Saturday, 28 October 2017

Some Thoughts on Long-Term Travel

I've been thinking a lot about writing a post like this for a while, on whether I should write it, and how I should word it, and what exactly I want to say. When I started writing this blog back in late 2015 I wanted it to be about health and holistic living with some honest truths about what I have found out along my own personal health journey. However, because I wanted to keep writing whilst I was away it has gradually evolved into a travel blog. Either way, no matter what I blog about, I always wanted to be honest and write my true feelings about my experiences, which I think is becoming rare in a 'everything is amazing all the time' world of Instagram and social media.

Travel IS amazing, but just like any lifestyle that you choose to lead, it isn't amazing every minute of every day, especially when you travel for an extended period of time. It is inevitable that there are going to be aspects of your day-to-day life that you become bored with, or that annoy you. The truth is that a significant portion of long-travel is actually quite tedious. There's a lot of waiting around for busses, trains, planes, your luggage, the ticket queue to move faster. There is also a lot of planning involved and the amount of decisions that you have to make on a daily basis is multiplied. Where am I going to eat, where am I going to stay, how long am I going to stay here for, where am I going to go next, what fits in with my budget, what fits in with my timescale - these are just a handful of decisions that run through your head every day and may sound trivial, but making these decisions after a 16-hour bus journey or lost in the 42 degree heat in a part of the country where nobody speaks English, for example, is HARD. When you have a settled lifestyle all of these things are taken care of and you can focus on all of the other things that make your life your own, which is why it is so easy to get into a routine when you already have a routine to work around, and less decisions to consider.

People say that travel is addictive, and although this is a cliche phrase I really feel that it is the most accurate way to describe long-term travel. You're always on the hunt for that ultimate feeling, the high, the earth-shattering experience that shakes you so hard that you become a different person. In between the highs, what do you do? You wait, you plan, you save, you live your life in the best way possible to enable that high. So when I think of addiction, or what I know about addiction, it is very similar, the waiting, the shifting and the constant adjustment of your life with the sole focus and motive on the one thing that gives you that ultimate intense high, whatever it may be.

Over time, the high becomes less intense as you become less impressionable. When I got to South East Asia everything amazed me, I was constantly taking photographs, writing blog posts, eager to sign up to every tour and always wanting to go out and party and experience every little bit. Now that I am 18 months into my journey, I am still amazed by a lot of things but less appreciative of it as a rare moment. That's because I have accepted this as a part of life now. My mind has come to terms with the fact that hopping to a new place every few days or so and constantly seeing something new is a given. Even typing this seems absurd, I can't believe that moving through countries and taking the time to experience them has become a normality, but this has been my life for a year and a half now. When I meet other travellers, I can tell immediately how far into their trip they are. New travellers are more excited, more appreciative, they have their eyes more wide-open. That was me at the very beginning of my trip and I miss it! Once the exhaustion has set-in from a life of constant upheaval, it is difficult to be excited and you become more selective with your itinerary, which isn't necessarily a bad thing as you know more about what you want but it does hinder your willingness to try a little bit of everything, and love it even if it doesn't turn out how you planned.

I would not trade the past 18 months of my life for anything in the world. I am a completely different person because of travel and I am incredibly overwhelmed that I have had the opportunity to do this. When I think about leaving this life that I have led, the habits and skills I've adopted and the small comforts I've found in living an ever-changing life of uncertainty, my chest feels heavy and restricted a little like it does with heartbreak. However, when I travel, I want to soak up every moment. I want to be the fresh-faced traveller with my eyes wide-open. I don't think travel is a box that you tick off in life. Once you have fallen in love with travel, or succumbed to the 'addiction', you can never turn your back on it. Travellers always find a way to travel, if only for a few days, just to gain a sense of that feeling. Isn't that the only reason anyone does anything in life?


Tuesday, 10 October 2017

Lombok, scooter accidents and the kindness of strangers

No matter how careful you are in life, accidents are bound to happen. I suppose it's pretty inevitable when riding a scooter regularly that we were going to have some sort of accident at some point, and whilst we were over in Lombok it happened.

