I wrote this while I was floating high among the clouds somewhere between Australia and Malaysia, feeling like my life was some strange version of limbo caught halfway between two worlds - reality and the incredible life I’ve been living for the past 18 months. After quitting my job and deciding to travel the world solo, I set out on the adventure of a lifetime planning to return within a year and settle back into normal life. Well, that’s what I told everyone, even then I was planning to be gone much longer so it was never really a surprise to those closest to me when I skipped my flights and decided to follow my heart, instead exploring more of Australia than I ever dreamed I would and making plans for the future. I can’t even begin to put into words the effect the last 18 months has had on every aspect of my life - meeting such amazing people at every turn and seeing such incredible sights has really set my heart on fire and has opened me up to a whole new world that I could only fantasise about before now. But you see, the thing is, I felt totally unprepared for returning home. Yes that’s right, after the last 18 months of pure happiness I was finally headed back to the UK. It kind of snuck up on me, despite knowing for months my time in Melbourne would be ending and at some points really looking forward to my return simply to see my family and friends again after so long away. But when it finally came down to it, I just wasn’t ready.I thought I could handle it, I thought I would be okay. I said my final goodbyes to the very closest of friends and refused to shed tears as I knew it was really just “see you later”, but later would sit in the bath and cry at the thought of leaving this amazing family I’ve found in Melbourne. It really has been home - a place I finally felt settled in and loved my lifestyle, with fantastic friends and regular haunts, a career I could build into something greater than I ever imagined in such a short space of time. A chance to really make something of myself. Melbourne really was the city of opportunity for me and I will never forget the final months I spent here, they were more than I ever hoped they could be. But the one thing that really made it special, was the fact that this was where I was when I realised I was totally healed. I left the UK with a broken heart but returned the happiest I've ever been - travel was the best possible thing that could have happened to me. It truly is the greatest healer for a broken heart and I tell you why, it’s because it makes you focus entirely on yourself and what makes you happy, it forces you to be self-reliant and to fall back in love with yourself as a person, to truly learn to be alone and to enjoy it. I learnt so much by travelling solo and it has honestly been the best and most valuable experience of my entire life.Even though I know my journey is not at an end - I already have travel plans for the next few months across Europe before returning to Australia after the summer - I know that it is the end of an era. When I begin my travels again, I will no longer be a first-time solo traveller, I will know what I'm doing, I won't a mess of butterflies figuring it out and hoping for the best. I'm proud of that because it shows how much I have learnt since travelling solo, but it also means starting afresh in a whole new way of travelling. I really feel the last 18 months are the best reason to celebrate that I could ever think of - much as we celebrate when we graduate university or marry, we should all celebrate the fact that not only did we survive travelling, we smashed it! I learnt more in the last 18 months than I did from three years at university or a nine year relationship. I am so grateful for every single person who has been with me, whether it was the very first group of friends I made in Bangkok, or the amazing group of Pioneers I found on the Thai islands, whether it was the Darwin Dingos - the greatest travelling family I have ever known, or the crazy beautiful people I found in Melbourne. You're all so special in so many ways and you all brought such laughter and happiness into my life, you made my travelling experience.Now that I am half a world away from everything I have known for the past 18 months, I find myself reminiscing over every forgotten moment, every tiny detail and loving every part of the experience for what it was. I can't believe some of the things I have seen and done, and while a good rest was well-needed after working flat-out for so long, it just gets me even more excited for the next stage of travelling. So what am I doing back here? Well my plan is to be back for a few months, a couple spent working back at the newspaper before heading off to Europe to holiday with family and to visit friends before returning to Australia in September for Part II of my travelling adventure. I still have so many blog posts about Melbourne to share with you, plus any parts of Australia and Asia I may have forgotten to share with you all. Plus I have some exciting collaborations coming up and as always I'll be keeping you up-to-date with my adventures in the UK - it's been great having you guys along with me for every step of this adventure and I can't wait to share the next part with you all!
How did you find returning home after travelling? What travel plans have you got for the summer?