Visions of Johanna


You’re about to set sail into unknown lands where life will change so dramatically that it’s incomprehensible. You’re on that ledge looking into the horizon but the view is misty, your new life is just out of sight. How can you possibly know what lies ahead.

For what feels like the hundredth time you hoist the brand-spanking new (and insanely heavy) backpack onto your back… just to test. It’s filled with unfamiliar objects for all the unfamiliar places. Those shiny new hiking boots, that you probably should have worn-in but haven’t had time and some bamboo travel socks that you were persuaded to buy two pairs of.

Normal life is about to change forever and although the thrill of what lies ahead is consuming, there are some doubts snaking around your brain.

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South Africa

I travel because I can. I’m lucky. I am privileged. There is no ban for me (yet). I was born in the ‘right’ country, with a useful passport, no persecuted religion to identify with, no war. Total freedom to roam.

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‘They call me Satan’s Mistress’, she cackled. Her beautiful worldly green eyes shone and her jet black hair glistened. I was instantly in awe of this solo female traveller.

I met Jean in Osaka, Japan. Traveller introductions are nearly always an insight into the most inspiring people you’ll ever meet but this globetrotter stood out. She talks in a calm, thoughtful southern US drawl. Alert and interested, Jean isn’t over-powering in her presence but when it’s her turn to take centre stage you stop and enjoy the show.

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Travel is soul-nourishing, mind-bending, breath-taking and sometimes uncomfortable. We travel because we want to explore, push boundaries and understand this diverse planet. And in turn as we unlock earth’s mysteries we discover little parts of ourselves.

We don’t travel to seek a fake reality, or a home away from home. We travel to learn, to see the world from a 360 degree perspective, to break free from our bubble.

We travel because we are privileged. We come from a society that allows us to travel and an economy that allows us to earn. We therefore owe the world, we deserve to get a little bit uncomfortable.

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This one’s for the wanderlusters, the travellers who’ve been thrust back into city life. Not a global brand new exciting city, your home city.

I know, coming home after travelling hurts. One minute you were living the carefree dream and the next minute – boom! Your rucksack has been swapped for business attire and you’re thinking ouch, how did I end up here.

Well it’s totally possible to survive and some people even adapt and flourish! There are just so many opportunities yah. My home stint is coming to an end. Therefore, I feel I can take a step back and give other free spirits with clipped wings a few tips on surviving London, or wherever ‘real-life’ is for you. If the wanderlust is too much, get the next cheap flights outta there!

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Hyde Park

Wall upon wall of blank faces are staring at me, staring past me and staring through me. Some of the paintings are so life-like that if I wasn’t surrounded by people also admiring the many artists’ portraits I’d probably be a bit twitchy. A room full of faces, staring at a room full of faces – interesting concept.

The BP Portrait Awards will always be a poignant one for me. With mixed emotions I set off this morning to admire the paintings in the London gallery. A few years back I went with my father to the same exhibition, it was my last happy memory with him and only one of a handful of happy memories I have with him.

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New York Skyline

On a warm August afternoon, in New York’s Chelsea district, I was sat in a hostel courtyard contemplating my next move. In came a whirlwind: a character so full of life and stories I was instantly spellbound. Meet Inge, my Amsterdam based hitchhiking friend. Some people radiate energy and life, Inge is one of these people. If I could see auras hers would be a gigantic rainbow, I’m sure of that.

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So what’s happened since my big decision… insomnia has happened. Trying to sell all my worldly belongings and cancel a life that I thought would be at least mid-term if not long-term. Not easy when you don’t speak the lingo! I explored Madrid and realised Barcelona has my heart. I landed in the right city with just a suitcase and a screenshot of a google map back in early October. I couldn’t have known how hard and wonderful this experience would be in equal measures.

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So I quit my job, again! To travel, again! Yes, It’s like Groundhog day.

I know, I know, I’m living the dream, but who’s dream? I work in fashion, in an office on the beach in one of the most fantastic cities in the world. Only a few weeks ago I was backstage at New York Fashion Week photographing models for my role as Global Influencer Manager in a career I love. But again something is missing. Freedom is missing, I crave it like a drug. Oh and my desire to give something back.

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What image does ‘run like a girl’ conjure up in your head? Go on you can be honest now. For me I picture my adolescent self all awkward and self-conscious. Not quite sure where to put my arms so I can hide my body. Also, the throw-away playground insults shouted at boys ‘You run like a girl’! Then I have to dig a little deeper to think about all the awesome female runners there are, which is crazy as there are so many!

Always (yes the ladies hygiene brand!) have a thought-provoking advert which asks a group of teens to ‘run like a girl’, ‘fight like a girl’ ‘throw like a girl’ and all completed the actions pathetically. Yes it’s an advert but it works for me because it resonates. For the first time it’s really made me think about being called a girl as an insult. I’ve heard it so many times and never questioned it or felt offended. I just accepted it as a perfectly normal thing to say and worked hard at being more like a boy!

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