However - before I jump into the details of the accident (which was pretty minor, we were lucky) I want to talk a bit about the beautiful island of Lombok. Lombok is a short boat ride away from the Gili islands, which are stunning but just as geared up for tourism as Bali is. This isn't necessarily a bad thing, but if you're looking for somewhere a little quieter, a little less touristy, and with a totally different vibe, then take the time to head to Lombok. The majority of the island is untouched. The north is home to Mount Rinjani, Indonesia's second biggest volcano, where you can take a 3 day hike to the top ending up right above the clouds. We started off in Kuta, a little surf town in the south of the island which is developing fast with bars, cafes and restaurants popping up all over the place. I get a sense that this is how Bali was years ago before tourism was booming. The locals are really friendly and genuinely just want to have a chat with you, ask you where you're from and which football team you support.

One thing about Kuta that made me a little wary was that in the evening there are TONS of kids selling bracelets. This isn't unusual in South East Asia but out of all the countries I've visited I've never seen it on such a massive scale in such a small town. Most of them are quite young but they are really street-wise and their sales tactics are pretty impressive, asking you to play games with them like 'Capitals' (giving the capital cities for a vast array of countries, even really obscure ones like the capital of Ethiopia?! They know the answer!) or rock, paper, scissors and their deal is if you lose you have to buy. I have no idea why there are so many children working in Kuta and it makes me think that there's something bigger going on behind the scenes. Most people advise not to buy from them as it's supporting child labour, but I did buy a bracelet off a little girl who was so sweet and intelligent and said she was working to pay her school fees.

We ventured up north for the day from Kuta to Rinjani National Park to see some waterfalls and this is where Lombok's beauty really unfolded. The further up north we drove, the greener it got with lush rice paddies all around and tiny villages with families eating together out front or getting ready to go to the mosque in traditional dress. The majority of the population on Lombok are Muslim and you can hear the call to prayer up for 5 times a day from various mosques around the island. The people up here also don't see many tourists and the kids love it, all leaning out of cars and running by the scooter waving and shouting HELLO and smiling at you. We also met a local who took us to some waterfalls and showed us around, and made us local Indonesian dishes with the spiciest curry EVER but one of the tastiest I've ever eaten!

We had the scooter accident on the drive back to Kuta. It was dark, we were on a bad road and we skidded on a bump. Like most accidents it was sudden and unexpected. We were lucky and came out relatively unharmed but the sense of panic and worry that set within me as soon as we hit the floor was hard to ignore. The locals were absolutely amazing to us. We stopped at a main road to inspect our injuries and people were stopping to see if we were okay, lead us into a doctors to get cleaned up and let us know the best way to get back to Kuta. The kindness of the people was really overwhelming and I cannot put into words how grateful I am. I wish I could go back and find them all to thank them all over again. I was in such a deep panic that I've never experienced before, being in the dark in a place that we didn't know and a little shaken from the accident. Their caring and kindness made such a massive difference and I will never forget it.

I'm so glad we went to Lombok despite having a scooter accident over there, and I really recommend going over if you want to see a little more of Indonesia and have a different experience. Bali is gorgeous and there is so much to see and do but Lombok showed me how different each island is in Indonesia and I would love to come back in the future to explore more of this amazing country.


Sunday, 1 October 2017


After a year of working and saving and waiting and planning I am here in BALI and I'm so excited I need to just remember to R-E-L-A-X and enjoy it. Decided to do the whole 30 days here (which is as much as they will allow on a tourist visa) as there's so much that I want to see and do - as well as take my time doing it so that I don't have to rush around so much.

