Blues: Life After Travel

Australia 2017, England

We’ve all heard about how hard it is to quit your job, book your plane ticket and get on your flight to some unknown adventure, but no one ever really tells you that it’s ten times harder to come back home. I’m 23 and I’m hopelessly lost.

Immediately after landing back in the UK I landed an admin job with a modest salary – certainly not on the level I was on before – and I felt bored at work for the first time in my life. No one spoke to me, no one made me feel welcome, and perhaps most crucially there was no phone signal on the business estate (which genuinely still baffles me because WHY?). After several missed calls and lining up 3 interviews in a row in buying, I had to quit.

Today marks 2 weeks of officially being unemployed which doesn’t sound like very long at all, but to me it feels like a lifetime. The first week was exciting, applying for all these wonderful jobs, listing some things on eBay to get some extra money, researching business ideas – I was fresh and ready to get my career back on track. The second week was last week when I actually had three days of interviews back-to-back, which I haven’t and to be honest, don’t expect to hear back from. I feel like two went really well, but one is super competitive, and the other was in an awful location which I just cannot imagine myself relocating to. I need to be 100% sure that whatever job I take is my “forever” job, and by that I mean my 3-year plan.

I feel like travelling was a massive self-sabotage on my part. I took a massive leap, which little did I realise was actually into career suicide. This time last year I had my dream job, I was earning good money, I lived with two of my best gal pals in a cute house in Reading. I could walk to work and easily save £600 p/m but still live it up every. single. weekend. Every day since I got back I’ve been checking for my old job to re-surface online, and it finally did. Last week, actually. I applied the same day in a state of excitement, before remembering how long the recruitment process took last time and whether I could possibly be patient enough to wait 5 months for a job that I might not even get the second time around.

The thing is this: Even if I did get my old job back, even if I did move back to Reading, I wouldn’t have my girls around me (two are in Australia, ironically). I wouldn’t have my lovely old team with my little desk and all my samples. I wouldn’t have my little box of filing that I just never had time to sort out. I wouldn’t have my glittery Minnie Mouse cup sparkling with every panicked sip. I miss the high-pressure and the fast paced aspect of my old job. I miss a garment coming in wrong and feeling like the world was ending a la Devil Wears Prada.

You cannot change the past and I think that’s something I need to remind myself of daily. All I can do is scramble at the fragments of my life and somehow attempt to rebuild the life I had made for myself. I don’t know what the next few months will bring and I would be lying if I said that didn’t terrify me. Some of my pals who are still living life upside down (in Australia) are keen to know how I’m getting on, but at the moment it’s safe to say: Not great.

Before I went away I didn’t think about what life would be like upon my return. If you are thinking of travelling I strongly urge you to evaluate your life right now and whether it’s the right choice for you. It is so easy to hand in your notice and get on a plane without a second thought, but it’s not so easy doing the opposite and trying to land your same job you fought so hard for in the first place.

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Real Talk: Feeling Lost at 23

Australia 2017, England, Thailand 2017

I’ve always been open and honest here on my blog, so I thought I would dedicate this post to something which has quite literally been ruining my week. On Monday I arrived home once again, ecstatic after a wonderful time at Reading Festival and Tuesday was equally as positive as I sat down and applied for jobs all day.

I received a message from a friend who is currently in Australia and cannot decide whether to come home or not. They wanted my input on what they should do and if I have any regrets, and honestly it made me start to question what on earth I was doing. I begun to feel really, really down in a way that I cannot describe as anything other than rock bottom.

Of course I know that I won’t remain unemployed forever, but it is incredibly daunting to know with great certainty that I cannot go back to my old house on the hill in Reading and my old office with my old co-workers, or spend my nights after a shit day curled up on the sofa with someone I genuinely cared for. I don’t know why but I had an image in my head that coming home would be the exact same as when I left, but it’s not, at all. It’s bizarre and unsettling to not know what way my life is going to go.

