I first met Sandy about two years ago in Bruges whilst backpacking Europe, and she is without a doubt one of my favourite people I’ve ever met. So when she sent me a Facebook message yesterday and asked if I’d like to write a guest post for her blog, I naturally said yes. She didn’t even have to pose it as a question, there is a handful of people in my life that, whatever they ask of me the answer will always be yes. I’m currently in Canada on a working holiday visa. I first applied for the visa for a bird, she was a yank and I English, and America being impossibly difficult to legally emigrate to, Canada seemed the best option. That relationship didn’t work out, and I’d abandoned my plans for Canada, until I checked the exchange rate and sent off some applications for a few jobs in Alberta, and figured “what have I got to lose?” So here I am, having now been here for a week, staying with family in Cambridge, Ontario and starting a job in Banff, Alberta this Friday. I’ve traveled a few times before, but this trip is a whole other kind of adventure. For a start, my visa is two years, so it will be the longest I’ve ever been away from home, secondly I’m here to work, not just to blow all my money on booze. The biggest difference between this trip and all those in the past, is that I don’t see this as a youth hosteling, backpacking type trip. I just got back from Toronto where I stayed in a hotel as opposed to a hostel for the first time whilst outside the UK alone. I’ve always been a fan of hosteling, but I think I’ve grown out of the whole hostel culture. My main problem with hostels is that you fall into a routine where you’ll only ever associate with other backpackers, and while I’ve found some of the coolest people I’ve ever met in hostels, I’ve also met some of the most obnoxious arse holes, and I didn’t want to spend two days listening to some basic bitch, hippie dipshit that thinks they’re some sort of Indiana Jones type adventurer because they got fucked up on Molly at a full moon party in Thailand last summer. It was weird though, when I first arrived, I checked in and set my stuff down in my room and I realised that I was now in a city of over two and a half million people, and I didn’t know a single one of them. I ended up meeting some of the most amazing people over the next two nights, only an insignificantly small amount of the two and a half million in Toronto, but an incredibly significant amount of the however many people I’ve met throughout my 24 years on this earth. I was glad that I’d made the decision to avoid a hostel in the end, and I think I’ll continue to do so where ever I can afford it. Don’t get me wrong, hostels certainly have their advantages, especially for solo travellers, but being the sort of person that will happily sit in a bar alone and talk to every person that sits beside me, I don’t feel I need hostels to meet people. I think the best part of traveling is forcing yourself to step out of your comfort zone, and being alone in a foreign city certainly does that. I’m staying in a hostel for a night in Calgary, but I think it may be my last, unless ever absolutely necessary. My days of youth hosteling are most definitely behind me, but my days of traveling are only just beginning.
Check out Tom’s writing at https://somethingpagan.wordpress.com/