This time tomorrow I will be on the plane heading to Bali as the first destination in my new world travel journey. Getting comfortable with my self-inflating pillow and soaking up the last glimpse of Sydney. Reminiscing the path that has taken me to this very point and wearing a stupid grin of excitement to think of the adventures that lie ahead for me this year. This all came together when I received my epiphany to backpack solo…the awakening that I needed to get me out of my comfort zone and to discover the world and myself.
The spark of my curiosity about travelling solo
Similar to many Australians I wanted to take advantage of the Tier 5 Youth Mobility Scheme providing me with the opportunity to work/live in the UK for 2 years before I turned 30. This was not so much due to my love for the UK (great culture, but I have also grown up in Sydney and not quite equipped for the dreary cold weather of the UK), but more for my love for travel and especially for travelling around Europe.
Twice I researched with friends the prospect of moving to the UK together. Once when I was 22 and the second time when I was 24 (ok noticing a pattern here as I am now 26 as I write this post). The excitement and the fantasy was always in our minds when we started this process believing that it would be so simple until reality set in and we realised what we would be leaving behind…our financial/job security (as majority of the time you are not able to line up a job prior to arriving in the UK), our friends and family, and also potential partners. So both times I stopped pursuing this fantasy and instead returned back to my routine life that was established here, pursuing my career at the time, and also entering into a new relationship. I was happy to abandon this idea on these two occasions as I knew deep down that I was not ready to take the plunge into the unknown and therefore happy to continue to travel using my annual leave time. In return I would gain financial stability to work towards buying my own house and settling down with a family one day. But in the back of my mind I still had the travel bug and the dream of working/living overseas that popped up every now and again.
In 2014 I traveled to the UK and Europe for 5 weeks with my now ex partner. This truly was an amazing trip being able to take this time out of our daily lives to explore the wonders of six unique countries, getting a taster for each of these. During our trip we caught up with one of my good friends, Jessica, in Paris as she had moved to the UK on the working holiday visa herself. In this brief time period that I had to spend time with her in Paris I felt extremely proud of her to be able to take this venture alone. I saw how she had grown so much through this experience living in a foreign country, staying in hostels, and living each moment to the fullest.
On the return flight back to Sydney from Europe I was seated next to a girl travelling alone and somehow we started to chat (very rare these days on flights and in most public areas as we are so conditioned and closed off wanting to remain in our own space and not open up to speak to the random that could be your next best friend). I was already inspired after meeting my friend Jessica in France, however, this was like the universe sending me another sign because I still remember through chatting with this girl how my curiosity of travelling alone and afar was fuelled even further. I discovered that Rachel had moved to Brazil solo to live/work. She had made this decision to do so because she was not fulfilled in her daily life in Sydney. Prior to Brazil she had not travelled, even to Melbourne (this is a shock horror moment as the flight time between Sydney and Melbourne is only an hour), and therefore decided to make the change for herself, because at the end of the day you need to be the master of your destiny.
The seed was planted in my head after these two encounters to solo travel in a backpackers one day, despite hearing horror stories of bed bugs, sleeping in a dorm where people can not control their bladders, and listening to people bump and grind all night long. This was to remove myself from my comfort zone and to experience a different type of traveling instead of gravitating towards hotels and apartments whilst traveling.
However, after this 5 week holiday I put these thoughts to the back of my mind as at that time of my life I was happy to still continue in pursuing what some may call the rat race society. I was entering into a new position at work,and also wanted to invest my life into the current relationship at the time to see that grow and foster.
Year 2015 and Byron Bay – my awakening and travel epiphany
On the 28th May 2015, I flew to Byron Bay for a five day solo trip, booking myself in at a backpackers. I remember being so excited about my decision. I no longer wished to push my thoughts and curiosity aside about travelling solo that was still in my mind from my Europe trip in 2014. I knew in my gut that something extraordinary would come of this first solo trip.