I’d like to live in Reading – it’s comfortable, I know my way around like the back of my hand and my friend Samii recently bought a house there. But then I question if I’d fall back into old habits, if I’d feel the exact same as what prompted me to make such a life altering decision to travel. Yes, feeling lost at 23 is hard. Do I regret travelling? No. Do I regret coming back to the UK? No. Do I regret giving up such a competitive career? A little.

But the thing is, if I had never of gone for it then I know I would still be sat at my desk wondering “what if” and now at 23, I am refreshed and ready. I didn’t have the money for a gap year at 18 and after university I went straight into the grind of a 9-5 (read 7-7, because that’s what my job was) – I knew I wanted to see the world, to travel independently and stand on my own two feet whilst I wasn’t tied into a mortgage, a partner or screaming children. From walking along the most pristine beaches, driving a 4WD on white sands, nearly falling out of the back of a van on Pai’s infamous twirling mountains and meeting friends who no doubt I’ll know for the rest of my life – I’ve had a great 8 months exploring the world and exploring myself, I would find it difficult to regret such a journey.

So how can I help myself? On Wednesday I sat down and figured out what was making me feel sad. I got rid of people and situations from my life that made me question my worth. I mapped out a plan of where I am and where I want to be, and whilst I am currently none-the-wiser, I have hope that one day I will be. After all, the only way is up.

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Life After Travel: A Week at Home

Australia 2017, England, Uncategorized

It seems like forever ago that I was sat on a cramped 25 hour flight in the storm of coming home. Still jet-lagged and bleary eyed, slapped with a rejection from the police because of residency regulations, I dragged myself to Reading festival in a last minute decision to meet up with my two pals from university that I hadn’t seen in years. It felt good to have a few days out to just access my life and stay in the limbo of not being an adult just quite yet.

Whilst I’ve discovered that maybe festivals are not for me, I did have a great time seeing some bands I loved when I was younger, namely You Me at Six and Breaking Benjamin. I camped for 4 whole nights which for a self-proclaimed princess is no mean feat. I realised a lot this weekend – namely that beer for breakfast is (sometimes) a great idea.

Today I’ve arrived back at home to Kent for the second time in one week and I think the end of travelling blues will hit me like a ton of bricks at any minute. Everyone screams about how great it is to travel and do all of these amazing things, but I think we also need to remember the lows which will follow. It’s impossible to not get a little down when your life goes from sunbathing under palm trees to sitting in front of a screen/ringing up agencies looking for the right career for you.

I feel like I had a picture in my head of how my life would pan out when I got home, and so far it is absolutely nowhere near what I had in mind. I’m not joining the police (and cannot apply for 3 years because I’m allegedly not a UK resident), he will never want me, I’m heaps chubbier now than I was in January, and all my friends are buying houses and getting engaged whilst I’m putting mini doughnuts on my fingers and cuddling my cats.

Til next time.

liv

Coming Home

Uncategorized

It started 4 weeks ago, a constant voice of “book your flight” and truth be told I had no idea what date I would actually book when I sat down to finally plan my return to London. Originally I had thought early October, then end of September, but when it came down to it, I knew I just wanted to be home. This time next week I’ll be in England, curled up in my favourite chair with a strong tea, and that thought makes me feel beyond calm. 

I’ve spent the past two months on a farm packing apples in a house share of thirty girls. We have two toilets, one is outside, and two showers. It’s cramped at the best of times and whilst I’ve met some absolute angels here, I’ve also met people who have taught me things that I didn’t quite expect. I had something, two things, stolen. One being my silver bracelet with HOPE written on it and one a black viscose tshirt that I bought from a Market in Bangkok. Whilst neither item had any particular value, when you do not own a lot of things it seems like the end of the world because what on earth will I wear with X, Y, or Z without my black tee staple? But then it hit me. I did not need these material items, I just liked them. At first I struggled to understand how someone could take from somebody who literally has nothing, but I take comfort in knowing that whoever took them needed them more than I did. 

