**Disclaimer: This started out as a very sensible post about how my attitude to travelling has changed over the years but somewhere along the way it turned into a brain splurge of thoughts and feelings about my travelling life. It may not make much sense. Also, it is long. Read at your own will.
I’ve been travelling pretty much non-stop for about 2 and half years now, and over the years I’ve stayed in many different (and disgusting) places, used a myriad of types of transport, spent hours sat on the floors of airports, bus stations and train platforms, lugged a bag around on my back for months, been dirty, sweaty and (probably) smelly for days, and just never really cared because I was living the adventures I’d always dreamed about. In fact, it seems that the dirtier I was, or the longer I spent without washing my hair or cleaning my feet, the happier I was. Spending my days wandering barefoot around Fijian islands, laying in a hammock looking out at mountains somewhere in Laos, or sliding down sand dunes on my bum in a random beach town in Vietnam is something I wish I could go back to. Every next place and every crazy journey was a brand new story to tell, something to laugh about months later and something to be re-lived over and over again. I used to crave the spontaneity and unpredictability of the backpacker lifestyle, never knowing where the next day would take me until I was there, usually not planning in advance where I would sleep that night until I got off the bus and just randomly picked a tuk tuk driver who would take me to his family’s guesthouse. It was exhilarating, it was scary sometimes, it was mad, but mostly it was fun.
However, somewhere along the way this has changed for me and I can’t really pinpoint when that moment was. In the last year or so I have massively slowed down my travels – I’m no longer doing something new every single day, bouncing from place to place, only staying somewhere for a few days at a time. After 7 months of constantly moving around, from country to country, from city to city, from bed to bed, I spent 4 months living and working at Camp Sloane in Connecticut, USA, a place I now consider my second home. Then, not knowing where I really wanted to go or what I wanted to do, I went home for 3 months last year and hated every minute of it, so much so that I ran away to the French Alps to spend the winter season snowboarding with friends, something I had always wanted to do.
Then summer came around again and I went back to the States to work at camp for another four glorious months, before hopping on a plane and flying over to Australia, where I’ve been since September. Australia had been the dream for a very, very long time. I wanted to live in this country where the sun always shone, the beaches were beautiful, all the boys surfed, had blonde hair and a tan, and everyone lived the good life. And I’m not saying it’s been a let down, not even remotely. Australia has been everything I wanted it to be, and more, and I’ve loved living in this spectacular city which to me is like a cross between London (where I lived all my life) and Cornwall (where I went to university for 4 years). I’ve loved being able to unpack and make solid friendships and really get to know a place. Sydney has got everything a city girl could ever want, but with the extra allure of the possibility of living a beach life too. However, while I’ve enjoyed the slower pace of actually living somewhere on the other side of the world, rather than just passing through it, this life of luxury has turned me into what I hate most.
Yes, that’s right. As the title of this post suggests, I’ve turned into a travelling snob. I’ve been living in my own space at camp, flying first class, staying with friends in their family homes, or renting my own apartments. I’ve been off the backpacker circuit for so long now that I think I’ve forgotten how to embrace hostel life. I went to Byron Bay a few weeks ago and stayed in an awesome hostel, right on the beach, and at first I felt a little uncomfortable, like I was out of place and I felt like I didn’t know how to act around all these other travellers. I soon settled back into it (it’s an easy, breezy lifestyle in Byron and no one really takes things too seriously), but then upon coming back to Sydney and staying in a couple more hostels, I realised how long it’s been since I’ve had to deal with so many other people all in one place. And I’m not going to lie. I’ve hated it. I hated the mess in the kitchen, and dirt in the bathroom, the heat and cramped feeling of a dorm room. I’ve had my own space everywhere I’ve stayed for so long that I don’t really know how to deal or live with other people. I hate cooking at the best of times, but trying to cook whether there’s also another 15 people in the kitchen? It just makes me uncomfortable now.
What happened to me? Stuff like this never used to be an issue. I’d happily rock up and stay anywhere, as long as it had a bed and a bathroom. Hell, I even stayed somewhere in Thailand that had a (hole in the ground) toilet on a stage and no lock on the door so we had to padlock ourselves in. I’m kind of ashamed of myself that I care so much about things that just don’t even really matter. Maybe it’s because I’m getting older, or maybe it’s just because I’ve let myself get too comfortable and have been out of the loop of the backpacker lifestyle for too long, but whatever the case, I’d like to get back to being that happy-go-lucky traveller I was a few years ago. But on the other hand, maybe I don’t have to. While I still want to be adventurous and spontaneous, is there really a wrong or right way to travel, or should I just travel the way I want to, being the person I want to be?
So why am I writing this now? What’s brought this on? Well since returning from Byron Bay, I’ve been sat in a hostel in Sydney for the last week or so, without much money or much to do while I wait to leave for my 3 months working on a farm (required in order to get my 2nd year visa) and it’s just got me thinking about what I want to do next and where I want to go. The beauty of the beach and the Byron lifestyle has rubbed off on me and, even though I have absolutely loved living in Sydney these past 4 months, I think the magic of this city is slowly wearing off and I want a new adventure. I’m not a person who’s made for being in one place for too long – my feet get itchy and my mind gets bored. I want to go somewhere I’ve never been and do things I’ve never done. I want to get back into the backpacker bubble and start enjoying the hostel life again, meeting new people everyday, and experiencing things so far out of my comfort zone that I go full circle (no, I don’t really know what I meant by that either).
Somehow, somewhere along the way I lost my sense of adventure and I want it back. I’m getting it back. I’m going to go to places I haven’t visited yet but have always wanted to, and I’m going to stay in hostels and guesthouses, and ride night buses with no space for my legs, and drink coca cola out of plastic bags, and wear my travelling clothes, and have an armful of bracelets, and sleep in airports, and get really dirty sitting on the ground waiting for my train in a random town in a random country, and live on the beach, and swim in the sea, and not wash my hair for days. I’m going back to my travelling roots and this time, it’s looking like I’ll be doing it solo (although you’re never alone when you’re on the road, not really). It may not be straight away, or it may be as soon as I can possibly get there, but one day my little adventurous spirit will be back and she’ll be exploding with excitement.
So here’s to adventure. I hope it’s everything I want it to be and I hope you all come along for the ride.