The art of storytelling.

4.5 weeks
32 days
768 hours
46.080 minutes
2.764.800 seconds

This is how long my trip to Southeast Asia lasted. A trip of a lifetime. Well, I know that the majority of backpackers travel far longer than that but for me this trip marked the end of my academic career (I had just handed in my master’s dissertation) and as I have stressed multiple times, it was my first ever backpacking trip. So I wasn’t the only one excited about it. I have an awesome bunch of loved ones around me that were just as passionate about this trip as I was.

So here you are after those 2.764.800 seconds, with your head still in the clouds but your feet already on the ground back home. Somehow you feel in need of another vacation after all those new impressions, people met and experiences gained. Nah, that’s not going to happen. Your awesome bunch of people (bless them!) wants to know all about your trip! So you meet up with everyone, your eyes are gleaming, your skin is tanned and radiant and you have a big smile on your face – the post-adventure glow rests on you.

Then you start telling your story and shortly after you started off, you get caught up in details, trying to transmit each feeling, sight, smell or sound that caught your attention. Unfortunately I have experienced that it is impossible to completely convey all these things. And that’s totally okay! It is you who went on that trip and you are lucky to being able to say that you experienced all this. When talking about your trip though, you will never have your listeners as spellbound as you would want to. In my experience, it is best to talk about those stories that you either found most fascinating or those that irritated you, a.k.a. where the culture clash happened. With respect to my Southeast Asia trip I always tell the story of us at a bus station in Vietnam trying to get to from A to B. None of the people around us spoke English but desperately wanted to help us. “Helping us” implied six Vietnamese men and women grabbing our arms, attempting to pull us into their vans and take us wherever we wanted to go.

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Accompany these compelling stories with photos. Do not bore your family and friends with the 3.125 photos you took. Make a pre-selection or select them spontaneously while you tell your stories. No one wants to admire the countless pictures you took of yourself as part of a girly-sunset-photoshoot or numerous photos of the same attraction from ten different angles.

Sometimes it can be frustrating, repetitive and exhausting to talk about your travel stories – for both you and the listener. As long as you keep up your glow and talk about it in a short, snappy and entertaining way, you can really mesmerize others with your adventures and remind yourself yet again of just how superb the trip was.

Travel Planning…or not?

Here I am sitting at my desk with a pile of uni-stuff to do but my head is somewhere else. As usual, I am dreaming of being far away – my favourite way of procrastinating. This time my thoughts take me to Southeast Asia. I have been dreaming of visiting this mesmerising place for such a long time and now it is finally happening!

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The plan is to get lost – again. Not getting lost on a road and not being able to find my way back to where I was heading. It’s about getting lost in the bliss of travelling. Indulging in every second of being abroad and taking in every experience that comes across. For me, this can only happen if I give myself the freedom to not plan every detail of my journey. I need space to breathe and to align myself to the vibes of a place and get into the groove of that particular culture. I am not a fan of these vacations that are thoroughly planned day in and day out. Some people say that’s a weird coincidence because that’s exactly how I live my everyday life. I like plans and I like them to go well. Maybe that is why I enjoy travelling so much. Suddenly it feels okay to loose control and to just “go with the flow”. Only this way I can discover all the enchanting places that are hiding away in Asia. It is about taking my time to to unravel their secrets and giving myself the space to decide right there and then how much time I want to spend in that place.

Don’t get this wrong, a vacation has to be planned out somehow. Especially when you’re travelling on a budget like I always am. My goal is to acquaint myself as much as possible with the different countries by rifling through all the travel guides I can put my hands on. You need a rough idea of what you think you want to see, right? And then, once there, this will give me a path I could follow. But I don’t have to. My dreams are currently circling around Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Thailand and Bali. Maybe more of Indonesia? Maybe Malaysia?

Are there any places I simply cannot miss? A jaw-dropping beach, a dazzling street market, a unique and mouth-watering dish in a tiny restaurant?

I am packing my suitcase…

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Now that the new year is almost two weeks old, I decided to share my 2015 travel bucket list with you. In fact, it is an ever-changing and ongoing bucket list but I picked out some destinations that I would like to tick off during this year.

1. Athens, Greece
This trip is already set in stone and my suitcase is almost packed. This Saturday I am leaving Germany to visit Athens with Corrie. After encountering generous people and admiring the beauty of Greece during my trip to Santorini last year, I am now excited to get to know the Greek capital. As far as I know, the city seems to be the perfect mixture between antique objects and buildings and a lively and fresh atmosphere that all capital cities seem to have. I am eager to climb the Acropolis and spend afternoons in cafés that offer vegan and organic food alongside the famous Greek coffee.

2. Explore Wales
Knowing that I will have to leave this country sooner or later this year, I am eager to take every opportunity I can get to explore its beauty. My bucket list for Wales ranges from hiking in the Snowdonia National Park, breathing in the air of ancient book in the town of Hay-on-Wye, admiring the beaches along the Gower Peninsula and visiting the village of Portmeiron which will make me feel as if I am visiting an enchanting town in Italy.

3. Scotland
Since Scotland will be so close while living in Wales, it is a for sure destination on my list! I have already been to Glasgow several years ago but I am still hoping to be able to visit Edinburgh, hike in the Scottish Highlands and visit Loch Ness.

4. Alberta, Canada
I am crossing my fingers that this will happen! There’s a special occasion happening on 1st August 2015 in Alberta, Canada (I am going to tell you more about this when the time is right) and I am checking flight prices daily hoping that they will go down just as much so that I can afford a ticket!

5. Southeast Asia
This will be the highlight of my travels this year. I am finally going on my first backpacking tour, stepping foot into several countries in Southeast Asia. The trip is scheduled for September and I am already breathing in all the information that I can find in my travel guide. Bali will be one of the main destinations during this trip. There’s not much planned yet but I would love to visit Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam and Thailand. I am still debating whether Thailand might have already lost its unique charm since it developed into a main tourist destination over the years. Any advice from fellow backpackers on this?

6. Black Forest
Being a German woman in her 20ies, I never thought that I would put the Black Forest on one of my bucket lists as soon. For us Germans the Black Forest is rather a place where the older crowd likes to go. But here it is. Over the course of the years whenever I have talked to someone from abroad (especially you folks from North America!), people where telling me that the Black Forest was always on their itinerary whenever they visited Germany. So I decided that it’s a shame that I haven’t been there yet!

7. Prague
The city of Prague was never really on my bucket list either. But after engaging myself more with its history and after talking to people that have already visited Prague, I couldn’t help but put it on this list. Can’t wait!!

8. Barcelona
In contrast, Barcelona has ALWAYS been on my list but I didn’t get a chance to go yet. It is a definite must and I just love the idea of a pulsating city that is close to the beach and has so many highlights such as the Sagrada Familia, the Gothic Quarter, Park Güell and the Montjuic.

I guess 8 trips seems enough for one year, right? My feet are always itching to travel and wander but a student budget doesn’t really allow much more. If you have any tips on how to explore the world on a shoestring, I would love to read about it in the comments!