My passion for travel stems back five years and each time I dipped my toe in those short and sporadic nomadic adventures, there was always something that got in the way of the bold decision to embark on something longer – stability. I left University eight years ago, instantly landing a job that gave me a step on the ladder to a successful career and I’ve always been in long-term, serious relationships. More simply, I’ve been what some may call lucky.

But to me life was too comfortable and those quick and dirty travel hits didn’t curb the addiction, so it was only natural that over a matter of time an inherent need to break out of mould would manifest itself into a deep rooted desire to travel for longer.

I did short backpacking stints to Vietnam, India and the USA for a couple of weeks at a time to really make the use of annual leave. With boyfriends I always made it clear that at least one of my two trips taken in a year would be solo –  it was just something I needed to do and which I thought was an acceptable compromise of dating non-travellers (fail). I never realised it was a subconscious need to escape.

Cambodia

In Cambodia, Going Solo

But my solo trip in November 2010 for five weeks to Cambodia, Laos and Northern Thailand changed everything. I was already six months into my first mortgage agreement with a guy I had been with for two and a half years. It hadn’t felt right for some time but I was locked in, grounded to a point that people call ‘their lot in life’ and who lack the courage to challenge it. So I used travel as a life test and the final decision maker. Two weeks never felt enough, would five?

It wasn’t enough and I didn’t miss my boyfriend. I wasn’t excited by a text and I wasn’t fazed if I couldn’t get near a PC to send an e-mail. I was revelling in traveller glory as I temple hopped and boarder crossed, experienced local life in homestays, navigated stunning landscape and slept under the stars on a boat floating down the river Kwai. Add to the mix the exposure to post-war devastation, the confusion of having feelings for someone from a completely different culture to my own and end that with a tough three day jungle trek on the Thai-Burma boarder and you could say I was physically and emotionally tested to the extreme. And I loved (and learnt from) every minute.

But there was a distinct moment where the epiphany manifested, albeit aided with beer. It was in a bar in Laos aptly named Utopia. I remember meeting three couples travelling together (heart-breaking when my other half’s desire was to stay at home) and people who had bravely ditched everything in the pursuit of adventure and happiness. All I felt was insanely jealous and all I did was make excuses because of it. I was having a life crisis, shockingly in my mid 20’s. Then an older and wiser friend said to me: “Becki, you can’t have everything at once. You can’t have the nice house/a boyfriend/great career AND travel like them. It’s one or the other and you need to choose.”

In the driving seat

In the driving seat

And he was right. I could see he regretted waiting to do it now that he was in his 50’s. Out of those five weeks, it only took one to realise I was deeply unhappy with my situation and I went home with one goal: to quit everything that was remotely stable.

Because stability hindered the independence I craved. Stability was stopping me travelling and regret isn’t in my vocabulary. So if you want to make a giant leap of travel faith that requires immense life changes, then my message to you is this:

Make the break. Hard, upsetting decisions simply clear a path for happier ones to come along and fill the gap. The decisions you may have to make such as ending up a relationship, quitting a career you’ve worked hard to build or upsetting people are some of the toughest. I guarantee you will feel absolutely terrible, confused and guilt ridden for some time but it does comes good in the end.

I made a decision that started a chaotic series of events when I returned home from Thailand on December 20th 2010, the final nail on the head being me bursting into tears after watching Eat, Pray, Love on the plane home and thinking ‘that’s me.’ I finished my relationship a week later and told everyone I was planning to leave – not for a Gap Year but indefinitely.

Life was shitty for a while with the tears, explanations, packing, questions and legal documents. I spent two months homeless living on a mate’s couch (this doesn’t count as couchsurfing) and was jobless for six weeks. Every ounce of security and dignity had vanished. I cried myself to sleep every night because of the absolute mess I was in – all because I wanted to go travelling.

But that was the elixir that keep me going until I got work, found a houseshare and started the real therapy – saving. The dream is now becoming reality and security is being traded in for adventure. I leave this July full of pride that I finally made this happen and despite the upset, pain and upheaval, I have absolutely no regrets… except maybe not doing it sooner.

“People think a soul mate is your perfect fit, and that’s what everyone wants. But a true soul mate is a mirror, the person who shows you everything that is holding you back, the person who brings you to your own attention so you can change your life.” – Elizabeth Gilbert, Eat, Pray, Love.

Becki is the author of www.backpackerbecki.com which aims to inspire others to fulfil their travel dreams as she prepares for hers and will host her travel tales when she leaves in July for a two year solo stint across more than 20 countries. It could be more or she may never return – that’s all part of the fun – but her honest reflections, infamous rants and doses of wit will always remain constant during her thirst for off the beaten track adventures. Follow her on twitter @backpackerbecki or join her nomadic followers on Facebook.

 

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31 Comments

  1. Arianwen

    I’m sure those difficult weeks will have been worth it. You’re going to have an amazing time, and you can always do the man+mortgage thing later in life :)

  2. Becki - BackpackerBecki

    Thank you so much. It was an easy decision in my head but hard to do because of all the factors involved. But once it was done it was done, and most importantly it felt right! Exciting times ahead :)

  3. Bob R

    More inspiration when I needed a bit, many thanks. Making my full-time break in about six months. Not quite yet 50 so very much looking forward to it. :)

  4. Alexandra

    Great piece Becki. Good luck out there. The world is amazing, I never for one moment regret selling everything I owned and leaving conformity! Gypsy life is the life for me!

