When I turned 35 in November last year, I celebrated with a few close friends at a Turkish restaurant on Melbourne’s Sydney Road. It was the first year I didn’t receive a single card or customary gift (other than a free dinner), and I found that incredibly satisfying. There was nothing anyone could have given me that I truly wanted, and I hate the idea of gift giving for the sake of it.
I did however give myself a gift. Something that weighs nothing, takes up no space, and will last in my memories forever. The gift is a year off, starting with the four months it took me to hike the Te Araroa, plus another six months to visit as many people in the world who are special to me. I’ll never be able to throw a party for all the people I care about in one place, so this year, I’m bringing the party to them!
After completing the trail I returned to Australia for a 2,000km road trip from Sydney to Melbourne and back, via Sale, Canberra and Kiama. I borrowed my mum’s car and caught up with friends I hadn’t seen in years, and it seems at the age of 35, a lot of my friends are seeing the world through a different lens. Many of them have kids, husbands, homes, mortgages and well established careers, and the ones that don’t seem to fall into two categories. The ones that wish they had, and those who are grateful to have nothing in exchange for their freedom. I fall into the second category of course.
But hold on a second, how can she afford this you ask? Well if you work for 15 years after university, have no kids, no house and no pets, you’ll find that even on a mid-range salary with some breaks in between, you could probably afford it too. It helps that my parents love to stash money in my pockets and bank account when I’m home, but even without their support, my years of working contracts in the Middle East have afforded me this freedom. For now anyway. I’ll need the next 35 years to start saving for retirement.
The next stage of my trip is North America then Europe, before returning to Vancouver to settle down and work. Sure I’m a little nervous about arriving back in one of the world’s most expensive cities flat broke, but when I lived here in 2015 and earned no more than 12k the entire year, I still managed to get by and have fun. The thousands of miles I’ve hiked over the past five years have taught me that less is truly more, and when I look back at 2015, it was one of my favourite years. I sold shoes part time for minimum wage, went on free outdoor trips with work, and appreciated the small things like buying a cup of coffee once a week or treating myself to a restaurant. I didn’t have a car, I lived in a share house, and I spent all of my free time outdoors. Life was good!
If you’re wondering if I’ve been diagnosed with a terminal illness, you’re not the only one. Thankfully the answer is no, but I plan on living this year as if I have been, because I’d much rather do this trip while I’m healthy, then wait until I’m not.
For regular updates on my travels, you can follow me on Instagram @serial_nomad.
Happy Nomading! 🙂