AT the start of this year, I said it was going to be the ‘Year of Travel,’ and indeed it has!
As I write, I’m squashed up next to a woman who is taking up all the arm space on a Jetstar flight from Melbourne to the Gold Coast.
At the end of every year, I like to reflect on the year that was and set myself new goals and challenges for the following one.
I guess some people call them New Year’s resolutions and there can be some negativity around them, as they often don’t last longer than the first week of January.
For me, my resolution is still going. I have visited more than ten countries and been back and forth between Perth, Sydney, Melbourne, my home town of Bathurst and Queensland over 20 times just this year.
Now, I’m not telling you this because I want to brag about my adventures, although it does sound truly fabulous if I do say so myself! I’m reflecting, remember?
Having the opportunity to travel like I have is a true gift and unfortunately some people will never have this chance.
I understand why some choose not to, or are unable, to take this extraordinary path. Some of my best friends from high school have never left Bathurst, and their reasons all differ from no desire to a lack of money to having babies very young.
For myself, I was instilled with the precious gift of desiring to seek out the world and explore outside my own backyard.
It started at the age of 16 when my next-door neighbour, who was like my ‘other mum’, asked me if I wanted to go to the UK and Europe for three weeks with her, and her son, to visit her daughter.
I still remember the moment as if it was yesterday – my own mother nearly fell off her chair. She had only ever left the country once, to go to Indonesia, when she was in her thirties.
I jumped up and screamed: “YES! I’ll have to miss the first three weeks of Year 11, but what an opportunity.”
I was so lucky to have that sort of offer at any age, let alone at that stage in my life.
I spoke to my Dad that night and I pleaded my case. I even said that I would pay for my own ticket as I had $3000 in my bank account because I had been saving all my pay from working at Mum’s coffee shop since I was just 10.
The next day, my parents sat me down. I could tell straight away by the look in their eyes that I was going overseas and I was going without them! When they said I could go, I screamed the house down.
In the three short weeks I was overseas, I checked out Buckingham Palace in London, climbed the Eiffel Tower in Paris, saw the true beauty of Ireland and craziness that is Amsterdam!
It was the best thing I had ever done and my desire to travel only grew from there.
Funnily enough, so has my parents’ intrigue in travelling. After that trip that changed my life, my parents decided they must see what’s out there too and they’ve been everywhere since!
I am truly grateful – if it wasn’t for my ‘other mother’ Sue, and of course my parents, I could’ve still been shacked up in Bathurst with no desire to see the world.
My life has since revolved around travel and adventure. At 18, my best friend and I spent our gap year in England.
I worked in a little English pub serving pints of ale, whilst she helped in a school. Then, in summer, we spent 45 days on a bus touring Europe and visiting over 25 countries.
After three years at university, my hunger for travel was well and truly alive again and before I had even been given my graduation certificate, I was on the next plane out of there!
I was only supposed to be going for 12 months … I returned home four and half years later.
After living in Edinburgh, Scotland, for about 18 months working in a bar as a shift manager, my boyfriend and I decided to go our separate ways.
It just so happened that two of my best friends had also recently broken up with their men, so they hoped on the next plane to the UK.
We bought a car in Scotland and drove it all the way through the UK, jumped on a ferry to France and then drove with just a map and a tent all the way around Europe, finishing up four and half months later.
This was one of the wildest rides I had ever been on and I learnt so much about life.
After these wild shenanigans, the gals and I decided to live, work and travel from London. We set up home for the next two years there.
I am truly in love with this bug called travel, and I would recommend anyone to do it!
Whether you have just finished school, retired or just got engaged, do it! Wherever you are in life, if you have been thinking about it for ages, stop thinking and make it happen. You won’t regret it!
Travelling has given me so much wisdom. It has taught me to be open-minded, allowed me to experience different cultures and taken me on some crazy adventures, which I thought were only possible in my wildest dreams!
The best thing? They’re not wild dreams and if travel is something you’re dreaming about, go out and make it your reality too!