First of all, I actually want to start with the food here which is just a dream. It's so fresh, so healthy, so cheap, and there's a huge western influence here with lots of brunch places, eggs, avocado, etc. I know that when you're in another country it's more cultural to try all the local dishes, but after 4 months backpacking SE Asia I ate enough local cuisine and it got to the point where a mini packet of lurpak butter excited me. Plus, I'm in serious HOLIDAY mode at the moment, so I'm happy to just be a bit of a tourist right now and ease myself into trying new things as the weeks go on. My favourite place for food was Canggu and I had to stop myself taking pictures before every meal because it was all so instagrammable:

Duan Cafe - Canggu

Crate - Canggu

Shady Shack - Canggu

Coco Poke - Uluwatu

In fact, me and John both loved Canggu so much we're going to swing back there at the end of our trip when we finish up in Lombok. It's really chilled out, laid back, surfer town and it's easy enough to get around, especially if you have a scooter. The roads aren't too hectic either so there's no stress with traffic. After Canggu we headed to Uluwatu which was a lot quieter and had some of the most stunning beaches I've ever seen in my life! All we did here was explore the beaches, eat great food and go to see the sunset at Uluwatu temple one evening. I also tried to go for a run one evening - big mistake. Too hot, too hilly, too tiring. My legs feel like lead running in intense heat. I never learn.

From Uluwatu we went to Ubud. I was majorly excited for Ubud. In my head it was this jungle paradise surrounded by temples, rice paddies and little huts and guesthouses. In reality the centre is really busy with crazy traffic that's a nightmare to navigate through. It's also really touristy, even up in the rice paddies at Tegalalang (there may be more rice paddies that are not so well known, I'm not sure.) Most people come to Ubud to do yoga and chill out by infinity pools. It's also meant to be extremely spiritual but I didn't get that vibe at all, probably because I was staying in the centre. A lot of people also do the sunrise trek up Mt. Batur, which is well worth the hype. It's an incredible experience despite the early start. You get picked up at 2AM and drive a couple of hours out of Ubud centre to a small village where they give you some breakfast and introduce you to your tour guides before you start the hike. The trek up isn't too difficult and only takes a couple of hours, and once you arrive at the top the view is unreal.

After the sun comes up there are LOADS of monkeys about. I like to stay well clear of these little horrors. They will scope you our for food and snatch anything remotely shiny off you and any bags that are left unattended, but some people think they're cute (?!?!) and some people even feed them although they can get vicious at the slightest wrong movement.

Bali is a pretty big island and there's so much to do, you could easily spend the full 30 days here. We decided to try and see a little more of Indonesia and got a fast boat to Gili Trawangan for 6 nights and then on to Lombok, but we head back tomorrow to spend the rest of our time in Canggu <3 So much has happened since I started writing this post and I haven't been able to keep up to speed thanks to erratic WiFi connections so I'm going to be blogging like mad to squeeze it all in as I only have 5 weeks left of my travels!


Monday, 18 September 2017

What I will miss about living in Melbourne

Oh Melbourne. I've hated this city, accepted this city, enjoyed this city, left it and returned pretty swiftly, but now I have finally, FINALLY, really left after living there for almost an entire year. I've had a very on-again off-again kind of relationship with Melbourne, and whilst there are lots of things I definitely will NOT miss (to name a few: the erratic weather, waiting a MILLION years to cross the road, breaking into a hot sweat and flustered panic when the MYKI inspectors get on the tram) there are plenty of things that I definitely will miss. 

Being surrounded by street art

This is something I became so complacent about as time went on, but when I first arrived in Melbourne I was so excited and inspired by all the amazing street art EVERYWHERE. There are places likes Hosier Lane which have become a tourist  for graffiti and urban art, but when you get out of the centre and explore all of Melbourne you notice that every suburb is it's own ever-evolving art space. I stopped taking pictures in the end, it just goes to show how complacent you can become over time. Here are some of my favourites when I had my eyes open in appreciation:

