Am I totally bonkers to spend my time travelling the World?
No, I’m not completely mad travelling my way around the world..I think! I’m just a nomad…at heart. I find it increasingly difficult to fight the traveller within me and to accept, or rather settle for the accepted social norms expected of someone in their nearly -thirties! (I’m twenty-nine). I have a serious case of the travel bug and I don’t know how to cure it…or if I really want to for that matter!
I find it a constant struggle to pinpoint an exact ‘career’ upon which to embark…much to my mother’s dismay. She would be delighted and would completely support me financially if I turned around and said I wanted to become a lawyer, a doctor or a primary school teacher…a career she can boast to the neighbours and family about.
I guess that’s not truly the only reason she doesn’t understand my lifestyle. She’s of a different generation. For her, at my age, the opportunity for cheap travel and the marvel of the digital age were unheard of. It was all very mono-career orientated.
My mum sees me struggle from time to time with money and genuinely worries about my future. I do too, if truth be told. But I do wonder if much of the stress I tend to feel towards finding that ‘ideal career’ path really has a lot to do with the pressures from home and societal expectations?
At my age, I should have a career sorted, pension in the bag, a long-term partner, a house and potentially thinking about my first child…right?? Well, let me tell you…I am nowhere near that stage!!
My ultimate goal in life, much like most people I’m sure, is to be happy. For me, happiness means having great relationships with people, being an open person, having a worldly education and being comfortable with who I am and how I treat others.
A major component of my ‘being happy’ is travel. I thrive when I’m on the road and relish learning about and from other cultures. I love the new smells, new sights, new food, new languages. I love exploring markets and medinas, conquering towering mountains or diving to unexplored underwater worlds. I am an adventurer and find myself constantly craving the next expedition.
The main dilemma with this ‘lifestyle’ of mine is that it tends to soak up any money I save like a thirsty sponge. But in return I get a sense of fulfillment and make definite steps toward the idea that if I died tomorrow I would regret nothing. However, as you will discover I’m working towards a new way of funding my lifestyle!
What made me give up everything?
The initial push towards this nomadic life began back in 2010. In December 2009, my Dad passed away after a long battle with tongue cancer. It really made me think about my life. He had done so much and achieved an incredible amount with his. I wanted to do the same.
I reviewed where I was in my life. On paper it looked like I was doing great -only twenty-three and on a high salary in a large, reputable media firm, offering a safe, permanent office job with a good pension and an incentive of generous yearly pay rises. It had some nice perks too like a choice of fancy gifts at Christmas, taking clients out to nice restaurants (I’m a total foodie so always enjoyed that part) and good holidays.
But when I took the time to analyse my happiness scale I realised that I was close to rock bottom. That’s not right for a girl in her early twenties. I’m sure a lot had to do with my Dad being sick at the time but I also knew my job was affecting me. I didn’t belong there. I was different to a lot of those I worked with. I lacked stimulation.
I’m not a person who particularly enjoys routine and monotony. I’m so much happier out on a wild landscape than stumbling through crowds in a bustling city.
I hated the daily commute, fighting for standing space on a sweaty, steamy and smelly bus for almost an hour, morning and evening, five days a week. I hated pandering to office colleagues I would otherwise have nothing to do with in real life.
I hated how such small things could so easily become inflamed by the action of one office worker irritating another by doing something otherwise mundane, such as opening a window. All of a sudden a spate of angry emails would fly across the room from computer to computer listing all the reasons why the window should have stayed closed and the sheer audacity at the person who just opened it.
I hated having to wear uncomfortable ‘office clothes’ and conform to this mono-acceptable self-presentation each day. It was tiring and subconsciously stressful…for me.
I remember sitting back and actually having a good cry to my Dad a few months before about it all, which felt selfish seeing what he was going though, but it helped…a lot. He told me to do what makes me happy and to leave my job. A good resume is not what makes a person feel truly fulfilled. He was right.
Now, don’t get me wrong, this lifestyle suits a lot of people and I’m sure the stability and security of a ‘good job’ must bring a real sense of comfort, but for me it unfortunately brought the opposite.
Making the First Move
After talking to my Dad about it all, I went and booked a part-time CELTA (Certificate in English Language Teaching to Adults) course and began studying, part-time, after work over a number of months with the aim to teach English abroad and stretch the aul travel legs.
Following his death, I soon handed in my notice and booked myself a one-way flight to Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam where I began the start of my travelling adventure. I started teaching English to children for ILA Vietnam. Note: If you find yourself walking down a Ho Chi Minh City street and hear a local teenager with a Dublin accent, there’s a small chance I could have been their teacher!!
In any case, that was the start of it and I must say it’s tough to stop. Since then, I’ve essentially worked and travelled my way around the world in various capacities, from a Thomas the Tank Engine train diver and youth worker in Australia to a photographer in Mt. Aspiring National Park, New Zealand.
From a dive master in Honduras, Hawaii, Vanuatu, New Caledonia, Solomon Islands, Florida and the Philippines to an English teacher in Spain, a support assistant and cook in Antarctica to a production runner for a TV programme in Bristol.
I think it’s fair to say I’ve gained a lot of useful skills along the way and learnt a lot of life lessons but am I any closer to discovering what it is I want to do for my career?? Definitely not! Hopefully, this blog will be dedicated to my discovery (or not) of that goal and the adventures I’ll embark upon to find it! It’s a fun process, right? Please feel free to share any similar sentiments, experiences or suggestions!