Over the past three weeks I’ve learnt some pretty important lessons and discovered things about myself which I didn’t even know existed. The first point that I picked up on from my whistle-stop tour of Europe is that I don’t like that style of travelling. Having to leave for a new city or country every single day seemed fun at first but the stress and tiredness that came with it soon started to take it’s toll. I was driving between 5-10 hours every single day, with only one rest day during the whole three week adventure. Sometimes we barely had time to have lunch in a new destination before it was time to get back behind the wheel and drive on – it wasn’t great. Just to put things into context, I drove 12,000 km in 21 days. Killer.
The second thing I realised about myself is that I prefer to travel either alone or just with one other person rather than with a group of people. I’m not saying that I hate being with lots of people, that’s not true. I do enjoy the company of my friends and I love to spend time with them whenever I can, but being in close-quarters with 3 or 4 people for days on end really starts to get to me, especially if I’m exhausted/frustrated/flustered. I need my space and I just find it all to be a bit emotionally draining.
The third thing I came to acknowledge over the past three weeks is that when I’m tired, hungry or frustrated (or all three) then the slightest thing can nark me. I’m not about to name names in this blog or try to embarrass people, but to give you guys an example of things that really bothered me (yet I probably should have just let slide) there were instances like when I was driving through the Alps, gazing at Mont Blanc in wonder before noticing that those around me were more interested in their mobile phones than the majestic natural beauty that consumed our surroundings. Sure, it’s probably not my place to say anything at that moment and sure, I could have just prevented the subsequent argument by just keeping my trap shut but jeez, it blew my mind that these folks weren’t as into the jaw dropping views as I was. I felt frustrated that I’d driven all that way and it was only I who seemed to be in complete awe of it all. Oh well, the lesson I learnt there is that if you’re content with what you have in front of you just focus on that happiness and forget what others are thinking, just relish the moment. That sentiment is true for just about anything in life, not just breath-taking scenery.
Perhaps the biggest lesson I learnt on this road trip is that I do actually have it in me to just walk away when I’ve had enough. In the past I’ve always been the type of guy who was all talk and no action when it came to making threats of said walking away, but three days ago, for the first time in my life I actually said to myself “I’m done” and I got in my car and drove all the way from Venice to Newcastle upon Tyne; leaving my friends and my brother to continue with their travels around Italy. I’m not going to go into the details of why I left out of respect for the people involved and some could say that the problems on the trip were in some way down my own initial doing, but when tensions continued to rise and my own personal short-lived hopes of arguments within the group being put behind us turned out to be unfounded then a man gets to a point where he just can’t take it any more. Those of you who follow my blog know that I am the biggest travel fanatic going. I adore exploring new places and my quest to visit every country in the world is now in full swing as my country count stands at a cool 37! So for me to have the feeling in my heart that I wanted to go home, then I knew at that moment that that’s where I should be. I don’t regret my decision to drive back to Newcastle and I’m pleased to say that there are many more amazing adventures coming in the very near future, including an amazing trip to Japan which is all thanks to a collaboration with Cathay Pacific – so stay tuned for that!
P.S. I’ll be posting a blog about the second half of the European Road Trip (prior to my departure) soon!