If you imagine that the train tracks in the photo above symbolise our pre-backpacking life path, it seems very apt that Hollie’s flying off the rails. It’s safe to say we’re no longer on that same journey, and that travelling changed our lives in a major way.
It’s been a whole year since we packed up our lives in the UK and set off on a nine-month adventure in Southeast Asia. Despite COVID-19 putting an end to our travels after only six months, even that short amount of time travelling had a life-changing impact.
We thought, ‘what better way to re-launch our beloved travel site than with a long-overdue life update?’
Read on to discover why we fell head-over-heels in love with travelling and We Might Just Go… again.
Just about anyone will tell you that travelling is life-changing, and, well, it is.
Travelling impacts everyone in some way or another, whether that’s simply by opening up a narrow mind to the complexities and wonders of the wider world, or quite literally changing a person’s entire life plan. The latter is what happened to us.
In fact, most of what we thought we knew back in September 2019 has literally disappeared – everything has dissolved into a rather confusing but kind of beautiful haze of hope and expectation. Our poor little minds have been through a lot this past year, and we’re slowly coming out the other side. We guess you could say writing this blog post has been more than a little therapeutic.
So how exactly has travelling changed our lives? Well, the beginning is always a good place to start.
May 2018. We’d just moved into our first flat together. After months of travelling between Cambridge and Southampton, and later Cambridge and Kent just to steal a few days together, this was the first time we had officially lived under the same roof. Onwards and upwards right? Wrong. It took around one month for us to decide to finish our year-long tenancy, move back to Hollie’s mum’s house to save money, then quit our jobs and travel Asia.
September 2019. We had suffered our last days at work spending all day watching the clock before hitting send on that awkward office-wide ‘goodbye’ email and leaving for good. We were free! Well, for the next 9 months. You see, we had always planned to travel between September 2019 and June 2020. We had a close friend’s wedding lined up in July and our money would have well and truly run out by then, so we would have had to come ‘home’.
Truth be told, Hollie loved her job in direct marketing for the non-profit sector. She was good at it and it probably would have offered a long and fulfilling career. She just assumed she’d be back in the UK come next June and be interviewing for her next role pretty soon after that. Straight back to the rat race. The only problem was that she detested spending most of her life on a train hurtling towards or away from London. A tad problematic.
Nick felt like an outsider in the agricultural sector, and although he enjoyed a comfortable sales role with a generous pay packet, he knew he’d be looking for a significant career change when he got home after travelling. But what did he really want to do? Well, you just do what you do. Whatever keeps you relatively sane and pays the bills, right?
Fast forward one week and we found ourselves in Singapore. It was hot and we were exhausted, but we were there, just the two of us, with a whole nine months of excitement ahead of us.
Every minute of every day was exciting, for the first time in a long time. We felt alive again.
That Friday, we hopped on the monorail and trotted off to Sentosa. We sat on the beach and lay in the sun, and pretty soon Hollie was shedding a few emotional tears. It was a Friday, and we were on the beach, and the best part? We weren’t on holiday. We weren’t flying home in two weeks. The end wouldn’t be in sight for a long time, and after years and months of saving, stressing, and counting down the days, we were here.
Over the next few months, we travelled up the west coast of Malaysia and then headed to Yangon to start our Myanmar adventure. We’d already crossed off two countries. Enter panic mode. It was starting to go too fast! Then came the inevitable question:
How will we ever go home now, after all of this?
That’s when we decided – something that we had probably unconsciously decided many years ago – that we couldn’t live in the UK. Nope. Nuh-uh. It just wasn’t us. Don’t get us wrong, the UK has many positive attributes, but it’s not somewhere either of us have ever particularly loved.
Why live somewhere you don’t absolutely love?
So how would we move abroad? What jobs could we do? Big problem.
Then we went to Thailand. Oops. It’s hard not to fall in love with Thailand. After visiting Chiang Mai, such an enchanting and liveable city, we started to judge everywhere we went in terms of liveability. In that way, our travelling style completely changed.
By that time, we were loving this blog and our Instagram account, and we were quite happy to explore from the early hours, then hole up in a quirky coffee shop and get ‘work’ done until the evening. We were new to blogging and running a website. We were learning and implementing new skills such as SEO and content creation on a daily basis, writing new things, taking photos and constantly tweaking our website. While we loved exploring, we also just loved ‘working’.
So what would become of our travel blog when we return to the UK? Uh oh.
We loved travelling and blogging about travelling so much and we only wanted to get better at it. If this website never turned into anything successful, then so be it. We loved it anyway. But you can’t write about travel if you don’t travel, and a yearly two-week holiday just wouldn’t cut it for us.
The more countries we visited and the more incredible places we ticked off, the idea of leading a nomadic life – at least for a few years – started to appeal more and more.
We loved living out of our backpacks. In fact, the idea of all the stuff we had stored back at home made us feel sick. All the clothes, shoes, furniture – stuff that just tied us to the UK and a life we didn’t want.
By this point, we were having a serious mid-twenties breakdown. Don’t get us wrong, we were happy we were travelling, but it’s pretty stressful when you realise what you don’t want out of life, but can’t figure out a way to get off that train.
Eventually, we settled on a vague plan of moving home in June 2020, securing full-time jobs in our old careers and somehow starting a bit of freelancing on the side to prepare for when we’d eventually move back to Asia. Hah. Looking back on it, this would have only got us sucked right back in. A nice income, a bright-looking career path… tempting.
Then along came COVID-19.
We got ourselves into a situation where we were in lockdown in Kuala Lumpur, but it was here, amongst all the uncertainty, that we started working online. We had visions of being confined to that apartment for months, so we were eager to earn, but it quickly became obvious that our earnings wouldn’t cover our outgoings for at least a few months, and that meant eating through our dwindling savings.
April 2020. We found ourselves back in the UK, tans fading rapidly and memories of sunsets and $1 beers evaporating into our distant memories. But the UK lockdown did us a favour. We used the dying economy and soaring unemployment as an excuse not to go looking for mainstream jobs and, instead, we re-focussed our efforts online.
Now we are nearly in the position where we can jet off to the part of the world where we actually want to be, two laptops in tow, and earn money to live off and save. Hollie has been beavering away developing a profile on Upwork, copywriting, editing and proofreading, and Nick has been teaching English on Preply whilst also learning web development.
So, while Asia would be much healthier for our budgets, it’s an extended stay in Europe for now. Porto to be exact. Francesinhas we’re coming for you! (If you know, you know.)
If you’ve been with us for a while, thanks for your patience, and if you’re new, then get ready to join us on our next adventure – one that will hopefully last for a long time.
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