Posted on April 18, 2014
My wanderlustful life began way back in 2006. Many of you know about Katimavik– the Canadian youth volunteer program that saw me living in various places around Canada with 10 other people my age, volunteering full time and participating in adventures that were often outside of my comfort zone the rest of the time. I used to never shut up about it. Now, I talk about it a lot less, but every so often a lesson learned pops up. My “Travel Buddy Survey” is the result of 9 months of writing intricate “excursion protocols.” These were lengthy documents detailing our every move on any trip that took us out of town. We had to justify every dollar and minute spent with quantifiable goals. We had to be aware of what to do in all sorts of emergency situations. They were rather intense. My Travel Buddy Survey now is a lot more casual.
Basically it is a short list of questions that allow anyone involved to decide what kind of trip to plan for. In 2006, I was a pretty prissy traveller. My first time using an outhouse was not pretty. Over time I’ve become a lot better at things like camping outdoors, staying at hostels and taking horrible transportation. I can also be persuaded to stay at nicer hotels, and be a bit more “touristy.” I like to go with the flow.
(Meanwhile, several of my Katimavik pals have far surpassed me and spend much of their lives backpacking through South America, planting trees in various countries, and one even climbed Mount Kilimanjaro last week… My emigration to another English-speaking developed country has basically awarded me a trophy in Most Dull of my travel loving ex-roomies.)
When travelling with others (and I prefer to travel with others!) it’s important to find a balance, or to realize you might not be a right fit with someone before you spend money on international travel. Is there anything worse than having a travel buddy that wants to veg next to the pool while you want to explore ancient ruins? (Maybe. Perhaps you like some time separate from your buddy. Again, that is what the survey is for!)
I’ve decided to post my survey, mainly because I mentioned it to Katy and she was offended that I’d never sent it to her (we’ve travelled together a few times so I don’t feel like I need to survey her since we have very similar travel styles, but FINE, KATY, YOU GET YOUR WISH.)
Travel Buddy Survey
- What are your preferred days to travel?
- How many days would you like to spend in this place?
- Are you able to pack light (i.e. one carry-on with no checked baggage)?
- How much legroom is necessary to be comfortable? I.E. Can you comfortably fit in an aircraft that is the size of a 737?
- Basically the summary of all these questions is whether or not you can fly budget airlines or if you require something a little bit classier.
- Rank the following in order of preference: hotel, hostel, AirBNB-esque situation, rustic tent full of holes and spiders.
- Are you cool sharing a room with strangers?
- Are you cool sharing a room with your travel buddy?
- On a scale of Fancy Tourist Location to There Was Possibly A Murder On This Street, how safe do you expect the area of your accommodation to be?
- Are you a picky eater?
- If yes, are you a pickier eater than me, a person who cannot eat an entire range of food including all breads, pastas, many soups, some candy, meat that comes in artificial casing or anything deep fried?
- If yes, HOW? Also what are things we might encounter that you refuse to eat just so we’re all on the same page.
- On a scale of 1 to 10, how much do you like museums?
- Do you prefer cultural activities, athletic/adventurous activities or both?
- Do you prefer days to be carefully scheduled, generally planned and somewhat improvised, or completely improvised?
- Do you have a particular routine that you like to follow on a day-to-day basis?
- Can you walk for a long time? (“A long time” is definitely a quantifiable measurement, shhh.)
How do you work out the kinks that come with travelling with another person? Do you think I am missing anything blindingly obvious from my survey?
I forgot to do this post for Break The Sky’s Monthly Linkup on the actual day again. But, I like to think it’s the thought that counts. Plus I managed to do it on a somewhat eventful day, once again attempting to trick you into thinking I am constantly doing interesting things. I promise you, I do have a normal adult job. One day I will do one of these posts on a day when I go to work and do normal things. Today is not that day.
Instead I was off to explore Oxford with my pals Katy, Chien and Emma. Emma is visiting from the Netherlands, and all of us but Chien had never been to Oxford.
I woke up around 4am, had a drink, and then lay in bed for a while, sort of half asleep, until my alarm woke me up at 6. I got ready fairly quickly, then made my way to the train station. I’ve been suffering some hay fever the last week or so (I’m not used to spring!), so my eyes were streaming and I was tired, so I started the day off right by purchasing a single ticket to Oxford, which I then I had to exchange at the ticket office for a return.
I should probably update my manicure, but I’m lazy and bad at painting nails.
