I left the UK shaky legged and teary eyed a year ago this week. I checked into a Bangkok hotel, leaving my job, my friends, my family, my home, my life all to become a solo traveller. I only had one goal and that was to explore the world. Well as much of the world as I could fit into a year. I never really expected to get this far, in more ways than one. To say it’s been life changing is selling it short and now it’s home time.
Well I guess it’s mission complete because I jumped in feet first and travelled around Asia, Oceania, South Africa, Central America and South America. I’ve travelled through 22 different countries and tried to learn as much as I can about different cultures and subcultures, the animals, the oceans, food, music, art and religions.
I’ve walked The Inca Trail, reaching Macchu Pichu; dived with Tiger sharks in South Africa and Carribean Reef sharks in Belize’s Blue Hole; stared face to face with a Great White Shark; jumped off tall things in New Zealand; hanglided across Abel Tasman; reached Everest Base Camp; hung out with South Africa’s Xhosa people, Australia’s Aboriginal community, New Zealand’s Maoris, Lake Titicaca’s oldest community & Tibetan Monks; mountain biked Bolivia’s Death Road; fire limbo in Thailand; A Full Moon Party in Koh Phangan; kayaked in Halong Bay; surfed in Bali, Jeffrey’s Bay South Africa, Raglan New Zealand, The Great Ocean Road Australia; volcano trekked across Java, starved myself and shit myself at a detox centre in Phuket; sailed the Whitsundays; fed crocs in Australia’s Northern Territory; Salsa danced in Guatemala; toboggan run down the Great Wall of China; eaten swan, donkey, dog & guinea pig; rock climbed and abseiled down waterfalls in Bolivia & Costa Rica, seen elephants, lions, kangaroos, parrots, crocodiles, koalas, caiman, monkeys, zebra, tarantulas, toucans, orang-utans, Komodo dragons and piranhas in the wild.
I don’t have a favourite country. I cannot wrap all the experiences I’ve had into a neat list. Every single experience I’ve had has been unique to my adventure across the world, good and bad.
The people I’ve travelled with, the natives and even the guys n girls who I’ve just been able to share a smile with, or a 30 minute dorm room chat have all shaped this journey. I’m grateful to have met every single one of you. Everyone back home who’s liked, commented, retweeted, shared, favourited my posts and sent me private messages have prevented any homesickness. All your interactions have helped keep me on my path knowing there’s interest, love and support from afar. Also a huge thank you to those I’ve never met in person but have also taken the time to read and comment, it means a lot.
I’ve read 40 books, soul searched, got lost and found myself again and been given the opportunity to see things from a different perspective. I’m so, so grateful for everything.
The kindness of strangers has touched me, I’m going to miss those warm smiles. Perhaps people smile in the UK too, my memories are hazy. Maybe it was just me that didn’t smile much there and the strangers just mirrored my emotions. I just hope I can retain the sense of calm and contentment I learnt on the road.
Right now though I’m a jittery mess all over again. I have no idea how I’ll fit into ‘real life’. Perhaps I need to resign myself to the fact I’m now a nomad. Freedom is so important and I can’t seem to achieve that in the confines of four walls, I spent 32 years trying. Perhaps I’ll feel differently, more settled, when I get ‘home’. I’m reluctant to give up blogging… so expect posts detailing what I’m having for breakfast, lunch and dinner – jokes (I hope).
Anyway, those back home I cannot wait to see you! Those on the road or in a far flung place I hope our paths cross or or cross again. If it’s meant to happen it will.
I almost don’t want to say “Welcome home Jo” because of your wonderful adventure. But I will say a big heartfelt thank you for sharing with us each and every step that you took. And worry not. Everything that has happened to you brought you to that moment in your life when you stepped on that plane last year. What you now bring back with you will have paved the way to your next step. Whatever that is I wish you nothing but the absolute best of luck and know that you’ll do very well indeed.
Thank you Danny and a massive thanks for your unwavering support throughout my travels. You are so right and I just need to keep the faith that I find the right path for me and don’t settle for something that’s not fulfilling. I’m still in the process of working out what’s right…
I have known several friends who have travelled the world. Some have settled back into their lives. Some have made new lives. And some are still travellers. There’s no right way to be.
And the smiling? I feel like that when we come back from kentwell. People smile there. Here, not so much.
I guess it’s all about finding what’s right for the individual and I’m not sure I know what that is right now, or where I want to be. But maybe I’ll have some fun experimenting! Hmm the smiling thing, I’m already used to the non-smiling ways around here. But that’s okay, it’ll make my next adventures even more rewarding.
Wow sounds like an amazing experience Johanna. Welcome back to UK.
Cheers Ian. It was pretty special, but it’s nice to be back… for a bit!
Wow! What a journey! I have enjoyed following you through your blog and look forward to seeing how returning to real life is for you! I start my first job in 11 months tomorrow! I’m super excited about my new life and I am sure with your new perspectives you will be too! Never short yourself… follow your soul!!!!
Crazy how life works out isn’t it Lesha! So cool we met on a bus as you were going through such life-changing decisions. Wishing you all the best in your job and I hope to bump into you on the road again one day 🙂
I can’t believe it’s been a year already. Thank you so much for sharing your amazing experience with us all. As for the next step, I wish you all the very best of luck 🙂
I really appreciate your consistent support throughout my travels Iain and to know others were enjoying hearing about my adventures made it even more enjoyable doing them! 🙂
Congratulations Jo on what looked and read like an amazing year. It was absolutely fantastic to see you for a short hour and catch-up in Sydney… I hope you keep the blog going! Hope you get settled back on, but keeping hold of a bit of the travel-bug is never a bad thing 🙂 Carmel xx
Thanks Carmel and it was so lovely to see such a friendly familiar face so far away from home. It was kind of you to take time out for lunch. I can’t stop blogging, I love it, I just need things to write about! Therefore I have to keep travelling 😉 xx
Welcome home gorgeous girl. You should publish your adventures in a book to inspire others to do what you’ve done. Don’t get another boring job now, do something you love. Don’t fit into a conventional life, find your own way. And maybe find some time to travel to Tenby! We have lots of smiles down here! Seriously proud of what you’ve done xx
Thank you SB! You’re right and I do need to keep hearing that as it would be all too easy to slip back into a well paid but essentially conventional office job. I’ll definitely find time to visit Tenby, I’m super excited to come and see you and your new (well kind of new) life. xx
Amazing post, Looking forward to reading back on your other ones. Your journey sounds so exciting, congrats for having the courage to dive in headfirst. X
Thank you! It was a pretty incredible adventure. I don’t want to say once in a lifetime as I hope there are many more.x