Today is my last working week, on Friday I’m heading the Melbourne, ironically my least favourite place in Australia for my last two days. I booked a nice hotel and I’m literally going to chill and bathe myself in deep heat because packing has not been kind to my health. I couldn’t even begin to write what a whirlwind my time in Australia has been. I came out here without a plan, I just knew I was desperately unhappy in England but I could never pin point quite why. My happiness was based purely on fashion and to me now, that is very sad when the world has so much more to offer. 

When I get home I assume I’ll be temping in London whilst I try to find my feet on the career ladder, but around that I’d like to volunteer at the hospice which cared for my Nana and I’d like to travel the UK and Ireland. I want to see Scotland and stay in an isolated cosy log cabin in the wilderness. And I’d like to see Tuam (Galway, Ireland) where my family is from. And I’d like to go to Wales and scream at the rugby after one too many beers. There are so many experiences and things that I want to do before I settle and get a house with a mortgage, and tiny humans that rely on me. 

I don’t know what will happen over the coming months. I don’t know if I’ll stay in Kent when I’ve learned how easy it is to pick up and move your life wherever you want it to be. I am a risk taker, and at the end of the day, that is how you grow. 

Monday: A Month of Farm Life

Australia 2017, Uncategorized

Just checking in to say that yes I am still alive, and yes I’m loving life again. I ended up in Brisbane desperate for a job, any job. I rung my mum in tears on the high street with the intention of flying home in two days because I’m literally unemployable out here. I told my friend Kim my plan and went to the reception of our hostel to extend my stay for a few more days before I was going to book my flight. The lady on reception was taking ages and I mean I was stood for over ten minutes whilst the person in front of me in the queue asked every question under the sun. Eventually I lost my patience and headed back up to our room where I had a missed call from Kim. After two weeks of looking for a decent hourly paid farm job we’d found one! The timing was honestly uncanny and in that moment I knew I had to stay. I’m a great believer in what’s meant for you will not pass you by, and it was the sign I needed to stay.

The next day we flew from Brisbane to Melbourne before getting on the three hour train to Shepparton. It has now been a month and already I know I have made memories and friendships that I’ll never forget. Suddenly everything just clicks and it feels good. I’m contracted out to a different packing shed to the main one with fixed hours so I actually know when I’m coming home now which is amazing. My plan at the moment is to finish, fly to Sydney and spend three days there before finally flying back to London and starting my life all over again. 

I’m scared about coming home, really really scared and it sounds so silly but I haven’t lived in Kent for nearly six years. My friends are all over the UK and now, well, the world. Whilst I know I’ll be fine, it’s still going to weird trying to make friends as an adult which is ridiculous because I’ve done it every single day I’ve been in Australia. I think the first thing I’ll do when I get home is boil the kettle, have a proper English tea in my favourite cup in my favourite chair with my favourite book. I’m weirdly excited about it and it’s so nice to finally have an end goal. Then reality will probably hit me as I scramble for a job, which is something I’ve also been thinking about a lot and what path I want to take. I know I want a job that matters and that helps people. I want to be a policewoman, and that’s bizarre for me to say out loud because I always thought girls should have girly jobs. I was always a strange kid, I wanted to be an astronaut so I could be the first girl on Mars, then I wanted to be a firefighter, to join the army and then fashion took over my life. 

I lost myself for a while in materialistic things, I loved that my salary allowed me to buy whatever I wanted whenever I wanted. I lost sight of what really matters in life. Living on a farm and dressing like absolute shite every day has taught me a lot about myself, including that you can go without showering for a lot longer than you thought possible and if it doesn’t smell you can definitely still wear it even on the fifth day. Packing fruit actually gives you so much time to think, like the work is easy but so repetitive that you just get lost in your thoughts. I’ve thought through so much and settled a lot of things in my mind.

I don’t know what will happen when I go home, but right now in the present moment, I’m the happiest I’ve been in a long, long time. 

