I've spent about a month on the road now, living out of a bag, getting strange women to wash my pants when I run out, showering in shared bathrooms, sharing bedrooms with up to 12 people at a time, falling madly in love with the amazing people I meet and parting ways the very next day. It's an emotional rollercoaster and the most exciting thing I have ever done. The freedom and complete self-reliance is so refreshing after living in that sheltered little bubble back in my home town - I didn't realise how small my world was until I broke out of it and saw how much more there was waiting just outside. I've been so busy and overwhelmed by it all that I haven't even had a chance to feel homesick yet, I miss everyone from home but knowing they are just at the end of a Facebook message or email means they are never truly far away.
One thing I have really found from my experiences is that travelling had just further confirmed how little it takes to make me happy. Back at home, before I started saving for travelling, I used to spend my money pretty frivolously on nights out, clothes and all sorts. It never actually made me happier, it was just what I, and many others do to distract ourselves. Then I decided to go travelling and instead of spending, saving became my priority. I loved watching the pennies stack up, working several jobs to add to my stash. It showed me that cutting these nights out and all those dinner dates, clothes out of my life was not a big deal and actually it made me happier to have a goal to work towards.
Since being out here, I've been living off around £15-20 a day, that includes a room, food and drink, massages, boat trips and anything else that comes my way. My best experiences so far? The ones that cost barely any money at all - watching the sun set over the islands, snorkelling with fish, eating street food with new friends, jungle trekking... I could go on. Coming to South East Asia has really helped show me the value of my money, mainly because everything is so cheap here. By converting every amount, it really makes you think about what you are spending and the bartering makes it okay to argue over every last penny.
It's refreshing to be in a place where the goal is to spend the least amount, I always feel like the UK is all about having the newest, shiniest, most expensive brand name going. But what does it really matter? And what does it really add to your life? I remember that cycle so well, seeing something in a shop window, feeling that pull to buy it and then, when you finally have it at home, feeling guilty for your purchases. But here, I'm rendered back to basics and I love it. It's such a freeing feeling to be out of the cycle and it makes me realise quite how ridiculous it was to be in it. It sounds cheesy and I know it's all over those Instagram quotes, but out here you really do collect memories instead of things - I suppose when you carry everything you own on your back - memories are nice and light to carry in your mind.
But of course, there are some things I am missing from home:
- Toilets that flush without three buckets of water
- My electric toothbrush
- My phone working
- A time when I wasn't covered in mosquito bites
- I genuinely cannot even think of a fifth one... That's how much I love it here.
What makes you truly happy? What couldn't you live without if you were away backpacking for a year? Been away travelling - what home comforts did you miss the most?