Here I am. 12 months later after traveling the world solo, non-stop, for a year.
Traveling thoroughly through Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, Malaysia, Bali, Singapore, Laos and Australia, it’s been the most unbelievable year.
Every single day has been an adventure. Some kind of lesson, a new experience, a new friend, another story. It’s been constant.
I left 21 years old, on the 26th November 2015 with nothing but my rucksack and a camera.
Little strings attached to pretty much anything, leaving behind great friends, a loving family, and a great job and lifestyle. I was settled and had no reason to leave.
Since turning 18 I’ve hardly been in the same place for longer then three months.
I’ve got the travel bug.
Despite interrailing Europe, seasons abroad and various other trips, I seem to be in it for the real deal now.
I have no intentions to stop traveling the world anytime soon.
A year. Well.
Where do I start?
I was nervous to leave. Of course I was, however, it wasn’t about what was going to happen to me. I didn’t feel unsafe or scared. It was more of, I don’t know when I’ll be back, I don’t know when I’ll see people again. Unsure when I’ll next be home, when I’ll run out of money or even where I’m going to be heading, however, the excitement was overwhelming.
I had five nights booked in Bangkok, and the rest, well, I can only describe as the most fulfilling, busy, eye-opening, genuine and phenomenal year of my life.
I promised myself I would let the world take me on one big ride and just go with it. No plans and open to all sorts of wonderful ideas.
I had already booked a flight to Australia but had no set date. Whenever I was ready, so I knew that was my plan once I was done in Asia.
When you start a trip to this extent, you have to stay positive.
You have to genuinely want this for yourself.
I wanted freedom, adventure, independencey.
I needed to explore.
I didn’t have anywhere near enough money as I wanted, I left with almost half the amount I originally planned. I was unsure how long my money may last and knew it was going to be a highly budgeted trip.
Finances were tough but this is where survival mode, value, priorities, and general money management skills kicked in.
I worked hard to save and committed to my priorities. Cut down booze almost completely, expensive meals and much sense of luxury were a no go. It was cheap and cheerful.
Still managed a few treats of course.
What have I really been up to the last 12 months?
During this year I’ve swum with sharks, turtles, sting rays and experienced the world under water learning to scuba dive.
Found the most magical places and secluded & secret destinations.
Bokor City / Kampot
Trekked with elephants,
worked on a banana farm in the tropical bush of North Queensland,
New job role: Driving the tractor // 7am out in the banana paddys with the lads ☀️
trekked through the Malaysian mountains, volunteered at animals shelters,
trekked through rainforests and tried all sorts of weird and wonderful foods.
Spent my Sunday chasing waterfalls. Even managed to get to the famous ‘herbal essences’ and ‘Mysterious girl’ waterfall / Millaa Millaa
Ive been stranded in open water on a kayak, spent Christmas on the beach.
I’ve dated a Kiwi, lived with an aussie in Cambodia, had a little fling with an hawain firefighter, hooked up with a Danish and even had my heart broken a little.
I’ve seen wonders of the world,
cruised down the Mekong delta,
been running through the outback next to wild wallabies, ridden motorbikes through tropical jungles and hired motobikes all over Asia.
Attended the worlds biggest three day water fight for Thai new year in Chiang Mai, Songkran.
I’ve sailed around a yacht through Sydneys harbours,
tried all different modes of transport and stayed in alsorts of accomadation.
First motobike taxi, Bangkok.
I’ve seen the most intense thunder storms, acres and acres of forest fires and sunsets from all over.
These are just some of the things I’ve managed to do, properly, all within a tight budget.
Spending time talking to people has helped me with all different experiences and had alsorts of weird and wonderful ways of oppurtunties, help and support. A lot of what I get up too seems to be the ‘It’s who you know, not what you know’ and a matter of asking.
Managed to blag my way on the farm owners plane. What a way to watch the sunset in the middle of the tropical outback!
I’ve laughed, cried, gained weight, lost weight, taken risks, made mistakes, learnt things about myself I don’t like and learnt things about myself that I do.
I’m defiantley not perfect, I’ve had days I’ve felt homesick and a little lonely, days where I felt unsure and lost and plenty of financial worries.
Backpacking isn’t supposed to be easy, I have had some crazy journeys on my own, long flights and crazy bus rides. I’ve met some of the strangest people and witnessed a variety of events. Risks have been taken and of course, made some silly mistakes.
