Thanks for coming to check out my blog and find out a little more about me.
For as long as I can remember, I always wanted to travel the world. I used to watch travel programs with my family like Getaway every week on TV. I was fascinated by other languages and cultures and wanted to know what it was like to live in other places. I dreamed of new foods in faraway lands, amazing places I’d never seen…
Then life happened. I went to uni, got a boyfriend, found a job, bought a house, and before I knew it, my life looked like everyone else’s. I still dreamed of travelling, but it was a far-off reality.
One day, my younger sister announced that she was off on the ‘Trip of a Lifetime’, moving to the Netherlands with her boyfriend to chase their favourite music festivals all Summer. It snapped me out of my slumber. My little sister was going overseas before me! Why hadn’t I left yet? Travel had always been on my to-do list, I had no real reason to stay in Australia any longer. I chose a date, moved back home, saved as much as I could, and bought a ticket.
Better late than never, I set off just after my 27th birthday, and my life was never the same.
Some people are just born to travel. As I stepped off of the plane in the Netherlands, a foreign land on the other side of the world, I felt like I had just come home. Landing in another country where I don’t speak the language, know anything about the culture, totally alone, felt completely natural to me.
Of course I wasn’t alone. My amazing sister met me at the airport, and took to me to my first home away from home, ‘The Flying Pig Beach Hostel’. Again as I walked through the door, I felt like I had arrived home. This was exactly where I was meant to be. Little did I know, I would leave this place and return many times over my life, it will always hold a special place in my heart.
So I had a gentle, supported beginning to living and working in a foreign country. A mild introduction to European culture. As 1st foreign countries go, the Netherlands is an excellent choice. Different enough to challenge you and to give you a culture shock (“it’s just a Dutch thing” became the most common phrase in my vocabulary). Similar enough that you can relate to the people around you, plus most people speak English, and are friendly and helpful when things go wrong.
I loved my little town by the sea. I will always remember it fondly as one of the best years of my life.
But there was so much more to see! As my impending return ticket came nearer, I knew I couldn’t waste this opportunity to see more of Europe. With 3 weeks left and a Eurail pass, I zipped around 7 countries and 13 cities on my very own tailor-made express taster trip of Europe.
Then it was over. I cried as I said my farewells. I did not want to go home.
At this point I had only one question. What is the fastest way for me to save enough money to come back again? I applied for a job as a tour guide, nailed the interview, then had 5 months to save enough cash for the flight and training trip, and learn detailed information about 40 cities across 9 countries.
Returning to Europe was all I’d wanted since the moment I left. Working as a tour guide was an amazing opportunity. I got to see and do some things other people never even knew existed, often for free. But it was hard work. By the end of one season, guiding had subdued my love of travel.
All I wanted was to return home. Where people knew who I was and I wasn’t ‘The Guide’ every day. To be in a place where I could speak the language, eat my favourite food, and use public toilets for free.
In hindsight, it probably also had a lot to do with turning 29 that year. Without even realising it, as 30 approaches you reflect on your life. Where you wanted to be by this age. What you have achieved. I decided it was time to settle down. Find a career, a house, a husband. I got two out of three.
I vowed to keep travelling. To at least see one new country every year. But there is a big difference between a holiday and travelling. These short vacations did nothing to assuade my itchy feet.
Flash forward 2 1/2 years and I was miserable. Working a job I didn’t love to pay for a house I didn’t love, after I broke up with a man who didn’t love me.
One day, I bumped into a friend who I hadn’t seen for ages. He was positively glowing. He told me he had just returned from a trip overseas and it had changed his life. I said I remembered when that was me. What had happened to that girl? I didn’t even recognise myself anymore. I complained about my circumstances. Being trapped by money and debt and obligations.
He told me that one of the things he admired most about me, was my ability to make change when things weren’t working. I was the girl who packed up and moved interstate on a whim for a career opportunity. Who chased her little sister overseas with 4 months notice to save. Who pursued an impossible job opportunity as the only means to get back to Europe. Who moved to a country town where she knew noone just to get away from the big city.
He was right. That was me. I was still there. That is me.
My life quickly snowballed from that moment over the next few months, coordinating the local branch of an international charity, quitting my job, being evicted, getting invited to teach at a new school in Bali and stay with an old friend in Berlin, until I borrowed some cash, moved out of my home and bought a ticket.
As luck would have it, I found a round the world ticket, that changed my 3 month visit into a 7 month round the world adventure, and I finally got to visit South America for the first time (always high on my list).
From the first moment I landed overseas I remembered this is who I truly am.
I felt like I had wasted several years trying to fit myself into a box I didn’t belong. So what if I had no stability? So what if I hadn’t achieved the goals I set for myself when I was 13. What the hell did I know about life back then anyway?
I want to explore new places and meet the people who call them home. I want to learn about other ways of living and share stories and tell tales. I want to dance freely and sing loudly and listen to the wondrous sounds of other music and languages. I want to climb mountains and sleep under the stars. I want to touch the trees and dive the depths of the oceans. I want to see sunsets and sunrises, listen to thunderstorms and smell the first flowers of Spring. I want to appreciate the beauty of life every day.
And I want to share these experiences with all of you. The magic moments, the unique places, the brilliant people. The mistakes, the triumphs, the lessons. The cities, the scenery.
In words and in pictures, may it inspire you, to see the world as a wonderful place, like I do.