Melbourne's creative scene

Melbourne is a huge creative hub with amazing gallery exhibitions and an array of art classes, workshops and events. I dropped art after my second year of University but continued to draw and paint for years before I just completely stopped around 2 years ago. It  was so difficult not to be inspired and motivated with all the street art around me, so I found a life drawing class in St Kilda (St Kilda Life drawing - check it out if you're in the area. Good people, good music and just pure drawing for 2 hours) and went from there. There's also a good space called Work-Shop Melbourne which has so many amazing courses, work shops, taster sessions, classes. I did a calligraphy class there and met a lot of cool people. Once I realised that there are so many like-minded people around me just being creative for the pure joy of it and not letting anything stop them, it motivated me to start drawing again (even if I think what I create is rubbish).
After being so down-and-out when I first arrived here I thought this would be the least likely place for me to reignite an old passion, but life is full of surprises, so thank you Melbourne for motivating me to create again.

The brunch scene.

Melbourne turned me into that person who takes pictures of food before they eat it, and I don't even care. The brunch scene in Melbourne is as delicious as it is instagrammable (that's officially a word now, right?) I ate at a different cafe every weekend and still didn't scratch the surface. Whether you're veggie, vegan, paleo, gluten free, sugar-free, lactose intolerant, raw, all of these things or none of them, you will find a cafe that caters to you and you won't be short on brunch options. Shout out to some of my favourites - Fourth Chapter on Chapel Street, Monk Bodhi Dharma in Balaclava, Manchester Press in Melbourne CBD for some excellent bagels, Uncommon in Windsor and Sister of Soul on Acland Street in St Kilda. 

Living by the ocean

When I first arrived in Melbourne I lived in the CBD for the first two months. It was hectic, busy and a little isolating. As soon as I moved to St Kilda I immediately felt a tension I didn't even realise I was carrying release from my body. There's something so calming about living close to the ocean. This was one thing I never, ever took for granted and I loved running along the beach at weekends and evenings. In the Summertime we would all head down and sunbathe for as long as we could stand the 38 degree heat. I never did get up early enough to catch a sunrise despite my best intentions, but I did catch some amazing sunsets on walks down to St Kilda Pier in the evenings.


I saved the best until last :) Being so far away from home and from your friends and family is one of the hardest parts of moving to Australia. I would have left a lot earlier if it hadn't been for the amazing people that I lived with and who became close friends over the past year. Everybody is in the same boat and understands you when you are feeling homesick or hopeless or a little lost. Moving into a big house share was a lifesaver. We had some huge house parties, Christmas day on the beach was unforgettable, there is always somebody to talk to, eat with, or just chill with.

Melbourne is a hub for people in Australia over on working holiday visas and there's a huge backpacking/traveller community. Once you feel connected to it and a part of it it really does make the experience less daunting as everybody really does try to help each other out. The friendships that I made and the people I met over the year really did make the experience and it wouldn't have been the same without them. So, thank you everybody for being a part of my year. And thank you Melbourne, for being my temporary home, and teaching me a lot of important lessons along the way.


Sunday, 16 July 2017

Why I Quit Quitting Sugar

At the start of this year, I decided I was going to give up chocolate. I've made this decision on a whim multiple times throughout my life and never managed to succeed more than three days before, but I was serious about it this time. I had come to the realisation that chocolate was present in my diet pretty much every day. There was not one day I could remember where I hadn't had a little bit of chocolate, even if it was Nutella on my toast or a cake for somebody's birthday (or just because, you know, it's a Tuesday) or a packet of chocolate buttons at the end of the day that may or may not have been family sized. The more I thought about it, chocolate wasn't a treat anymore. It wasn't something I enjoyed. It was a habit, almost like an addiction. When I meditated in Cambodia for 10 days, the thing I found the most difficult to give up wasn't my phone or my camera, it was chocolate. I craved it, deeply. I even dreamt about it. Twice.

So, I quit. I went full on cold turkey, which was extremely difficult, but I was super determined and really serious about this. So serious in fact, that I thought, why stop there? Why not quit sugar altogether? The more I researched this, the more it made sense. Four weeks had passed, and I was feeling really good about myself, really awake and motivated. Whether that was driven by the fact that there was less sugar pumping through my veins or just the pure satisfaction of having actually stuck it out for so long, I'm not sure. Either way I got really into this, I started by reading the I Quit Sugar blog and found other blogs and forums from there. Now, I'm aware that the title of this post is about me QUITTING quitting sugar, which I'll get to , I promise. But first of all...



