Lisa Lansing

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Learning from my mistakes

I finally sorted my accommodations for Croatia after a sleepless night last night. I stayed up all night figuring this out (literally, until 630am or so) because I can’t just let things go once I start planning and organising.

I’m relieved that everything is set for Croatia now, with the exception of transportation tickets which will be purchased in person, but I was frustrated at the same time because my plans haven’t worked out the way I had hoped.

I’ve written about the importance of letting go of expectations before but it’s easy to forget sometimes.

Palma has turned out to be much better than I could have planned. Cheap, delicious watermelon, sunny beaches, and a sea breeze every day. I could live here!

Before I started this 6-month trip, I had a general idea about how I hoped it would progress and how I’d stick to my proposed budget. Several things have happened on this trip and some situations were not what I expected.

Nomadic travel is unpredictable.

When it comes to where I’ll live in Croatia, I made the decision to spend more money on accommodations because I feel best living alone. When I started this trip I planned to Couchsurf whenever possible, but as time went on I realised that need time to myself and time to think (introvert problems). If it means paying a little extra to have a small space for myself, then that’s fine with me and money well spent.

Unfortunately, I had to pay for some of my Croatia accommodations with my credit card. I figured the longer I wait, the more money I’d ultimately pay for a suitable place to live. I’d rather not use my credit card at all, but it can be useful in situations like this. And that’s why I have one in the first place, just as a back-up plan to help me float until the end of the month when I get paid.

Not sticking to my budget drives me mad! Since my spending isn’t going exactly as I had hoped, I feel like I’m failing at this nomadic travelling thing. I was upset at myself for deviating from my budget last night when it came to a few of the Croatia spaces, but at least now I can rest easy knowing I have a legit place to stay in each village and city I hope to visit.

I think my frustration comes from not being in complete control of the situation. I calmed myself down last night (actually early this morning since I worked through the night) and reminded myself that this whole journey of mine is a learning experience. I’ve never done anything like this before. I’ve never travelled to this many locations abroad in 6-months time, spending a few weeks in each place before moving on. I’ve organised and planned the entire trip myself, and that’s something I should be proud of! It wasn’t easy but I did it!

Instead of viewing this as a mistake, I consider it a valuable learning opportunity and appreciate the fact that I’m in the position to experience it in this way. There’s no point in beating myself up over every deviation from my initial plan. Spending more than I anticipated isn’t the end of the world. I’ve always managed to make it work and I’ll no doubt revert back on my tight budget once I’m back in Scotland, living in one flat in one city for a few months.

I’ve learned so much on this trip and I’m not even a third of the way into it! I hope you can learn from my ‘mistakes’ as well. Here are some of my travel tips:

Book as early as you can.

Don’t wait too long to book accommodations or flights. I recommend booking them months in advance if you can. For my future travel plans, I aim to book accommodations at least 3 months in advance if possible. When it comes to long-distance flights, I recommend booking them at least 6 months in advance.

I researched costs of accommodations in Croatia months ago and they were considerably cheaper back then. Even though I’m still booking them over a month in advance, I’ve discovered that most of the cheaper places have been reserved. To save the most money, I should have booked all my accommodations at the beginning of the trip, but I didn’t feel comfortable committing to Croatia plans so soon. I also hadn’t researched Croatia or the later destinations of my trip at that time. I figured I had plenty of time before that to research places to stay and settle on an itinerary.

Slow travel is best.

If you find a cheap, comfortable place to live in a location you enjoy, whether it be a room on Airbnb or crashing with a friend, stay here as long as you can instead of picking up and leaving after a few days. Travelling slower means you cut down on transport costs of flights or train tickets, and you also get to explore wherever you’re living more in depth.

Next time I plan on staying in one location for longer than 2 weeks (though I’ll be on the island of Korčula in Croatia for an entire month soon enough). Ideally, I’ll spend 3-6 months in place depending on the visa requirements of that country. I spent 6 months in Scotland and should have planned something similar for this 6-month trip, perhaps 3 months in Spain and 3 months in Croatia.

But at the time that didn’t seem challenging enough for me. Why visit two countries when you can visit seven? I crave organisational problems, so I wanted to see if I could in fact travel by myself for 6 months through Europe, visiting cities completely new to me. I purposely set myself up for this challenge because I wanted to see how I’d work it out.

I’m so glad I decided to visit Palma months ago when I purchased my first round of flights. It’s impossible to have a bad day with all this sunshine!

So it’s no surprise that I’ve faced some unpredictable challenges since starting this trip. I need to remember to stay present in the moment as I’m travelling because even if I’m having a difficult time in a new city because I don’t quite fit in or I find myself missing my boyfriend terribly, the fact is that I’m still succeeding in my initial plan. My goal was to travel for 6 months throughout Europe on my own, not only because I wanted to visit and photograph these places for the first time, but because I wanted to grow as a person.

With that in mind, I won’t be too hard on myself for adjusting my plans. It would have been great to keep my budget this entire trip but I’m still succeeding in the goal that’s more important to me. And now that I have this experience under my belt (and still 4.5 months of experiences left to go!), I’ll be more informed for my next trip in Europe or elsewhere in the world.

Ultimately, I plan on travelling like this indefinitely so it’s good to get some practice hopping around Europe!

Do you plan everything in advance?

How do you deal with unexpected circumstances?

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