Liv on: Looking Ahead

Australia 2017, Tuesday

Ever since I hit Cairns on the East Coast I’ve felt stagnated, I couldn’t really get a proper job (even though I had a terrible brief time doing door to door sales hahaha) because I knew I would be leaving soon for Thailand. I fly in 4 days and I couldn’t be more excited, and not only because I’ll have a month to sit on the beach all day every day, but because when I return to Australia I can finally get a job and earn some dollars. I saved pretty hard to come out here, granted I never quite knew what I was saving for, but without fail every month I was putting away 300-500£. When I go home I want to have the same amount saved up so I won’t struggle and so the remaining 6 months of my visa will be work work work to regain my savings.

I think when I head back to England in December/January I’ll move up north, rent a cheap but cute house and live happily ever after. Part of me thinks I should explore the UK while I can, I’ve never been to Scotland or Ireland, which is a shame because they’re so close. Doing this trip solo has changed my view on the world endlessly, there are so many beautiful places just waiting to be explored. I used to spend weekends head first in a Dominos and in arms that didn’t love me, when I could of been going on spontaneous trips to somewhere that would make me feel more alive than a lazy Sunday in bed ever could. I think I want to take driving lessons when I get home (I have a full UK license but I’m an insanely nervous driver and just can’t) and then buy a camper van to explore the UK in.

I want to be doing a job I love with something that truly inspires me. I want to have goals that make me excited and motivated to succeed. I don’t have a clue what I’ll be doing a year, a month or even a week from now, but that’s what’s exciting about life. I used to hate spontaneity – random gifts and surprises would actually make me upset because I’ve always been a control freak. I still cringe over when he bought me speakers and I didn’t even know what to say except “I don’t want them”. Opps. I absolutely hated the idea of not being in charge, but now I realise that actually it’s so liberating and gives you a sense of freedom to just let go and see where life takes you. 

In Thailand Im not too sure what I’m doing or where I’m going. My best friend and I have our flight booked to Chiangmai the day she lands and a night in a hostel, but apart from that, nothing. Usually I’d be anxious to not have precise plans and dates, but it’s nice to have the freedom and the choice to explore anywhere, wherever and whenever you want. I feel like maybe travelling has turned me into a bit of a hippy, just a little bit, and I even own a rainbow tie dye dress – yes, me

C’est la vie, what will be will be. 


 

Liv on Tour: Melbourne > Adelaide > Melbourne

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Last Saturday I randomly stumbled into two girls I’d never met before who invited me on a road trip to Adelaide and back via The Great Ocean Road. Whilst this thought would of terrified me a few months back, I’ve learnt that with life comes spontaneous (sometimes mental) decisions and so there I was, in the back of the van with two total strangers camping in country campsites and waking up to the sound of kangaroos hopping. 

We started from Melbourne and made out way to the start of the B100, stopping off at various ‘tourist’ attractions along the way. The actual road was super short, I was slightly underwhelmed but the absolute highlight was at Kennet River where we watched a wild large koala move trees – it was so special to see as usually they tend to be little fluff balls up in the sky. It was also pretty cool to see the famous 12 Apostles, The Gibson Steps, London Bridge and a whole other bunch of rocks.

We camped at some beautiful spots, as someone who needs structure and to know exactly where I’m going and what I’m doing, I was surprised that it actually felt good to let go and never know where we would end up staying. Now I’m not going to lie, fitting three people in a camper van is absolute hell. Your limbs will ache from not being able to move, and you wake up with feet in your face and legs on your chest. But it’s all worth it, one night we were lucky enough to find a spot out in the sticks, I would tell you where but I honestly don’t have a clue, but you could see most of the Milky Way. In that moment I felt closer to home than I had in a very, very long time.

On day 5 we arrived in Adelaide which I personally think it beautiful in its own way. It reminds me of home and I guess that’s why I feel so comfortable there. But, that said, there’s not a whole lot to see there and I’m not too sure why the girls wanted to go there. I did my best to show them some of my favourite spots and we cooked up some dinners for the next days ahead. With an Eski full of great food, we set off to see the Grampians via Hahndorf. We stopped at The Lane Winery where you can taste 12 wines for $5(?!) but I got tea as I just really fancied it. We went to pay but they said it was free for us and to put it towards petrol. What a lad. 

