My first big trip abroad was to volunteer in Sri Lanka September-December 2018, on a mental health placement. I had the trip booked for over a year prior, and spent a long time agonizing over every detail. I was scared, but in a good way. I think I had my bag packed around 3 weeks before I actually flew. When I arrived, it took me weeks to settle in and feel comfortable, not least because of the heat and humidity, but also the culture shock, anxiety and unfamiliarity. I can honestly say I’m so glad I did it as it changed my entire perspective on life.
From 2006 until 2016 I didn’t go abroad; my last holiday was with my mum in 2006 to Florida and it really was an amazing trip for a 13 year old. For 10 years, travelling outside of England wasn’t at the top of my priority list because I had so much other stuff going on. In those 10 years I lived in 6 houses, I had 4 different boyfriends, worked in 3 different jobs, and I’d been studying with the Open University for 4 years. I was busy, but also not in a place financially to save for a holiday.
I think it was 2012 when we found out dad had throat cancer. It was a whirlwind and he had his operation and was in remission fairly quickly; although he was now minus a voice box, we were very grateful. The second time he got cancer we weren’t so lucky, and he passed away 10th February 2016, nearly 4 years ago. This was the year I decided to start travelling, and had 3 fairly low key Spanish holidays that year to Mallorca, Majorca and Fuerteventura, with my boyfriend at the time.
The title of this post is based on something my good friend Jade said to me when I told her I was planning on a 5 month trip to Vietnam. It was something along the lines of ‘you can’t keep running away forever’ which of course, was meant with no malice. My motivation to travel is something I’ve thought about a lot and also discussed with my counsellor. When dad died I wanted to run, physically, as far away as I could from home, because it was too hard for me to be in Warminster, where I was constantly reminded about him and the fact he was no longer here.
I think now about the reasons I love to travel and I guess my parents have a big part to play in my wanderlust. My mum was in the RAF when she was young and used to ride a motorbike (I will never be as cool as her). She was and still is the bravest person I know. My dad was a DJ in Benidorm (a fun fact Heidi and I found out at his funeral, much to our amusement), and whilst there he had a drink in a bar with the Kray twins. He told that story to me so many times, I almost believe it.
I’m no longer running away from anything, really I’m not. I feel more like I’m running towards what I believe my true passion in life is. To travel, to explore, to discover, to be free, to learn, to grow, to meet new people and to help the people who need it most in the world. Two things are certain, we live and we die, and I don’t want to die with any regrets.