I have put my trust into complete strangers, shared experiences with randomers also on their own and made life long friends.
Unfortunately lost friends and drifted apart from others, but I’ve accepted this is part of traveling.
It’s not always easy to keep in contact and I’ve had days of feeling let down by friends and people I really cared for.
I’ve stayed genuine, positive, outgoing and friendly, majority of the trip, and it really helped me get to where I wanted to be.
It’s all part of the experience.
All in all. My trip has gone pretty bloody smoothly and I’ve stayed aware and focused on my goals.
A little on Asia
Asia was my main priority. I had been backpacking with my family when I was younger but I had some serious exploring to do, this time as an adult, on my own.
Koh Phi Phi / 2004
Asia is a magical place. Filled with craziness and culture. I took a ride on an Asian adventure and I was not let down.
Every single country in Asia is different in it’s own way. All different currency, languages and traditions. The beauty within the continent was almost overwhelming.
I found places I could only call paradise and felt welcomed. Despite all the serious scams, busy capital cities and some of the poorest communities, I fell in love. Everything about each country was interesting and was always being suprised at each destination.
A little onAustralia
Australia was a safe option for me. It allowed me to continue traveling, however it put in a position I needed to be in, employed.
It was a western country I could settle in. A ginormous country with tons of things to do, I knew there was a lot of Australia to travel!
Archer Point / North Tropical Queensland
I arrived into Australia with $300 AU. I luckily had a close friend I crashed with in St. Kilda and got myself back in the cocktail scene, bartending on Chapel Street, Melbourne.
It was a culture shock at first, and bloody freezing. Confusing almost and it all felt so fucking expensive however I adapted and had a couple of months in Melbourne in a flat share. I eventually decided to do my farm work visa, flying up to Cairns I headed to a farm the next day.
I worked on a banana farm for the next 13 weeks living right at the top of Queensland. In the middle of nowhere with around 50 other backpackers in a shared accomadation I went to save some money, make some more unforgettable memories and get my second year visa!
A challenging experience but with an easy, hot and different lifestlye, there was so much to love.
Friday’s off. 35degrees.
I find Australia an easier place to backpack but with so much to do and a diverse range of experiences on offer, it’s a great place to explore. I can’t wait to head back and travel the east & west coast.
I’m coming home for Christmas! Over a year away from good old England and I’m flying back in December, stopping in Thailand for two weeks inbetween, of course!
Home is just for a few weeks and it’s back to Australia to do it all over again. Another year traveling solo around the world heading to Indonesia, Japan and South America in 2017!
It feels like I’ve been gone years, just with the amount of things I’ve done and how I see things differently.
People change all the time, that’s part of growing up, and I’m not going to come back some brand new person, but boy do I feel different.
The more I travel the more I do feel as though England isn’t the place for me. England has always been home and my friends and family are so important to me. The way certain parts of the world lives has really given me an insight on the kind of lifestlye I want for myself, which makes me unsure if England is the best place, but who knows!
I seem to have friends all over the world and I’m still bumping into people I’ve met in random hostels in cities I’ve only just turned up in. There are so many more places to see and things to do. I couldn’t do it without the love and support from my family which means the world to me, quite literally.
I have developed a passion, a curiosity to only see more of the world we live in.
I’m overwhelmed with excitement. To see my family and friends and of course my dog! Just to have a lovely hot bath, put my pyjamas on and get into my own bed, in my own room!
I’ve missed the little thing things in life. Basic home comforts, being around people who really know and love me. Having home cooked dinners and complete privacy is something I havn’t had much of.
It’s going to be strange seeing everyone, things will be different but very little would have fundamentally changed.
I’m most nervous for the cold weather as I’ve been living in 45 degree heat.
I have an entire bucket list of things to do, places to go, things to try and experiences I don’t even know of yet and there is no stopping anytime soon.
Traveling isn’t supposed to be easy, it’s risk, leaving your comfort zone, trying new things. Like everyone, I have my own problems, money worries etc. It’s totally normal for things not to always go so smoothly, in a way, enjoy the bad times. Learn from them.
http://littletravelbird.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/11/IMG_1955.jpg27603202Leah Colehttp://littletravelbird.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/01/LOGO-22-80x80.jpgLeah Cole2016-11-28 07:07:522018-01-29 17:11:59Traveling the world solo. Year 1