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If by some fluke you read my previous blog, you know that back in March I quit my job and went traveling. I thought I'd do a quick post to debrief myself on the whole experience, but I've realized as I'm writing I can't cover all four countries and my takeaways in one post, so I'm going to break it down, so it at least makes sense to me. So this is my first. It's a couple of points on traveling I wish I had known before. Here we go...
Challenging. It was challenging. But it was also an amazing way to mark how far I've come in my recovery. Because not only did I go to four countries by myself, I made friends, tried new things, got out of my comfort zone, and stayed emotionally and mentally stable.
Traveling didn't change me. And if you're looking for some blog post about "finding yourself" on the other side of the world, look elsewhere. The truth is I know myself, pretty well in fact (years of therapy, woohoo!). I didn't go to India or Thailand to find answers, or to fill a void, or anything spiritual. I went to learn. Before this year, the closest I came to India is working on Bollywood productions while they were in the UK, and while that did give me a taste of the working mentality, there's a lot more to a country than a couple of film crews. As for Thailand, other than stories from weirdly everyone in my office and obscenely perfect images on Google, I had no real reference for the country. Nice and Venice were different. I'm a European (for the next few months at least *cries*) so travel to France and Italy from London is relatively cheap. Consequently, I've been to both countries a couple of times before. I go for the food. Exclusively.
My travel plan was this: London to Thailand, back to London, then Nice immediately followed by Venice, straight back to London, finally on to India, back to London. It ended up being a total of nine flights with one very weird 2 AM transfer at Jeddah airport in Saudi Arabia. Seriously, I have some big issues with this airport. All of this still doesn't include the travel internally, local buses, long distance buses, night buses in a range of capacities, taxis, tuk-tuks, Ubers, ferries, boat-taxis, cars, and of course, no trip to Asia would be completed without the moped. It's safe to say that the act of moving was probably one of the biggest things that I did when traveling. I mean that sounds obvious when you read it like that, but it was a big surprise to me! I thought I'd do what I'd done before, land in a city and get to know the area, take things slowly, and sink into the environment. Nope.
For part of the trip I traveled with a couple of friends, and something that became very clear very quickly was that we all had very different attitudes to money. I wasn't afraid to spend mine, I knew what I had budgeted, and what I could afford or not afford, but more importantly I knew where I was. A long long way from home, and I wasn't going to shut down huge opportunities to save the equivalent of £6. I think one of the most satisfying things about this trip was that I paid for every single thing with my savings. I was sitting on a beach watching the sunrise over the fishing boats, on an island of the south of Thailand, and I realized (not going to lie, there were a lot of epiphanies that sunrise!) that when I went home I would still be in the exact same position financially to if I had stayed in London. Sure I had saved a little bit for the trip, but to be truthful, this went from a two week holiday to a several months quest pretty last minute... I felt so proud that every ticket that I bought, I worked for. I earned over the years every penny, or cent, or rupee that I spent on my time travelling.