Tuesday, 4 March 2014

10 Years a Traveller

I received a text message ten years ago (almost to the day) that changed my life forever.

At the time my life was pretty normal. I was 23 years old, working a steady bank job while finishing off my business degree at nights, while hanging out with friends and going to football and basketball games on the weekends.

It was on a regular Friday night out with friends that I got the text. It was from my sister, who had been on a working holiday in the UK for the previous couple of years.

It simply read; Getting married April 2. Call Mum.

Now, aside from my initial reaction (I'd read it that she wanted me to be the one to tell our parents, when in fact it was just that mum had more details) I was starting to think that it was time to get my passport.

My first international trip 10 years ago

It wasn't that I'd never thought about travel before, but I was very much the kind of person who needed a bit of a kick along to get pretty much anything done. It took a knee operation and some horrible blood pressure figures in my early 20s before I finally started looking after my health, and now I finally had the kick I needed to get me out of the country.

The next month was pretty hectic, trying to organise my passport for the first time, which I received only days before we flew out for London.

I remember being on the plane wondering why people always talked about how hard it is to fly long haul. You get to sit on your butt, eat & drink, while watching TV. Those are some of my favourite things in the world to do. Even arriving in London 24 hours after leaving Melbourne and getting to a basic airport hotel, the joy of travelling was still only beginning.

Over the next couple of weeks, myself and my parents met my sister's new husband as well as all of this family, and also travelled through some of England’s castles and many of it's pubs. And there was a wedding in there somewhere too.

While travelling around England with your parents is hardly the definition of adventure, it started something for me that since then has basically taken over who I am and dictates so many of the decisions I make. People talk about the travel bug – for me it is a full blown infection.

Playing international tourist for the first time at Warrick Castle in 2004

On returning home from England I dedicated myself to finishing my degree, saving as much money as possible and getting out of the country as soon as possible. A little over a year later I was ready to go, and since then I've had a tough time answering the question, “So what do you do?”

Since that first trip I've done a lot of things. I've spent the best part of six years outside of Australia, visiting 37 different countries in all kinds of styles ranging from solo backpacking, to organised tour groups and short trips with friends. I've done travel cliches like work in an English pub, and also travelled to Las Vegas for my 30th birthday. I went to the 2010 Winter Olympics and Vancouver and soon I'll be going to the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.

I've worked in five different countries in around 25 jobs as varied as finance, bartending, security, storeman, call centre agent and warehouse worker. Oh yeah, I was also a box salesman. My dating history looks just as transient.

I've made life long friends and had experiences I could never have had at home. What do I do? I do this.

View from the chairlift on my way to work at the Winter Olympics in Vancouver

While sometimes I look at my friends who have good jobs, great relationships and plenty of normality in their lives and wish I could have that, it doesn't last long. For, while it would be great to have, I wouldn't trade what I've done in the last ten years away to get it.

I know this has been possibly the most narcissistic blog I've ever posted (and for a travel blog, that is certainly saying something) but I think it's good to look back at important moments and realise everything you've done. Some people get to do that with wedding anniversaries or work milestones. I get to do it with my travelversary.

These days my passport is my favourite possession and it all started ten years ago with one little text message.

1 comment:

  1. Hey Steve - really enjoyed this post. My girlfriend and I have a travel website (ManyManyAdventures.com) where we gather content from other travelers to share with the community. I'd love to use this article on there if you were ok with it. Let me know. You can email me at ronniecharrier@gmail.com.