    Frolic Boldly My Friend!

  5. G @ Operation Backpack Asia

    Good stuff, Becki!! I love the bold steps you took to make it happen for yourself. You called the other long-term travelers you met brave, as we have been called, but while the build-up took some challenging footwork along the way, sure, it was never anything quite so drastic for us. It was just what was right, so we built up to it with those small steps that were necessary along the way to make it happen. You, on the other hand, had to tear stuff down and experience a true storm in order to build it for yourself. Mad props to you for doing so, really.

    Thanks for sharing your journey; I’ll be checking out your blog for sure!

    1. Becki | BackpackerBecki

      Thank you for those kind words. I think every true traveller has a stroy behind their reasons to travel, and whilst some decisions are more easily made for others, we all have the same end goal – to be happy through travel. I just want to show people in tricky situations that it really can be done :)

  6. Normand Boulanger

    Great post Becki, I love the way you said all this, and I am sure many people actually feel the same way. I’ll be around South America for the next two years, so maybe we’ll meet on the way. Have fun on your trip, you will never regret this, if it was a gut feeling that you had to leave, you will be glad you did.

  7. Nate @yomadic

    Becki, you have cemented yourself as one of my favourites.

    You’ve convinced me to do some volunteering work (for the first time in my life), and we have the same opinion on travel vs stability. I really hope you write more about your life and your travels, the world needs it!

    I also hope we bump into each other somewhere, perhaps over a beer.

    1. Becki | BackpackerBecki

      Thanks Nate!!! :) I agree, and we have talked about meeting in Cambodia, where you will see my volunteer self in action. I think we should go temple hopping! Keep in touch, as we do! I will certainly be writing lots on my travels… I won’t be giving that passion up!

  8. Beth

    Yeah, sometimes the whole man plus mortgage thing isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. We’re making our break (albeit together) with traditional life and moving into our Sprinter van sometime in the next year or so (anyone want a ski/vacation house in North Idaho?) for some adventure and figuring out what we want.

    Have a wonderful time on your travels. It sounds like you’re on to the right thing for you.

    1. Becki | BackpackerBecki

      I think it’s wonderful if you are with someone who is like minded who wants to take that journey with you and glad to hear you are taking on some great adventures together. I sadly haven’t found a guy with the same mindset although I am hopeful of meeting awesome people on the road! That way I may one day have the guy but not one who wants to traditionally settle… too soon!

      1. Beth

        Mullan. We’re right on I-90 about 5 minutes from Lookout Ski area. We also have 80 acres and a cabin 3 1/2 miles as the crow flies from here (so NOT for sale).

        But you just might want to buy…asking price is only $70K…

      2. Beth

        Ugh. I hit the wrong reply button with the house reply, sorry.

        You’ll totally meet lots of awesome people on your travels and you never know when you’ll meet someone more “special”…sorta happened out of nowhere for me. Again, I’m excited to follow your adventures!

      3. G @ Operation Backpack Asia

        Ha sounds amazing! lol just returning next month broke as a joke from our 3-year backpacking Asia trip (hence the hope for house-sitting ;)), plus looking to travel long-term again in the next 1-1.5 years so no house-buying for me! But if you do need a sitter, especially for the snowboard season…! :)

        PS. Checked out your blog – Sprocket is ADORABLE!!!!!

  9. Lindsey

    Hey Becki,

    This post is one of the one’s that’s spoken the most to me out of the many I’ve ready whilst procrastinating from life. I’ve only just read it less than a week after making my own decision to indefinitely travel, but I know it would have inspired me all the same had I read it prior to that. It’s so great to know that many other travellers have these realisations!

    Lindsey

  10. Jeremy or IHeartTravel

    Your story is great and I’m always glad to come across fellow lovers of travel. I relate to this so much except the way my story played out was a little backwards.

    I fell in love with traveling really as a teenager. It was always a passion of mine and I pursued it whenever I could. As I grew I thought I had to fit the mold of society. I met a great person, had a great career, and had an amazing daughter. What I didn’t realize was my unahppiness with it all. This unhappiness eventually led to a failed marriage. It was when everything failed that I got back to what I love to do in life, and its has always been travel!

    Ever since getting back to my passion, life has been great, I have a new purpose in life, I live happy, and have a new perspective for the future. Nowadays I find myself on a mission to travel,LIVE, and explore!

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  12. Meandering Woods

    Great post, Becki. As someone who recently committed to full-time travel I see a lot of my thought process in what you went through. I agree that complacency and comfort are things that just kill your willingness to go out and do it.

    Not going sooner is one of my regrets, too. I kept putting it off, saying “I’m just not ready” or “I don’t have enough money saved yet.” But then I realized that my backup plan was to pick up my old life where I left off – a good job in one of the richest countries in the world. And that worst case scenario didn’t seem so bad.

  13. Angela (@angelatravels11)

    Excellent article. I can’t wait to read about your travels. Good for you for making the jump. I have been debating with the decision for quite some time now. However, I would be more interested in a gap year trip. I just need to save some money before doing so!

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