I didn’t ‘quit my corporate job to travel the world’. It would make quite an inspiring story but maybe I can make my journey sound equally fun? My whole life I knew I wanted to travel. I spent many restless nights from the age of 13 to 18 searching the web on how I could escape and travel the world. With zero clue on how to do it, zero money in the bank and zero life prospects, I eventually stopped torturing myself with the idea. I taught myself to be excited by university instead.
I did manage to get quite caught up in the idea of being a ‘preppy classics student’ at Swansea University. It all seemed like the right path to take until one night in the summer before I started. I watched the documentary ‘Maidentrip’.
For those for you who haven’t heard of it- Maidentrip is a film about Laura Dekker. Laura is the youngest girl to sail the world. She spent the two years between 14 and 16 sailing all around the globe alone, with no follow team and no parents. Just herself, the ocean and Guppy (her boat).
Maidentrip woke up the sleeping adventurist within me. Laura Dekker, if you are ever to read this, I would like to personally thank you for saving me from 20 + grand of unnecessary debt. I started researching possible jobs travelling the world and different nomad lifestyles. Not really believing in myself, I ignored these crazy thoughts and dragged myself to university in Swansea.
I lasted seven weeks. I went to maybe.. a week’s worth of lectures in total (fell asleep in half of them) and failed to care in the slightest about what I was doing. I drank excessively, slept and binge watched Gilmore Girls in the daylight hours. I became the worst, most embarrassing version of myself to date.
I knew what I wanted. I wanted to sleep in tents and vans whilst exploring the world. I wanted to see things I couldn’t imagine and spend evenings with nothing to do but admire the stars. I wanted to take full day bus journeys to get to destinations with no other reason but to experience them. I dreamt of hiking and living in nature, of wandering new cities and dancing in foreign bars.
Everyone I spoke to told me the responsible thing. ‘Wait until Christmas and see if you feel the same’ ‘You haven’t even given it a proper chance.’ Failing to take in that advise I made my final decision, I was more stubborn than I was hungover.
So, I filled in the paperwork needed to drop out and started planning my real life.
When I got back to Newcastle. I didn’t know exactly what my plan was, so I got the first job I could find to start earning money. I worked 50-60 hour weeks all Christmas for minimum wage, which at the time came to £5.55 an hour. I worked for multiple restaurants, once completing a day shift and a night shift (9am-5pm then 9pm to 5am) that one was rough.
I soon started to get fed up of what I was doing and I was no closer to working out a realistic plan. This was when I purchased what would be my first travel journal. It was an extremely overpriced, brown-leather bound journal from Urban Outfitters. It cost me £20 of hard earned cash. It cost me the equivalent of over 3 hours, standing in the backroom of a kitchen, breathing in vinegar, developing cramp in my thumb, polishing knife after fork after spoon after everything else that needs to look shiny in a fine-dining restaurant. Without this journal I don’t think I would have organised my thoughts and desires enough to get myself away.
It was now the beginning of January. I was on the bus to work when I saw a picture of the Eiffel Tower. I’ve never really been in love with Paris but seeing this photo just gave me an overpowering urge to go to the Eiffel Tower. After I had already arrived in town, tie fastened and hair tied ready for my shift, I received the last minute text message saying ‘It’s quiet in the restaurant today so we don’t need you’… Shout out to all of you zero-hour contract workers out there. This was the tiny push I needed to look into tickets to Paris.
I discovered I could book a one-way bus ticket to Paris from London for £23. Why the hell not? Finally, using Stagecoach Wifi on the way home I booked my ticket for Thursday, 30th March 2017.
This sequence of irresponsible, spur-of-the-moment decisions were what led me to my journey through Europe.
I have now, without a doubt, caught the travel bug… hard. Every shift I have worked in the last three years has been to work towards a trip. I am not currently planning any trip in the near future. Instead I am holding on patiently, saving the pennies again in hopes that one day in the next few years, I will be able to set off on a round the world trip. Prepared, enough money so that I can experience things fully- without having to worry about coming home and grabbing the first hospitality job I can get my hands on.