Have you always dreamed about quitting your job, packing up all of your things, and moving across the world?
I had that dream too. But I didn’t just write about it in my journal and lock it away. I took action and set goals in order to make it happen.
I’m here to tell you that you can do the exact same thing. You have the power within you to change your life.
Whatever your dream is, you already have the tools to make it come true. Maybe you’ve always wanted to go do an exchange program for University, apply for a working holiday visa and go live somewhere new for a whole year, or maybe you just want to muster up the courage to buy that one way ticket to a country you’ve always dreamed of visiting and backpacking in.
I’m here to cheer you on.
You Can Do it!
Today I am going to share with you my 6-year solo travel journey…
6 years ago, when I decided to go study to become a teacher for a year in Australia, I had no idea where that one decision was going to lead me. Fast forward to now, I’ve lived in and traveled to 45 countries.
Before I set off on this adventure, I was tossing up between staying in Canada to go study at University of Toronto to become a teacher or doing an exchange program with CanTeach overseas in Australia.
At the time I was in a 5-year long term relationship, and I was torn between staying in my comfort zone or setting off on an unknown adventure.
Which one did I choose?
Of course the latter.
As difficult as it was to leave my then-boyfriend, my good friends and family, I had a gut feeling that told me I had to do this. It wasn’t an easy decision, but I knew that if I never left – I would regret it for the rest of my life.
I knew in my heart, that the option to stay home was not the right one for me.
I was always an independent and free-spirited person. I didn’t really have many fears holding me back, apart from disappointing loved ones. But I overcame all of those limiting beliefs as soon as I landed down under.
I lived in Australia for two years on the Sunshine Coast. After my first semester in Australia, I spent my summer backpacking through Bali, Thailand & Laos all by myself at 22. My best friend came to visit me and we spent the next couple of months road tripping through the entire east coast of Australia.
After I graduated Uni, I got offered a full-time 6-month contract as a high school teacher on the Sunshine Coast.
Guess what day that job was supposed to start?
On the day I was meant to fly back to Canada!
So what did I do?
Yep, you guessed it. I ditched that ticket and I accepted the job, moved to a new house with new flatmates, and bought my first little red Ford Festiva for 1000 AUD.
My visa didn’t expire for a few more months, but in order to get a working holiday visa approved, I had to leave the country for a couple of weeks to apply and then re-enter into Australia. Luckily, school holidays were coming up in September. After 3 months of working full time, I decided to book a solo trip to Queenstown to go snowboarding for two weeks at the end of their winter season.
I remember someone mentioning Queenstown, New Zealand to me shortly before booking this trip. At that point, I had never even heard of the place, let alone thought about ever traveling to New Zealand. But when I looked it up and found a $300 round trip ticket, I couldn’t resist.
I fell in love with this cute little ski town almost instantly when I stepped off the plane. My visa got approved within a week, and I remember leaving that amazing place knowing that I would be back again soon.
After that trip, I came back fueled with adrenaline and excitement. I reminisced on the memories where I bungee jumped, snowboarded off-piste, and hiked some of the most amazing peaks in the South Island. Later that week, one of my flatmates on the Sunshine Coast invited us out to the beach to come watch him kiteboard.
“Kiteboarding?” I asked. “What on earth was this sport?”
As soon as I saw him do it, I instantly knew that this was something I wanted to learn.
Lucky for me, he was a kiteboard instructor. In exchange for some beers and laughs, he taught me how to kiteboard. I was hooked. No matter how many times I crashed, cried, or choked on water, I couldn’t wipe the smile off my face. I’m probably not making this sound appealing at all. But, that first time you master the art of controlling your kite while perfecting your water start… you feel as though you are invincible.
That feeling fueled me to buy my first kite, bar, and harness for under 1000 AUD. Luckily, I found a kind man who was giving away a free board for free. Taking up this sport couldn’t feel more aligned with the universe at that moment. This was the beginning of a whole new chapter for me. A passion that I would have never found if I didn’t set off on my adventure to Australia in the first place.
Along with discovering my passion for this amazing sport, I made some incredible life long friends as well. Girls from all over the world that became my family – all we had were each other. Deciding to move my life overseas opened up the doors to meeting such amazing and incredible people that I would have never had the opportunity to encounter if I didn’t decide to study in Australia.
