It’s been a weird old week. I have been really under the weather and so haven’t been to work, which actually sucks more than I thought. Being off work is just no good when all your days run into a constant stream of headaches and lethargy 😦
However, an email I received from Cleo from Think Money Group has helped perked me up a bit! Cleo asked if I’d like to be part of a campaign being run by Ocean Finance called ‘Second Time Lucky’. The campaign is all about people writing about their dream experiences, about what they’ve always wanted to do but never had the chance for whatever reason. If chosen, that person can receive some help to have their (second) chance to achieve their dream!
Some of the entries I’ve read already are just so lovely. From getting married, finally going on that honeymoon, visiting family all over the world – there are some truly heartwarming entries. And here’s the good news; you can nominate yourself or someone else for a chance to win a second chance dream experience over here – www.oceanfinance.co.uk/secondchance
My Second Chance
So here’s what my ‘second chance’ would look like…
What immediately sprung to mind after reading the entries, was a travelling trip I took shortly after finishing university a few years ago.
I had been planning this trip for a long time, and saving for it even longer. I always wanted to go on some travels once I’d finished university – well, who doesn’t really? After those loooong years of study and stress and all things academic and planning for being an actual-real-life-adult, it only seemed right to want to go exploring for a few weeks on my own before I came back down to jobless reality with a hard thunk.
I had saved hard, worked several jobs, and I also had some money that my grandparents had put away when I was born. They had both passed away before I got to university, and they were both by far the people most excited for me to go to university. I figured I could keep saving the money, or spend it on something…but I knew that I had it earmarked for flights instead.
During all of this, by the end of university I had broken up with my boyfriend of 3 years. We’d been together through the entirety of university, and so I was devastated when we broke up. I didn’t know what to do with myself. I had lost everything I knew and was working towards. My trip was now more important than ever. It became my chance to recuperate, rescue myself a bit, and cry into cocktails and the arms of fellow travellers without any judgement…okay, a little judgement.
So, here’s how my itinerary looked: 3 weeks away, covering Amsterdam, Milan, Florence, Barcelona and Valencia. How exciting does that line-up look?!
Everything was set and before I knew it the day had come. I stayed with my friend George the night before so he could take me to the airport.
Bam! I was in Amsterdam. Amazing. Bam! I was in Milan. With a hint of a chesty cough, but nothing too concerning. Loads of mosquito bites though. Wait, they weren’t mosquito bites. They were BEDBUG BITES. My hostel had bedbugs, and they absolutely ravished my body. See below for the evidence of my poor pasty legs and back (always research your hostel as much as you can…I did, but still got bitten (pun intended).
I got anti-histamine creams but the sores weren’t going away, and the medication was expensive too. This wasn’t in my daily budget (and couldn’t be dealt with by my own extensive first aid kit). My legs were sore, and seeping, and I couldn’t sleep at all.
It was time for me to travel to Florence. Once there, I discovered it was hotter than any place I’d ever been. It was searing hot. My cough turned into a chest infection. Despite feeling as rough as I’d ever felt, I still tried to explore the beautiful city – but I was limited. I travelled to Barcelona via plane. By the time I got there, and got lost on my own at 1 o’ clock in the morning, my chest felt like I’d been smoking 50 a day all my life, it was so tight. I couldn’t walk without intense pain. Plus, the bedbugs I had in Milan had travelled with me in my luggage so I was getting bitten over and over again. Bloody stowaways.
The next morning, I rang my mam in tears. She told me to come home. I felt like I couldn’t go any further, but I felt like I’d be failing if I quit at that point. I had something to prove to myself, I had to prove that I could handle the tough times, be on my own, be my own person. Strong independent woman, don’t need no boys etc…But I knew I had been only half-experiencing the trip since Milan. I had to get on the next plane home, completely devastated.
Being in a foreign country, alone, really ill, and in a room full of different strangers every night was turning out to be no fun at all. Who’da thunk it?
It was such a disappointment not to finish, after all the time spent planning, listing where I was going to go, and all the money I’d saved eventually being spent on the return flight home! I guess going back really would be a second chance at Barcelona…
I have always wanted to finish that trip. I’m in a much better place 3 years on – I’m now with the person I know I’m meant to be with, and life is pretty peachy. But, if I got a second chance I’d want to go back to Barcelona and finish the trip that I had planned and started. I’d take my mam too, as it’s her 60th birthday in a few months time.
Thanks for reading, and hopefully I’ve inspired you to plan a trip away and enter the competition! Despite it being cut short, it was an eye-opening trip.
Let me know what your second chance experience would be in the comments below – and do enter the competition!