– This is my entry for the Travelstart Blogger Experience Contest –
It all happened quite fast. One moment I was in my room doing a hypothetical search for ways to spend a few weeks overseas and the next I was applying for my grownup passport’s first visa, I was buying things I’d never needed before like a tent and a backpack and I was waving goodbye to my mom through the airport glass that separates the ones left home from the ones leaving.
I was young, fearless and off on what I could only imagine was going to be a grand adventure.
Yet I still didn’t quite know where I was going. I’d only heard of the island of Crete two weeks before when the headline ‘Sea turtle volunteering in Greece’ grabbed my attention on the millionth Google search page. I knew I was going to the outskirts of a small town on the coast of the island and I knew I was going to spend a month camping in a public campsite with people from all over the world. I knew there were two planes, one ferry, three buses and a bit of walking to do to get there but I didn’t know how these places looked and I hadn’t checked the names of the routes and the streets. I just went.
Thankfully I made it to the campsite okay. It was early morning when I arrived and there was no movement around the tents and caravans. I wandered slowly in between the trees, understandably tired after 48 hours spent travelling, and I found a sandy path that seemed to lead to a beach. The next moment I found myself surrounded by deserted white sand that didn’t seem to have an end, whichever way you looked. The Mediterranean sprawled out in front of me, and except for the gently rippling morning tide, there was complete silence. I was alone in a place I’d never even imagined and I couldn’t be happier.
I won’t share the details of the rest of the trip. Just know that there was early morning beach monitoring followed by freshly baked bread from the local bakery, there were seven different languages sharing tents and stories and a life lived in denim shorts and bikinis, all the while working to protect the endangered Loggerhead sea turtles. Just know that it was a trip of a lifetime.
It’s sometimes better not knowing what you’re getting yourself in for. I would never have had experienced that exact moment on the beach – and the many inspired moments to follow – if I’d planned everything down to the street names and I still think that there is no better way to travel. Too much planning causes too many frowns and too little fascination. It reveals all the breathtaking secrets of your destination before you even board the plane.
It’s four years later and whenever I find myself worrying about the logistical aspects of a trip – like where I’ll find my next taxi – I remember how I dived headfirst into that first trip and how everything wowed me. For now, just go, you can sort out the details when you get there.