After my teaching contract ended, I spent the beginning of the summer continuing to work as a bartender at the Surf Club. I shortly quit and spent the next two weeks road tripping with my mom who came to visit me. We met and started in Melbourne and drove down The Great Ocean Road, flew to Sydney and walked the stunning Coogee to Bondi Walk. We also got to spend Christmas Day having a bbq on the beach.
We then flew to the Sunshine Coast, and I showed her what had been my home for the past year and a half. Shortly after she left, I flew to Perth and took a road trip with a few girlfriends in search of epic kiteboarding spots.
When I returned from my life of holiday, I was fortunate to find myself another bar job at a local pub, and continue working as a supply/relief teacher during the days. I spent the next 6 months surfing, kiteboarding, and exploring the hinterland of the Sunshine Coast. I saved up some money, and got to planning my next adventure after my second year in Australia.
I could’ve done my farm work and stayed in Australia for another year, but I just had this itch telling me to get my butt to New Zealand. Ever since I visited Queenstown on my visa run, there was something about it that was pulling me back.
I moved to and lived in New Zealand for two years after that. I started out in Auckland living and working there for a few months. I bought an SUV that I turned into a campervan and spent three months traveling through the entire North & South Island. I then settled in Queenstown for 1.5 years, kitesurfing in the summer and snowboarding in the winter.
Why am I telling you all of this?
I want to share with you my stories and show you all of the wonderful experiences I have made because of my decision to leave Canada back in 2014.
I want to share with you how my journey of being a solo traveler got me to where I am today. I gained the skills to be able to connect with many different people, have the confidence to be comfortable in my own company, and rely on myself 100 percent.
I know that it might seem daunting and scary to even think about planning a trip somewhere all by yourself. But I am trying to show you why it is so worth it.
At the beginning of my time in Queenstown, before the ski season began, I heard about a kitesurfing camp in the Cook Islands. I ended up getting the tour last minute for half the price. I learned to become so spontaneous in making decisions, that they always seemed to work out in my favour. This was meant to be, so I couldn’t pass up on the opportunity.
Those 10 days I was blessed with strong winds everyday, where I improved my kiteboarding skills immensely and met new people who I would have never connected with the same way if I wasn’t traveling solo.
When I came back to Queenstown, I traded my kiteboard for a snowboard and got myself to the slopes almost daily. Yes, the mountain was in my backyard and there I was with some new pals in the back of my SUV setting off on daily adventures.
When the shoulder season rolled around (between winter & summer), I planned a trip to South Africa for 10 weeks. A year prior to this moment, I met someone in Australia who introduced me to the yachting industry. He gave me the idea to one day be able to continue my nomadic lifestyle as a ‘Yachtie.’
During my time in South Africa, I spent the first-month completing courses at Yacht School. I trained as a Deckhand, I got my Powerboat Level II license, my Jet Ski license, and completed the mandatory STCW training.
The STCW is a training where you learn First Aid, Rescue & Survival Skills in the Water, and Fire Fighting Skills. Yes, I put on a fire suit and crawled through a dark and tiny space, filled with smoke that was heated up to 400 degrees in order to put out a fire. Never did I ever think that one year later, I would throw in my fancy teaching clothes in exchange for a fire suit and an oxygen cylinder.
Once I completed my courses, I spent the rest of the 6 weeks kiteboarding, hiking, and exploring Cape Town. I rented a car and drove down the infamous Garden Route all the way to Port Elizabeth.
I saw Penguins at the famous Boulders Beach and I bungee jumped off Bloukrans Bridge (which is the highest bridge jump in the world!)
From there, I got picked up in a shuttle to go volunteer at a Conservation Wildlife Safari two hours inland. I spent two weeks cutting trees that weren’t native or providing food for the wildlife. I learned how to observe and take notes on the behaviours of various wild animals, and I learned about how rescue animals are saved from poachers.
I met people from all over the globe and I gained new skills all the while. It was my very first volunteer experience, and I could not recommend Shamwari Conservation Experience enough!
Before I returned to Queenstown for the summer season, I stopped and spent a week on the Sunshine Coast to visit my friends there. The beauty of traveling and living overseas is that you end up having friends scattered all over the world, which means there will always be a place to stay.
