When I was 23 years old my boyfriend Paul and I set off from our home in Scotland with rucksacks on our backs to travel the world. Filled with a mixture of excitement and a confidence in the unknown, we stepped on a flight from Glasgow to Hong Kong with no idea what lay ahead for us.
We had both just quit good jobs, jobs that were a solid pavestone on a post university career path, but had not doubted for a tenth of a second we were making the right decision. The phrase “the world is your oyster” could have been coined for us at that moment in time. The future was a blank slate and that’s how we liked it. We had a working holiday visa planned for a Australia so we thought we might stay there. We had friends in New Zealand, maybe we’d move there. People had told us Canada, the last stop on our trip, was great. Maybe we would just stay there instead of flying home.
Nine years later I am now 33 years old and living in my home town of Glasgow where we’ve been for the last five years. Looking back, that decision aged 23 was the biggest turning point of my life so far and the best decision I have ever made. It introduced me to travel which continues to be my biggest passion and inadvertently, defining feature of my life. Whenever I meet someone I haven’t seen in ages, their first question is “where you off to next?” Because 34 countries later, I am always off somewhere.
Throughout my years of travel experiences with Paul, I have ticked off bucket list after bucket list worth of experiences. I swam with sharks in Fiji. I walked along the rim of a live volcano in Indonesia. I gazed at North Korean soldiers at the border of North and South Korea. I went out on Hollywood Boulevard on Christmas Eve, got extremely drunk with a group of people I’d only just met and woke up at 5pm on Christmas Day. I had more incredible experiences than I can list here.
Now I’m living in Glasgow and working full time, my years are punctuated by my trips and every one of my 22 days holidays a year plus bank holidays are squeezed to the limit to include travel. Last year I managed seven countries, the year before, four. When I arrive back from one trip I immediately begin thinking about the next. My flat is covered in photographs of my travels and artifacts I’ve picked up from various points around the world.
I love everything about travelling. I love the drink at the airport pub before the flight. I love sitting on the plane (even Ryanair), the feeling of taking off, the overhead view of the new city when you come to land. I love visiting the really famous sights, either to gasp in awe or determine they are a bit overrated. I love getting to grips with the everyday things, like the currency and the local convenience stores. I love the differences, the language, the architecture, the smells. I love observing the local quirks, what the people eat for a snack, if they smoke a lot, what music the taxi drivers listen to. I love pouring over a Lonely Planet in the morning to decide how we’ll spend our day, then setting out with a map. I love it all.
So I have carved out this little corner of the internet to dedicate to my love of travel and hopefully pass some useful information along the way. And, because these are the comments I usually see under articles about people who travel a lot, let me clear this up before I go any further: I am not rich. All the travelling Paul and I have done has been with money we have earned as a result of saving and not spending money on other things. There have been no rich parents or trust funds lurking in the background (I kind of wish there had been). We are proof you don’t need to be wealthy to travel and this is something I will explore on here in the future.
Making the decision to travel can cover a wide spectrum, from tossing aside your entire life and catching a flight to the furthest flung destination (which is what I did) to making the most of your time off to go somewhere different (which is what I do now). It doesn’t even need to be somewhere overseas, it can be within your own country. It’s about seeing places and doing things that inspire you, broaden your mind and provide you with rich memories you can look back on for a lifetime. If you have reached this point of this article, I’m guessing this is something you are interested in. And if you take one thing from this little corner of the internet, I hope it is that.