Mine is a story of courage, responsibility, independence and a young girls dream of seeing the world, one small step at a time. The young girls motive for traveling began with an urge to transform herself from a naive, codependent teenager with low self esteem into a young woman out in the world being responsible for her own life and learning things as she goes. That young girl was me. I was 19 years old when i decided to make this huge move from a small town in Ireland to a country so far away it seemed almost dreamlike. This would be the biggest challenge of my life and would pave the way for miraculous things, but i didn't know that yet. Australia was my destination but it was the journey that i was excited for, maybe even a little apprehensive, as any normal human should be. I set off with no friends to meet me in Australia, no travel plan nor any idea what i would work at, in fact all i was sure of was that I had enough clothes to last me the entire year. Some may say this was a huge challenge for an inexperienced girl and some did say this, many times. I cant explain how much a year away traveling changed me but what I do know is that one trip, that one step to independence, led me to visit almost 50 countries around the world.
I set out with no qualifications and no idea about my future or my plans to study, but this is what the universe had planned for me and I was lucky to know that from a young age. Many like me, struggled to decide their destiny and instead, studied for years to be in careers they hated. Others envied me for taking this leap and quizzed me on how they could follow in my footsteps, but at the end of it all, were too scared to be the change. From Australia, I continued home to that small town in Ireland I had once left, only to discover that time stood still and everyone stood with it. I had a feeling inside of me that If i fell back into this reality, everything I had worked for would be erased and I would rediscover the old version of myself. The one i tried so very hard to change. It was final, I had taken a job in Bahrain would spend four months adapting to middle eastern life while working as a barmaid in an Irish pub. How cliche? From one culture to the next, I was slowly expanding my cultural knowledge along with my circle of friends and life skills. My world was changing, and how could I ever want this to stop. Change and growth is good right? Why didn't everybody understand my plea, why didn't everyone want this too. It took me a while to realize this, but one step at a time.
Soon after Bahrain, I set off on a short nine week adventure with some friends around South East Asia before moving to Brighton, England for a few months. The nomadic life was catching on and I was slowly becoming addicted. It wasn't long before I set off to Canada for a year of working, traveling and reuniting with old friends, and to top it all off, I had a job on a friends families potato farm - again, How cliche? That year would pave the way for my study life, and once I had returned to Ireland, plans were in place to study a Beauty/Holistic Therapies diploma. The course was two years but it didn't take away from my love of travel because students have free summers right? I spent the entire summer traveling through 9 countries in South America, brushing up on my spanish, so well in fact that by the end of the trip, I almost resembled an ad for 'Rosetta Stone', at the local veggie market. Having finished the trip off in Californai, t was then time to return home to Beauty School.
It was during the South America/USA trip that I traveled with the 'Eat, Pray, Love' book that I had brought with me on many of my trips and had reread more times than in could remember. From the first time i read this incredible story, Liz Gilbert became an instant role model and inspiration to me, so much so that I could almost imagine us as friends from a past life. So much was similar to my life and my reasons for traveling, so much so that I began planning a trip of a lifetime. After college, I would start my trip in India and then travel to Malaysia, Brunei, Singapore, Indonesia, Hong Kong and Japan before finally settling down in New Zealand for a year. As if I couldn't possibly become more different to the young girl who left Ireland for a life of adventure in Australia, this trip would turn my life upside down. In the best way possible.
I spent the 6 months leading up to my India trip, studying for my college exams, finishing my first novel and setting up my very own travel advice website from scratch. It was a busy few months for me, with no help but It was something i needed to do. My dream was to have my first travel novel published purely to inspire others through my story, much like Liz's was. I also aimed to blog throughout my journey to get people involved and share my tips and tricks with fellow aspiring travelers. It took a lot of blood, sweat and tears to get everything going at once and even with my website not making a cent, i figured this Karma yoga of helping others would be priceless for me. I set off on my first trip to India where I traveled far and wide for four weeks and settled in a great yoga school in Rishikesh for six weeks, training hard to be a yoga teacher. I came out of that school having learned things i never knew I could learn, philosophies that blew my mind and had me thinking a totally different way about life and everything I would encounter. My body was in the best shape, my skin was glowing and I was fully detoxed with new loving friends around me and a future so bright that I needed sunglasses. It was in Malaysia that I met a man, that would change my life even further and show me happiness that I had only seen in movies. We spent time traveling various parts of Indonesia in what resembled a very honeymoon style scenario. We had accumulated a group of mutual friends who we spent weeks with and it seemed as if this love story would never end. As they say, all good things come to an end, and It did, inevitably. His journey was opposite to mine and there was no way I could tear him away from his destiny nor could he do it to me. We reunited a few months later having tried the long distance thing, and spent a beautiful Christmas and New Years down under before the time came for us to part ways, one more heart wrenching time. As any break up goes, It took me a while to realize my life without him and actually move on to a life of happiness. I went on to find a passion i didn't know I had, nor did I think I could make a career out of, but here I was working for the NGO Greenpeace and learning so much more about this part of life. Learning about sustainability and environmental issues made me all of a sudden aware of everything around me and I instantly became the best version of myself. Would anyone at home recognize me? Would they brand me as 'one of them hippies' now? Would people think that all of these changes was me trying to be better than them or me being a fake version of myself? I didn't care. My life was currently about helping others, helping the planet and becoming a loveable version of myself which I was truly happy with. I instantly noticed good things happening to me, I noticed my eyes glowing in photos, I noticed myself enjoying life so much more and I was now attracting great people to me. I saved and saved until finally one day, I had enough money to continue my travels and continue to challenge myself. I cruised around the Pacific Islands, I hiked over three weeks in Nepal to reach a 5416m summit, I graduated one again from that same yoga school with an advanced certificate and I created an epic overland trip from Tanzania to South Africa on the tightest budget possible. My life had changed dramatically because of 'Eat, Pray, Love and Liz Gilbert's inspiring words, and its only going to continue.