As a recent graduate and intern I’m (what my fellow post-grads would call) skint. I’ve worked up a chunk of student debt, have a maxed out student overdraft and owe my parents money. Clearly, I won’t be going on holiday any time soon.
What with spending my days watching my Dad travel for work (he flies around the world visiting China, Russia, Brazil and so on), my colleagues jetting off for work and/or pleasure (Bora Bora, California, Malta, Trinidad and Tobago, British Colombia, Sri Lanka…) and my friends hot-footing it to Mexico or Oz, I get pretty fed up. Oh, and did I mention that at work I’m helping to plan a six months, all expenses paid trip around the world for someone else? And that as I sit writing this, my family are away skiing in France?
Actually, scratch that. My five-hour daily commute to and from London (which costs half of my monthly salary), combined with my appallingly early mornings, horrifying bank balance and hearing about other peoples’ travels doesn’t just annoy me, it makes me really quite angry.
So what can I do about it? How do I beat the backpacker blues?
As some of you already know, I enter competitions. Like, all the time. This year alone I’ve entered the National Geographic Traveller writing competition, STA competitions, Hostel Bookers and Lonely Planet competitions, Paradise Hunter’s competition… I’ve even entered the phone-in competitions on This Morning and Take Me Out for goodness sake. (Keep those fingers crossed…)
Then there are my monthly subscriptions. Every four weeks my doorstep is graced by a number of magazines, from National Geographic Traveller to Wanderlust, Lonely Planet and The Sunday Times Traveller. Although reading about everyone else’s adventures can bring the green-eyed monster out in me, I really do think it helps. For those tiresome five hours spent on trains playing elbow wars with the corporate banker sat next to me and foot-space-frenzy with the lawyer opposite, I can escape into the blissful world of travel, living vicariously through the writers’ escapades.
But when I’m too tired to read, I use the lazy way to relax; I watch films. Films like Eat, Pray, Love, Born Free, The Beach or even Shirley Valentine can set my mind spinning with dreams of frolicking with lions in Africa or sipping cocktails in Greece.
Reading, watching and dreaming can only get me so far, however. To be completely honest, when I’m in a really foul mood and want to scream at everyone who tells me where they’re escaping to next, there’s only one thing I can do that will help; go local, and for a walk.
It’s cheap, it’s cheerful and it can lead to any number of things. In Wiltshire, I can visit the famous landmark of Stonehenge. I can walk through the New Forest and experience a safari of wild horses, deer (and if I’m daring enough) vipers. There are pubs to try (okay, it may not be the delicious street food of Hanoi, but there are some truly exotic dishes here in the Shire. How many of you have tried Dover sole and smoked eel ravioli, mushroom and Cognac sauce, for example?) and numerous sandy beaches in Bournemouth to explore and enjoy. There’s even a chance to try some adrenaline sports, like track driving at Thruxton Circuit or sky-diving at Old Sarum (although these are rather pricey).
So while I sit and stew, attempting to save money, there are small ways to keep my itchy feet in check. It’s not the adventure I need, or the weather I want, but I s’pose it’ll do for now.
For a rather more positive post on how to deal with travel blues, check out Vagabond Rich’s post: How to Deal with Post Travel Withdrawals.