I don’t ever remember not travelling fairly regularly. I was born in the UK but spent my childhood living in Ireland, the Netherlands and Gabon (on the west coast of Africa), with many holidays to far-away places along the way, generally in Europe. Really, I have my parents to thank for being brave enough to raise their children in different countries, and for getting me interested in travelling and seeing different places in the first place. They are my first inspiration for wanting to travel.
Why I keep travelling is a little different. I remember a group of students at school giving a presentation on Belize, where they had just spent a month doing something called ‘World Challenge’. I’d never heard of it before, but thought it sounded amazing. They had gone camping and trekking in this South American country I’d never heard of, had met all sorts of people there and had a great time. I knew I was definitely going to sign up to whatever this ‘World Challenge’ thing was when I was old enough. Aged 16, I did just that, and began the nearly two-year process of fundraising the required £3,000.
At 17, my team and I had raised the money, and we spent our first month away from home, travelling through South Africa, Lesotho and Swaziland, hiking, camping, building a netball court in a local school and going on safari, to name but a few things. At the time, a month away from home seemed like the longest time in the world, but I knew I wanted to keep doing things like this. It was also on that trip that I realised how much I loved keeping a travel journal, not just the writing about everything I’d seen and done, but sticking in little reminders of my favourite places too.
Over the next two years, I had a lot of dreams about my time on World Challenge, and spent a long time looking at where to go next. It was always on my mind. I’d been accepted into university at this point, and had already deferred my entry so I had plenty of time to play with. Most of that year was spent working at a milkshake shop so I could afford to go away.
Finally, I had enough to go, and flew to Bangkok to tour around Southeast Asia, travelling through Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam and Laos. That trip completely reaffirmed my need to go exploring around the world. I loved every second. The people were amazing. The food was fantastic. And everywhere we went, there was so much to do and so much beautiful scenery to capture on camera. Driving motorbikes up mountains in Chau Doc (Vietnam) and riding elephants into the river, and falling off, in Luang Prabang (Laos) are some of my favourite memories.
I couldn’t understand why more people I knew at home weren’t taking every opportunity to get away and do these things.
Luckily for me, being at university gave me another great opportunity to travel. I stumbled across a university organisation that runs English summer camps in South Korea and immediately applied. I’d never even considered teaching as a way to travel before, but I’m so glad I did. It gives you a completely unique way of engaging with new people in different countries, and really getting to know them. Our students were also given opportunities to take us out into their town and show us around, making the whole thing more of a cultural exchange, which was great.
For this trip, I was really lucky in that the South Korean government funded our flights, our food, and our accommodation throughout the month. Apart from that one time, I usually have to save up for a long time to go away and end up owing my parents a fair amount of money! My month in Honduras last summer is a prime example of that, although getting into a little bit of (manageable) debt can definitely be worth it if you have a great time away.
So, I keep travelling because I love doing it. I love organising a trip and preparing or it, from buying the guidebook, to printing off my flight information, to packing my rucksack. I love being there, meeting the people, trying the food, and ‘experiencing’ the public transport – a tuk-tuk ride anywhere is always…interesting. Even coming back is fun, because it makes you value what you have at home more, and sharing your thoughts and pictures with family and friends is always enjoyable.
Having recently got into blogging about traveling – I run my own travel website: www.ishouldtendmtomysunburn.com – I’m finding that I love the whole thing even more, and reading about other people’s experiences all over the world has increased my need to travel like crazy. So much in fact that I’ve given up trying to find a job here in the drizzly UK, and am planning on spending the next year or two volunteering all over the world – and writing about it.