Nope. Not for me. They got a lot easier to manage, but I'd broken a lifelong habit so I think this had the biggest impact. I was also extremely distracted by focusing so hard on maintaining a sugar-free diet. I read so many blogs where people spoke about it getting easier with each week, even getting to the point where chocolate just didn't seem appealing to them anymore. HOW? I never got that. I still had cravings 6 weeks on just strong as I did in the first week.



Chocolate holds a special place in my heart. To me, it's Christmas at home and cosy nights in and every birthday cake I've had since I can remember. It was a reward for being well-behaved when I was young and my main 'treat' food throughout my life. It was hard to imagine life without it because it had always been so present within it. Maybe not as a raging obsession or obvious addiction, but consistently in the background. Once I'd come to terms with the emotional attachment I had with chocolate, I found it easier to distance myself from it. This meant trying to focus on the enjoyment of an activity without the added "bonus" of enjoying it with chocolate.


I've spoken about it being difficult giving up chocolate alone, but giving up sugar altogether is on another level which verges on the impossible. Sugar is in pretty much everything, even wholegrain bread and pasta. It's in every single condiment you can think of. It's in canned soups, pasta sauces, and even in some spice mixes like paprika. Then you have the natural sugars in all fruits (a banana has approximately 10g of sugar!!) and vegetables like tomatoes and onions. The more I researched the more it freaked me out that sugar was practically unavoidable even in the healthiest of diets. What was I going to eat? I decided that focusing on cutting out refined sugars was the best way to approach this. I'd already started off by cutting out the main offender in my diet - chocolate. Then I moved on to cutting out all sauces and dips. I also switched all of my drink mixers to soda water (also I had no idea that tonic water had so much sugar in it! Anybody else mislead on this?) and seriously cut down on drinking wine. I switched all refined carbs like white bread and white rice to wholegrain and alternative carbs like sweet potato.

I found it really disheartening that even on a very 'clean' diet, sugar in some way, shape or form was always present. I had also taken all of the enjoyment out of my life where diet was concerned. I couldn't look forward to chocolate, or splurge on an Italian meal over the weekend. I even starting freaking out about the amount of sugar in a glass of wine and began to swerve it completely. It got to the point that I was actually a bit scared of having anything with a small amount of sugar in it. So the driving force of my lifestyle change was no longer a motivation for a healthier diet or better well-being, but FEAR. That's not what life is about! I wanted to have wine with my meal without panicking about it for hours afterwards.

I also realised that it was only chocolate that held an emotional attachment, not any other food. Once I came to this realisation, quitting sugar became almost like a punishment rather than a positive enjoyable venture.

So, I quit. In the most anti-climatic way, I didn't splurge or go out and buy a huge cake or anything like that. I just had a tiny bit of chocolate one day. Just enough, what I felt like. Nothing more. I starting eating white bread and pasta occasionally. I started drinking wine again (HOW I MISSED YOU!) Some habits from quitting sugar have stuck with me. I won't touch tonic water again. I honestly had no idea it contained the same amount of sugar as most soft drinks. I also don't pick on chocolate throughout the day or have it anywhere near as frequently as I used to. But I do have it, when I feel like it. Because life is for living, and enjoying, and not punishing yourself or restricting yourself to the point of misery.


Sunday, 2 July 2017

Following Your Dreams VS. Going With Your Gut

What are you doing. You are insane. Why couldn't you just be content and happy where you were. This is ridiculous. Never again. Why are you putting yourself through this?...

...were just a few of the thoughts going over and over in my head on the 14 hour flight from Melbourne, Australia to Hanoi, Vietnam, four weeks ago. I woke up on the morning of the flight with my heart beating so hard I could hear it thudding against the mattress and that horrible but familiar sick feeling washing over me. I dismissed it as nerves.

