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Traveling the world solo. Year 1

Here I am. 12 months later after traveling the world solo, non-stop, for a year.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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 A year. Well.
Where do I start?

Beforehand

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.

Today James and I woke up late, ventured into the centre for coffee & pasty and headed to the floating markets. 40 minutes out of Siem Reap we drove past remote villages, streets of poverty and run down communities. Instead, we decided to not pay $20 each for the markets, go back into the villages and took the families fruit, sweets, water and balloons. We played with the children, met the families & cared for the puppies. Cambodia is such a fascinating, beautiful but remote and poor country. The fact people can live happy like this, shows how much we don't need possessions. Family, friends, hope, love and strength was what I witnessed today. No profit organisations, no tourist attraction. Just a basic community.

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.

I talk a lot about mindset and determination.

Click here to read my post on the mindset of travel!

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.

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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 wanted it that bad, I had to do it.

Click here to read ‘you really want to know how much’.

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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.

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What have I really been up to the last 12 months?

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During this year I’ve swum with sharks, turtles, sting rays and experienced the world under water learning to scuba dive.

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Found the most magical places and secluded & secret destinations.

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Bokor City / Kampot

Trekked with elephants, img_0097

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 ☀️

New job role: Driving the tractor // 7am out in the banana paddys with the lads ☀️

trekked through the Malaysian mountains, volunteered at animals shelters, img_0545

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

Spent my Sunday chasing waterfalls. Even managed to get to the famous ‘herbal essences’ and ‘Mysterious girl’ waterfall / Millaa Millaa

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Ive been stranded in open water on a kayak, spent Christmas on the beach.

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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.

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I’ve seen wonders of the world,

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cruised down the Mekong delta,

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been running through the outback next to wild wallabies, ridden motorbikes through tropical jungles and hired motobikes all over Asia.

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Attended the worlds biggest three day water fight for Thai new year in Chiang Mai, Songkran.

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I’ve sailed around a yacht through Sydneys harbours,

Sydney has been unreal so far! Had a day of luxery being driven around in our own private yacht! #TravelAustralia #Sydney #sydneybridge

tried all different modes of transport and stayed in alsorts of accomadation.

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First motobike taxi, Bangkok.

I’ve seen the most intense thunder storms, acres and acres of forest fires and sunsets from all over.

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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!

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.

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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.

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Unfortunately lost friends and drifted apart from others, but I’ve accepted this is part of traveling.

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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.

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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.

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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.img_1149

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. dsc_0047

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.

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 A little on Australia

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!

Sunday beach day. #Australia #Queensland #travel #paradise

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.

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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!

Farm life // bush life // banana life #Australia #Travel #Farming

A challenging experience but with an easy, hot and different lifestlye, there was so much to love.

Friday's off. 35degrees.

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.

And now?

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!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

You don’t learn to travel, you travel to learn.

If I can do it, so can you.

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Backpacking isn’t always magic and adventures.

Travelling the world, not a care in sight, meeting fascinating people, visit wonderful places and living your dream.

Found a slice of heaven. Up in the jungle lays a fancy Moroccan styled chill out bar with one sensational view of Koh Samui and Koh Phangan. Paradise.

What’s not to love?

Let me tell you, it’s full of adventures, magical moments, unforgettable experiences but it’s not all sunshine and daisies.

Backpacking – budgeting.

You have to keep things on a relatively low cost. Some people more than others but for the majority, cheap is cheerful. It’ll have to do.

This means big dorm rooms, slow ferries, long night buses, no aircon, basic accommodation and cheap meals.

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It’s difficult to complain while travelling as you realise how lucky you are. I feel unbelievably privileged for my home life. My health and support, my upbringing and love from friends and family. I want to elaborate I’m not complaining but we all know backpacking and long term travel comes with its negative moments.

Sh*t wifi. Dirty un-ironed clothes. Minimal belongings, dirty smelly bathrooms, stiff wooden hard beds, crazy temperatures and awful insects are just some of the things we don’t all shout about.

Bedtime.
Most of the time we don’t know who we are sleeping in a room with. We don’t know the country, city or town, the currency, the people. We just turn up with our bag, a smile, an open mind and time to explore. There’s no better feeling of finding a new destination and venturing out, making friends, discovering new places never the less there are tons of things we have to overcome.

Walking into a dorm of 15 other people, not knowing who they are, where they’re from, what language they speak and leaving your stuff. The bed you get given is your space. The one single bunk bed you will share is your new home for the night.

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Hostels can be the funnest or most relaxed places with the best environment to meet people, I’ve stayed in such awesome hostels all over Europe and Asia but if you’re one for personal space and privacy, you might struggle a little.

Traveling throws all sorts of challenges at us and it’s pretty fun embracing all the craziness but it’s not all luxury. We take the cheapest option and it’s not always the most comfy or cleanest.
We have one rucksack with minimal belongings, no wardrobes of clean ironed clothes, no big double bed, no quick 4G to message our friends.

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We get tired.

