2015 was my year of travel. I packed up my house, rented out my room, packed my bags and headed off on a three month round the world trip starting in San Francisco and ending in Athens.
That trip had actually begun as only a three-week trip but travel research led to more and more places I wanted to see. I took leave without pay from my job to explore and felt I learnt more in those three months than the past couple of years. I challenged myself reaching the top of hikes battling fatigue and fear of falling; I volunteered in an English immersion program for Hungarians; I hitchhiked; and I met many inspiring and like-minded people along the way that I know I will be friends with for years to come.
Coming back to reality and working life was difficult for me. I knew Canberra wasn’t where I wanted to be at this point of my life. I didn’t feel at home here. I was single and had no family here, no mortgage and nothing really was tying me down.
I know I’m not the first person to be an interstate blow-in to Canberra and struggle with living here. Talking to many people during my nearly three years in Canberra, I heard a lot of people say Canberra is cliquey, it’s hard to make friends, it’s very transient, it’s too cold, they didn’t really like it here but work was what brought them here and what was keeping them here. (I’m sure I’ll cop flack for this but Canberra isn’t for everyone).
After returning from three months away and not having a place to live, all my stuff being packed up and finding out some of my closest friends were moving away at the end of the year, I decided it was the right time to move on from Canberra.
But I haven’t done the usual thing of just finding another job and moving to another city. I quit my job and booked a flight to Guatemala. This time, I’m doing a big loop of the Americas and I’m not totally sure when I’ll come home.
I’ve had a lot of people think I’m foolish for throwing in a well-paid public service job to travel the world and not know when or where I’ll get my next paycheck. My parents especially were not very happy with me. But I’ve also had a lot of people be very supportive of my decision and wish they could do what I was doing but mortgages or family prevented them from packing up their life like I had.
It definitely wasn’t an easy decision quitting my job. I enjoyed my job but I never really felt I fit into Canberra. I battled with the decision for several weeks and when my position was advertised, I felt like taking back my resignation. Even when they had given my job to someone else, a part of me still felt nervous about if I was doing the right thing. But I kept going and booked more and more of my next trip, sold all my furniture and organised house and dog-sitting opportunities to help me save for the next trip and give me a place to stay while I remained in Canberra.
As the saying goes, making a big life change is incredibly scary but regret is worse.
One line I read in one of my favourite travel blogs, Little Grey Box, that really rang true with me is the best experiences you have in life are the ones you line up with what’s in your heart. For me, I knew in my heart I wasn’t happy in Canberra and needed a change, and more travel and experiencing new things was what was in my heart.
Even though I still doubt myself every now and then, when I did hand in my resignation, a weight lifted off my shoulders. I then put all my spare time into organising my trip and getting ready to document my upcoming travels.
I revived my love for photography and started social media accounts to showcase my photography and my passion for travel. I felt a new energy that something exciting was coming up that would take my life in a totally different direction. It’s scary jumping into the unknown, but sometimes you need to take risks to reap the rewards.
I don’t know where I’ll end up – it could be Canberra again once I get some of the travel bug out of my system, or it may lead to another Australian city. But for now, Central America here I come!