I somehow find myself at the end of part 1 of my adventure. Nine months, mostly solo, through Southern Africa, Iceland and parts of South America.
I gave up my life in Sydney in order to achieve my dream this year – half of my life savings; a safe, stable job where I was happy and lucky enough to work with people I could call family; my beautiful family in Sydney who provided me with a home for the past couple of years, my amazing parents in Melbourne and my brother in Sydney, all of which have struggled with me being away for so long this year – I think – but have remained happy and proud of me throughout my absence and I’m sure will continue to do so.
It was a massive step into the unknown for me. As someone who had previously only traveled for less than two months at one time and never on my own, I had no idea what I was getting myself into and half expected to book an early flight home and make the shameful return having failed my dream. Not once have I wanted to book a flight home and I’m also lucky enough to say that I never even felt homesick, simply missing my favourite Thai restaurant every now and then and wishing it was as easy to go out for dinner with friends or family when things got quiet and hostels couldn’t provide me with entertaining company.
The constant planning was exhausting. It seems all well and good to go away with no plan to allow for spontaneous decisions depending on who you may meet along the way and what you might learn of certain places; but eventually you need a plan. You need to decide where you’ll be sleeping every night, what you’ll do each day, where you’ll go next and how you’ll get there. When the opportunity arose to go a different way with new friends I was eager, excited to let someone else take the reigns and simply dictate where I needed to be and when, which really helped and gave me a well-needed, well-deserved break each time.
Introducing myself and my travel story on a daily basis was also exhausting but I am so grateful for the friends it has given me and the conversations I’ve been able to have with people from all over the world. I feel lucky that I’ve made close enough friends that I can visit in the future and will always have a place to stay with me. I feel lucky that some have become people I talk to on a weekly basis if not more often.
I have learned so much about myself and who I want to be. My confidence has grown strong and my independence a vital part of who I am. I have finally grasped the level of my bravery and strength, both in this adventure and within my personal life at home, something I never realised and never gave myself enough credit for.
The countries I have been lucky enough to visit have exceeded my expectations. In saying that, I had absolutely no expectations this year, knowing little to nothing about each country and unsure what was in store for me. Africa and South America aren’t comparable. Africa is a whole different world from anything I’ve ever known and will always hold a piece of my heart, feeling in some ways like a new home to me and something I’m eager to return to. South America is more traveled and thus its a bit more touristy, something that made my time there easier than in Africa and also gave me more of a backpacker’s experience. I absolutely loved the culture that I found there and the constant natural beauty, and once I learn some more Spanish I will definitely continue my exploration throughout the rest of the continent that I barely touched.
Iceland was a whole different experience in itself, feeling like a 2 week break from the backpacking life alongside a girl I met in March and am lucky enough to call a best friend. Iceland’s variety of landscapes were breathtaking and the culture was a little odd, with a limited population and a more limited gene pool we tended to stay away from the local experience and instead focused our time on the natural beauty throughout the country.
Somehow my time feels as though it hasn’t rushed by, allowing me to indulge in every day and every experience at a steady pace. On the other hand, it feels like my flight to Malawi was just weeks ago and that I was sitting comfortably in Sydney just recently, working away and seeing my friends and family in my free time, a pleasant life for some but not the one for me.
It feels like the end but really it’s only the end of part 1. Part 2 is a life at Whistler Blackcomb ski resort, working a relatively simple job at a grocery store and skiing/boarding in my free time. It’s been a dream since my visit to Whistler with my dad three years ago and I’m excited to see it come to life. It’ll be beneficial to have a routine for six months; to live a more steady, normal life for some time before deciding what I want to do in May when the season is over. At this stage I have no plans and no desire to make plans, I’ll take things as they come and make the decision when I’m ready, whether it be to travel more or to settle down and go back to work, perhaps in marketing, perhaps overseas, or perhaps back in Australia, although not back in Sydney.
Too many people have the dream to do what I’ve done. I’ve heard it from so many people while I’ve been gone and all I can say is to do it. I was pretty much terrified but look how it worked out for me. I could not be more thankful for the experiences I’ve had this year and don’t regret any of it for a second.