I suppose there’s no better place to start than at the beginning. As my first official post, it will be about my maiden voyage that made me the traveller and person I am today. As the title hints it, my inaugural trip was to Australia, back in May 2013. Of course this was not my first trip ever, which you can find out more about my nomadic upbringing here. I applied for a working holiday visa and as soon as I got it, I booked my flight.
Why I chose Australia may need a little background information first. It was never a country I thought I’d go to anytime soon, at 26 years old, with no job, no boyfriend, and completely lost in myself. I was going through what many may call a “quarter-life crisis”. At the time, I was in Colombia, where my mother and most of my family lives, and I was initally on holiday. Earlier, in October 2012, four days after my birthday, I had a minor motoring accident whilst driving my 125cc scooter in rainy weather, in an unsurprisingly dreary day in Bristol, UK. Long story short, I had to quit my physically demanding job (high ropes course instructor) and after promising my then partner to stay for Christmas and New Year’s, some much needed family time was due. So in the new year of 2013 I booked my flight to Colombia, for what was meant to be about a month’s stay initially.
In Colombia, I was planning to meet local artisans at fairs and expos, to buy some of their products and try to sell in the markets back in England. Basically, I was desperately trying to fit into society and keep a “normal life”; living in a house, keeping a long-term relationship, (trying) to get a job, etc etc. I knew secretly this was not fulfilling me, but I was innocent, naive and inexperienced in life. From a young age, I always wanted to keep travelling, but it just didn’t seem like a feasible plan at the time, I was too tied up in a life modern-day society expected me to live, and I was completely unaware just how unhappy and depressed I was.
Luckily, I had my mother’s support, and when my ex told me to not go back to him, I experienced my first heartbreak, and I was devastated. My mother confessed to me that she was absolutely delirous with the news, and that she knew that this relationship was holding me back in truly chasing my dreams. My own mum was a black sheep in her family, leaving her country at 26 (as well!) and making her dream come true by going to London (where I was born). I’ll have to dedicate a post about her, as her spirit and energy is a strong pillar in my life as a traveller.
In any case, we started looking at alternatives, new paths, new opportunities, a new life. I soon realised that being dumped was the best thing that ever happened to me! The universe, the cosmos, however you want to call it, was giving me a chance to take the reigns and choose how I wanted to live MY life. My mother above all encouraged me to listen to my heart. I had considered going back to study, learning something useful but that could allow me to travel, such as modern languages or get a teaching certificate for English, however, this was not convincing me. At this time, I was not ready to go back to study, having only graduated three years prior from university. I felt I needed to live, to get out in the world, and just be me. My younger sister, who at the time was already travelling for about 6 months, had suggested to me Australia. She had just arrived there, on something called a Working Holiday Visa. I knew next to nothing about this visa, but as soon as my sister described it, the penny dropped.
Being British definitely has its perks, and it was a relatively easy process to apply and pay for this visa online, and as soon as I was approved, my mum and I agreed to make a trip back to the UK to get all my belongings in storage, or sell or get rid of the stuff I didn’t need or want. I was ridding myself of most of my material posessions, with only a couple of backpacks to fit my clothes, DSLR and laptop, and a travel pillow. Essentially, I was stripped down to the bear minimum, and it felt good! I was not an experienced backpacker by any means, but I felt ready to shed off layers of pre-conceived ideas of how I had to live my life. When I finally set foot on Australian soil, I felt I was given another chance to be born again.