Au pair in Luxemburg
My first real solo trip was when I became an au pair. It was also the first time I was away from home apart from boarding school, so it was quite intense. My travel goals included learning to speak French, so I was going to work with a French family in Luxembourg. It turned out to last only a month, because the father was such a creep, wanting to come up and say ‘good night’ every evening. I couldn’t stay there, but I didn’t want to go home so soon either, so I found another placement. It was with a 31-year-old single father who worked in the European Commission as a lawyer. The son, Paul, was 9 – and I was 17 years old. But it worked.
I cleaned the house and did the washing up, laundry, and picked up Paul from school. I also had to cook for Paul and myself, and get dinner ready for Peter for when he came home in the evening. It was a good place to be, and I had a lot of freedom that other au pairs did not have. Peter gave me permission to stay over at my boyfriend’s place and to drink and party as well. I actually also took a job in a pub while I was there. And of course I went to school – that was the primary reason for going there in the first place. But I didn’t learn a lot of French – I spoke mostly English working in the pub.
The time I spent in Luxembourg was very educational. I had to learn to navigate new freedom and responsibilities, how to be sensible and how to test my limits. I got to know many people from all over the world and spent just over a year there. And the following summer I went back and worked in the pub during the summer holidays.
Ski bum in Austria
For three seasons in a row I was a ski bum in St. Anton, Austria. I worked at a hotel scrubbing toilets and dealing with guests at the front desk – and I skied every single day. There were maybe two days each season when I didn’t make it to the mountain. I LOVED it! A ski resort can be a sort of closed world where everything repeats itself. New tourists arriving all the time and having a good time. The same daily rhythms and routines.
I almost only skied with boys down there, and always ones that were better than me. Actually it was quite difficult to stop, and not to go back for a fourth season. The combination of days spent skiing and working in the hotel industry was so amazing. I can remember dreaming about getting my own place. I really like making people feel welcome and comfortable.
On my own in Costa Rica
After working at DR (the Danish Broadcasting Corporation – ed.) for some years, I suddenly had the need to do something drastic. I was having man trouble, and wanted to find myself and my direction. I needed to know whether I was satisfied with my job and my daily life. So I quit my job.
I’d heard that Costa Rica was a great place for surfing, so that was my destination. I bought a surfboard and a hammock, and I spent every day in more or less the same way: Got up, surfed, went home and had something to eat. Then I’d go for a walk along the beach and find shells, meditate and sort the shells. In the evening I would eat the same meal – pan-fried tuna with spinach and a single Piña Colada. And I would write in my journal and write lots of letters to people back home. I stayed for three months, in which time I reflected very thoroughly about my life, and I rediscovered my faith in myself – and in my own intuition. It was also here I developed some of the tools that I use now when I’m in doubt about something or becoming stressed out.
Since I was travelling alone, I met a lot of people and I still have contact with quite a few of them. I feel that I got to know far more people than the couples or small groups that I met. I can really recommend taking this kind of trip if you have the chance to do it.
When I returned home, it was Christmastime and I’d been looking forward to wearing a very special dress that was waiting for me in my closet. But it was all in vain, because I’d developed such muscular biceps and a bull neck from paddling so much that I couldn’t even get into the dress.
Road trip with my brother
There are only 19 months between my brother Benjamin and myself, and we’ve always been close. When he was going to participate in an extreme ski event in the Rocky Mountains in USA, I went along with him. I was working at DR then, and they let me do some TV programmes about his trip.
So we did a road trip from Canada all the way down to Los Angeles. We spent two months driving through the different states and seeing things we wouldn’t have encountered otherwise. We were in Yellowstone National Park among the wolves, we visited all the great ski resorts, took part in X Games in Aspen – a really cool event with a lot of extreme sports and dedicated sportspeople.
There’s something special about travelling with your siblings when you’re no longer a child. My role on the trip was partly to do research and see to all the practical things. Benjamin was participating in brutal runs so I had to support him without being too much of a big sister about it. It was challenging, but also incredible. The trip generated a number of TV shows we called ‘Skiing Rocky Mountains’.
When I’m finished nursing and my baby can do without me for a week, I’ll be going on another solo trip. It will be a yoga retreat in another country, and I’ve already found a place that looks amazing.
I’m always surrounded by people – and not just my own family – so I feel the need for alone time. It allows me to think thoughts that are beyond the usual day-to-day logistical stuff. You think longer, more complex thoughts when you’re not talking to someone or being disturbed constantly. Tranquillity and time for ‘deep dive’ thinking are important. It’s one of the reasons that I love driving a car.
So I want to go on a yoga trip – completely for me. And I will enjoy my own company and feel homesick for my family. Because that’s healthy too.