Then we continued on our trip, heading towards The Grampians and seeing some wildlife. This was pretty disappointing if I’m honest, none of us are big hikers so the thought of climbing a mountain peak doesn’t appeal to me at all. We did all the usual tourist spots including The Balcony which is just as it sounds – tourists sit right on the end of a piece of rock sticking out thousands of feet above the forest. My stomach was literally churning as I watched a small Asian child climb to the end for a photo. It was horrific.

Then we were on our way to our campsite where the van broke down from a dead battery. We sat at an abandoned petrol station near Salt Creek (where the attempted murder of two backpackers had occurred the year previous). I flagged down a guy whilst waving our jump leads but he couldn’t locate the battery and of course, we had no idea. Luckily he was a contractor for mechanics and called one of his guys. We sat for what felt like an eternity, flinching at every sound of twigs snapping until the guy showed up an hour later. He was probably the cutest person ever. He jumped us, checked our oil (which was empty, opps) and told us we’d be safer waiting at the servo in Kingston SE for our breakdown cover. 

So we are sat waiting and get a knock on the window – he’d bought us two bottles of oil for free and wouldn’t take any money off us or anything (he was literally the kindest human ever and super cute, wish I’d gotten his number hahaha fml). He left his jump leads in the van, I assume to have an excuse to come get them after he’d done his food shopping in the main town, but alas it wasn’t to be and we along with his leads ended up camping in a creepy car service station that our breakdown cover lead us to. 

The next day we drove straight back to Melbourne which was pretty boring as by this point I think we all needed our own space (and a shower!) Am I glad I went? Yes absolutely, I never would of seen myself camping, not washing my hair for four days, and sharing a van with a huge spider. I like to think that anything that’s meant for you shall not pass you by – I was sick of living in the city and needed an adventure. 

Now I’m in St Kilda and today I went in a hippy shop and pulled out a guidance card which said “keep quiet and be still” so I sat by the sea for what felt like an eternity, and man, did I miss my own company. 

Now the countdown to Thailand with my favourite person can truly begin! 

Thoughts on Thursday

Australia 2017, Thoughts on Thursday

Honestly the thing I dislike the most about travelling is the loneliness that surrounds you. I’ve found myself silently crying into dirty hostel pillows, crying as I walk home, crying just about everywhere – because being half way across the world from people you love only intensifies that feeling of isolation. Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about people I really shouldn’t miss, people who made me feel like I was an option and not a choice. I am enough and I have always been enough, but for some (most) I am too much. I’m head strong, stubborn as hell and always want to get my own way. Yes, I’m that girl.

Knowing that a lot of people in the U.K. are just waiting for me to admit that I can’t cope with staying out here a year only encourages me to stay and to push myself beyond the realms of what I once thought was possible. The thought of going home, back to the routine I had makes me feel sick. I remember the breaking point for me, wanting you and only you – walking to work in the rain in tears the next day like a scene from a melodramatic teen movie – before attending my last ‘important’ meeting and being patronised over how great I was at cutting out paper stars like I was a child in my first year of primary school. The next day I handed in my notice, I found a replacement housemate and I fled.

It is so incredibly easy to idolise the life you had at home when you’re on the road, especially when you find yourself in situations that often make you uncomfortable or a little less than glamorous. However it’s important to remember your drive; the spark that lit the fire inside you to risk it all and throw yourself into the wind. Homesickness is honestly inevitable, it’s how you handle it which really matters. I haven’t been the best example of this, complaining about missing X, Y or Z whilst on a beautiful beach in surreal surroundings. Here’s to coping better with the distance and letting go of things not meant for me.

Also I can finally announce what I’ve been keeping a secret for months (and months and months AND months) – my best friend is joining me in Thailand before flying back with me to Melbourne, where we hope to find work, a houseshare and all those little things that make a city feel like home. I am super excited to have someone to share this journey with, and as I always knew she’d be joining me, it made my down days a little less dark. The sun is rising.

