About seven weeks ago – date and time have lost almost all meaning to me these days – I boarded a one way flight to Sydney via Singapore with at least 8 months of full-time travelling ahead of me (you can read what I learnt in my first month here). Backpacking or travelling in some form is something I’ve always wanted to do but have viewed as a hazy far off dream; one that I’ll plan meticulously on Pinterest but never actually realise. I was largely okay with that, I had other plans and hopes for the future and was content with taking regular city breaks to wherever the budget airlines had on sale. So how, you might wonder, did I get to be where I am today? That is, sat in the back of a rental camper van in the dark (mozzies) in an Aldi carpark somewhere on the Gold Coast, Australia.
There was no major revelation, no eureka moment, no ‘life is too short just buy the ticket’ drama that prompted the decision. I simply decided that there was no use talking about something if you never truly have any intention of actually just doing it. It wasn’t so much a now or never; I’m young enough that time is on my side, but equally I’m aware that the further into my business I grow the harder it will be to step away and before I know it I’ll be older, have more responsibilities and perhaps less able to simply up sticks. Rather it was a ‘I need to commit to this idea’, so I did. The final push came from following two wonderful people – Sarah (@disastersofathirtysomething) and Jonny (@dadventuresofathirtysomething) – on Instagram and watching as they gallivanted around the globe in 2017. Previously I’d only ever really experienced that kind of travel from afar; either on glossy, unattainable accounts or through friends who had done a bit of gap year travel. I spent mine working in a London office in a uniform continually mocked by clients as ‘star trek meets budget air hostess’. Sarah and Jonny made travel accessible to me through their gorgeous, but equally down to earth, photos and Sarah’s honest and oh-so witty captions detailing both the highs and the lows of their adventure.
From January 2018 I started squirrelling away money into a separate account with the view that it would be the basis for the travel fund. At that point, all I really knew was that I wanted to have left by Christmas – it’s always been a dream to spend it in the sun – and that I wasn’t going to plan the trip, rather book a one way flight. Originally the plan was to go away for the first 6 months of 2019 but after visiting Bali in September I just knew that wouldn’t be long enough. An end date has been set for me because two of my beautiful friends are getting married mid-September and I wouldn’t miss it for the world. Literally. I decided on Sydney as the first stop largely because Australia has long been at the top of my bucket list and because geographically it seemed to make sense to head the furthest away first. It’s also a lot (cry) more expensive than Asia and I fear that doing it the other way round would make budgeting near on impossible.
I didn’t actually book the flight until mid-October; I just didn’t see the rush. I didn’t want to be the person harping on about it all year and I preferred the flexibility. I knew I wanted to give myself enough time in December to make the most of the festive work period, the busiest of the year in my industry, but also wanted to leave before the state school holidays began. I love kids, just not thirty thousand feet in the air. The only ‘wobble’ I experienced was a few months beforehand; my business was performing really well, my accounts were looking healthy and I felt really motivated and focused. I feared that I’d be stupid to walk away from that. Thankfully, my sense of adventure kicked back in and I realised I’d be stupid not to. I’m self-employed and I’ve got faith in my abilities: work will still be there when I get home, as well Monday mornings, endless emails and shitty British weather.
I’ve always had a rough route idea in mind but have actively avoiding planning beyond a week or so ahead and inevitably destinations are already being added and altered along the way. I’d really passionately recommend that anyone with the time to do so travels like this; there’s nothing worse than not planning yourself enough time in somewhere you love, or feeling like you’re hanging about somewhere you don’t click with.
If travelling seems like some far off dream to you, one that actually, you would like to make a reality then take the plunge. Don’t quit your job and book a flight for next week (unless you can afford to, in which case I salute you!) but know that if I can commit and save then so can you. Whether you leave in 6 months, 12 months or 3 years, it doesn’t really matter. The world is waiting and it’s oh-so worth it.