Hi! I'm Charlotte, a 20-year-old Dane, spending some years travelling before uni.
From a young age, I've been the "overachiever" and an insane perfectionist, setting unrealistically high standards for myself and my schoolwork. And it only got worse throughout high school, where my stress level got close to a break down multiple times, where I spent my weekends physically sick from the stress, and my days holed up in my room doing my homework and working on assignments. But the better grades I got, the more unhappy and stressed out I felt. The schoolwork didn't bring me joy, and neither did the good grades.
When I went traveling with my family during the school breaks all the pressure seemed long forgotten. And exploring a jungle or visiting a historic site gave me much more fulfillment and satisfaction than an A+ on an assignment could.
Then I went on two The Award adventure trips with my friends, and on those trips there was absolutely no way to do homework and nothing around us but beautiful nature - and I had never felt more at peace or more like I belonged somewhere. Those days of sleeping in a tent, cooking food over an open fire and either walking or canoeing from place to place were a bliss.
Picture: silver The Award canoeing trip in April of 2017
And then in the summer of 2017, I went on a two-week service project to Tanzania - a decision that would completely change my outlook on life.
I've always been passionate about helping people, and it has always been something that I value highly. But in those two weeks, I discovered just how much traveling, helping, and learning about cultures really meant to me. Suddenly my passion and hard work, which I usually used to perfect assignments, brought me happiness and actual satisfaction instead of stress and anxiety. On that trip I absolutely fell in love with traveling, especially traveling without luxuries and including service projects. I loved sleeping in a tent and getting covered in dust and sweat every day, working hard. I loved disconnecting from social media, not having a mirror and learning so much about other people and other cultures. Coming home and going back to the everyday routine of going to school and writing assignments seemed dull in comparison.
Picture: Round Square Big Build Project in Tanzania summer of 2017
The following year I changed a lot - my look on materialism, society and the conventional life of getting a stable job, getting married and having kids became a lot more critical. I started reading Thoreau, Tolstoy and Jack London. I became much more aware of myself, much happier and much more grateful for my life. I became confident and comfortable in my own skin. But at the same time, I started questioning my future and the path I was about to take in life. Most conventional lives started to seem superficial and unsatisfactory. It seemed inevitable that society and security, with time, would suck out the depth and excitement of life. And I wanted more. I didn't want to just settle for "ok", "good enough" and "stable", I wanted exhilaration and extraordinary, I wanted the happiness and fulfillment that I had so far only really experienced while in nature or traveling. I simply wanted so much more than what the conventional path seemed to offer. So it seemed that I could only find the depth and meaning of life that I felt was missing by taking an alternative path, a less secure and sensible one. While I had always originally planned for one gap year, one year of allowed "fun", and then University, as it was expected of me, I realized that that would not bring me happiness, nor was it the only way to succeed in life.
So many people rush through life, always doing something right now to get to somewhere or something else. We go to school so we can get into a good University, and we go through University, so we can get a good job, and then through that job, we hope to save enough money for that one car or that one cruise someday. That's the path that society sets up for us, and most of my, admittedly short life, I've thought that that was the only path. But if traveling is the thing that brings the most joy to my life, why wait? I, at least, don't see why. People telling me I should hurry up and get an education sure won't change my mind. University shouldn't be this looming figure in the near future just waiting to snatch away my freedom. I should want to take that specific education more than anything else. It should be my passion. But as for right now, I have no clue about what I want to study, and traveling is my passion. So I'm gonna do that. As cheaply as possible. And for as long as possible.
I want to actually experience life, and there can be no time restraint on that. If I'm meant to take an education and go to University it'll come naturally along the way. I'll figure it out.
As for right now I'm planning on traveling the world for the next three years, but who knows, those might turn into two, four or ten years. I don't know. For now, I'll travel cheaply and I'll work in between travels. Although inexperienced in solo traveling I hope to learn along the way. And I hope to be able to help others on my journey as well.
As a minor bump in the road, I'm slightly handicapped. A couple of years ago I fell while skiing and ripped my meniscus and ligament in my left knee. Since then I've had two surgeries, and while my knee is fine in most situations, it gets inflamed rather easily, meaning that I can't just walk 20 kilometers or climb a mountain. I'm determined not to let it limit me though, and as I travel more I'll hopefully learn more about what I can and can't do. And if someone in a similar situation decides to keep up with my travels, I am more than happy to be the test bunny.
Picture: Me having the time of my life in Strasbourg 3 weeks after my first surgery in 2016
I'm so excited for this new chapter of my life, and I hope to learn a lot more about myself, my surroundings and the art of traveling. While this blog is, to start off with, a way for my family and friends to follow me on my travels, I hope others will join me on my journey as well. I might as well share my experiences with the world along the way - who knows, it might help someone out there!