On the evening of 27th September 2018 Jack and I boarded our flight to Bangkok, as our first destination out of many on our backpacking trip. We thought we might be away for 18 months, but weren’t sure if it would be much shorter or even longer. It was my first time leaving Europe, and by far the longest flight I had endured! We had been saving for this trip for a really long time, had quit our jobs, moved out of our flat and sold most of our possessions. From then on our only belongings were those we could carry! But we are now less than two weeks from our flight home, and after being away for such a long time we are both really excited! So I thought I would share with you my thoughts on our experience travelling, and how I feel about finally going home…
A SNAPSHOT OF OUR TRAVELS…
To begin with I want to give you an overall snapshot of where we have been and what we have got up to over the past 18 months. We haven’t been backpacking that whole time, I definitely wouldn’t have made it this long if we were! So, our first 5 months of travel were spent backpacking Southeast Asia. We covered Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam, Malaysia and Singapore, and saw everything we wanted to in each of those countries. In that time, we really embraced the cultures and filled our days with sight-seeing and eating!
We had then planned to carry on to Indonesia, The Philippines, Taiwan and Hong Kong before working in New Zealand. But after flying into Sumatra in Indonesia the thought of spending another few months moving every few days was really daunting. If you haven’t been backpacking before this might sound a bit pathetic to you. And I get it, we didn’t have jobs, we were essentially on an extremely long holiday. But after a while the constant moving around and constant influx of new sights does take its toll. I found myself not wanting to explore a new town as it all started to feel so similar. So we still went on our Orangutan Trek through the jungle in Indonesia. It was an incredible day, and it felt like the perfect ending to that stage of our trip. And we boarded our flight to New Zealand just a few days after!
1 YEAR IN NEW ZEALAND
Because we were both craving a more long-term home, we decided to look for work in Christchurch. We arrived late February and luckily were able to live with one of Jack’s friends for a couple of weeks before finding our own place. Jack managed to find part-time work pretty quickly, but I was finding it a little harder. Eventually a position for a hostel receptionist came up that was perfect! We could move into the apartment adjoining the hostel and both share the hours! The job required a 6 month commitment, which went by pretty quickly, but I think it took a bit of a toll on my mental health. We were required to work 50 hours a week between us, but also be on call at night time if there was an emergency. The actual work was really easy and relaxed, but having to be in the hostel most hours of the day made me feel a bit isolated, and I also missed home so much more. I think I might write a post about life working at a backpackers hostel?!
But our 6 months at the hostel were soon up, and we could finally drive out of Christchurch and actually explore the country! We travelled the length and breadth of New Zealand in our van over 2 months, and it may have been my favourite part of our travels. If you haven’t been to New Zealand then you should really try and brave the long flight and go. It really is true what everyone says, it is an amazing country! It was so freeing to be able to drive anywhere, and camp overlooking lakes and mountains.
WHERE DO WE GO NEXT?
So we were done with New Zealand but we really weren’t ready to go home just yet. It was only January and didn’t want to have to fly home in the depths of Winter! So we decided to take a very slow journey home. This included 5 days in Melbourne, 5 days in Hong Kong, 1 month in Vietnam and now we are enjoying 2 weeks in Thailand. We don’t have the energy right now to be backpacking around again, so decided to spend our time staying in nice Airbnb’s relaxing! These chilled last months have actually prepared us a little for going home and back to normal life. As our days consist of sitting by the pool, working on this blog and reading, I am now craving more of a purpose and routine! Which I defininitely would not have thought just 2 months ago!
Well, that was quite a bit more than just a snapshot of our travels! I’ll try not to ramble on too much again! As much as I am excited to go home now, that doesn’t mean that I haven’t absolutely loved our backpacking experience. Those first 5 months after leaving the UK, we were so full of energy and enthusiasm and saw absolutely everything that we wanted to. With a little persuasion from Jack, I have done things that would have been pretty out of my comfort zone. I hiked up a 1,578m high mountain, held a baby crocodile, slept in a jungle treehouse and snorkelled in open water. For me, being a total scaredy-cat, these are quite big achievements! Everytime we entered a new country for the first time, we loved noticing the differences compared to the previous country. Some of our favourite times were spent in small rural towns, where we would often hire a moped and explore the local area. Although it is unlikely that we will go on such a long trip again anytime soon, I am certain we will pull our backpacks out time and time again to explore more corners of the world.
WHAT WILL THE FUTURE HOLD?
I am weirdly excited to get a job again, although I will probably regret saying that when I actually have one. At the moment I am looking forward to having a routine back in my life. I want to try and make an effort to spend my spare time doing more productive things that I enjoy, instead of putting the TV on because I don’t know what else to do. I know this is all wishful thinking, but spending time in these less-developed countries has made me want more out of my life. Even if that just means finding a new hobby!
Our first few weeks after going home will consist of spending time with friends and family, looking for jobs and eventually looking for a home of our own. Which is exciting, but a bit scary too. Whilst we know we want to buy a property now, we don’t know where we want to be in 5 or 10 years time. Even though we are still young, in a few years we will be 30, which is an age that you are expected to have your life together. But we will essentially be starting from scratch when we get home. We are lucky in this day and age to have a bit more freedom and the ability to fly across to the other side of the world. Everyone has their own time-lines, and more and more people seem to be making decisions for themselves rather than following what is expected of them.
So if you have always dreamed of seeing what else is out there in the world, you should really try and make it your reality. Travelling can seem so scary and such a massive deal when you are at home, but now that I have experienced it, I can say that it is so much easier than you think! As much as it has made me appreciate my home in the UK, it has also inspired me to see more and more of the rest of the world and also the country we call home.
If you enjoyed this post, then please pin My Thoughts on Going Home After Long-Term Travel to Pinterest!