The truth of my travels.
I Travelling is one of life's greatest pleasures. The chance to see the world, explore its beauty, cultures and experience its wonders. Keep in mind the phrase "Instagram vs reality"... They say "Travel. Your money will return, your time won't" and this is the truest thing of all. So when the journey is over and it's time to head home, what does it really feel like?
Pre - travelling
We'll split this up into pre-travelling and post-travelling. Let's start with before the adventure. You're excited, you're planning, you're dreaming, you're Pinterest boarding, doodling, buying and waiting. The days seem to drag as you watch the countdown of how many days until you leave and although you don't want to wish away your life, it's seems like you already are. You're planning what you're going to pack, where you're going to visit, what photo spots you must go to and all the activities you'd like to experience on the way. It's fun, it's new, it's totally into the unknown and this is where the butterflies live. You don't know what it will really be like, but your mind is a clever thing and conjures it up for you painting the most beautiful picture in the brightest colours. You think you've planned, budgeted and saved for every tiny aspect and potential issues that could go wrong. Or so you think...
So the truth is my boyfriend and I got our working holiday visas accepted on March 21st 2019, this was the first part of our journey. From them on we watch YouTube videos, read blogs (many) and asked advice of those who had travelled before us - all of which had assured us that finding work wouldn't be an issue. I am sharing my story because I want to make sure that others know everything that we wish we knew before things started to fall apart. I will share this below.
1. To work in a cafe, any cafe, you must have prior knowledge of making coffee professionally. The Aussies are VERY particular about their coffee - don't get me wrong it's great stuff but they need to relax a tad - so unless you have this experience they won't even let you work in the cafe even as a waitress or a kitchen porter. Trust me, I tried!
2. To work in any establishment that serves alcohol, you'll need an RSA a Responsible Service of Alcohol license. This was not made clear to me before travelling and stopped me getting work even as a waitress let alone a barmaid. These licences cost around AUD$160- AUD$180 and require a one day training course in the city.
Moving on. I managed, very gratefully to find work at a clothing boutique in Manly part time which offered us a little bit of cash to stay afloat. However I only worked here for 3 weeks because rent was so expensive in Manly that we were forced to stay back with family where we had moved from. Retail experience is a really useful skill to have so if you have had this prior to travelling you should be able to find work. James also struggled to find work even though people said that with his background as a Personal Trainer and the fact that Aussies are big on their fitness would benefit him, many gyms turned him away as they were 24/7 and already had the necessary staff for the jobs. He applied for anything from warehouse attendant to fitness instructor, sales assistant to labourer which eventually paid off. He got a job for 5 days as a labourer but sadly no more work followed after this.
So, to catch you up I had only worked part time for 3 weeks, and James had only worked for 5 days. As you can imagine, even though we were sensible with money, food shops and excursions, our funds were running low. It was at this point 2 weeks before Christmas that we realised our adventure was coming to an end and that without any sign of jobs we would only have the means to survive for less than a month more. At this point I shall point out and share our gratitude to the family members who we were staying with. They allowed us to live there rent free for 3 months all in all, and on top of that lent us AUD$1,000 to visit to Gold Coast before we returned to the UK. For this we are forever grateful and cannot thank them enough.
On the 21st December we both used over half of our remaining money and booked return flights back home to land in the UK 1 month later. Although we were incredibly sad, we decided to use our remaining month as best we could on a tight budget and James did something amazing for us. He used some of the money he had earned as labourer and booked us two nights in a hotel in Coogee for Christmas - he said he didn't use to be sad on my favourite day of the year. Plus we were in Australia, it was summer and we had the opportunity to spend Christmas Day on the beach, a memory I will never forget. Something else we vowed to do was to see in 2020 in Sydney watching the fireworks from the Harbour Bridge and by the skin of our teeth we just made it after a last minute decision to drive there in a storm! Another hilarious memory. Our last month was filled with beach days, exploring, road trips and budget days out and we had fun right up until the last day despite the bush fires followed by the monsoon rains.
Post - travelling
Returning home was a surreal experience. I knew I had changed and was convinced that home would have to, but everything was exactly as it had been left. Except that there was a James sized hole in my life that I struggled to come to terms with for a few weeks. We had spent every day and night together for four months and he suddenly wasn't there. You see, he lived at home with his parents and I lived with mine 45 minutes apart - not miles and miles but far enough.
On top of that I owe a lot of money to my parents, the family we stayed with and my credit card bill is back up to a large number so the lack of funds was not helping helping the situation.
Something that no one can prepare you for is how you'll feel when you return home from travelling. The talk about the jet lag, the weird sleeping pattern and the temperature change, in my experience all the 'easy to get over' stuff. But no one prepared me for how mentally confused, drained and sad I would be. To say that I didn't cope very well for the first few days is an understatement. I felt numb. Had no appetite. No drive to get out of bed. No energy to force any emotions and felt overwhelming vulnerable. The reason it hit me so hard is because none of this is like me and I had left Australia feeling amazing and positive that coming home was a god idea. The best advice I can give anyone feeling like this is:
1. Be kind to yourself.
2. Give yourself the time and space to come to terms with the changes.
3. Don't fight the urge to hide under the covers if you need to.
4. Practice self care.
5. Surround yourself with your loved ones who won't judge you and can comfort you.
The happy ending
Here's the happy part of the story. Fast forward four weeks and I have got myself a part time job in a store that I love, it's local so it means I don't need to worry about my lack of car or money for travel. James and I have adapted to life apart again for now and have decided to start to save for a house of our own in the next few years. My mental state is on full form and back firing on all cylinders and my side business is taking off like a jet plane. I'm reading the most kick-ass book by some amazing women, listening to the best and most motivating podcasts and doing personal development every day to build up my confidence.
So hang in there explorer, know that it's okay to feel the way you do and share this with someone if they need to read it.
Big love & hugs,