away for an extended period. This wasn’t my first point initially, but as my mum will read this, I’ll just make it clear that yes, I do miss them. While I’m in touch constantly with my parents, and get regular updates on how everyone is and photos sent to me, it’s different to actually being in the same room, seeing young family members grow or sharing a meal with people. Add to that fact I love my brothers dog and he doesn’t do FaceTime, I do really miss them. Mum – send more photos of the dog!
This is more a point of having cultural similarities with people. I’ve stayed in a range of accommodation, from private rooms to 12-bed dorms in a hostel, and I haven’t missed having company, I’ve met a lot of people on my travels. But one thing I have found is that different cultures find different things funny. It’s not always a matter of language, although many of my funny remarks go straight over the head of non-English speaking people, but even with fellow English speakers there is still something familiar and reassuring about telling someone you fancy a cheeky Nando’s and them knowing what you mean.
I have been sampling the amazing Mediterranean cuisine on offer, and love it. I could happily eat it for the rest of my life. But, there are just a few things from the UK that I miss, and really wish were available in mainland Europe. My long term love affair with Cadburys has led to a certain level of chocolate snobbery, and I have been known to bring a bar from home for emergencies. There are also certain crisps I miss, and for the last 2 weeks of my recent trip I had a craving for Wotsits that would drive even the most disciplined of people crazy. I even resorted to having some Cheetos in the hope it’d help – it didn’t. Of course, I also miss the traditional English pub grub, stuffing, and ham sandwiches.
Nearly every conversation you have with a new person while travelling will go along if the lines of: name, where’ve you been/are going, how long have you/will you travel and sometimes a bonus question about job/study. It’s nice to get to know people and find out about new and different people, but there’s something to be said about being able to sit with someone you know and not have to have a conversation. They know you, they know your story, the reasons why you’re traveling, the fact you like your food in separate groups on the plate or that you can’t bear pineapple on a pizza. It takes time to form those kinds of friendships and it’s rare to have that time when you’re hopping from place to place.
But Becky, you’re on holiday, how much more lazy could you get?
Anyone who has been on a city break will know the pressure of wanting to see as much as you can while you’re in a city, to make the most of your time. Add to that the pressure that you’ve quit everything to be able to do it, and you really want to make the most of the opportunity. For months I was on the go every single day, out early (ish) to try and make the most of the time and see as much as I could before moving on. You know what I was desperate for – a guilt free day on a sofa with Netflix and some time to just chill and get myself up to date with everything.
I also really miss being able to leave my stuff out. In hostels, you keep nearly everything in the lockers and your toiletries can’t be left in the bathroom if you want to use them again in the future. There’s something very comforting about heading to the bathroom half asleep before bed and just finding your toothbrush by the sink instead of realising you left it in the locker.
Taking all of these things into account, I am so grateful that not only do I have the opportunity to travel, but that I’ve travelled long enough to know what I miss and to now have a greater appreciation for it. And I’m so thankful for WhatsApp and social media to be able to keep in touch with everyone at home!