I spent last weekend in South Wales, visiting friends.
For somewhere that gets a reputation as being the back of beyond, I’ve always known another side to the Welsh countryside. A big chunk of my family live further north on a beautiful farm, I spent alot of my childhood on camping trips in Brecon and Snowdonia, and every Easter I was at uni I enjoyed time on the Gower. Quiet and remote? Yes, alot of Wales is. But it also provides a landscape that surprises those who’ve not visited. Having never travelled to Canada, I can’t say for sure, but the way the mountains meet the lakes has got to rival some of the scenery you’d catch over there.
I’ll admit, when we said we’d visit our friends just the otherside of Cardiff, it didn’t cross my mind they’d live in the countryside. I’ve always associated Cardiff with nights out and great shopping, having spent a fair chunk of time there with Lizzie when she was studying. When we continued past every city centre junction once over the bridge, I was pleasantly surprised to find out we were heading to the Valleys – can you tell I didn’t organise this visit? We spent out Saturday afternoon taking a six mile walk around the beautiful reservoir you can see in my photos, stopping every mile or two to take more photos. We must have passed around eight people in total, and it felt like we had the whole place to ourselves. Feeling reflective, I was inspired to write todays post – things to travel with, that won’t fit in your suitcase.
Our trip to Wales last weekend came at the perfect time. I’ve been having alot of bad luck lately and will admit, I haven’t been feeling myself. Often, when we travel, we’re so caught up in doing and seeing it all, that we don’t take a step back to appreciate where we are and what we’re experiencing. The opportunity to explore such a physically large and beautiful place, with easy company gave me a real feeling of personal modesty. Remaining humble wherever you travel is key to appreciating exactly what you’re experiencing – I came away feeling one step closer to myself again.
When I travel with new people, I always worry if we’ll have the same agenda. When I’m visiting somewhere new, I’m pretty much happy to go with the flow – my only rule is, I want to experience the local culture. I’m curious about new places, food, wine, fashions, modes of transport – as 90% of people who travel are. I have no problem sitting for hours on end drinking local wine, and winding down (hell, that’s why there’s no mention of my recent trip to Milan on my blog – that’s all we did!), but I want to make sure I’m soaking something up with it. Travelling to different areas of the city on a weekend break, or taking the less trodden path on a rural walk – remain curious!
I think this one goes without saying, but I meet so many people who are scared to try new things. Being open minded links with curiosity, and is invaluable to any trip. Whether it’s trying new food, a physcial activity, a way of travelling or even spending time with local people – being open minded to something that could enrich you and really make your trip is key to making great travel memories.
If you’re open minded and curious about other cultures when you travel, I imagine you’re respectful. But making sure you’re aware of customs upfront and maintaining a respect for that when you’re travelling is the best way to avoid any conflict. A fact I learnt a few years back is, despite it’s fun-loving (and wine drinking) culture, it’s not acceptable to appear openly drunk in Italy. Remaining respectful of these small culture-tweaks is key to a good trip!
And finally, pack yourself some knowledge. I love to read up on where we’re heading so I don’t miss out on anything when I’m there. Even if it’s just a good area to get dinner, knowing a bit about where you are and getting some geographical bearings is really important to using your time well. I love learning more about somewhere when I’m visiting, and quite often afterwards, but packing a little bit of knowledge in your brain upfront means you’ll have your wits about you as soon as you arrive!
If you’ve landed here, you’re probably looking to find out more about Katherine-Louise. Run by me, Kat - put simply I'm a 30 year old who is decidedly normal. My blog is a destination for women just like me - the same interests and aspirations, working our way through the same twists and turns of life. Katherine-Louise is designed to inspire and inform; to give you a break from the norm as well identify with the beauty of routine. A fifteen minute recoup, or an hours vacation, it’s the go-to for Everyday-Joe’s, just like me, who want a few minutes off the radar.