That is the number of days since I boarded a one-way flight to Rio de Janeiro. For this post I began by looking back at my original post, written before I set off on my adventure to enable me to take stock of what I’ve encountered, what I’ve achieved, what I’ve lost, what has surprised me and what has changed since my first rambling in July 2012.
I remember writing in my first blog about my need to find a middle way, allowing indefinite travel and unending freedom while still having money to buy food and put a roof over your head. I remember asking myself whether this was even possible, rather than yo-yo-ing between spectacular, life-enriching travel experiences, followed by periods of mundane, office-based ‘real life’. My travels have made me realise that this is a mental challenge as much as it is a financial one.
Of course being on the road costs a lot of money, and the money never seems to last as long as you hope. Coming up with a solution to this has been relatively easy; look at countries where you can obtain a work visa and where there are jobs available, and go there. In my case, Australia was the answer and it hasn’t disappointed, although it’s definitely not as easy as perceived.
The second barrier to finding a ‘middle way’, is a mental one. There are occasions when I think to myself, ‘Shouldn’t I be working in a normal, corporate job and following the paper dream?’, but then I realise how much happier I am to be out of that environment. To this end, I can now say that it is possible to live a middle way, and I am very happily doing so. I work four days a week, working in a travel shop, wearing flip flops – I still don’t call them thongs - and chatting to backpackers, and surf during my days off. I live in a beautiful place called Byron Bay and am lucky enough to have made a lot of great friends over here in Australia. Life’s a bitch.
Australia certainly isn’t my promised land, it’s far too expensive and it’s still a very western country, but it is a great place to enjoy while saving up for future adventures. This type of life does come at a cost; uncertainty. Casual jobs are uncertain in nature, and being prepared to up sticks and repeat the whole settling in process is an all too familiar hazard of this type of life. But that still doesn’t put me off, and indeed it has made me look at life in a new light. I used to think, 'what was the point in going to university to study a Biochemisty degree if I’m just happy working casual jobs?' But now I’ve realised that I enjoyed university for the experience, I enjoyed learning and I made many great friends. Maybe I will go back one day, but university doesn't necessarily have to lead on to something in particular. The steps we take in life don’t always have to be as linear as some would have us believe, especially if you’re enjoying your life as it is.
Another change over the last 9 months is that I’ve met someone to join me on my travels and inspire me to add new adventures to my ever-growing list. Travelling with, and living with a partner has been a totally new experience for me, but I’m loving it. Cristina has made my adventures even more fun than they were before, and has planted travelling ideas in my head which I’d never even considered. As concluded in my favourite film ‘Into the Wild’, happiness – and in my case travelling– is best when shared.
In terms of what I’ve lost, fortunately it’s just the usual selection of clothes and nothing more serious. I’m onto my third camera, but the i-Phone has remained un-lost, un-stolen and unbroken amazingly. Unusually for me, I have gained some material possessions along the way, and I now own a car again. My new car is going to double as an excellent road-trip vehicle, and it only has 250,000 kilometres on the clock! The most important things I’ve gained on this trip are new memories, friends and perspectives and a renewed faith in the way of the world.
So, all in all I’m about as settled as I get at the minute. But we’re currently planning our next adventures and we can’t to get back on the road, doing what we love the most. Potential future ideas include teaching English in China, opening a hostel in Central America, and leading tour groups in South America. The world is our oyster, but it’s yours too so come and join us living the dream!