With glittering eyes and a heart full of love, I will overcome.

110 Days

Australia 2017

When I left my job 110 days ago, I never knew how my little spontaneous decision to move across the world would turn out. It was never my dream to travel, I was terrified of flying, heights and pretty much everything inbetween. The past two and a half months have pushed me to my limits and made me go completely out of my comfort zone because I’ve had no other choice. That is the great thing with solo travel, though admittedly lonely as hell at times, it also brings out the voice in you that you never even knew you had.

When I left Reading I have never cried so hard; to be leaving some of the best friends I’ve ever had, our cosy little house, the first boy I’ve ever really liked, a job which was secure and safe… It was absolutely horrible driving away from it and I was never really sure if anything would make me as happy again. Today I left my little east coast adventure behind me and felt a little weird. I was sat on the plane thinking about all of the amazing things I’ve seen and done in such a short space of time. All I could think about was how happy I was in that moment, thousands of feet from the ground and feeling on top of the world. That’s when I realised – I don’t think I’ll ever be able to go back to a normal life in England. And to think that some people will never venture further than the stationary cupboard genuinely depresses me. 

Yes, I have never been so poor in my life – I have absolutely nothing, but I’ve never been happier. The world does not stop spinning because you haven’t showered in three days or because you wear the same clothes day in and day out, or because your bag is a little on the heavy side and you lugged it for half hour in the pouring rain (this actually happened to me). Every struggle, every embarrassment and every joyful moment soon will become memories before you even realise it. 

If you’re unhappy in your life, only you and you alone have the power to change it.

East Coast Paradise

Australia 2017, Uncategorized

Hello from Tully, a beautiful small town located somewhere in between Townsville and Cairns. I’m currently in a hotel as our indigenous camp was cancelled, but there’s no complaints here – the hotel is Mt. Tyson and totally amazing compared to the 8 bed dirty dorms I’ve become accustomed to. My room is a single, with air con, a TV, fridge, kettle, toaster AND free wifi. 

I couldn’t even begin to tell you how completely breathtaking the past few weeks have been. I’ve had the time of my life and I’m super sad that my east coast adventure has nearly finished. Tomorrow I head to Cairns to begin my final week up north before flying to Adelaide to see our lovely family friends and then Melbourne.

The absolute highlight for me has been Fraser Island where our group quickly became a little family. We drove huge four wheel drives and camped for two nights. We saw the amazing Lake Mackenzie, another lake with those fish that eat your feet (I forget the name…) and my personal favourite Eli Creek where you float down a freezing fresh water stream in rubber rings. At night we would drink on the beach before heading to Winkies, which was a glorified tent with disco lights but so much fun when you’re off your face on goon. I’ve never seen so many stars as I did here. Then we got back to Rainbow Beach and my beautiful group surprised me on my birthday with cake and balloons at a cute pub.

Afterwards I went on an overnight train before hopping straight onto my boat around the Whitsundays. This is actually what I was most excited for when coming to Australia, but actually it felt pretty dull in comparison to Frasers. I think it’s all about the group you get and I didn’t really ‘click’ with many people on the boat but still had a great time snorkelling and exploring with the two of the funniest and friendliest people ever. 

Today I just came from Magnetic Island, which is a little Island off of Townsville. On day one we did the Fortz Walk and saw two wild koalas and watched the sunset from the top of an old war bunker which was absolutely terrifying to get to but worth it for the views over the rocks. On day two we rented what I can only describe as a death trap on wheels. After a terrifying start and nearly dying, we picked up a stray traveller and had the best day exploring the Island. We fed rock wallabies, went to a million different bays, cracked open a coconut and drank the milk before realising it was mouldy, and watched the sunset at West Point. Yesterday I held a koala and lots of lizards which was pretty cool, who knew lizards have the softest little bellies? I didn’t. 

How’s England, guys?