Yes we hang out on beaches, drink beers watching the sunsets in the jungle. We explore fascinating temples and discover busy cities.
Why would we get tired?

We don’t know the city, we don’t know the language, not always sure of the currency. Sometimes we don’t know where we are sleeping that night and always stay aware of what’s going on.

Traveling as a young solo female I have to keep my wits.
I can let my guard down, don’t worry about that and I know how to be silly but always having an idea of where your stuff is, knowing where your hostel is, who’s around you not to mention some of the crazy temperatures is constant. Backpackers know how to have a good time and how to chill out however we always need to have an idea of where we are and who’s around.

Slightly cloudy but spent the day having fun on the beach with new friends, eating French toast and drinking beer! #travel #thailand #gopro #ocean #beach

We take so much in, constantly exploring and discovering. Keeping your wits of your valuables, your health, your safety, your company, your space.

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No we don’t sit in an office all day and trust me, rather the backpacking life any day but we always have to be thinking of all these things.

For friends back at home they see all the photos of the stunning golden sunsets, the hippy reggae bars I find where I get to chill and watch the world go by, not to mention seeing all my new friends and exciting new experiences. I always like to try and remain positive and always want to portray my life and journey the best it can be as it is however there are sides we don’t all like to boast about.

It’s not a constant stress, I feel relaxed 99% of the time despite the odd random situation so it’s no big deal.

Managed to grab a beer on a hammock looking over the rice fields. Breathtaking views of fields of gold and green! #gopro #travel #ricefields

We don’t have days that we just relax in our own space, shove on the TV and watch pointless programmes. We don’t have our pets to cuddle when we are feeling a little low or tired.image

I did find this guy on Koh Samui however …

We have to be adapting almost every minute of every hour, every single day. I want to be 100% all the time but traveling all the time is mentally and physically pretty tiring.
Carrying our rucksacks, keeping hydrated and aware.

We are around cities who barely speak English.

Tokyo / Japan

Where I am now I’m always having to keep things cheap, the weathers humid and sun is hot, wifi connection is poor and it’s not the safest of areas. I don’t feel unsafe or bothered but it’s learning to adapt on your own.

I don’t mind it and I kind of love the challenge but it’s not always easy peasy.
We have love hate relationships with wifi, depending on the connection, which in most developing countries is pretty useless, not too mention small islands. We try desperately to find somewhere with a strong connection just to speak to friends and family or book any accommodation.

When I feel a tad homesick it can take 20 minutes just to find somewhere to get some kind of connection to have a brief chat.
Despite the stresses there tends to be wifi in most places in south east Asia where I am now. Not that it always works but there’s always some kind of resort or Internet cafe with something slightly quicker.

Backpacking and traveling is fun, can be done cheap and there are thousands of us around the world doing it, it comes with challenges, struggles, down days, unpleasant experiences and crazy memories.

Today James and I woke up late, ventured into the centre for coffee & pasty and headed to the floating markets. 40 minutes out of Siem Reap we drove past remote villages, streets of poverty and run down communities. Instead, we decided to not pay $20 each for the markets, go back into the villages and took the families fruit, sweets, water and balloons. We played with the children, met the families & cared for the puppies. Cambodia is such a fascinating, beautiful but remote and poor country. The fact people can live happy like this, shows how much we don't need possessions. Family, friends, hope, love and strength was what I witnessed today. No profit organisations, no tourist attraction. Just a basic community.

Last night I left Siem Reap for the 11 hour night bus down to Sihanoukville, Cambodia. I got on the squashed bus, rucksack chucked in the boot and was greeted to a lovely Indian man on my bed. I payed 3 dollars extra to be able to lay down rather than slightly recline with space and a plug socket.

This is your bed and patted the space next to him.
So why an earth are you on it? I thought.

It’s mine too, look b6 & b7.

I could have easily flown in less than an hour with space, convenience, saving time and a shit nights sleep however that’s not how us backpackers work unfortunately. Cheap long ass night bus will have to do.

I awkwardly giggled and sat down slightly unsure where to put myself. We both sat and chatted and he was a lovely young fella who was working in Berlin, Germany from India.

Luckily I managed to somehow grab one spare bed just above the floor below two French girls so that was me.

Being 5’1 it was small enough to maybe fit another child, let alone two grown adults. I barely could sit up and my feet touched the end. I had a random blanket, a broken light above my head and slept right next to the driver and his assistant playing the radio all night, bear in mind this is an Asian station so no clue to what is being said or sung.
Sleeping wrapped in a hoodie, thick walking socks, attempting to block out the music, ignoring the wobbly roads, clutching my teddy and sleeping next to my camera and rucksack I got there in the end.
It all pays off when I arrive, repeatedly saying no the the shouting tuk tuk men, I made a friend, grabbed an iced caramel latte, found a cheap hostel and we headed down the beach where I’m writing this. It’s all part of the experience I keep telling myself. We can’t complain.

These things shouldn’t put you off but remember, it’s not all as exciting and luxury. Backpackers have struggles and challenges, seeing the world isn’t always easy, but it sure is an experience.