I was 23 years old. I had a good job, good friends and enough money in the bank to put a deposit down on house but I was so unsatisfied. I felt restless, ambitious and there was just something picking away at me always wanting more.
I’m from a small town about 4 hours north of London and there isn’t a lot going on. I’d been on plenty of holidays before for a variety of reasons. Whether or not it was going away with the boys surfing or snowboarding or with the family cruising around New York, I was never ready to come home and a week or two just never felt long enough. I eventually knew and set the challenge to myself, I wanted to do this full time. I’d recently become single and had two friends in Australia about to go to New Zealand who wouldn’t stop pestering me to meet them there. I also had my mum and dad in both ears really telling me not to settle in my hometown, that I needed to get out but at the same time I needed to grow up and settle down.
I feel the rat race in England is people trapped in a web of society and what we understand that to be. People are so obsessed with possessions and trying to justify their social status instead of being interested in others lives and well-being. I had friends buying houses, nice cars and there was this pressure as though I had to compete with this. I couldn’t have been more wrong. There is no better feeling than breaking out of your reality, breaking away from what you are told to do and create your own path - the possibilities are endless.
Before I knew it, I’d hit the ‘enter’ button on my Mac, I had purchased a one-way ticket to New Zealand.
I sat back and had to take a deep breath, what does it mean to book a one-way ticket? Had I thrown myself into water deeper than I could handle? With the ticket booked it was time to get into gear, I was about to sell most of my possessions and pack my life up into a surfboard bag and one backpack. The feeling of having so little gave me a sense of freedom but this also came with a knot in your stomach thinking this is not enough for a year away from home. Is this all I own? Is this all the money I have? Is this enough?
Next minute my Mum and Dad dropped me at the airport and it was the first feeling I had of real independence, like a grown up. I didn’t have anybody to help me if it all went wrong. Watching them disappear behind smoked glass doors knowing I wasn’t going to see them for a while was surprisingly hard for a 24-year-old male.
After what felt like a lifetime, I landed in Queenstown, New Zealand. I went straight into panic mode. You would think organising friends to pick you up can bring you extra security, except when they don’t show up.
Panic is an understatement, I’d just landed in a country 32 hours from home with horrible jet lag, minimal sleep and no idea where to go. Lesson 1 of traveling, not everything goes to plan and when it doesn’t, just breathe. He showed up 45 minutes later and we went straight from the airport for a swim in the most perfect water I’ve ever laid eyes on.
Waking up the next morning made me realise something and I didn’t think I would see it so early on. `’This really isn’t that hard.” I admit I had a helping hand with a friend who pushed me, but now I understand why he did.
This is why we talk about travel and why we are so passionate, everyone deserves to have this feeling. Nowadays it is so easy to get a taxi from an airport and find accommodation. Too easy. I ended up having the best two months in Queenstown, surrounding myself with like minded people who have that same urge and are doing something about it.
The pressure of society off your back. Meeting and speaking to people who are smarter than any degree you can pick up from uni.
Fast forward another 6 months of living in Bali meeting more amazing inspirational people and getting to surf and watch sunsets every day, I kept on slapping myself thinking this isn’t real.
I’d taken a small mirrorless camera out with me and would photograph anything and everything. I’d always liked taking photos but going away pushed this to new extremes. I ended up investing in a couple more lenses and it just went from there, now I am addicted.
I ended up selling a couple of photos and I was pumped. It hit me smack bang in the face that just because I had my trade (mechanical engineering) it didn’t mean that was my life and future. The freedom was there to do anything I put my mind to.
Now all travels come to a stage where the money pot starts to run low, before you know it I was back home straight back into my old job. I freaked out, I craved the stability and decided to focus on earning more.
When I got back it felt like i hadn’t been away for months, it felt like weeks. Nothing had changed, people are still doing the same routine, same things. I knew that this life wasn’t for me anymore. I soon felt like I didn’t fit in as such. It was hard to understand this and not see it as a negative. After 4 months I had enough money to book another flight and have some pocket change.
Two years later in New Zealand and I have plans on moving to Australia permanently. I’ve managed to put my original trade to something new and my photography has gone from one level to the next. Check out some of my stuff, let me know what you think!
Here’s my point - life is short and there is a whole world out there.
You can stick it to the man and flourish. If you have that urge to travel don’t let it bug you any second longer. Go see the world, educate yourself in different cultures, see how the others live, learn from them. You’ll thank yourself every day for it.
It’s better to regret something than regret not doing it. You might end up learning things about yourself you never thought possible, what’s to lose?