When I was brainstorming for my post, “My Top 10 Exhilarating YOLO Travel Experiences,” I couldn’t help but think of some of the “exhilarating” things I’d never do again. Here are a few I’m OK with sharing that I hope you’ll find amusing, even though I’m not exactly proud of them. Would I do them again in my 20s? Maybe. But now that I’m closer to 40 than 30 and not on a shoestring budget anymore, nope. No freakin’ way.
1. Hitchhike 1600 kilometres of Australia’s East Coast
Yes, I know what you’re thinking… “HOW STUPID IS SHE?”…and 15 years later, I agree with you. Hence why this post is called things I’d never do again. I’M SORRY MOM.
You probably shouldn’t hitchhike at all. I guess we thought it would be fun. And cheap. And easy. And yes, it was all three of those things. But it was still a risky thing for two young girls to do. Along the 1600 kilometre hitchhiking adventure from Noosa, New South Wales to Cairns, Queensland, we received 15 different rides (mostly from men) and were offered the green stuff twice, which we were somehow smart enough to not accept.
This 1600 kilometre journey only took us two days. I guess when people see two young girls on the side of the road with their thumbs out, they either feel scared or sorry for us (likely both). But it was fun, especially because we couldn’t control where we got dropped off, so we got to see places we’d never check out otherwise. We met some interesting characters – from a slightly scary trucker (talking on the phone, “yeaaahr, I got a couple’er Sheilas in the back here with me”) to a hippie couple with a dog who wouldn’t stop scratching my legs. But we survived!
2. Live out of car for three weeks while travelling New Zealand top to bottom
Another adventure of the two young girls from number one, and yet another ploy to save money. I wouldn’t suggest travelling out of a car unless you’re on a really tight budget, or just into doing ridiculous things for the hell of it. We fell into both categories. We bought a white Toyota Corona (like the beer) for $800 upon arrival in Auckland, with a plan to drive it around the country and sleep in it, saving cash on both accommodation and transportation.
Leaving downtown Auckland, nervously driving on the other side of the road for the first time, was the start of an epic three-week journey. We worked our way down from the Bay of Islands at the top of the North Island, exploring the volcanic activity of Rotorua, skydiving over Lake Taupo, abseiling and caving in Waitomo, and chilling out in Wellington before taking the ferry to the South Island. There we explored the beauty and highlights of Nelson, Christchurch, Queenstown, and Milford Sound.
It was a fun and crazy adventure, minus a couple of low points. Like the time we were awoken in the middle of the night by a loud knock on the window because we couldn’t sleep where we parked, FREAKING out that someone was getting us! Or the time I got sick from sushi and had to barf out the car door in the middle of the night (could’ve really used a comfy bed that night). Or the time our front windshield SHATTERED when we were in the middle of nowhere…
But reclined seats covered in faux sheepskin fur, a towel for a pillow, and a sleeping bag for a blanket weren’t so bad. We would sneak into hostels to have a shower or change. We felt so free, being able to drive where we wanted, stop where we wanted, and sleep where we wanted… (well, most of the time). Although we only got $100 for our beloved Corona when we left New Zealand, it was a memory I’ll never, ever forget.
3. Spontaneous New Year’s trip to Paris (or any major tourist destination) = homeless for a night
On New Year’s Eve of 2000-2001 when I was 19, we woke up in London (I was living there at the time) and decided to go to Paris to ring in the new year. My travel companion and I had to work the next day, so this was really an “in and out” trip. We boarded the Eurostar that morning for the three-hour train ride.
Our day was spent walking around Paris, marvelling at sights like the Eiffel Tower and Arc de Triomphe, and strolling the Champs-Élysées. We nonchalantly stopped for baguettes, attempting to remember the French we learned in the Canadian school system years back (jambon, fromage, tomates, and DONE). The evening featured drinking wine as we strolled and stopped at cafes/bars, then ringing in the new year in front of the Eiffel Tower. Watching the tower light up with a million flashing lights at midnight was nothing short of amazing.
Then the evening took a turn for the worse. By one or two a.m., we were exhausted from a long day. All we wanted was to crash until we could get our train back to London at 7 a.m. But guess what? Every hotel or B&B we went to had a sign on the door saying “COMPLET” (full). We took a taxi around looking for a place to rest our heads (no smartphones or easy Internet access back then) to no avail. Did I mention it was cold? Yeah, it was damn cold.
Soon thereafter, we were laying on the floor of the train station, attempting to get some shut-eye until we could catch the Eurostar. It was a low point in my travels. The Paris train station isn’t like a nice airport where you don’t feel so bad lying down on a row of chairs for a snooze. Nope, it was busy, cement-y and a bit dirty (at least back then). I felt like a homeless person – cold, tired, and defeated. Don’t ask me how work went the next day at the busy London restaurant I worked at.
4. Eat frogs
Ok, so you’d probably be fine eating frogs (maybe you have), and they taste fine. But if you’ve ever had food poisoning, you know that you’ll never eat that thing or at that restaurant again. When Nick and I were in Croatia in 2007, we decided to try frog. But like Dominoes Pizza, I’m reluctant to ever eat anything that makes me that sick again. Nick, on the other hand, still loves his frogs.
I’m not sure if it was the restaurant or the frogs. But I sure didn’t enjoy being sick and stricken to our B&B when all I wanted to do was explore the amazing city of Dubrovnik. In the end I was OK and had enough time to experience this charming city to its fullest. Old town Dubrovnik is super cool, and the views of it and the nearby turquoise beach from the top of the old town walls are stunning. If you go, I’d highly recommend a quick boat over to Lokrum Island as well for cliff jumping, swimming, or hiking.
5. Take a “fast boat” on the Mekong River, Southeast Asia
You may have seen my post about this already, but if not here it is – complete with all the exciting details of this not so pleasant day I had while travelling from Thailand to Laos…
When I started this blog, I told myself there’s no way it would only be posts that gush about the places I’ve been to. Like I’ve said before, travelling has its ups and downs, especially when you’re on a tight budget. But YOLO Travel Experiences come in all shapes and sizes, and that’s why I’m addicted to them.
Is there something you’d never do again while travelling? I’d love to hear about it! Leave me a comment.