Valéria is in her mid-30s and has a master’s degree in History and Ancient Mesopotamian Studies. She also has learnt 5 dead languages! Valéria worked in tourism for about six years as a tour guide, and now she is a producer and production manager for a film production house in Hungary!
Where did you catch the travel bug?
Ugh… I guess I cannot even remember. I was always interested in different cultures – historical periods are basically different cultures as well, although you jump time and not continents. I started to travel with my mum when I was about 6, but my first mind-changing experience was in Egypt when I was 14. I can still recall how I felt seeing the pyramids and the temples in Abu Simbel. That was my first time trying “non-European food” too (well, that was not a success story though…)
How long have you been travelling?
All my life basically, but intensively in the last 7-8 years. Annually I usually have 3 longer trips at least, and I do smaller ones or long weekends whenever I can, and I find a good deal.
How do you handle making plans and having ideas as a solo traveller?
As many times I travel on my own, I come up with both the idea and the planning. If I travel with friends, most of the time it happens the same way. Solo travelling gives you a lot of freedom, and we have to make a lot of compromises in our lives anyway. Travelling actively recharges me, and I don’t want to make compromises there… I have 2-3 people I like going on trips with, but you do need a good companion.
How do you afford to travel?
For most of my trips I finance myself because it gives me a lot more freedom. But I work with tour companies, if their tours fit my agenda and interest, and occasionally with hotels as well. As I used to be a tour guide, and still have my international tour guiding licence, thus in most cases I can visit museums for free!
How long do you want to travel?
I don’t really get why I should stop. It might change a bit if I had kids, but I assume it is just the style of travelling, not travelling itself.
What is the worst piece of travel advice you’ve been given?
“Don’t talk to locals!” Total bullshit. For me, the whole idea behind travelling is just the opposite. You can observe different cultures as an outsider, you can read about them too, but nothing gives you a better insight than talking a lot to locals. They tell you way more about their culture than any guide can, plus I heard many many really great and interesting personal stories as well. Guides might be essential to get to understand places, but conversations are essential to get to know other people.
What is one thing you wish you’d known before you started travelling?
Probably to force myself to write travel diaries. I have a few, but as it is really time-consuming, I stopped doing them.
What is one thing you will never travel without?
That’s a good one. If it is not forbidden, I always take Hungarian sausage with me. Otherwise: travel socks, a small blanket for the plane, my power bank, and soap bubbles.
Any fun travel anecdotes you want to share
One of my favourite ones is from Gili, Indonesia. This island has only bikes, and it is a nice and remote little paradise, where locals live a very simple life. I was there around Easter, and next to the hotel there were two local kids playing on the street with two bunnies. I asked their mum if I could snap a few photos. Then I went back to the hotel, to have them somehow printed, and gave them to the mother of the kids. She started to cry. I understood that this was the very first time she saw a printed photo of her children. She covered the pictures with transparent plastic and pinned them onto their porch so all the neighbours could see them. They were so so happy just because of three simple printed photos. It was really heartwarming.