I chose to leave Melbourne, Nobody forced me. After an amazing and challenging 9 months living, working and travelling Australia I decided I wanted a change. I wanted to go back to SE Asia to get an English teaching job, something that I had been wanting to do since me and John first backpacked Asia over a year (!) ago. I really felt that I had done everything I wanted to do in Australia and it was time for me to go and try this, otherwise I would regret it. It was exciting, but also absolutely terrifying. I had steady work in Melbourne. I had friends and a good few work connections here. Me and John had our own private room in a house share. I had comfort and routine and all the things that I craved when we first arrived here knowing nobody, with no jobs, nowhere to stay, no suitable clothing and honestly no idea where to start. And now I was going to go and do it all over again? I knew I was taking a huge risk. But I really, really wanted to do this. I wanted the experience of teaching English, I wanted the challenge and the feeling of fulfilment I felt I was lacking in my familiar lifestyle. I honestly felt in my heart that this was the next step for me to take, the next chapter in my adventure. I spoke to everybody I knew that had done it, I watched YouTube videos, I did my research. I became more and more excited as my flight date drew closer. I was ready.

And so I went. I followed my dream. At this point, I'd like to write that the flight went smoothly, that I arrived in Hanoi with no issues, and settled into my new environment like a duck to water. I'd like to write that I'm still sitting here now, in the hot, humid chaotic heat of Hanoi, typing this blog post before heading off to teach an English class. But I'm not. I'm actually back in Melbourne, sat on the same mattress that I lay on feeling sick and terrified the morning of my flight. The reality was that I suffered a good few setbacks before I even arrived in Hanoi, one of which would complicate my stay and cause a major upheaval very early on. The sick feeling and the doubt that flooded my mind never went away, it only multiplied with every unexpected setback that I encountered along the way. And although I still desperately wanted to teach and craved that experience, once I was there it just didn't feel right.

Now, I am well aware that following your dreams isn't an easy process. It takes a lot of hard work, dedication and perseverance. To achieve something that you really want means that you can't give up at every hurdle, but must push on and face the difficulties regardless. However, I am also aware that the end product, as well as the journey toward it, doesn't always look how you imagined it to. If the journey is difficult but feels worthwhile, then I believe that you should continue despite the difficulties. However, if your feelings change, if you have every instinct screaming in opposition, or even just an underlying feeling of uncomfortable uncertainty, then it's time to reconsider. What do you want, really? What do you need right now? Consider the situation. Consider the timing. And above all, consider your gut feeling. It's instinct, and it really is the strongest navigation through life.

I don't want this post to suggest that following your dreams is a bad thing. I still believe in it, I still encourage it, and I won't give up on mine. I still want to go out and teach English somewhere. I still want that experience. I'll still seek out opportunities in the future. This isn't about giving up, it's about changing direction. I've never had such a strong pull of emotions before that has changed how I feel about a goal or experience. It was a whole flood of feeling that I just couldn't ignore or explain. Honestly, it was pretty heart-breaking. It didn't make my decision to leave Hanoi easy, despite the intensity of feeling that it was the right thing to do. I chose to listen to my instinct and I don't regret it.

In the end, my reasons for leaving Hanoi were emotional and complicated. I felt that I had to cut my losses and return to Australia, not because I missed it or was greatly attached to my experience there, but because it's the place that holds everything I need right now. I don't regret going to Hanoi, and I don't regret leaving it either. The whole experience was one invaluable and important life lesson; ultimately, yes, follow your dreams, but above all else follow your heart and your instinct. If the two work together in harmony, then persevere, but if they don't, block out all of the outside noise and listen to your deepest emotions.


Sunday, 28 May 2017

One Year of Travel - What have I learnt?

One year ago today I left the UK with two bags and a one-way plane ticket to Bangkok. Travel was my main goal. I wanted to see and experience as much as possible. I quit my job, my apartment in Manchester, my car insurance, my phone bill, everything I had worked for and lusted after for three years was put on hold. Wanderlust had well and truly taken over. Mentally I had prepared myself for being away from home for at least one year. Now that year has been and gone (and it's flown by very quickly too) what have a learned from it all?

