I’m a single parent – my son is 18 and my daughter is 14 – so most of the travelling I’ve done has been with them. When they were little, I’d take them on holidays to Spain and other places in Europe. That type of trip isn’t very me but, on my own, I liked to stick to places that were similar to home. I picked areas where I felt safe on my own with two little ones and where I wouldn’t be too far out of my comfort zone.
But travel is actually a huge passion for me. I love anything culturally different and have a deep need to explore the world to see how other people live. I want to see beyond my own bubble.
I really wanted to go on an adventure
I really wanted to go on an adventure and just be Vikki – not a mum. I didn’t want to decide where we went for breakfast or dinner, or what we were going to do each day. I liked the idea of being spoiled. I also wanted to meet like-minded people my own age. So, I booked myself onto Flash Pack’s Vietnam trip in September, 2022.
I was quite nervous. My concern was not gelling with the group and feeling stuck. A Whatsapp chat was set up and after an hour of initial quiet, I thought: ‘Right, I’m going in’.
I like to move around and connect with everyone
I shared with the group why I was excited, that I’d packed and unpacked. As soon as that happened, everyone started talking. It made it more exciting building a rapport beforehand. After that, I felt like I was going to get on well with them all.
Normally, I like to move around and connect with everyone, rather than or be drawn to one or two people. But there was one Australian woman, Kimmy, who was just hilarious. She was a stereotypical Aussie – a breath of fresh air and so friendly and funny every morning. I was always pleased to see her face.
You don’t normally get to visit local people’s homes on holiday
On the first night in Hanoi, we went to a Vietnamese lady’s home for dinner. She showed us how to cook the food and then we had a go. It was fantastic. There was fish, nice vegetables and rice. The food just kept coming.
You don’t normally get to visit local people’s homes on holiday but we were doing things like that daily on this trip. We also got to see rice wine being made and nosed in local workshops where people were making bricks or other necessities. It provided us with a fascinating insight into Vietnamese culture.
We also did a private sampan boat ride along the Mekong
A highlight was doing a Vespa food tour around Ho Chi Minh. It really was the best moment of the holiday for me, which is funny because I was terrified of my safety in so much traffic.
I needn’t have worried – it was exhilarating. We were in among it and seeing the normal day-to-day lives of people rushing by from the back of a moped. We stopped at different places to try chicken skewers and Vietnamese rolls. We went to about seven different places in total.
We also did a private sampan boat ride along the Mekong. Locals string their fishing lines across the water and, every so often, we’d have to lower the roof to get underneath them. We’d quickly jump off of our seats and lie on the floor as they did it.
It was nice to be able to have good conversations
There was just the right amount of downtime, too. Had it not been for the Whatsapp group, I probably would have just sat in the hotel during these in-between moments.
Yet here it was different. One of the group started messaging, ‘right, we’re meeting at the pool,’ so I went down and joined them. I was compelled to do different things because others were doing them and I wanted to be part of the whole experience. It was also nice to be able to have good conversations.
I came home feeling like I’m capable of making friendships
I’ve planned to go to a UK festival soon with one of the women from the trip. It’s essentially a summer camp for adults with music, arts, crafts and things like archery. It’s not really my kind of thing, but she said when she saw it she thought of me. So, I said yes.
I was pretty sad leaving the group but I came home feeling like I’m capable of making friendships, knowing that there are always new people out there who think and feel the same way I do. I felt these were my people; we’re already talking about the next trip. It’s honestly been life-changing.
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Images: Flash Pack & Adobe Stock