sabbatical

I devour the words of other travel blogs. I love seeing what made people just like me take a permanent or temporary break from the treadmill of’ real life’ in exchange for a life of adventure and the unknown. There’s one similarity between all of these bloggers.

They have always wanted to travel.

My tale does not start with such romantic notions. Throughout my life I’ve always aimed to be the best at something, be the cleverest girl in class, the best netball player etc. Travel seemed like something other people did, dare I say it lazy people who want to escape from real life. Don’t get me wrong I loved holidays and exploring new places, the thought of doing it long term or moving abroad didn’t cross my mind.

It was not the done thing for girls like me.

 

So I did what society told me to do, worked hard in school, got good grades and chose a vocational degree course (Podiatry) so that I’d never be out of work. I fell in to the trap that many people do.

I waited for happiness.

I told myself that I would be happy when I got my GCSE’s, then I would be happy when I got my A Levels, I would be happy when I got a boyfriend, happy when I moved in with said boyfriend, happy when I got a degree, happy when I got my own flat….etc, etc. Happiness was always around the corner…

But happiness didn’t magically come with a piece of paper, even a piece of paper that I worked very hard for. Don’t get me wrong I have always been ‘happy’. I was just unaware that there was any thing else in life to aim for but the magical milestones.

I can’t quite remember when travel started to intrigue me. I had been on many holidays but never really travelled. The first travel blog that I came across was Neverendingfootsteps. Here was a girl, with a degree who just decided to travel and ended up making a living of it and meeting the love of her life on the way. If a normal girl from England can do it why couldn’t I?

My blog lust somehow spiraled and I was absorbing every travel blog that I could get my hands on. I had opened up a brand new world and I couldn’t get enough. I wasn’t from a middle class family and long term travel seemed like something for other people. I knew no-one who had travelled long term except for people doing the working holiday visa in Australia.

One day I sat down on my sofa, in silence and thought deeply about what I wanted to do. I know now that I was basically meditating and that all the answers are within us. I suddenly had the thought to travel, to do a big trip. Why not? Toeing the line in society was like groundhog day. I had to break free and now I knew how.

I felt so liberated, like a great weight was lifted from my shoulders. I wasn’t weird, I was a traveller. It took me 25 years to realise it but I’m so glad I did.

There was an overriding feeling of guilt at this epiphany too. At the time I had an amazing lifestyle living in Liverpool city centre. I had plenty of friends, socialised regulary, ate great food and spent my spare time horse riding and at ballet class. My friends couldn’t understand what my problem was. Nevertheless, something was missing.

Pre-travel Steph riding in the Welsh countryside.

My other great love is Vintage fashion, here I am at a burlesque night for my friends birthday.

I had an amazing lifestyle in Liverpool.

The seed was planted and I wasn’t going to let it die. I booked a volunteering holiday to Spain on my own, something that old Steph would never have done. During my time in Spain I let go of so many inhibitions that held me down and I met travellers from all over the world. After the programme I travelled with the friends I made to different parts of Spain, I never knew where I was going to be from one day to the next. I felt so free and so liberated.

I had truly discovered who I was meant to be in life!

Bursting with happiness after discovering what really makes me happy in life!

Armed with a fresh take on life I finalised the itinerary for my big trip. I included Sri Lanka even though it seemed quite scary to me at the time because I wanted to push myself and learn about different cultures.

My departure date was the 23rd February 2013. The date the second phase of my life began.

 

Can you empathise with feeling like ‘something is missing’?. When did you first realise that you wanted to travel? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

 

 

 

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