For four years of being ‘on the road,’ my list of countries is pretty modest. In total, I’ve spent time in 10 nations, not including airport stops or my native England. Of the four years since I boarded a plane to Delhi, four months of that has been spent back in England. This was made up of two trips; my month stay between Indian travels and the dash to Australia, and then my three month stay over the 2012/13 winter. These dates I always count in my travel time as I was never settled or planning to stay long in the U.K. It was always a visit, an excuse to see much loved family and friends, but not to settle.
It’s funny to think I’ve spent half my twenties under the title ‘travelling.’ On the most part it’s not felt that way. In Australia and New Zealand I’ve spent the bulk of my time working to support myself and future plans. However, it has been through my work and volunteering that I’ve felt I’ve gained the best experiences. Much of what I've done would never have crossed my pretty head in a million years. Sailing over 8000 nautical miles in a tallship, living in New Zealand’s great wilderness and travelling India to Nepal via land, ? I don’t think the 2010 version of me would ever believe it.
My time in India and Nepal was really the catalyst for everything that has been made possible over the last few years. Without the culture shock, the severe heat and terrible sickness that followed me around these incredible countries, I would never have gained a craving for another life. I would never have learnt how once you start, independent travel can be the most liberating thing.
Of my four years away, Australia dominants the length of time spent in one place. For a year and a half this country gave me some of the funiest, care free moments of my life. From hitting the laneway bars with my friends in Melbourne to working in Crocodile Dundee country for four months, Oz was vibrant and fun. It was where I roadtriped across country with two of my oldest friends and also introduced me to two more ladies that would change my life forever. The Southern swan gave me a fantastic bunch of people I now consider family and the man I consider 'my partner'. The Soren Larsen also gave me another 'ship' family, but also the extra bonus of taking me to the South Pacific.
By far, my six month voyage throughout the South Pacific remains one of the most mind blowing experiences of my life. Not all moments were good. Infact, some were down right hard to get through. I've never been so tired, so mentally and physically exhausted that sleep would be all I'd fanasised about. Yet, the rewards were worth double the hardships and even with hindsight, I'd do it all again.
Sailing the seas, visiting remote islands and sighting beautiful marine creatures are memories I will treasure for the rest of my life.
With just over a year spent in New Zealand, it is very easy to get attached to this country. Most of the time I've felt like I lived on a movie set, with its snow capped moutnains and stunning coast line. Getting a job on a ski field, made me the happiest person in Queenstown. And coming out to Fiorldland national park, I think I actually fell in love with New Zealand. At times I am left in a state of wonder, that somewhere so beautiful and untouched can exist.
After all these years, my C.V has ended up a rather surreal and disjointed document. I've been a sailor, a hostel receptionist, a cook, , a cattle station hand, a warehouse worker, a pre-school teacher and a hiking lodge attendent. I've worked on tall ships and a ski field and entered ways of life I didn't know existed.
The list of experiences has amazed me. I've bungee jumped in Nepal, swam with wild humpback whales, turtles and seals, rode horses, paraglided in Queenstown, snowboarded, taken my fair share of helicopter rides, Surfed, crossed oceans and dived the great barrier reef.
Along the way I've met too many incredible, beautiful people to keep count of, who have really made my life awesome. Everytime I've had to say goodbye, its actually broke my heart. Whether its been my volunteer family in the Indian himalyas, my melbourne hostel buddies or my tall ship family. I felt such sorrow in the knowledge that even if we met again, we'd never share this family feeling in exacty the same way. Things move on and evolve. Its the way things are but it doesn't stop it from sucking.
And within this knit of amazing people, I've met one who has stuck with me for two and a half years. A person who has listened to my crazy ideas without judgement, given me support and love, has travelled with me and kept me company. I don't pretend that we're one of these couples that finish each others sentences and spend all day sighing and looking into one another eyes. We are two individuals learning our balance together. Yet through our learning has been crazy, stupid, happy times and so much love. I am thankful for every second.
Here's to living another jammed packed four years.