From the very moment I stepped off the plane in Ballina and hopped onto the shuttle bus to take me to Byron Bay I felt an astounding sense of belonging to this area and the magical charm that Byron Bay held (I had not even reached Byron Bay at this point but could feel myself draw to this destination). I was enchanted from the moment I finally reached Byron Bay, feeling a reconnection that came intrinsically within (and no this did not come from visiting Nimbin and getting on the happy tobaccy).
From the first day at the backpackers my ignorant and misguided perception of staying at a hostel/backpackers from the people that traveled within a backpackers, the facilities, the accommodation, and the culture that is prevalent within these establishments was eliminated.
I quickly feel in love with the nature of the many carefree and happy people that I met over the course of these five days. It was amazing to see how they had no inhibitions keeping them from meeting new people and cultures, exploring new places, new ideas, and that they were accepting of everyone and anyone to join along with the various activities around the hostel and elsewhere.
I marvelled at the significant contrast compared to my previous travels whilst staying at hotels, whereby I mainly only associated with my travel companions and occasionally a few other people we came across along the way.
More so, reflecting upon how this plays out in day to day interactions whether it be at work, in a social situation, or even in a public space. So many times we are so focused on ourselves, our agenda/routine, and also our current social circles that we forget to look up and see who else is around, and our actual environment. We happily wear our blinkers that stop us from meeting others or exploring a new culture that could expand and influence our world for the better. Therefore, limiting ourselves to only what we know at this current stage, afraid to explore deeper.
The 30th May 2015 marked a powerful change within my mindset leading to my epiphany to backpack solo and influencing the course of my future plans right up to today.
The morning of the 30th May I started my morning with a run from my hostel to the lighthouse accompanied by one of the guys staying there to watch the sunrise. I remember speaking to him about his travels and the reasons why he had gone backpacking initially, and what draws him to this world. I could feel a connection instantly to what he was divulging in me as one of the main reasons that he decided to travel was because he was searching for himself, and that he could not have done this in his current situation back at home. I knew intrinsically that I was in the same mind frame that I too was coming to that point in my life that I really was seeking and needing the space for self discovery.
Upon arriving back to the hostel, after the morning run on the 30th May, it was amazing to see things in a new light and with so much clarity in my mind. Although I realised from day 1 that everyone was so happy and carefree, it all of a sudden clicked to me that the reason for this was because everyone there was by choice. That they were living their lives in this current moment with complete control over their lives.
I took this thought with me as I walked the 45 minutes to the yoga studio I was attending that morning. As I listened to ‘Free‘ by Rudimental, featuring Emeli Sande, especially the lyrics “This world ain’t exactly what my heart expected
Tryina find my way someway…” I can remember my exact thoughts at this particular moment. I was looking at my current situation, firstly being in a sort of relationship that I was realising my heart was not completely invested in anymore. Secondly, having a job that was quite valuable leading to a potential future career and development within the company that I was working for, yet at the same time I knew I did not love this job nor could see myself devoted to it long term. Knowing that I had a stronger passion to help people through educating them and guiding them, desiring to pursue life coaching/wellness coaching, yet also knowing that I myself have not gone through my own life journey enough to be able to guide others through theirs. I then compared this to the life of those that I have encountered over the last couple of days at the hostel and seeing how they interacted with no fear or placing obstacles upon themselves, but giving themselves the chance to explore the world and gain clarity for themselves through traveling.
At this very moment my mindset changed completely. I had this knowing deep within my gut that I needed to make a change for myself, and that change would come in the form of a career break for a year. To completely break out my comfort zone and backpack around the world. I was no longer fearful of what was to come of this year, but rather completely thrilled at the adventure that lay ahead. To immerse myself in different communities, volunteer, and live like the locals, truly expanding my perspective and knowledge. Letting go of my ego and attachment to the purely materialistic lifestyle.
Progressing ahead with my epiphany to backpack solo
Upon arriving back to work after my trip to Byron Bay the shift in my mentality altered positively. How I approached everything in my normal life changed for the better; from my attitude towards working in a more flexible work environment and needing to be in a space that had the right energy and lighting, my relationships, and my focus upon my future and myself. In conjunction, I also noticed an energy shift within myself attracting more like minded individuals. People that I have only now known for a few months now, however, could automatically sense that they were kindred spirits with lasting friendships.
