One year on the road…
Wow. What a year it’s been. On 19 November 2013, I said goodbye to my family, friends and the comforts of home and being in familiar surroundings for a life on the road, accompanied by only what I could fit in my backpack. I’m now writing this whilst sitting in a café in Reykjavik, Iceland, and reflecting on the past 12 months on the road. It’s been one great year!
I didn’t leave home and travel the world to run away from problems or people or to ‘discover’ myself, although I don’t judge those who do for the aforementioned reasons; each to their own. I left home to explore the world while I’m still (relatively) young, to meet new people, challenge myself, experience new cultures and probably the number one reason, for an adventure.
In the past 12 months, I’ve been to 30 countries across six continents (I’ll be in Africa this time next week, and will have then finally visited all seven continents!) and although I was apprehensive and a little nervous before getting on the plane with a one-way ticket out of Australia, this has easily been the best thing I’ve done in my life thus far and I’ve learnt a lot.
First and foremost, I’ve learnt solo travel ISN’T lonely. This is probably the number one question I get asked. Most of the time, I find it hard to be alone. Time for me and time for admin tasks – banking, emails, sorting photos, reading, writing blogs, etc. Yes you do have to put yourself out there and talk to people, ask what they’re doing for the day and ask to join in, or invite them to do things with you, but if you want company, it’s easily found.
Secondly, travel isn’t expensive. I haven’t worked in the past year and although I’ve spent a lot of money, I could have done it a lot cheaper. If I hadn’t gone to Antarctica or the World Cup, I would have spent roughly $65 AUD per day and I’ve spent a lot of time in Europe, which is more expensive than South America or South East Asia.
I’ve learnt a lot about myself. As I mentioned earlier, this wasn’t about self-discovery, but I’ve learnt how I react in certain situations, what makes me tick, why I think things in certain ways and the people who I get along with (and don’t)! I’m more confident and comfortable in my own skin than ever before.
I’ve also learnt that people are genuinely kind. Yes, I’ve encountered unsavory characters and have fought off people who were trying to rob me, on more than one occasion, and I’ve had things stolen, but these pale in comparison to the kind-hearted people I’ve met. I’ve stayed with friends who have given up their bed so that I would have somewhere to sleep, strangers have welcomed me as if we were old friends and I have been taken places I would have never heard about, let alone seen, if it hadn’t been for their generosity.
I could write about my stories and things I’ve learnt for days, but I’ll wrap it up by saying this: I could have stayed in Australia and bought a house, but instead, I took the leap and put myself out of my comfort zone and used my money to travel. It was always a dream of mine and at the end of the day, there’s no right or wrong decision. I know that I will never regret the decision to leave home to explore the world, but I would have always regretted the decision to continue working and not trying to fulfill my dreams. I’ve been very lucky and I feel truly blessed. And for those asking, no, I’m not coming home any time soon!