So I’ve been getting a lot of questions about my experiences traveling, especially because I usually backpack solo and that can be daunting for a lot of people, especially other females.
There are endless topics I can write about to help any of you looking to travel soon about planning for an inexpensive trip, how to get around without knowing the language, finding dirt cheap flights (I’m talking around $10 and under flights), staying in hostels, etc. so I might be posting more on my blog that’s listed on kateyeungdesigns.com (link to my website in bio).
BUT for this particular blog post, I want to cover how I manage with traveling around by myself while simultaneously never being alone.
“How does that even make sense?” you might be asking yourself but grab a snack because I am about to explain how I ended up leaving every city with a new group of friends.
So let’s backtrack to this past exams season where I am half dead camping in the library with some friends cramming for finals. At this point, I could not read another sentence about microeconomics or memorize another simplified character for my Chinese essay and I was casually “browsing” on my all time favorite flight website, kayak.com (the only website I use to find my cheap flights other than google flights). By the way, let me know below in the comments or DM me on social media if you guys want me to write another blog post on how exactly I find the best flights on kayak because kid you not, it would change your life.
Anyways, here I am studying for my finals, blasting JOYRYDE in my headphones to stay awake, and booking flights left and right because ya girl saw some unbelievable deals. So by the time I left the library at 2am, I had my trip halfway booked and I was leaving as soon as I finished my last exam in a couple days. Just so you guys can get an idea of my crazy typical 2 week itinerary, Gainesville -> London -> Malta -> Toulouse -> Naples -> Copenhagen -> ? (to be determined at the time) -> Manchester -> New York City on Christmas day. The trick to being the most efficient with the short amount of time you have is book all one way flights and be open to flexible routes/layovers/times/alternative airports etc.
At this point I could not wait to see some of my friends again that I made on my gap year while studying abroad in Beijing (I wrote my previous blog post about this insane last minute decision if you wanted to read about it) but even then, I was about to try something I have never done before and that was meeting up with a bunch of random strangers.
The following day I logged onto the Yes Theory Fam Facebook group (which you guys should join if you are interested in becoming friends with 74,000 from around the world) and posted something along the lines of “hey I’m coming here, here, and here during this time, would anyone be down to meet up to either show me around or hang out?” Next thing I knew, I now had plans to hang out with a bunch of strangers in every city. I definitely also recommend joining these other following groups if you plan on traveling anytime soon: Girls Who Travel and Yes Theory UK Fam.
Anyways, I definitely threw the idea of “stranger danger” out the window BUT hold up, this does not mean I did not do my research and background checks before agreeing to everything. I definitely encourage others to be more open minded when it comes to meeting new people because everyone’s backgrounds and stories are so unique. You never know what either of you will take away from it like a new outlook on life, inspiration, etc.. HOWEVER, please use your common sense and basic rules that you have heard probably a million times by now like obviously do not go over someone’s house without meeting them in public first, meeting at night in a deserted area, etc.
With that being said, I absolutely loved everyone I got to meet on my Europe backpacking trip (you know who you guys are if you are currently reading this right now). I am thankful to say that I did not have any negative experiences what so ever. To the people I met along the way, the trip would not have been the same without any of you. I am so glad I got to meet all of you and that we had a fun time hanging out.
I pretty much captured my entire backpacking trip for the most part through my Instagram story so it’s available for you to watch if you have not already as one of my highlights on my profile (@kathren561) as well as my other summer backpacking trip.
So I guess that covers how I went about scheduling to meet a bunch of strangers during my backpacking trip but if you want to get an idea of some of the activities I did with the strangers and my old gap year friends, feel free to keep reading.
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To the people I hung out with in Europe, you know who you are and I wanted to leave each one of you a short special note that kind of wraps up the most memorable part of us hanging out to look back at in the future.
SO let’s begin:
My London fam, I still can’t believe I flew back to London again at the end of my trip to see you guys again oh lord ahaha. Harry, LMAO at how we met each other and the fact you decided to be spontaneous and join me and a group of strangers for a night out. Thanks for taking me pub crawling, definitely felt like I experienced a typical night out in London. Raul, I am not sure I will encounter another person that could eat almost 2 pizzas, ice cream, 2 cheeseburgers, and drink idk how many glasses of cokes and still be hungry. Lucka, I am glad you did not get kidnapped by “Raul” or arrested by the police because we would have never gotten the chance to ride that crazy ride at Winter Wonderland. Yasmin, girl how did we never meet at 北大 when we were both studying there at the same time?! I can’t believe you were able to recognize me in your friend’s random photo because that picture actually turned out to be from one of my going away parties. The world really is a small place because what are the chances. Tom, what a crazy day ahaha from museums to markets to clubbing (that music tho…) to us taking a bus back to the hostel lmaoo thanks for showing me around and putting up with all those wifi struggles.
Mike, boiiiiiiiii I don’t even know where to begin with you. Thanks for showing me around Malta on your bike because that was insane to watch the sunset on the edge of a cliff and then shortly end up in a fortress eating fancy dinner right after. Hope my blunt life advice helped you out because Bill Burr’s jokes will be ingrained in my brain forever. Now I know how to surprise attack a guy so thanks for that. I can’t believe I saw you shortly after when you came to visit in NYC. I hope you had fun here and that my dad did not tell you any of my embarrassing childhood stories during your guys’ business meeting. I’m glad we got to hang out again and that you come back soon!! I still gotta show you around Philly so till then, we gotta hit up the others to have a full reunion.
Nicla, you literally saved my trip to Naples. I really was not feeling the place and you came in clutch by driving us an hour to get the best pizza I have ever had in my life. Throwback to us stalking the American army base camp before heading to get gelato and then playing with the cute animals at the pet store. Thanks so much for making my trip 10x better and dropping me off at my hotel after everything. I hope you get to move to New York soon so I can show you around!
Andreas, andreas, andreas. How many times have I seen you this past year? Surfing in San Fran, hiking in Lake Tahoe, that sketchy bus ride from New York City, Bon Chon in Philly, thanksgiving dinner at my house, black friday shopping for your shoes, cycling around Copenhagen in the rain, grocery shopping for your pizza competition that ended up being in a draw (hehehe did it on purpose to keep things more interesting aka you guys need to do a round 2 for dessert), and last but not least that whole Gatwick drone mess smh.
Xinyue, bruh if only you came back home to London. Thank your parents for me, they were the besttttt. It was so weird to be staying in your childhood bedroom ahaha Xinyue for the weekend. But anyways, girl I'll be back soon enough so you better stay put and not move anywhere. Also if you haven't seen I'm gonna hide one of you childhood pictures on my most Instagram post so enjoy. Can't wait to reunite, it's been too long already (even though it hasn't even been a year since I've seen you, still too long). Miss ya sister from another mother.
John and Andrei, you guys had me cracking up the entire time omg. Yes John it’s a thing to put sauce on your burgers so they’re not dry af. Andrei, what happened to your brilliant plan of not getting any drinks for the day lmao we all know it was gonna continue after that cup of wine from the “winter wonderland’ ice skating rink. Too bad we couldn’t go axe throwing but ayeee haven’t played mini golf in awhile. That rooftop bar was insane but catch me one day going back there just to hire tHaT bartender so he could work for me smh the audacity of that man, he’s lucky I didn’t roast him anymore than I did in front of more people. Thanks for adding me to the Yes Theory fam snapchat group btw, you guys are a funny bunch.
wHaT a TrIp
So that concludes this blog post, DM me on my social medias (listed under the contact page) if you want me to cover a specific topic or have any questions :)
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