However, rationally thinking that although I knew that taking the career break was the right decision for myself I also knew that I could not commence this straight away as there is still the preparation required to plan this world wide trip even if I was planning to travel flexibly. Looking back now when I made this decision I did not realise how much planning and research is required for this trip to ensure that all measures are in place (I was under the thought I would just buy a back pack and off I would go) such as booking a round the world ticket, determining which yoga teacher training I would attend, travel insurance, equipment, visas, documents, etc.
Of course, I did not look into this all initially as I was so overcome with excitement that I just decided on my first destination, Bali, as similar to Byron Bay it has a very healing and magical energy about it. In my rush of excitement, I purchased my one way ticket there for the 1st February 2016, to commit myself to this plan. Originally I was craving to leave earlier, however, I could not miss my good friends wedding at the end of January. Looking back now if I had left in November 2015, which I originally was hoping for I would have missed out on these last few months that have been extraordinary, filled with so many lasting memories and ventures.
Part of my reasoning for wanting to leave early initially was due to disharmonies in my life which influenced my decision to travel. At this point I knew I could take one of two paths; the first to turn a blind eye to these and bury them deep within so that I did not have to confront them, and the second being to speak to someone professionally and explore these thoughts of contention that left a heaviness within my heart.
I decided to go with the second option to really continue on the path for self exploration and identify where this rooted from and the reasons behind it. I started to see a counsellor at my work place and it was one of the best decisions that I made for myself. In the first session I had one of the biggest AH HA moments that set the tone that day forward and placed my life in a positive direction that went had in hand with my self discovery that I would achieve during my travels. Through this first session I realised that I no longer in love my now ex partner or invested in the relationship, and in addition I lost my self love and confidence for myself. It made complete sense when I finally voiced it, giving me the power to break away from this part of my life that was no longer providing me with internal happiness or fitting for my future. My mind gained clarity to the past actions and situations that reflected just this, and also where to move forward from that day.
As a result of this first session I continued these counselling sessions on a regular basis for 3 months. In addition, I also knew it was the right time for me to undertake the 10 Day Silent Retreat at Vipassana Meditation Centre in January just prior to starting my trip (see my blog on this experience here). To advance further I was also blessed with the offer by my friend to undertake a 7 week course called ‘The Spiral’ which she guided me through. This process uses healing modalities (kinesiology and chakra balancing) to communicate straight to the nervous system and release the patterns and obstacles in my life that hold me back so that I can function to my full potential.
Through the counselling and ‘The Spiral’ I had numerous AH HA moments and self discoveries about who I was, my behaviours and patterns, how these influenced my past actions and more importantly what I could do to change the outcome for next time when similar situations arose as I was now self aware. Gradually through both of these processes things in my life naturally fell into place without any obstacles. I was able to gained my self love and self confidence back. The purpose of my travel plans became more defined, my vision of my future is more transparent, and I have entered into what I can only describe as a healing relationship.I quickly no longer felt the need or burning desire to run away as I was and am happy with myself and my life decisions. Through the 10 Day Course at Vipassana I continued to come to further realisations which nicely rounded the previous understandings that I was made aware of prior whilst increasing my trust within my own voice and actions.
2016 – THE ADVENTURE BEGINS
From today onwards, as the start of my journey as a traveler, not just as a tourist, I will be approaching each and everyday, place, and person that I encounter as a life lesson. To continue to enrich my life and in return also their lives…and hopefully yours as well.
I endeavour to continue exploring myself within and the external world with an open mind and heart. I will enthusiastically do so with the thirst to gain insight, acceptance and understanding for different communities/cultures, volunteer for non-for-profit organisations, live like the locals, soak up the uniqueness of each place, all with the aspiration to educate myself and share my insights with you. To inspire you to go on your own path of self discovery.
Thank you for taking the time to read only the start of my journey and I can’t wait to be in touch again soon with my new encounters on the road.
With much love,