I usually only write a blog post when I’ve done something of interest or something awesome that I want to share with everyone, I’ve never really taken the time out to tell you all how it’s actually going this end of the world and what my whole experience of backpacking in Australia has done for me so far – So, here goes!; I planned to come to Australia 6 months before I actually left the UK so I had plenty of time to organise myself and get my head around the big step I was about to take. I had an awesome job for 3 years where money was never an issue for me and knew that I could afford to take this step, I had no responsibilities back home once I’d sold and moved out of the house I was in and moved back in with my Mum & Step Dad. I’d made a plan for my first 3 months and that was to go to Mojo’s Surf Academy so that gave me a piece of mind with somewhere to start me off, not having to worry about food and accommodation for a while which would help my budget and then I’d set off into the big wide world Down Under. First backpacker error; I spent a great deal of my hard earned money at surf camp thinking I would just earn it back once I’d left and found a job – yolo right? Wrong. All the “little things” add up! And what makes things worse is that once I’d finished camp and gone to Thailand to meet my Dad for a few weeks and come back to Australia, I couldn’t find a job as easy as I’d thought I would. In fact I tried for 2, maybe 3 months looking for jobs in Melbourne, Torquay and Geelong and either people weren’t hiring because the Christmas season had finished and their next busy season was Easter OR they had a real issue with the whole Working/Holiday Visa because you can only be employed for 6 months by an employer. – I’m a backpacker, obviously I don’t want to be employed for 6 months in one place but I can’t say that to them can I? Fortunately, in my last few weeks in Torquay I managed to get introduced to a lovely couple who have an Autistic son and were spending the school holidays in the local area with their family and needed some help looking after their son, Deckie. It helped me out a great deal and I had a wonderful time spending afternoons and evenings in Deckie’s company and it gave me the positivity boost that I needed. So now I was setting off to travel from Melbourne to Brisbane with not a great deal of money – and this is when the real backpacking began. Now you may have or may not have read my blog post on my time spent travelling from Melbourne to Brisbane but it’s called A Funny Fortnight – travelling from Melbourne to Brisbane for a reason! These were the two weeks I finally started to reduce, not even luxuries but the quality in things just to save money and get by and I learnt a real, effective way to budget myself on daily things. And this is also some of the most fun I’d had being in Australia and I honestly think it’s down to learning about appreciating the right things and what matters. I’ve never really been a materialistic person but when I was earning a decent wage, I never had to worry about money, especially because I got paid on a weekly basis so I was lucky enough to enjoy the nicer things in life knowing that my bank account would be replenished in a matter of days. So I’ve learnt to appreciate money and the cost of living and how fortunate it is to work, whatever it is you may be doing. The other thing I’ve learnt to appreciate is my freedom. I’ve always been my own boss in the sense that if I want to do something I’ll do it whether people want me to or not – In the words of my Mother; I can be a stubborn mare sometimes, so once I made my decision to book a one way ticket to Australia, nothing stood in my way! But the freedom I’ve learnt to appreciate is different to this kind, there’s been some real spirit lifting moments that I’ve had since travelling, and quite often and it’s always when I realise that I have nothing to tie me down whilst travelling. Nothing to keep me in one place when I feel like moving on to somewhere new. Nothing to stop me from making spontaneous decisions or taking spontaneous trips, meeting what ever kinds of people I like, spending my time however and with whomever I choose and the one part of this freedom I’ve appreciated and enjoyed the most, even though it hasn’t always worked out like it did in my head at times, is being completely in charge of myself and learning to make my own decisions based on myself and not on anyone else’s input or influence. It’s honestly been the best feeling and the one major thing that I’ve learnt to appreciate and enjoy whilst travelling around on my own and it’s a feeling and experience that will never leave me and I truly believe will have a huge impact on the decisions I make in the future. Talking to a friend I made out here who originally started off as my Couch Surfing host also put things into perspective for me when he said that experiences like Couch Surfing when travelling are challenging in themselves because it’s not a situation that you would put yourself in back home. You choose to challenge yourself when you’re travelling and put yourself outside of your comfort zone and from personal experience, when things go wrong or not as planned and you ended up in a situation you were completely unprepared for, you almost get a thrill out of it because you know that you have to get yourself back to where you wanted to be. You choose to learn from your mistakes and find different ways in which to get by in some retrospect and it’s not something that someone has put upon you, you’ve put this upon yourself and put yourself in this equation and you’re the only problem solver. There’s another factor that finds itself regularly occurring whilst travelling and it’s an important factor too that has definitely helped me take on everyday happenings differently, and that’s that not everything goes to plan. In fact, plans very rarely go as planned when you’re backpacking and even if they do you’ll probably end up disappointed because of the high expectations you’ve conjured up in your head on how things are going to pan out. Don’t get me wrong, it’s good to have things in mind on what you might want to do one day or how you’re going to make a trip from place A to place B in the next few weeks, but a day to day plan on the place you’re visiting can result in a stressful disappointment. Some of my fondest memories and best days I’ve had have been completely spontaneous or unplanned and the majority of my trip has consisted of this which is probably why I’ve had the time of my life! I know for sure that I’ll be taking back a part of the Australian lifestyle I’ve been living back to England, especially if I plan on going back to London to work – I most definitely do not want to end up in the City’s Rat Race again! Overall, travelling has done exactly to me what I wanted it too. It’s given me perspective and a new appreciation for life, the world and the people in it and I’m only in my first year of travelling so there’s SO much more out there for me to experience and see and learn and I’ve already started planning it all out which is exciting! So if the end of my first year is coming up, then what am I doing next? So for those that don’t know, I’m starting my 3 months farm work that you need to do in your first year in Australia in order to apply for a second year holiday/working visa. This could consist of any regional work from fruit picking, to packing fruit in the pack houses, working on the farm land itself or even working with cattle – the list of things to do is pretty long! But some are voluntary, some are paid by the amount you pick and some are paid hourly and I’ve been lucky enough to find hourly paid work up in Bundaberg, Queensland working on a citrus farm. Once I’ve completed my 3 months I’m heading off to the U.S.A for a family holiday in Florida that has been on the cards for years to mark my Step Dad’s retirement this year. By the time I see all the family over in the States I would have been away from home for just under 11 months so you can imagine how stoked I am to see all my nephews, nieces, brothers and sister! And then I’ve actually chosen to fly back home to the UK with them in September – Obviously I don’t want my travels to end and I’ve got so many more things and places to tick off my bucket list but I’ve made the grown up decision to go home and get myself back on track with finances for a few good months and figure out what I’m going to be doing and where I’m going to be going next year. I’m also going to be visiting South Africa over the Christmas/New Year period which would eat into my second year Australian visa if I decided to come back to Australia after the States. For me it’s the most logical decision and I’m looking forward to catching up with my buddies but I know that I won’t be sat around in one place for too long :) But for now, I’m going to enjoy the next 4 months hopping across continents!