It was a bit chilly in the morning and I didn’t have a jacket, because I don’t own one that isn’t my winter one and is light enough for the increasingly warming weather. So I just shivered a bit on this platform as I waited for my train.
The train journey itself was rather dull, with a change at Gatwick and then Reading. At Reading I met up with the other 3, and Katy gave me this amazing card for my birthday!
As you can imagine, it’s not easy to get things with my name on it. I own exactly 3 items, all of which have been brought for me from Ireland (2 of them from Katy). I was pretty excited.
Finally we made it to Oxford! Here is an ox statue as proof:
We didn’t have much of a game plan, so mainly we wandered around the high street area and around some of the university buildings and took a lot of photos with the other tourists.
Yay, found my people! Feminists!
At this point it was nearing noon, so we picked up some meal deals and sat outside the Ashmolean museum in the lovely sun.
Lunch of champions.
Then it was my favourite part of any visit to anywhere: MUSEUM TIME. Of course we did the Ashmolean:
Then we grabbed some Starbucks (for me) and bubble tea (for everyone else) and sat near the University’s Natural History Museum for a bit.
It was late in the day, so we had to rush around to see most of the Natural History Museum:
Can you spot the dinosaur?
And the Pitt Rivers Museum of Anthropology and World Archeology which, quite frankly, I’m not sure you could see everything inside, even though it’s not very big!
Just every little bit of it is crammed with stuff.
But it’s all really dim inside, so it’s hard to get good pictures. Here’s one I thought you might find interesting.
Since everything was closing, we had to leave rather quickly. On the way out I discovered pure scientific evidence that I am actually a dinosaur.
For dinner we went to Cleaver– a place that is all about their meat. They also get 5 stars for being extra attentive to their gluten free guests. Usually my failsafe for places is to eat chips (fries), however their chips are not gluten free, and they even advised me against eating the sweet potato ones that run a high risk of cross-contamination. Even after I had kind of brushed it off and decided to take the risk, they were fairly persistent. So I got to have chicken wings and a milkshake for dinner, which was fine by me!
After dinner, we were fairly exhausted. I had a 3 hour journey back to Brighton to do, and I knew I would have an early morning this morning, prepping for Katy and Emma to come visit Brighton! So we jumped on a train. I basically just fell asleep and listened to music. Nothing exciting to report.
Oh, except I DID manage to make an impressive change… Got to Redhill at the same time as the hourly service to Brighton did, with said hourly service leaving about 30 seconds later. Yet I somehow managed to sprint from 2 platforms over to make the train! Yes!
Back in Brighton the Friday party scene was just getting started, and for a minute I thought about tracking down my friends who I figured would still be out at the pubs. But my exhaustion got the best of me and after a quick trip to Tesco I was in bed and just barely remembered to take a photo to finish this entry with:
Quality photography! Haha.
Anyway, now I must get out of bed! I took an hour to put this entry together which I really shouldn’t have because I need to tidy up for Katy and Emma’s visit. I recently discovered that halloumi is very similar to cheese curds in Canada, so I am making us a quick lunch of poutine, then we’re touring around Brighton! Fun!
Another year has passed. Last year I summed up my accomplishments from age 18 to 25, and this year… well. I can’t even really begin to explain what this year has meant, although I suppose this entire website is basically a recap of everything that happened.
I’m really glad to say that year twenty-five was a success. It was definitely the biggest year in terms of change and growth. Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about independence. There was a time when I could do virtually nothing on my own. I remember once when I was 20 I was quite anxious over going to the cinema alone to see a film nobody else wanted to see (shout out to High School Musical 3… I love Zefron). Now, I’m incredibly independent.
Well, incredibly is a bit of a stretch in some areas. I’m still nervous to eat in a restaurant alone, and even to order food to my flat. I’m not sure why. Maybe those are two things to work on this year! Hopefully the ordering food one will be worked on tonight because I have nothing to eat and I am hungry! (I have ordered pizza before, don’t worry.)
But, I moved on my own, got a flat on my own for the first time, and so far I have managed to not starve to death or injure myself in any critical way (accidental electrocution notwithstanding). Wow. Much responsible. So adulting.
I suppose my only real problem now is topping all of that. Ideally I would like each year that I live on this Earth to be MORE AWESOME. But, save moving to another planet (thanks for the suggestion Laurence and Clem), I’m not really sure what I can do! If you have any ideas, please pass them on.