So according to Facebook, I’ve been “friends” with Julia since 2011. She went to school with my younger brother and sister so she was around the house a bit, but we never really talked much. In actuality, we just became friends last year when she started dating my brother. Julia was one of those people that I followed on Facebook and was soooooo envious of her travels. In 2016 she had backpacked around Southeast Asia and I thought she was the coolest person ever! She was only 22 at the time yet so adventurous.
I remember seeing a comment she posted on Facebook after one of her friends had written something along the lines of being jealous of Julia’s travels. She simply responded with, “Don’t be, I worked hard for this.” Looking at these things that Julia was doing, it made me think: “Why am I sitting here being jealous of her travels? Why don’t I just do it to?” She really inspired me (and kind of helped push me) to travel and have the life that I have today.
Julia is an exceptional human being. Not only is she completely open to give any advice you could possibly ask of her, she really cares about other people and I am so happy to now call her one of my friends. With that being said, let’s ask her for some advice for any of you wanting to travel.
C: Why did you decide to start travelling?
J: Travelling has always been something I did with my family. My parents used to take my sister and I all over Europe when we still lived in Germany. They always made sure that there was enough money for us to go away together for at least 2 weeks. Whether it was camping in Normandy, road tripping to Croatia, or flying down to Greece. I had a pretty amazing childhood in that regard. Before I graduated high school I wanted to take my ex boyfriend to meet my family in Germany. We saved up enough money to go and we ended up spending two months in Great Britain and all over Germany, Poland, and the Czech Republic. That was my first solo trip without my parents and after that I was just hooked.
C: It’s a difficult question, but do you have a favourite place?
J: It’s really tough question because I’ve seen so many beautiful places over the years. One of my favourite places is the south of Cambodia. My friends and I took the ferry from Sihanoukville and then water taxied to Koh Ring Sanloem to stay at the Mad Monkey hostel. There was nothing on the island except for the hostel. We had no internet for five days and we spent our time snorkeling, swimming, and playing cards. At night we’d all go swimming and during that time of the year, there was fluorescent plankton in the water. Basically what that means is that any movement in the water causes the plankton to react with each other causing the water to glow. It was magical. It was super dark and the water just glowed. I’ll never forget that!
C: Have you had any bad travel experiences and what was the worst one?
J: I had a few bad experiences when I traveled, and it’s always important to remember that no matter how comfortable you are while travelling alone, you should always be careful and respect the fact that you are a visitor in a foreign country. My worst experience so far was getting into an accident in Thailand when I was travelling from Chiang Mai to Chiang Rai. My driver lost control of the bus and we skidded down a wet, windy road on top of a mountain. We spun around several times and hit a semi. I only got a tiny scratch even though my seat belt wasn’t working. The Thai man sitting next to me held on to me like his life depended on it. He basically saved me from getting tossed around the bus. That was the scariest and worst experience I’ve had travelling and I hope I never experience anything remotely close to that ever again.
C: What is your number one travel tip for someone who has never backpacked before?
J: Do it! But please, for the love of god, do your research! And not only about which backpack you should be taking with you or how many pairs of underwear you should pack, but read up on the countries you are visiting. Don’t be disrespectful, be mindful of the religion and the customs of the places you are going to.
C: Amongst your typical travel needs (passport, money, earphones, etc.), what something you must have while travelling?
J: I actually posted a vlog about this on Youtube. The video talks about 5 essential things I bought before I went backpacking for the first time on my own and they were all super helpful. Another thing I should mention is to unlock your phone! Most countries that aren’t Canada have super cheap phone plans and having your phone unlocked will make your life so much easier. Bring replacement chargers! Places like Vietnam don’t sell Apple products, so you can imagine my frustration when my charging cable broke in Hanoi and I had to go on a scavenger hunt to find a charger for my phone. I spent months watching YouTube videos and reading up on travel blogs before I embarked on my backpacking trip. They prepared me extremely well for my first solo trip!
Julia vlogged her whole trip to Southeast Asia which you can check out on her YouTube channel here. A big thank you to Julia for being part of this series and for being this awesome force in my life.