'I just got home from 8 months of spontaneous travel. Here are 8 things I learnt.'

"Melbourne has terrible weather, doesn't it?", says me complaining about the drizzle here after two days back down under. I'm one of those smug, sun-kissed people who just got home from a jaunt in Europe, and actually, before that, eight months of travelling all over the globe, much of which was spontaneous.

You see, I went to Italy late last year, met a man, went to Paris, went to LA, lived with my parents in Christchurch as a palette cleanser in between, and now I’m fresh back from a month in Greece. This entire time I've been living out of a suitcase, which has been both a load-lightening joy, and a challenge as a fashion aficionado.

Watch: Don't ever let a Sagittarius travel alone... EVER. They won't make it back. Post continues after video.

Video via Mamamia.

Beyond chasing a boy (well, a 41-year-old man), working remotely and becoming my parents temporary flatmate, I have learnt a lot during this time away. I have learnt a lot about myself, how to travel better, and a lot about life.

There are many takeaways I have from my extended trip. But I thought I'd distill them down to eight unconventional tips, so when life next hands you an opportunity to jump on a plane, you can take my newfound wisdom (and lessons from my many mistakes) with you. 


1. Working remotely is actually quite annoying.

The creative nomad lifestyle is certainly very appealing. There they are on Instagram, those fabulous freelancers, sitting in their bikinis, perfectly posed at a Bali poolside, tapping away on their laptops, without a worry in the world. Somehow making money in the process.

This is the same thing I had envisioned for myself before I embarked on my trip to Italy last October - though as it turns out it was far from my reality there. Whilst I wouldn't trade my time writing in the rustic hills of Sardinia for much, I will say that the truth of setting up to work wherever you are is actually quite annoying.

When you’re working remotely away from home, and in another time zone, a lot of the time is spent staying up late, or waking up early, all for Zoom calls in which you have to do your best not to wake anyone around you up, and also appear like you're not on a half-holiday to your colleagues. It leads to a lot of pretending, performing, a lack of sleep, all of which is exhausting.

There also seems to be a permanent lack of high-functioning internet at basically every Airbnb abroad. The amount of times I typed while practically hanging out a window for a signal is ridiculous (and hilarious, when you witness it), not to mention it's rare to find a perfectly set up, ergonomic desk when you’re on the road. 

The choice to work remotely is really a matter of freedom over function. Worth it but not without its downsides. 

2. You should always perform a full beauty routine on the plane.

For over a decade I have sworn by YouTube makeup artist Lisa Eldridge's, long-haul beauty routine. Let's face it, we are pretty far from anywhere else fabulous here, and the time required in the sky to upgrade our environment is long if we want to get somewhere.


So, in a bid to arrive at any glamorous destination looking more fresh than fatigued, wash your face and do a hydrating mask on the plane, a la Lisa. Get those Mecca sample pots, then reapply your face before landing. I swear you'll never look back, nor look better (and if you're a contact lens wearer like I am, opt for spectacles in the air - it makes such a difference to how you look and feel when you arrive).

Listen to You Beauty where Leigh and Kelly walk us through their travel bag essentials. Post continues below.

3. Don't leave your laptop in an Uber.

Speaking of being tired... On my way from New Zealand to Greece last month, I did a short stopover in Sydney to quickly see my friends and colleagues. It was a whirlwind 48 hours, and well worth it, but also extremely tiring and involved a few exceptionally early starts. I was running on empty by the time I was set to leave for Europe and was stressed about embarking on yet another long-haul flight.

So when I arrived at Sydney airport after my flurry I felt I could finally exhale. At last I was going away and everything was going to be OK. I felt practically weightless - but wait I was weightless! Where the hell was my heavy laptop bag which not only housed my computer but my passport, jewellery and hard drive?

Thank goddess I was able to contact my very obliging Uber driver (you can do so in the Uber app) and for the cool fee of $20 get everything back within minutes. It's just that those minutes in between were utter agony as I envisioned my next month in limbo - in a queue at the Apple store and at the New Zealand consulate. 


(On that note I highly recommend Apple Airtags, one of which now permanently lives in the folds of my laptop case.)

4. Melatonin pills don't work.

I'm sorry, but who said these help you sleep? I am open to trying just about any supplement under the sun, and truly find many of them help, but melatonin does not work. Sure it may be 'proven' but I experimented with it multiple times to no avail - not even the strong stuff you get over the counter in the States can knock me out (or should I say, re-regulate my circadian rhythm).

I'll tell you what does work to get your body clock in rhythm though: eating according to your destination's time zone as soon as you're on the plane, getting sunshine as soon as you arrive plus every morning following until you feel settled, and forcing yourself up in the morning at a sensible time - even if that means you're running on empty for a day or two (just don't carry around your worldly goods when you're feeling quite so sleepy - see the previous point).

5. Say yes to (almost) everything.

Don't you find that when you're somewhere new, a lot of your inhibitions just float out the window?

We're now living in the age of boundaries, self care, and saying no. A night in nowadays seems to be more aspirational than an adventure - perhaps a lingering lockdown hangover for our already cottoned culture?

But when you're away, I really encourage you to say YES to any invitation that seems trustworthy. Say yes to every invite even if you're tired, stressed, over it, skint... Do this as this is what travelling is ultimately all about - broadening your horizons. You never know where you may end up when you accept an impromptu invite (for example, I somehow found myself at Athens Fashion Week a few weeks ago just by chance).


Then, when you return from your travels, do your best to bring this sentiment back with you. It can be tempting to revert to being a hermit once you're home in your comfort zone, but try to let the results of your time abroad remain. The new you is fabulous, if you ask me.

6. Freedom is one of life's greatest privileges.

Freedom is heaven. And post pandemic surely that's all we want to indulge in right now? Now I say this whilst acknowledging things in the world still feel fraught - there's a looming recession, a housing crisis, inflation, relentless inequality, crappy winter weather, and all sorts of other things to keep life grim. But I believe, regardless of circumstance, there is always a way to get away. 


You can get (almost) the same kick out of camping locally as you can overseas. Honestly. It's ultimately about moving beyond monotony and experiencing something new. That is freedom. So make the most of it.

7. Sometimes no plan is the best plan.

As I said in my intro, much of my recent trip was spontaneous. In fact, everything beyond Italy was spontaneous - that being five months of my overall time away. I am incredibly lucky in that I was able to keep going as I had the means, had remote work, everything I own is in storage and I have had nothing to scramble back to.

But I'll tell you what, going with the flow this time was life-changing. Never have I not planned a trip from start to finish. Yet this time I managed to keep following my joy and not thinking too far ahead.

What it showed me is that when you go about life with an open palm, rather than a tight grip, that is when the magic happens. That is when the good stuff flows in - the expansive, once-in-a-lifetime kind of stuff.

My trip has changed my life for the better and can never be replicated. I have come back completely reset and hungry to create a better long-term life for myself. If I could give you any advice, I would work towards your version of this too.

8. Oh, and don't forget to call your mum.

Feature Image: Supplied.

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