Do you remember the first time you travelled overseas? The first time you stepped foot on a plane bound for another country, got a stamp in your passport, saw a new city you’d been dreaming of? These moments, they’re all firsts, and that’s what travel is all about – doing something for the very first time.
Two boys who didn’t know how any of the above felt, are The Rhodes Bros. For despite being super successful YouTubers with fans across the globe, these boys, like many young Americans, had never travelled outside of the States before.
Which is how we knew we just had to partner with them as part of The Travel Project. You see, The Travel Project is all about exploring the ways in which travel can make you a better person, and what better way to understand the impact travel can have on you, than by doing it for the very first time. So with that in mind, we sent the boys on their first international adventure, travelling on Contiki’s European Discovery trip. Here’s what they had to say…
TTP: Tell me a little bit about yourselves
Austin: Well, to start with, I’m Aaron’s twin brother. We’re originally from a small town in the middle of Ohio, but now we live in Los Angeles. I’d definitely describe myself as the calmer of the two of us, and I can be a little nerdy too.
Aaron: I’m definitely the more adventurous one, always trying to get Austin out of his little bubble.
TTP: Why do you think it is that you’ve never travelled before?
Austin: Our family didn’t travel much when we were growing up, and if we did it was usually somewhere you could get to within driving distance. The US is such a big place, so I feel like a lot of American’s choose to just travel here because there are so many different types of places to go visit.
Aaron: To go along with what Austin said, since we do live so far away from Europe and many other countries I think a lot of families like ours decide to just stay and travel within the country.
TTP: Were you daunted by the prospect of travelling abroad for the first time?
Austin: If I was travelling alone I think it would’ve been a little more daunting but since I had Aaron coming with me it didn’t seem so bad.
Aaron: The most daunting part for me was getting our passports sorted, since we’d never had them before this trip.
TTP: Tell me about that moment sitting on the plane, knowing you were about to go to Europe
Austin: It was definitely a mixture of excitement/I can’t believe we’re actually doing this.
Aaron: I was excited as well, probably a little too excited as I ended up with no sleep going into my first day in Europe…
TTP: What were you most excited to see/do?
Austin: I was definitely most excited to see Paris. When I was in high school I’d watch the film “Paris, je t’aime” over and over again, and I think that’s where my obsession with the city first started. Also, everyone I know who’s been there said it’s one of the few cities that feels exactly the way you’d imagine it to feel. And I can vouch for the fact that it definitely did!
Aaron: I was excited about seeing Rome for sure. This is really cheesy, but I used to love the Lizzie McGuire movie growing up (like every other millennial) so I had to go make my wish in the Trevi Fountain.
TTP: How do you think you adapted to travelling?
Austin: The first few days were a bit tricky…jet lag is definitely real, which I didn’t really believe before, and in the first 48 hours I felt like I didn’t have a clue what was going on. Everything was totally new and completely different to home. But by the end of the trip I felt so much more comfortable talking to new people, asking for directions and generally finding my way around. You just kind of get used to it, and wonder why it was such a big deal in the first place.
Aaron: Like Austin said the first 48 hours were definitely confusing and a total sensory overload, but like everything new eventually you adapt. By the end of the trip Austin and I were hopping from train to train like pros and really putting ourselves out there, which isn’t something you tend to do when you’re in your safe home environment.
TTP: Did you push yourselves to say yes to trying new things?
Austin: I definitely tried to, especially when it came to food as I can be a bit of a picky eater, but I forced myself to be brave! I definitely ate candy from every single country we visited and found my new favourite candy bar – Kinder Bueno. I think I’d eaten about 200 of them by the end of the trip…
Aaron: I’d have to agree with Austin that food was probably the biggest thing for me to push myself with because I’m equally as picky. When we got to Italy though I probably ate a month’s worth of carbs because everything was just SO good.
TTP: What was your favourite ‘first’ on the trip?
Austin: Probably getting my first stamp in my passport because I felt like that moment had been a long time coming, and at that point I’d officially made it. I was actually going to Europe.
Aaron: Mine was definitely eating my first slice of authentic Italian pizza. I’m pretty sure I gained 10lbs by the time we left Florence!
TTP: Did being away from home give you a new perspective on things?
Austin: I honestly kept thinking about the fact that all of these people in each city we visited were going to keep on living their lives even after I’d gone home and was back to my normal routine. It’s a thought that had never really occurred to me before, because before coming to Europe I’d never really comprehended how big the world actually is, and how there are so many individual lives happening at this very moment in time. I guess it was a bit of a reality check that we’re all in this together.
Aaron: I’d have to agree with Austin on this. It’s really strange being in a different city on the other side of the world, and realising that you’re witnessing the way other people live their lives, just as we do back home. These people’s lives are completely different to ours, but at the same time not that different at all. It’s pretty crazy to think about it.
TTP: Now that you’ve been abroad, is the thought of travelling again a little less scary?
Austin: Totally, it seems so easy now actually. I’d book a trip tomorrow if I could.
Aaron: It seems way less daunting for sure. I’ve already considered going somewhere alone, just because I think traveling alone makes you really figure out who you are as a person. It’s such a different experience to traveling with someone you know.
TTP: So where’s next on the list?
Austin: Mexico – I’m about to go Tulum with my boyfriend and some friends actually, and I can’t wait. I’m really giving my new passport a workout!
Aaron: I haven’t planned my next trip yet…but I’m hoping to get back to London and Paris ASAP.
To see how the boys got on travelling to Europe for the very first time, visit their YouTube channel here. Want to submit your own travel story to The Travel Project community for the chance to get featured on six-two AND earn travel with Contiki? We’re calling all aspiring travel writers, photographers and videographers to do just that. Head over to The Travel Project now to discover more.