07 Mar Reflections on Life after Two Years of Travel
It’s been two years since we sat in a departure lounge at Heathrow, clutching our one-way tickets to New Zealand. With our goodbyes behind us and a whole new future ahead, we boarded that plane with no idea where we would ultimately end up. To say I’m surprised by what we’ve experienced and where we are now is an understatement.
Back in 2013 I had no idea that we’d spend almost two years in Asia or that we’d end up living in Vietnam. I never knew that I’d have the skills and courage to teach children English or that I’d be capable of heaving wheelbarrows full of rock and debris in the sweltering heat while volunteering in the Philippines. I couldn’t have planned the spontaneous adventures that we’ve experienced; our unscheduled trip to Borneo, a spectacular summer visit to the UK or a return to the Philippines, a country we unexpectedly fell head-over-heels in love with.
This is not necessarily the path we sought or the dream we thought we were buying into when we first left the UK. Our trip has morphed into something else, a way of living that allows us to travel as well as establish temporary home bases, earn money and amass new life and work experience along the way. Travel has been a springboard for us to other things and one of the biggest gifts it has given us is the time to think about what we really want to achieve next in life.
The Journeys we Take
When we left England it felt like we were setting out on a lonely, unconventional path, but since then we’ve met so many other people all taking their own uncertain, exhilarating adventures around the world. This has given us the courage to continue our journey when things have gotten tough and we’ve wanted to retreat back to England.
What these two years have taught me most profoundly though is that we’re all on our own unique, turbulent, incredible journeys, whether we live in one place or travel to many. We’re all climbing our own mountains and taking on new challenges everyday and we’re all ultimately searching for the same thing: happiness.
The difficult part is figuring out what makes you happy; exploring new countries, studying, building a home in one place, volunteering, establishing a career, having a baby or any number of other things. What’s more, it’s likely that the source of your happiness will change and shift over time; after 15 months of constant, fast-paced travel we wanted nothing more than our own apartment again and a working routine, which is what we’ve enjoyed here in Hanoi.
Now, however, the tide is turning yet again, our feet are starting to itch and we’re preparing to chase our happiness back out onto the road again.
Here’s to Many More Years of Travel
The Vietnamese school year is drawing to a close and we have just 14 more weeks left in the country before we board a plane to Bangkok and a brand new phase of our journey begins. As great as our time in Hanoi has been, I know that we are ready to leave because lately our conversations have been full of plans and ideas. Where shall we spend our holiday in Thailand? When should we start applying for summer house sits in London? How are we going to divide our time between family, friends and the places we love during our two-month break in the UK?
All our flights for this year are now booked and we have our ESTA visas for America. As our autumn road-trip through New England glistens on the horizon, we’ve began arranging car hire and plotting a tentative route. Beyond that I’ll occasionally daydream about the cold Christmas we will celebrate back in England, our first in two years. Andrew is more often than not dreaming about the car he wants to buy which will take us through Europe to a new life in Spain in 2016.
There is so much to look forward to and we’re so happy with the life that we’ve carved for ourselves. Here’s to many more years of adventure!