Fresh from failing to seal the deal on a 2 night trip to Barcelona with easyJet (i’m not bitter honest), the orange airline have launched a great blogging competition called the Holidays Inspiration Initiative (#inspiretravel). The compeition aims to find out about the inspiration behind individual bloggers travelling history and what makes them tick when they venture out into the big wide world. Fellow Londoner and #travelmassivehardcore member @BackpackerBecki was nice enough to tag me in her Who? What? When? Why? so now its my turn. Here goes …
Me? Is that answer allowed? I cant say that any one person inspired me to go travelling initially, I kinda fell into it. I booked my first long haul stint abroad volunteering in South Africa off the back of living, working, partying, studying and breathing in the same area for a long 20 years. I was determined to escape west London and found backpacking through my first volunteer project. 10 months after returning from South Africa and some hard saving later, I was on a plane to Sri Lanka, followed by India, Sri Lanka again, Thailand, Australia, New Zealand, Fiji and finally Australia again. Thats how this whole mess of a website started. Dont get me wrong, my parents spoilt me with holidays abroad when I was younger and we went to some amazing places, but in terms of backpacking none of my friends had ever been backpacking, nor my family really save one cousin who spent a couple of years working in Australia. I kinda consider the backpacking thing my own.
Once I’d found that travel was my thing I would talk about it to whoever would listen. I got tips from other travellers I met and now use twitter and the friends i’ve made on it as my main resource. I do the occasional lazy holiday, but I still love to ‘travel’ rather than ‘holiday’ whenever I can.
The sights and smells, people, experiences, food, drink, cultures, traditions … give me all of it, I’m a greedy bugger! A lot of my early travels involved volunteering and by volunteering the plan was to work as closely as I could within a local community, hopefully making friends with some of the people that calls those countries home. It worked for the most part and I loved it. I loved living in another country, calling a house down any normal street home, having a local bakery and supermarket with a route to work where I could wave at the same people each morning. I’m sure I stuck out like a sore thumb, but I felt involved and imersed which is what I wanted.
Nowadays I work full time so dont really get to go anywhere for any great length of time. A month would probably be the most I could have off work in one go. But I try to take what I learnt from my early backpacking days with me wherever I go now – speak to locals, eat where locals eat, do as locals do. That said i’m quite partial to a beer at the bar watching the sun set over the ocean.
As mentioned South Africa was my first stop, but Sri Lanka was the place that really did it for me. Living in a local community and getting so close to a group of school children (not too close, i’m not like that!!) was just incredible. I pretty much balled it (cried) when it came to saying goodbye to Sri Lanka and the mates i’d made there. Not entirely manly i’ll admit, but I just fell in love with the place and was gutted to be leaving, even though I had another 9 months on the road to look forward to. Funnily enough @girlintheworld was there the same time as me volunteering for the same company and has now moved back there so i’m not the only one who fell in love with the place. So jealous of her right now.
2005 was the year I set off for South Africa and caught the bug, 2007 was the year I I set off around the globe. I arrived home 12 months later owing the relivaitely small sum of £1000 to the bank of dad, but it was all totally worth it. I met some amazing people, some who I still see now 5 years later, and I learnt so much including stuff about myself. I suppose if i were to be branded it would be as someone of an introvert, but travelling on your own and making it around the globe without fatal injury really does give you a whole load of confidence. My friends may still tell me i’m quiet, but I’m a lot happier with the person I am now and I pretty sure I owe 99.6256% of that to my travels.
Tag you’re it
So thats me done, i’m off on my next great advanture – Ireland Roadtrip 2012. But here’s a few peeps I would nominate to take the easyjet holiday inspiration torch forward. Legends all of them so get reading their incredible blogs …
Denis (Aka Derrick) @xpackers
Ed Rex @rexyedventures