This week I’m really lucky to have a guest post from my lovely friends at Flat Earth Magazine. If you’ve ever wondered what life would be like if you just packed up and left then look no further. These two are the travel guru’s…
We have been living on the road ever since leaving home on 1st March 2015. The decision to leave home had been a long-time in the making. Both myself and my boyfriend Ryan had taken a gap year before university to travel. I backpacked around the world whilst Ryan travelled across the US and cycled through Europe. When we first met at university, our combined love of adventure made long-term travel an inevitability.
Neither of us knew what we wanted to do as a career and couldn’t see ourselves spending our 20s in a 9-5 job we detested. This was one of the very few moments in our lives when we had no responsibilities and nothing tying us to the UK, apart from friends and family who were luckily supportive of our crazy ideas.
Moving to Australia on a working holiday visa seemed like the best option for us, as it has been for thousands of backpackers before. I had explored Australia’s popular East Coast on my gap year and couldn’t wait to explore more of the country I’d fallen in love with. The working holiday visa allowed us to work in the country for a year, with an extra year’s extension on completion of 3 months of agricultural work. We only saved for 6 months in the UK, so the ability to jump straight into work Down Under was vital. As soon as we touched down in Melbourne, we dived into work and quickly adjusted to city life.
We left Melbourne after 4 months saving money in receptionist and admin roles for a life on the road. We bought a station wagon, squeezed in all our worldly belongings and set off across the country. We had beaches for bedrooms, waterfalls for showers and kangaroos for companions. With no plan and no direction, we drifted across Australia on a whim picking up work when we needed it and following any road which took our fancy.
Adapting to life on the road was surprisingly easy for us. Both natural adventurers (and seasoned campers), we loved the freedom of a nomadic lifestyle, often getting itchy feet if we stayed anywhere for longer than a couple of months. In the 14 months since we have landed in Australia we have explored almost every inch of the southern half of the country and also managed to fit in a festive trip to Bali. Travel is now part of our day-to-day lives and we plan our year and work schedule around destinations we’ve always dreamt of visiting. This year alone we are planning to finish off Australia and organise trips to Japan, South Africa as well as a move to New Zealand.
Living on the road isn’t all beaches and adventures though. Sometimes it’s just hard work! We still have to work hard to fund this lifestyle. We have had jobs in Australia that we would never have had at home (for better or worse!) and pushed ourselves further than ever before. We’ve been dairy farmers, orange pickers, worked in a chippy, wilderness lodge and countless offices and cafes. All these jobs have given us some great experience and taken us out of our comfort zone. Certain jobs have introduced us to communities we would never have been a part of at home and we have met people from all walks of life.
Despite expanding our CVs, these jobs haven’t led us any closer to deciding what we want to do in the future. We used to believe the cliché that travel would be able to answer all our unanswered questions and point us in the right direction – but it doesn’t quite work like that! It’s a long process which we’ve barely been able to scratch at, even after 14 months travelling. All we know is that we don’t want to finish exploring anytime soon.
The other problem with long-term travel in Australia is the isolation. Unlike the UK, you can’t escape for a weekend in Europe or pop home for your best friend’s wedding. There is enough in Australia to keep you occupied for a lifetime but it’s sometimes unnerving knowing that you will have to pay a fortune to get home or pop to a ‘neighbouring’ country. Also, as an avid country-collector, it sometimes feels like I’m wasting precious time focusing all my attention on Australia rather than ticking off more bucket-list destinations. This niggling feeling is slowly disappearing as my love for slow travel (and Australia itself) continues to grow.
When you weigh up the pros and cons of living and working on the road, the pros inevitably come up trumps. Every day we are doing things we would have never done at home, we are learning new skills, meeting new people and seeing the most incredible places. We have the freedom to pick up and drop work and plans on a whim and to stop wherever we please.
It’s way too easy to fall back on comfort and stay home and it sounds cliché but it’s something you will regret when you get older. Especially nowadays with the option of working remotely from your computer. Things are changing and its becoming more and more apparent that there is so much more to life than mortgages, permanent careers and good credit ratings. If you’re debating a one-way trip of your own, then do it! There will never be a better time. And who knows you might just find that unexpected career or corner of the planet that is perfect for you and would have forever remained hidden if you didn’t take that leap.