The strange thing about me is that I’m a travel addict terrified of airplanes. It baffles most people I tell. I’m so terrified, in fact, that I still make myself sick for up to a week before I go anywhere. When I was 17, I couldn’t stomach the thought of spending 14 hours on a plane so I passed up on a family holiday to San Fransisco – back then the idea of travel was more of a total avoid-at-all-costs nightmare than anything to look forward to, thanks to my fear of flying.
That all changed when I started planning a year long trip back in 2010. Something about the idea of a year away appealed to the inner adventurer starting to take shape inside of me. At some unidentified point between my teenage years and early twenties I felt a fiery spark of change. I wanted to break free and see the whole wide world in all its glory. I spent many nights back then googling images of foreign lands and planning my upcoming adventures based on pretty pictures, good vibes and a desire to be part of something completely different to the world I had inhabited for the past 21 years.
For 11 months of my life I slept in a different hostel bed every few nights, living out of an over-packed backpack with grotty clothing and wild, untamed hair. I was the ‘typical’ Aussie backpacker kinda’ gal that most people would never have associated me with before 2011. I wore hiking boots and jeans for over 200 days of the year. I carried a 25 kilo backpack throughout busy city streets, was on a plane every other week (much to my horror) and forced myself to encounter situations that made me acutely anxious (like walking through an abandoned town in Ireland as it was evacuated due to a bomb threat – perfectly safe, according to the local guide who seemed to know the rules better than the local authorities). I’m a highly anxious person so most weeks I was thrown into a situation 210% out of my comfort zone. But it was exhilarating. It was freeing.
I wish I could describe the pure magic of those 11 months in the confines of this blog post. The things I saw, the people I met, the freedom I felt but it’s impossible to put into words. I could be accused of having an incurable case of travel nostalgia about that year. A year that I will never, in my life, forget. Here are just a few highlights:
Then, as all stories have the next chapter, one spring day the wheels hit the runway and I arrived home and soon found that my life just wasn’t the same anymore. At some point I had developed an addiction. An addiction to travel. An addiction to foreign places and new experiences and to some extent I had become a total adrenaline junkie. Routine just wasn’t doing it for me anymore. I thought I’d settle back down but the years past and I still looked for every possible chance to escape into the world. Every year since I’ve been somewhere different – Vietnam, Bali, back to Europe again.
I thought by now – 5 years later – that the addiction would have faded but it has only gotten worse. I find routine to be like a bowl of plain soggy weetbix – bland and sometimes unpleasant. Don’t get me wrong, I still make the most of life and embrace the fun but I am totally restless. I feel about as suited to an office job as a bird to a cage. I spend 90% of my free time liking travel photos on instagram and living vicariously through other travel bloggers living the ultimate dream of making a living from travelling the world.
I’ve become that crazy travel addict girl. My mind often wanders from what it should be thinking about to dreamed up images of places I’ve never seen before. Travelling the world was one of the best things I have ever done (and continue to do within the confines of 4 weeks a year) but it has changed me. It has made me more adaptable to change than I ever believed I could be. It has made me confident and willing to try new things. It has made me independent and passionate. It has made me believe in overcoming anxiety and living a more free life.
So, I suppose that’s my travel story. I wasn’t always a traveller but now I just don’t see how I could ever aspire to be anything else. I used to expect I would have a long career. Now I just aspire to work to travel and one day I might just find myself completely lost in the world of travel all over again.