The summer in Queenstown was like nothing I ever experienced. A town filled with a community of ex-pats who chased adventure and adrenaline-filled activities. I spent the summer kiteboarding on the lake, hiking all the trails, and climbing all the peaks in Queenstown & Wanaka. I went camping, continued to learn boxing, went to nightly and weekly events, festivals, and went on road trips with my closest friends and new friends that I met along the journey.
My plan was to leave Queenstown after that summer and fly to the Mediterranean to embark on my yachting career in April. That plan shortly changed and I decided to stay until the end of my visa which would give me another winter season in Queenstown. I couldn’t resist that idea. I had made lifelong friends in this town, I had established a base for myself, and I couldn’t see myself leaving just yet.
So instead, I spent the next shoulder season traveling to Vietnam, with a short weekend stopover in Hong Kong. My girlfriend and partner in crime Alicia Green, who I had met at my local boxing gym decided to join me on this adventure. Normally, I was used to going somewhere solo, but it was nice to have a friend along for the ride this time – Literally on our two Yamaha manual motorbikes.
We started in Hanoi where we rented a couple of motorbikes and spent the next 6 weeks exploring the entire country from North to South. That was probably one of the best backpacking trips of my entire life.
I can still remember the feeling of the wind blowing through my hair, and the freedom I felt on those open roads driving through the stunning mountains in Ha Giang of Northern Vietnam.
I came back from that trip with a whole new perspective on life. I learned how to travel with someone else, who turned out to be one of the best adventure buddies ever.
That following winter season in Queenstown I spent making the most of my winter. From bungee jumping to Heli Boarding, there was nothing that I didn’t do. It was truly one of the best times of my life if I’m going to be honest. I left a piece of my heart in that town, and I discovered that home for me was truly scattered across the world.
I had friends on the Sunshine Coast, in Queenstown, and friends all over the world. Home was wherever my connections were, and in the beautiful places that I left my footprints and memories behind.
I spent the next month in Fiji on another solo adventure, reflecting on all my experiences the last four years. I couldn’t believe how much I had seen and done. I had traveled to more countries than I could have ever imagined, all the while working in different industries, and meeting all sorts of walks of life.
I came home to see my family, and get ready to begin the next chapter in my life. I was 26 and I was moving my life to Fort Lauderdale to establish myself in my yachting career. I faced all sorts of challenges breaking into the industry as a female deckhand. But that’s a whole other story, for another time.
I’ve worked on multiple yachts in the last year and a half, living and working in the Florida, the Dominican Republic, Italy, and traveling in between to multiple countries in the Med including Greece and Spain. I recently spent time on a yacht in the Caribbean and have now found myself back home at my parents house amidst this current pandemic we are in.
It has not been an easy time for me. For the first time, I feel a bit lost and stuck in my tracks. I didn’t feel like I was home. Rather, I felt like I was in a foreign place.
After all of these years traveling and living overseas by myself, I’m not really sure where I belong anymore. But to me it’s not a bad thing.
When I reflect on all my amazing memories and experiences, I smile to myself knowing that a part of me belongs everywhere. I haven’t yet found a place that I want to settle down in and call home just yet, and I know that I have more adventures awaiting me.
Being home during this time has given me the push to chase my next dream.
That dream is helping women like you. Women who would love to have the confidence to do what I did. Because to be honest with you, if I hadn’t pushed myself to do all of those things, I wouldn’t be who I am today.
I am a firm believer that your life experiences shape you into who you are and who you become. We all have a past and we all have a story. Maybe you want to rewrite your story like I have mine. I believe in you. You can do anything you want in this life!
So don’t be afraid to chase those dreams. It’s never too late! I’ll be right here with you every step of the way if you need me to be. I’ll be your cheerleader.
You got this girl!
June 15, 2020
Absolutely incredible. What a journey you have been on!!! Thank you for sharing and inspiring, I can’t wait to see where life takes you next ♥️
Thank you so much for your kind comment! It has been a journey indeed 🙂
If only I had the wanderlust in my 20’s that I have now at 57. It is the best thing that came from my divorce after 23 years of marriage!