Nothing turns out how you expect it

Oh life! You are full of surprises. As much as I try to visit new places with an open mind, I can't help but have a picture built up in my head of how I think it will be. Some things have been more amazing than I could have ever imagined. Some things have been more difficult. It's all a part of the experience.
I didn't expect to be blown away, time and time again, by how beautiful and amazing and breathtaking nature is all over the world. I didn't expect to be so confident riding a motorbike. I didn't expect settling down in Australia to be so difficult, because it's a Westernised country. I didn't expect to be returning to Asia so soon to go and teach English. I didn't expect the Great Barrier Reef to be as bleached as it is :(. I didn't expect that I'd find so much comfort and peace in meditation as I'm such a loud person that's always on the go. Everything is a lesson, a huge learning curve that shapes who you are, what you want, what you don't want.

Learn to look after yourself 

When I left the UK, some people said to me "Enjoy your holiday!" Obviously I didn't correct them because I didn't want to sound like an arsehole and also because I'm sure that they had the best intentions, but I can say it safely in the space of my own blog. I'm not going on holiday! I'm going travelling. I'm going to be living out of a backpack, budgeting constantly, sharing beds and dorm rooms and communal kitchens and bathrooms and goodness knows what else and for how long. It's a lifestyle, and it can get really tiring. Which is why it's okay to give yourself a break sometimes. This might mean just getting a private room for a night or two and relishing in your own space, being able to watch a movie without everyone else commenting on it, or reading a book without having another conversation going on in the background, or having a meal that isn't cheap street food or beans on toast. Get your nails done, get a massage, go have a spa day, whatever relaxes you or chills you out or makes you feel more human - go and do THAT. Don't feel guilty about splashing out every once in a while or recharge your batteries. You need it. You deserve it. 

Stay in your own lane

You meet a lot of amazing people travelling. You also meet a couple of idiots who love to try and "one-up" other travellers, you'll know the sort, their experience was always more interesting, more unique, less touristy, the parties so much wilder, etc. As a new traveller, sometimes this makes you compare your own experiences and think, well maybe I should do this or that. Well, if you want to, great, do it, if you don't, don't. Always do what you want to do, don't feel pushed or shamed into changing your experience. Everybody's is different and that's what makes it so interesting and fun to meet new people and hear their different stories. The beauty of travel is that you can make it fun and amazing and challenging for you, this is your gift to yourself, so remember that and just do you. 

Enjoy it!

This sounds obvious. However, when you are away long-term you can get caught up in the stress of organisation, or the pressure of saving and budgeting. I had to remind myself a few times that I'm only here once and to stop stressing and just relax and enjoy myself.

The tough times will pass

Being away long-term also means that there can be some challenges that you will have to face that you won't necessarily enjoy. For example, the inevitability of homesickness. Since I've been away, I've only been really homesick twice. Once was when I was ill in Cambodia with a parasite infection and all I wanted was my own bed and some familiar surroundings. The second time was at my lowest point in Australia and nothing seemed to be working out. Both of these times the homesickness faded away as the situation changed. It's inevitable that you will get annoyed or tired or homesick or angry at some point when you are away for a long time, but this changes. Home will still be there when you get back, the situation won't stay bad forever, etc. I've learned to take a deep breath and enjoy the ride.

Travelling is the most freeing feeling I have ever experienced. 

From expectations, from routine, from the limitations I had set myself. You make all of the decisions, where you go, what you do that day, when you want to settle down, when you want to move on. Nothing feels like living more than backpacking the world with all of your life crammed into an 80 litre bag. Even with all the difficulties and annoyances and challenges that can get you down sometimes, I can look back on it all and honestly say that I wouldn't change a thing. At the end of the day nothing is holding you back, you have no ties to any place and you can change your life in a heartbeat. 

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