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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

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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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Traveling with Scoliosis

Scoliosis – a lateral curvature of the spine.

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Traveling and scoliosis are two very important things in my life and with very little on the internet about the emotional and personal side to scoliosis, I decided to write about it.

Chilled Saturday morning in Cairns publishing blogs! Not a bad spot to be doing 'work' ✌️

I have a double curvature like an S shape around 58degrees & 63 degrees.

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Just to get an idea of the curvature.

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Everyone with Scoliosis has a different curvature, at different stages in the their life with different personal stories. The pain can vary from person to person and I can only write from my experiences and story.

A little on the beginning.

I was 14 when my ex boyfriend noticed my back wasn’t quite even. I spent hours in the mirror that evening doing all sorts of moves and positions. He was right, my back wasn’t quite straight.

After research, scans and appointments at the hospital, I soon got diagnosed and signed to a surgeon to talk about the future possibilties.

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I was petrified.

I’d never even broken a bone, never rushed to the hospital or suffered any major problems and I was being told I need life changing surgery for a major condition.

I had two major curves classed as serious however they are not life threatening and won’t cause any internal damage.

Options were limited.

A brace wasn’t an option as the curvature was already too severe and I didn’t have too much growing left.

The first X-ray my parents and I had seen, well, none of us could believe it was even possible that was me.

My dad couldn’t believe his daughter’s spine could be so, curved.

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As I was training for dance school surgery wasn’t an option.

Surgery

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A very long, intense procedure screwing rods into each vertebra down my spine and attaching metal rods and screws to hold my ‘new’ straight back in place.

There are several approaches to scoliosis surgery, but all use modern instrumentation systems in which hooks and screws are applied to the spine to anchor long rods. The rods are then used to reduce and hold the spine while bone that is added fuses together with existing bone.

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After many chats and discussions, tears and concerns, my family and I were slightly against the process and decided to just focus on my dance and healthy future.

It was one heck of a recovery process which would have included full-time constant care and a very intense year of getting back to normal life. I would then have many restrictions on my back movement and miss out on certain things in life.

Exploring the ruins of the Angkor Wat Jungle temple. Siem Reap, Cambodia

Exploring the ruins of the Angkor Wat Jungle temple. Siem Reap, Cambodia

As years went on and turning into an adult, it’s been a world wind of feelings towards going ahead with the surgery and scoliosis in general.

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When I finished my dance training the truth of my scoliosis was more of a reality.

I knew I wanted to travel the world once I did my first season abroad in Malia.

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I had things I wanted to do, experiences to have and future plans for myself, I didn’t seem to have the time to take a year out of life for surgery.

I only have a certain amount of time before surgery will almost be pointless. As my back tightens and stiffens once I’m fully grown, it’ll take longer to recover and have less impact on the movement of my spine.

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I started traveling the world when I was 18. We had family trips to destinations including India, Canada, Thailand backpacking with the parents and my younger sister, I’ve had the travel bug ever since.

Travel involves long flights, random places to sleep including the airport floor.

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Uncomfortable coaches, sharing cabs and tuk-tuks and quashing into packed buses.

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Heavy rucksacks and all different kinds of exercises including long walks with my rucksack.

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This can’t be good for my back?

.. but how can I go ahead with the procedure?

However. I’m then left with this crazy curved spine. A condition that no professional dance company will take too seriously. A condition that will give me all different kinds of problems throughout my life.

964ce8f4e9b55df759ecf5b08a14e84eI’m now 22 and currently traveling around the world, solo.

I’m incredibly happy and free.

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Catch up with my last year traveling the world solo by clicking here!

My surgeon told me before I left to start a world trip, to concentrate on the certainty. Travel.

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I am having unforgettable experiences, unteachable lessons, a new friend everyday.

I am determined to travel.

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Wait, I need to carry my life on my back.

Lots of walking, hard wooden beds, heavy luggage. Long journeys and little comfort.

I’m now even stacking boxes and bananas for my second year visa work.

16kg boxes of bananas being moved onto pallets for 8 hours each day. Packing up to 5,000 boxes a week on my own.

Straining back? Hell yes.

Wouldn’t anyone have a sore back?

What helps me travel with Scoliosis?

 I travel with a teddy, however, any small pillow or head rest is great to take the pressure off your back. Sometimes even resting a piece of clothing in the middle of your back takes away pressure on long journeys. My teddy, ‘Grumpy’ is a great neck rest and of course, a great comfort to me.

Asking for an extra pillow at hostels, hotels or an planes can help for extra comfort and support.

