By Claudia Siron
All-time favourite rom-com Eat Pray Love starring the phenomenal Julia Roberts and based on the book by Elizabeth Gilbert paints the story of a 40-something-year-old woman’s ‘search for everything’. Dissatisfied with her lifestyle at home that appears perfectly adequate and comfortable on the exterior, she embarks on an overseas escapade where she ultimately finds inner peace.
After watching this film recently during lockdown, I couldn’t help but wonder: Why is it that so many of us settle for a comfortable and ordinary life? Is it to get by without judgement from the women we brunch with every fourth Sunday, and to be able to pay bills on time without having to reach out to relatives? Well, both of those do sound more than mildly inviting – especially when reaching a milestone age like 40. However, I believe in a time like this – the miserable year of Covid-19 – we all crave something a little more extraordinary; something not dominated by perfect credit scores and judgement. The answer? Adventure.
Julia Roberts’ curious character discovers the genuine pleasure of nourishment by eating her way through Italy; the power of prayer in India; and unexpected true love in Bali.
As a woman in my mid-twenties, I’ve been lucky to experience all sorts of travel (so far) since I was 21-years-old. My heart hurts for those who’ve just finished high school or have just began uni and have been planning a gap-year or trip to finally explore outside their bubble as well as explore themselves as people who are growing. This then had me thinking:
Well, what if Julia was half her age? What exactly would she discover on her ‘search for everything’ if she was travelling in her early 20s?
In a young millennial’s version of Eat Pray Love, women are searching for an unapologetically (and temporary) glutenous relationship with food; a series of colourful, sexual awakenings; and finally, creating a string of memories. We’ve drawn up a definitive guide for women in their 20s to hold onto their sense of wanderlust and continue to grow their desire for ‘more’ during bleak times:
Feast – The art of not just eating, but indulging
On my first, big ‘solo’ trip overseas, I gained seven kilos. Friends I met with over the course of the trip also admitted they too came home to Sydney with slightly tighter jeans. At the beginning of my backpacking adventures, photos of myself flaunted a some-what defined jaw-line; then towards the end of the trip the chin(s) layed lower and I went from what felt like Robin Scherbatsky to a young Melissa McCarthy. And so what? Many of us may go wild with our food ambitions when overseas, and that’s a wonderful part of it.
In Switzerland, girlfriends and I drank cheese fondue and melted chocolate from a mug. In Paris, I would eat world-famous pastries from what was promised (by friendly locals) to be the best bakeries in France. And in Barcelona, I feasted on many versions of paella until I found the perfect one. Personally, I found I most certainly over-indulged in Berlin, Germany. I devoured roasted pork knuckle with creamy mash paired with buttery beers double the size of my head for almost every lunch – easily the daily reach of one’s calorie-intake, and in just one meal.
Friends and I learned the art of letting go and not caring about how much is going in and instead cared about what was going in. Utterly flavoursome Thai dishes boasting an array of foreign spices aren’t exactly foods we can experience at home – even at the most authentic and non-Western of restaurants in our cultured hubs like Sydney and Melbourne. So, embrace it!
The top places to venture to for your culinary mission include Poland (surprisingly), Italy, Greece, France and Austria.
Hook Up – Relishing a sexual career rather than a fairy-tale love affair
It is rare, and perhaps too mature (?), for a 20-year-old to travel overseas with the desire to find love. And love is usually better off as an unexpected bonus when adventuring, rather than an intentional quest.
When we’re in our early 20s, we’re looking for the opposite of love. We’re looking for steamy casual hook-ups. Yes, even introverted Charlie – your co-worker who admits they have zero sexual fantasies – has the desire for a passionate rendezvous with a stranger overseas.
Hot spots for globe-trotters who want to explore more than just museums are usually in the more expected cities – like Paris, New York and London – where progressive lifestyles and an open attitude towards all types of dating is most definitely appreciated.
Enjoying sex out of your comfort zone (a.k.a Crows Nest 2065) is incredibly vital for both growth and experience. Understanding what you enjoy feeling and what types of people you enjoy being with is a huge part of one’s ‘sexual awakening’. When we’re away from home, we’re also more inclined to be more bold and confident with who we’re seeing – since we’re out of our postcode bubble where the phrase ‘six degrees of separation’ feels more like ‘one’.
And in saying that, it also means we’re perhaps more open to trying new things in our sexual endeavours overseas, too. One may live and breathe what our silver-screen goddess Samantha Jones would say: “I’m a tri-sexual. I’ll try anything once.”
Sway – Enjoying life through effortless interaction and intoxicated celebration
Whether you’re solo-travelling, adventuring with a group of friends, or escaping normal life with a partner, you are most-definitely seeking a good time. This might mean cocktails at sunset on the beach, island parties with mixed groups of other travellers and locals, or a pub crawl in the English countryside. The world’s your oyster, and you want every tasty bit of it.
Exploring different versions of what constitutes ‘a good time’ overseas is both liberating and exhausting. And most importantly, worth it. From hearing girlfriends’ travel stories and experiencing my own, the best roundup of cities to visit for celebrating life and meeting new people is the Greek Islands, Scotland, London, Spain and Portugal.
The absolute best of the best is undoubtedly Mykonos in Greece. It’s the perfect pit stop on your adventures to meet new people, party until the wee hours of the morning and create friendships you’ll hold onto forever.
To the young ones reading: Your travel vision boards shouldn’t change after Covid stops. Hold onto these original desires and make sure you discover new and exciting tastes when it comes to food, exploring yourself and others, and, most importantly, celebrating life. And if you are at any other stage in your life? Why not plan a new adventure, even if it means kids and family are in tow!