In just a few months’ time, I’ll be celebrating four years since I moved to London. That sounds completely surreal to me, yet the most amazing thing is how much has happened during that time.
I remember when I first moved over, I decided to start attending travel networking events. After all, I had my own small travel blog to nurture, and I wanted to eventually work in the travel industry too. Although I love being part of this incredible community, I remember meeting so many well-travelled bloggers from my very first event. And, while I was enraptured by their travel tales and blog articles, I remember leaving those events feeling a bit inadequate.
I have not travelled to 90+ countries. I have never taken a gap year. I have not visited every continent in the world.
I think there’s a lot of pressure in the travel blogging world to tick off as many countries and continents as possible. There’s a lot of pressure to be more nomadic, more adventurous than everyone else. I own up to those initial twinges of inadequacy, but I’m happy to say that I got over it really quickly.
The beauty of every single travel blog out there is that there’s a person/people behind it with different sets of circumstances. For me, a gap year had once been on the cards. I’m not from a wealthy family and, during my years of university, we ran into some serious financial issues. My sister and I only got to go to university because we worked hard enough to earn full scholarships. In my final year, things got tougher than ever and I realised that my savings would not be able to be used for a trip. Instead I helped my family. I handed in my final university thesis on a Friday, and started my first job the following Monday. I’ve been working full time ever since.
Slowly but surely I built up a career, managed to buy my own car and, after a few more years, had saved up enough to move to London. I did get to go on a few trips to Europe to see family, and this helped to satisfy my ever-growing desire to make travel a more regular part of my routine.
At 26, I immigrated to London (with a cat in tow), got a job and started travelling whenever I could. This would mostly involve short weekend trips in Europe, but, in 2014, I splashed out and went on my first completely solo holiday to Thailand.
This year, I’m turning 30. I still haven’t been to the States. I still haven’t done the Machu Picchu trek. I still haven’t seen the Great Wall of China.
But I don’t regret a thing.
There are a thousand reasons for this but, when I was thinking about how I was going to write this post, I realised that all of them are connected to one simple reason.
I know who I am.
I’m not saying we shouldn’t take trips while we’re young and still deciding what to do with our lives. If you have the means, go ahead and do it. But, for me, I grew up so much in that year following university, and then in all of those years after that. It was tough, but I wouldn’t be who I am now if I didn’t go through it all. Without those years of learning that I was able to fend for myself, I don’t know if I would have had the courage to move to London on my own, or to find a way to deal with my depression. I wouldn’t have been ready to meet Chris, my wonderful boyfriend of over two years.
I feel like I’ve learned so much about who I am, my values, my principles. My desire to travel was always there, and while I was waiting for the chance to finally go after my travel dreams, I got to grips with who I am as a person. And while I have my flaws and quirks, I know and like who I’ve become.
It’s this feeling of being comfortable in my own skin that has changed travel for me. I feel like I’m more open to other cultures and more invested in truly experiencing each place I go to. Since I waited for it a bit longer, I feel like I appreciate all of my travels so much more. If you look at any of my weekend itineraries on this blog, it’ll become immediately apparent that I’m one of those people that tries to always have an action-packed travel schedule. I want to see it all, and I still genuinely, with every single trip I take, feel so grateful that I’m privileged enough and have enough financial security to be able to travel at all. Because, let’s face it, if you can afford to even have one holiday a year, that puts us in an extremely privileged part of the world’s population.
So, as I quickly approach my 30s, I do so knowing that I’m going into a new decade with no regrets – just with a curiosity to see and experience more of the world, whenever I have the means to do so.
If you’ve made it to this point: well done. And it’s worth it, as it’s time for the exciting announcement bit the post title refers to!
– My upcoming travels –
In just over a month’s time, Chris and I will embark on a new adventure. We’ve been saving for it for over a year, and have been planning it for just as long. Our close friends have been keeping our secret for us, but with the final resignation handed in, it’s finally time to reveal all. Trust me, I’ve been wanting to share these travel plans for months.
No no, we’re not going off on indefinite travels. Chris and I have our cat-child to think of, after all. Instead, we will be setting off to travel for five months.
Without further ado, here is where we’ll be going.
Month one will see us exploring a country I’ve wanted to visit for more than a decade. The land of Lord of the Rings – and home to some of my best friends – we’ll be driving around New Zealand in a campervan. During our time there, there’s a strong focus on outdoor pursuits and adventurous activities, and we’ll be making stops across both the North and South Islands. Expect hiking (!), expect kayaking (!!), expect throwing ourselves off really high things (!!!). And expect a good dose of LoTR geekdom, for which I will not apologise.
After we’ve taken in the spectacular scenery of New Zealand, we’ll be heading straight into the heart of Australia for more Antipodean adventures. I went to Adelaide to see my sister earlier this year, and I fell in love with what I experienced. The animals (although perhaps not the scarier ones), the landscapes and the variety of things to do – I know my love affair with Australia will only intensify with our upcoming month within the country. After going on a tour to Uluru (Ayers Rock), I’ll introduce Chris to Adelaide before we hop in a campervan to see some of the country’s most renowned sights. The Great Ocean Road, Melbourne, Sydney and all the way up to Brisbane – there’s a lot of driving involved, and I suspect that, by the end of it all, we won’t want to leave.
Thankfully, our next country is another that has been on the top of our bucket lists for quite some time. We’ll be spending three weeks in Japan. We’ll take in famous cities like Tokyo, Kyoto and Osaka, but we have dedicated our time to quirkier pursuits as well. Visiting snow monkeys in an outdoor jacuzzi? Check. Spending my 30th birthday on an island that’s home to a rabbit colony? Check check.
After seeing more temples than I have in my entire life, we’ll be catching a plane to South East Asia. We’ll be spending about two weeks each in Cambodia, Vietnam and Laos. We’ll be going on a Contiki tour in Vietnam, which is a prize that Chris won at a travel conference. In Cambodia and Laos, we’ve conjured up our own itineraries that include visiting temples, exploring caves and indulging in some well-deserved relaxation in spectacular beach locations.
For some reason, the final leg is the one that excites me the most even though I’ve already been to the destination. I get to take my best friend and love of my life to the country where I grew up. We’ll be spending our final month in Cape Town. I will finally get to do all the touristy things I never did when I lived there and, during our time in the country, we’ll be squeezing in the Garden Route as well. By the time we arrive there, it will be the longest time I’ve ever been away from Cape Town, and I can’t explain how much I’ve been longing to see this city again, as well as the friends and family that I have there.
In all of these countries, we’ve managed to secure some amazing partnerships, which we will be revealing along the way. We fully intend on writing while we go along, and to share plenty of images and videos from the road. For the articles, stay tuned here, but for the daily snippets, keep an eye on my Instagram and Facebook. Chris and I have also created a YouTube channel (because nothing says commitment like having a joint YouTube channel, right?). Instead of coming up with an entirely new name, we discovered that our respective blog names can be combined. Our YouTube channel, therefore, is called Make New Lines of Escape Tracks (Lines of Escape + Make New Tracks). Genius, we know.
We really hope you will follow along on this adventure. The excitement levels are at an all-time high, and we just know that this is going to be the biggest and best trip of our lives.
September 15th, you couldn’t arrive soon enough! I’ve wanted to do a trip like this for most of my life. It may not be the gap ‘year’ I thought I’d eventually go on, but this, in my mind, is so much better. Yes, I’m going to some awesome destinations and am planning to do some epic activities, but the best thing is the fact that I’m going to share all of these experiences with Chris. It couldn’t get better than that.