March 2014 – March 2018
Has it really been 4 years travelling since leaving Australia? I’m on the road again…
Indeed, it has and what an amazing journey so far – hope it doesn’t end just yet.
It was suggested that I write this post to celebrate the four-year travel anniversary this week since leaving Australia, back in March 2014. And whilst a lot of countries have been traversed and continents crossed, I am hoping to give you a quick summary of places and experiences during the past four years.
To be honest, I’ve been travelling for most of my life as I started back in 1985 and only stop to earn money to take off again.
In the beginning – this time…
The decision was made then to work hard for a couple of years and go on an extended travel journey.
Travelling is a drug. Full stop.
Just as a drug slowly filters through one’s veins, creeping up on its victim and seeping into mind and body, travelling is no different.
And it is at this stage when you finally realise that travelling is a drug, which morphs into a lifestyle choice, replacing the concept of a quick two to four-week holiday each year.
Perhaps you can relate to this re-wiring of the brain? Re-conditioning?
To live out of a backpack? Move when you want and to where you want? Not to be based in one city, town, or country for decades, working until retirement or you drop dead?
Well, I have a little secret for you, loads of people unshackle society’s burdening chains and take flight…it really isn’t that hard or that difficult…try it!
Freedom. Mind-blowing adventures. Lessons. People. Pure fun.
Lynyrd Skynyrd’s ‘Freebird’, comes to mind – an oldie but a goodie for you from 1977. Many thanks, Lynyrd Skynyrd on MV.
Getting back to the inception of another very long travel journey.
Our minds were made up whilst in South America and before we even returned to Australia.
Although certain events in South America of which I haven’t yet written about made me want to leave and travel elsewhere, I knew I would return to this continent one day. But for now, it was to be Australia.
Resigning yourself to hanging up the backpack in a corner for a while collecting cobwebs to instead work again, is daunting for me, and comes as a rude reality check or should I say, shock. I wasn’t born rich.
The plan? Well, there wasn’t really a plan, as such.
I am not a traveller that usually plans a journey.
Why restrict yourself? And with all best-laid plans, things inevitable go wrong and plans always change, so why bother?
The only decision was to book a one-way ticket, some nights in Singapore, then travel through SE Asia, see how we liked that and reassess.
If this panned out, we would either continue travelling ‘somewhere’ until the money ran out, or return to Australia to become ‘comfortably numb’ (exaggerating now).
Leaving the Land of Oz
Two years in a fleeting moment of life passed with only little holidays in-between, as we worked and saved hard.
Following an extremely busy few months finishing up everything, packing up our house with all belongings dismantled and rammed into a tiny garage with car and motorbike, I hoped we may be gone for one to two years.
With backpacks dusted off once again, packed and ready for all weather conditions that would be hurled at us, the day finally came to say our goodbyes and leave Australia.
I find it really interesting when friends, relatives, or colleagues ask: “when will you be back?”
You have no idea how many times I have been asked this question, each time I leave a town, city, State, or Australia. It seems that many people can’t get their head around the fact that you’re leaving a good paying job ‘just to travel’.
Throw in ‘indefinitely’ and some people go into a complete meltdown with the next barrage of questions.
Life is short.
“Go now my friend, it’s later than you think…” – a good yachting friend said this to me years’ ago and it’s one that stuck.
So why hang around for retirement, until you’re almost dead, or no longer able to enjoy life?
Roman Satirical poet Decimus Junius Juvenalis, eloquently advises:
‘The noiseless foot of Time steals swiftly by,
And ‘ere we dream of manhood, age is nigh!’
Hope I haven’t depressed you?
Anyway, back to travelling…
The last 4 years
So, you may be asking yourself: what on earth has she been doing for the last four years?
Well, seeing earth is a pretty good description.
After some five nights in Singapore (too expensive on Australian dollars), crossing overland to Malaysia and travelling from south to north of the country, then again crossing into Thailand, we volunteered for the Foundation for Education and Development (FED) in a couple of their offices.
After Vietnam, the decision was to cross overland into China and start a long journey of many months or possibly years on the Trans-Siberian, through China, Mongolia, and Russia. As visas were either too short, too expensive, or too difficult to obtain once outside my country of residence, this journey would be saved for another time. For travellers doing organised tours or short trips, this isn’t such a problem.
Not ready to return to Australia and needing another destination: ‘why not Eastern Europe?’, I heard.
Sure, why not.
The fact that we not only would be changing continents but also going from temperatures of 35°C to -18°C, didn’t seem so daunting, right?
Sometimes, what sounds like a great idea, isn’t always a great idea, in reality. Especially when it is January, winter in the Northern Hemisphere, snowing, and you are not equipped for the extreme bitter change in weather.
Anyway, ‘onwards and upwards’ as they say.
After an extraordinary time in these four amazing and underrated countries over three months (my allocated time in Schengen countries as an Australian), a flight to the United Kingdom saw another spur of the moment decision…
Why not buy a motorhome (Reg) to drive around some of the UK?
What an excellent idea.
During this time, I returned to Australia for a short visit but also for a wonderful two-week sailing trip in Fiji with long-time friends.
As I could not extend my three-month Schengen visa at all, I had to leave. So, the long drive of over 2,500 kilometres from south of Naples back across the Channel and onto the UK, took nine days.
I had to stay out of Schengen countries for three months (visa requirement), so we returned to Thailand to volunteer again with FED but this time, for a very busy three months.
Returning to the UK saw me detained at Heathrow airport for six hours before I was eventually released and granted entry. By this stage, I just wanted to leave the UK again. So, leaving the motorhome behind in storage this time, we bought a cheap car (Lola) to cross into Europe once more.
Destination? Cosenza, Calabria (southern Italy).
Driving from the UK to Italy wasn’t free of disasters. Lola decided to die in central France and had to be towed to Wrecker’s heaven.
Four buses and thirty-six hours later, we arrived in Cosenza, ahead of our boxes that we emptied from Lola.
What a ride.
Oh and I also held another exhibition in January of this year, in the beautiful village of Cerisano, close to Cosenza: Image Earth Faces Photographic Exhibition, if you are interested to read how this went.
This was only supposed to be a short post.
But, how do you wrap up four years of travelling through seventeen countries over three continents, in five-hundred words?
Should be easy for a Technical Writer, I hear you say.
For the moment, the backpacks are hung up, in lieu of experiencing the Italian culture with my expanding waistline, which is the flavour of life.
Still loving Italy, so hope to stay longer, if I’m allowed.
Anyway, hope you enjoyed this little self-indulgence of my nomadic tales. But this is also a good summary of my posts with links, should you plan to travel to any of these amazing places.
I highly recommend all of these countries. And before you ask, I really don’t have a favourite as they are all brilliant.
So what are you waiting for? 🙂