14657334_10153828392477751_5634010492338402655_n4 hour trip to Cairns/ Australia

Due to scoliosis, I do suffer pain and discomfort. I do get back ache and my back looks uneven and unbalanced all the time. Having a few tablets of Anadin or other pain relief can help take the ease out of the real discomfort however I very rarely take any form of tablets or pain relief. I have found personal ways to reduce discomfort which works for me.

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If you suffer from discomfort after sitting for too long during flights, let the airline know and they may offer you some extra space or somewhere to stretch out. It’s important to be able to stretch your back out as it easily stiffens, I find discomfort gets worse if I am sat for too long.

If you are on long journeys, make sure to move and stretch around or if walking for long periods, remember it’s okay and rest. It’s always time to stop for a coffee right?

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Clothes. So of course, clothes can look uneven on my upper half and certain tops & bras just don’t sit right. There are clothes I feel extremely uncomfortable wearing, but doesn’t everyone? I try and buy clothes that don’t draw too much area to bumps and curves.

I find when traveling there are loads of cheap, beautiful baggy and loose clothes that are easy to pack and look great wondering hippy towns and idyllic beaches. As the weather is pretty humid in so many parts of the world, light and baggy clothing is always great to have and sold almost everywhere.

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40degrees checking out Penang’s street art // Malaysia

When those bikinis come out, I have no choice but to reveal my back.
There is nothing I can do about the way my back looks. Some people say they really can’t notice it, to me, it runs through my head constantly.

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As scoliosis affects your entire skeleton, posture is important. Avoid sitting crouching over yourself. Yoga is a great way to help stretch out your back and engage good posture throughout out your life.

I find the more you know about the balance of muscles around the spine and the way your body will move differently to others, will help understand how to help the discomfort. I know lots of people who take part in physio to understand the way the body will move differently and work on certain muscles as they will be uneven.

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The older I get and the more I travel, the less I concentrate on my scoliosis. The less I actually overly care about the way I look, and in some way, what anyone thinks about me.

Spent my Friday volunteering on a friends farm. Getting to ride around on a quad through the outback was pretty awesome!

I have found personal ways of my own to keep my back comfortable however, I have never needed much special treatment or extra care. My dance training has helped with my posture, I keep fit and healthy to protect my bone strength, cut out the booze and don’t smoke cigarettes.

I can still do everything I want to do.
I’m not sure for how long, maybe until I’m 30,50,70. I do suffer from discomfort no one else understands.

Understanding that with or without surgery it will always be a big part of my life. I may look at things differently over time.

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It can’t stop you doing anything, epecially if you are determind.

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There are lots of different ways of improving life with scoliosis, lots of groups and worldwide meetings on dealing with Scoliosis. Don’t be afraid to talk about it, it makes you unique. It’s good to open up about it and get the support you need.

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There are hundreds of people undergoing surgery, starting there first few weeks in a brace and also, like me, just getting on with life with the condition.

Let me know your story and your tips!

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Dear British backpackers

I’ve heard a lot of British backpackers complaining about their country.

‘I never want to go back’

‘I’m staying away for as long as possible’

‘The UK is shit’

England definitely doesn’t have the places I’ve come to fall in love with all over the world.


England may not have the adventures Australia can offer, the streets of Paris or the laws (or lack) of Amsterdam, nor does it have crazy safari life in Africa or the beautiful ski towns over in Canada and it may not offer experiences us travellers crave but home will always be home.

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There’s a reason I’ve hardly been in England since I was 18.

I have a constant urge to explore, a passion to travel, a heart full of wunderlust and I know this is what I have to do.

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Despite a lot of cold, miserable weather and a genuinely pretty dull vibe, I’m extremely lucky to come from such an established, clean, rich and supportive country.

indexEngland is filled with beautiful places, stunning countryside, a magnificent busy capital city and a large variety of things to do and places to go.

Leeds Festival. Mumford & Sons

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Working at Leeds Beer Festival

Ok ok, I understand – not everyone is as fortunate as I to have such support or a family waiting for them. People may not even have anything or anyone to go home to. However I can only go off my own experiances.

England is bloody brilliant.

We are lucky. I couldn’t travel as easy as I am if I wasn’t from such a developed country. I’m entitled to visas, the British embassy and great healthcare if needed. We have a stable security and political system. Men and women both have equal rights, we are able to freely travel and we are largely able to choose our own futures.

Language

Worldwide, the majority of information is in English compared to other languages. For many people around the globe, English is learnt as a second language and it takes constant effort and learning to speak it on a daily basis. However it is something I picked up as a child nactually living in England.

In rural parts of the world like Cambodia, Loas and Puerto Rico, there is limited acess to education and learning English. Given that most well paying jobs are centered around tourism (work which inherintely involves a sound understanding of the English language),  not having acess to this type of education can limit many locals to poorly paid and physically taxing labour work.