Ok, I’ll admit, the headline is slightly misleading but this is an interview I did in the middle of my travels in 2014. I refer to it when people ask me about travelling solo as I hope it helps address some of the fears they have. Being a huge advocate of the personal benefits of solo travel I think some of us just need a little nudge to help eventually commit. Hope it helps 🙂
Name- Benjamin Lipari
Occupation- Digital Marketing for the Commonwealth Bank
Current Location- Tangier, Morocco
Where you call home- In Between countries right now
How long have you been travelling for now? – Almost 5 months.
What countries have you covered?
What was the reason that you decided to start travelling?
Travel is something that I’ve always been passionate about and feel there is so much value from experiencing new places, cultures and points of view. The catalyst was on my 25th Birthday I remember sitting at my desk at work and having a ‘quarter life crisis’ wondering when I’d ever have the chance to pack my whole life up and just leave. Later that day I asked my manager for 6 months leave to go travelling. I’m very blessed to have a great relationship with my manager who also sees the value in travel and granted me the time off.
Have you had any crazy experiences?
I was flying from London to Florence to spend time with my family who live there. I arrived at Victoria station with around 2.5 hours till my flight. The Gatwick express takes around 30mins so I was happy with my organisation skills. After purchasing a ticket and sitting on the train waiting to leave we were told there’s been a gas leak and no trains are going anywhere for a few hours. Freaking out I managed to find a couple of other people to split a taxi to Gatwick. 2 hours and £120 later we arrived at the airport.
I knew there was no chance of making the flight (I ran anyway). Huffing and puffing I got to the desk and with a look of desperation in my eyes, I asked if I’d missed the flight. The lady informed me that it had been delayed 1 hour but they overbooked the plane so I was going to have to be upgraded to first class (dream!) Haha so getting on the plane I was sat next to 2 very well dressed women. We started chatting and got along really well and they asked if I was going to Florence for Men’s Fashion week. I had no idea it was on but once I turned around and saw the rest of the plane dressed up and looking fresh it was apparent this was no ordinary flight. As we chatted they invited me to join them for the week, so off I went to men’s fashion week in Florence!
Meeting designers, models and suppliers. Going to lunches and VIP after parties where celebs like Craig David and Kayne West were (I was way more stoked with Craig David). We’re still friends and have met up a couple times since. They live in London which I’m planning on relocating to at the end of this trip so it’s great to have some friends 🙂
For the most part, you have been travelling solo, would you recommend it?
Absolutely yes. Before this trip is only been with groups of mates or with girlfriends and now I’m a huge advocate in solo travel and being open to whatever comes your way. There have been countless moments on this trip where I have no idea where I am, where I’ll sleep or where I’m heading but it’s made me follow my gut instinct which most of the time has lead to in incredible adventure. I’ve learnt more about myself in the past 5 months than I could have if I was with a group. You also need to be switched on and have your smarts about you while you’re travelling solo. Where as in a group you can switch off and follow the crowd, it’s just not possible when you’re solo. You need to work out what train to catch and where the hostel is and this feeling of making your own way is really rewarding.
At the same time, I’ve never really felt like I’m ‘solo’ because being by myself I’ve been forced out of my comfort zone by having to meet new people in hostels and on a night out (yes sounds terrible but I really enjoy heading out at night by myself). Travelling solo has allowed me to do the things I want without having to consult anyone else.
You also learn to be comfortable with your own presence and learn its ok to go to a restaurant and ask for a table for one. It’s ok to chill in a park with a cheese platter and just watch people 🙂
I’ve also noticed you get upgraded more on flights when you’re solo (and tall) haha
Hard one, from all the places you have visited, which is the favourite destination and why?
In answering this question I came to the realisation that the people I was with in all the various places actually affected my experience and the way I now perceive that place. Having said that Cinque Terre in the Italian Riviera would be my favourite. The plan was to stay for a couple nights which then got extended into a week. This town and the locals way of life is so infectious. Each of the 5 towns has something different to offer in their own unique way. Coming from Australia there’s just nothing like it back home. I felt like I was inside a child’s imagination. I spent a day with an Aussie girl I met one morning.
We spent the day going from each town by train (lazy I know) starting at Riomaggiore with the plan to get to the furthest town to swim and get our tan on. Along the way at each town, we were making friends with locals and travellers alike. Stopped at the third town and found a local family deli where we ordered cheeses, different types of ham and tomatoes for a mezze platter along with beverages. We sat on the rocks with our fresh local produce, sun beating down, the locals fishing, kids running and swimming. It probably one of the most perfect moments of my life. We managed to get to the last town and a train back to Riomaggrie in time for the sunset. We took a bottle of wine to the highest point of the town which happened to be a church and watch the sun set over the Mediterranean. Dusk is my favourite time of the day because of the colours it produces and given Cinque is already soaked in colours it made for something really special.
Do you have a bucket list? and if so name three things on your list.
1. Visit every continent in the world including Antarctica.
2. Ride a motorbike from Cairo to Cape Town
3. Complete the full pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela.
What is it about travel that you love?
The people you meet.
The experiences you have.
The tastes you try.
The stories you hear and now have to tell.
The evidence of personal growth.
The realisation that no matter where you’re from, we are all human and struggle with the same issues day to day – knowing that it is all relative to your own situation.
The realisation of how lucky I’ve been in my life growing up in Australia and being grateful for what I have back home.
If you could give advice to someone who is wanting to do what you are doing right now, what would you say?
- Book a flight. It’s probably the hardest part but once you commit to a date have and destination, everything else just seems to fall into place. There are so many unknowns which is fine, you can work them out later, the most important thing is to get out and start.
- One of the hardest parts for me was making that commitment to take the time to do something for me and ignoring what people will think about taking so much time off to travel and know that it’s an investment in me and is something that I’m passionate about.
- Once you are away I learnt the biggest and most important thing I would suggest would be live in the moment. Be fully present to where you are at in that point in time.
- On a daily basis, I ask myself two things, ‘when will I ever be here again? And, ‘what stories from this place do I have to tell my grandchildren?’ I find this pushes me to get out of my comfort zone and make things happen.
- Say ‘yes’ a lot! You never know where it will lead.
- Take the back streets and dodgy ally ways. It’s the best way to find some of the coolest restaurants and shops.
- Oh yeah, and start a diary 😉
Top five places to visit … GO
- 1: Cinque Terre, Italy
- 2: Cassis, France
- 3: Santorini, Greece
- 4: Chawen, Morocco
- 5: Phi Phi Island, Thailand
- 6: Sintra, Portugal 😉
Quick fire Questions- Short answers and just the first thing that comes to mind 🙂
- Speak any other languages? Italian after a couple of red wines.
- If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be? New York/London
- Best meal to date? Portuguese tart from Lisbon or Tacos in Barcelona (amazing!!)
- Best View? Oia, Santorini
- Best Airline? Aegean
- Best beach? Phi Phi Island, Thailand
- Best Accommodation? Cavo Tagoo, Mykonos
- Best Nightlife? St. Tropez or Mykonos
- A great tune you listen to while travelling? This is tough but either Craig David fill me in OR Gorgon City – Real ft.Yasmin