When I was 19, I was in my second year of university and preparing to embark upon the third big travel experience of my life. I got my first taste of travel as opposed to just a holiday in Thailand, and although things didn’t quite go to plan, I fell in love with the feeling of being on the road and determined that this was going to be it for me. Travel and I were to become irrevocably intertwined, and once graduating university, I was determined to live my life experience after experience, adventure after adventure.
I successfully fulfilled my own mantra – for a while, at least. I backpacked Australia, completed an internship in Honduras, travelled solo around Costa Rica, and after landing a too good to be true opportunity, graduated and travelled four continents in four months. After that? I moved to France where I worked in a ski resort, then after a brief period back in my hometown, I packed everything up and headed to Amsterdam, where I now sit writing this post from.
I’ve lived in the Netherlands now for almost two years, which, whilst I am still absolutely enamored by the city, is a period of time that I never really thought I would stay for. To my 19 year old self, settling somewhere and getting a real life and a real job and real everything seemed like an alien concept. Why would people do that to themselves? Why only settle for a 2 week holiday every year and spend the rest of your life – god forbid – working?!
I remember spouting this spiel to my parents and family, and it was always met with something I could never quite put my finger on. In hindsight, it was probably apprehension… apprehension met with sympathy. And why sympathy? Because they knew that this kind of life was, whilst not impossible, certainly improbable. Constantly being on the road has it’s beautiful, beautiful pros, but my god, it also has it’s cons, and when the time came for me to actually grow up and be a full blown adult (my 24th birthday approaches next week. Dread. So much dread), how realistic was this lifestyle?
A tiny bit older, a tiny bit wiser, and I – to the utter disbelief of my aforementioned 19 years old self – kind of see where they’re coming from. The shock! The horror! Yes. Though serious travel will forever be the thing I yearn after, being in a serious (vom) relationship and having a good job have kind of won me over in a lot of ways. I love my life in Amsterdam, and to give it all up to be broke, live out of a backpack and never be able to sustain important relationships in my life… well, do I want that?
These are the questions I had to ask myself before booking my flight to Peru in June. Do I want to give up my wonderful life in Amsterdam just for a trip? It’s taken a long time to get here, and mixed with the apprehension of my non-travel orientated boyfriend, I had serious doubts…. but those doubts were nothing compared to the absolute burning desire to get out there and do something again. So I booked that flight.
For three months, I’m going to be living out of a backpack, travelling to three of the most amazing countries in the world with my best friend and our collective boyfriends. I cast aside worries about money, jobs and ‘real’ life, and followed my heart.
Following my heart as I did and deciding to pack it all in – at least temporarily – was scary, but (and I still cannot believe this actually fell into place!) I’ve been very, very, very lucky. Our landlord will temporarily rent out our place prior to our return to Dam, and work has told me that I can return to my job. Hurrah!
Though the stresses of my three month sabbatical from life have been somewhat disappeared, this wasn’t the case when I planned the trip. I’ve just been lucky that it’s going to work out. Either way I’d still have gone and I cannot wait to strap that backpack on, live on no money, get stressed out with crazy buses, feel exhausted after too many nights of drinking and too many days of adventure, but most of all, to feel like I’m really living again, with the sense of freedom that only travel can proffer. Peru, Bolivia and Chile? I’m coming for you.