It’s 3.08am and I’m wide awake, filled with all kinds of emotions thanks to my good friend, jet lag. My body and mind never seem to respond well to it – sometimes it’s just a case of sleeping for 25 hours straight and other times it’s a little more complicated. This bout seems a little tougher to shift and rightly so as I’ve just returned from a trip of a lifetime – one that has changed me for the better. I honestly had no idea that I would have experienced an adventure quite like this one or have met such genuine and life long friends that I’ll forever cherish. To be honest I’ve found it quite tough settling back in as I miss my hectic/carefree travel routine, roadtrips to the most random places in America, acting like an absolute idiot with the most amazing people I know and just never knowing what is around the corner at our next pit stop. Leaving reality behind and roadtripping across the States was by far the best decision I’ve ever made. From drinking Moonshine whiskey in Knoxville at 10am to eating Pizza on the South Rim of the Grand Canyon – it was a bucket list adventure without a doubt.
I often enjoy reading about people’s experience when it comes to traveling and I wanted to share my thoughts on it today. I’ve taken beautiful holidays before and visited some incredible places but it wasn’t until July that I really took time to ‘travel’ and explore a country. As it was my first time I opted for a country that I felt safe in, had visited before and for me that was, America. I know with Trump everyone is falling out of love with it but for me it will always hold a very special place in my heart. I’ve been to it plenty of times before but given the fact that it was the first country I really traveled around it will forever remind me of happy times, the fact that I can do anything I put my mind to and just the crazy adventures I went on. I’m no Pro but I just thought I would recap my experiences and share some tips that I feel are important when embarking on an adventure of a lifetime.
Pack light: When I was going away I packed only the essentials to bring with me. I didn’t bring a multitude of nighttime looks or ten pairs of high heeled shoes – I actually had to buy a pair of heels when I was in Vegas. I always wear flats when I’m away (on this trip I was hiking lots so I always wore trainers) and just opted for some dressy/casual looks with pretty accessories. Of course this is all personal preference as some people can only wear high heels or enjoy getting dressed up to the max which is perfectly fine. It was more about wearing clothes that were comfortable as I was traveling around the country quite a lot, spent a lot of time in the desert (sweat is a whole other issue especially when you’re visiting the hottest place on earth) and I did know that I might spend some time shopping while I was away. Funny thing though.. I ended up only buying some new Pink activewear from Victoria’s Secret but that was it. I should have left half of the stuff I packed at home as I didn’t use all of it – I pretty much lived in casual clothes and lots of gym gear due to the nature of my travels.
Travel Insurance: I honestly can’t stress this enough! Always, always make sure you have purchased your travel insurance before you fly and make sure you declare anything that might become a problem when away. I had to get an operation on my hand four weeks before I took off so I had to let the travel company know in case I hurt it when I was away. American’s pay for their own healthcare so needless to say the bill would have been huge if anything happened – thankfully it didn’t though!!! However things can go wrong with your flights, money and credit cards. I’ve had the worst of luck at airports and on one journey I accidentally booked the wrong date home. I didn’t think it was a huge problem until I realised that I also didn’t have any travel insurance and therefore had to pay for a new flight home. Not that easy at the end of a holiday when money isn’t as available! Try and keep a little bundle of cash if you can – you never know when you might need it.
Be ok on your own: As you’re all aware, I booked America on my own and met the most incredible bunch of people. At first I was a little nervous about going solo but it has been without a doubt my best decision ever made. Everyone was in the same boat so we all just came together like family and made the experience one to remember. If you’re not OK being on your own then you’re essentially going to ruin the experience for yourself. Once you’re happy going solo then the rest is a bonus. I feel so proud to have accomplished a trip like this and I feel like I can take on anything – we all get nervous but just don’t ever let it hold you back from seeing the world!
Do not panic: These are all kind of related in one way or another but trying not to freak out is something you’ll have to work very hard on. I think it was two days prior to me leaving when I became so unbelievably agitated. People were only trying to be nice but I was fed up with everyone banging on about me traveling solo, giving their opinions where they weren’t needed and some even made me feel worse about it. My patience were running thin and I was wanting to board that plane and get out of here. I think it was my nerves coming through but once I jetted off I immediately relaxed and felt at ease. When people start crowding me I really don’t do well with it and then I end up reacting! I think it’s only natural and pretty much everyone experiences that ‘pre holiday gitters’ as you’ve always so much to do before leaving. It’s often a case of the small things being the most annoying!
Take a step back: It’s so easy to get caught up in the holiday hype particularly as my trip was so fast pace . There were times when I had to put my phone down, stop snapping hundreds if photos and just admire the view in front of me. During our visit to the Grand Canyon we had paper bags put over our heads, guided to the edge and told to take them off. I’ll never forget that initial moment of seeing the Canyon for the first time – it was like something out of a movie. I love that the most precious of memories from my travels are in my head and my heart (cheesy I know) and not on a camera roll where I can’t even remember them being taken! The places I’ve visited in America were ones I might never see again (Death Valley: the hottest place on earth) so I wanted to take a deep breath, remember how far I’ve come and just enjoy every second of this life changing adventure.
Jet lag: I’ve had horrible cases of this in the past but nothing a good 18 hours snooze can’t fix however this one is different. Since returning from the States I’ve found it quite hard to settle back in. The sleep deprivation is a whole other ball game and I miss my American adventures way too much. I just loved the freedom of moving around and having no one to answer to or nag me. As soon as I’ve set foot back home in the city I’ve immediately tensed up and it’s not one bit fun. I’ve already started to look at some new adventures I can go on in the coming months but over all I need to make some serious decisions regarding my future. My point is (sorry about the venting!) that jet lag doesn’t just involve lack of sleep – it can take it’s toll on you both physically and mentally so try to give yourself that well deserved post travel break and keep reminding yourself that this feeling is only short term. Just keep swimming through the motions and you’ll come out the other end – I know what I need to do but when I’m jet lagged it just feels like everything is snowballing me and I can’t think straight. Nothing a week or so down in Kerry won’t fix and then back to business!
I hope some of you found this helpful as I wanted to share my experiences. It’s funny how much travel changes you – you’re outlook becomes completely different no matter how long you were away for.