I’m just an Australian girl with a terminal case of the travel bug.
So, how did I get this travel bug?
At the age of 16 I had my first solo travel experience, spending three months on exchange in the North of France in Caen, Normandie. (et oui je parle francais). I was able to squeeze out side trips to England (Chester and London), Italy (Rome and the Abruzzo Region), and even a day trip to the Arctic Circle on a Christmas Santaland tour with my grandmother. (Apologises for the super bad photos- I was 16 after all)
This trip made me realise just how I love travel, and exactly why. For me travel isn’t about getting my photo in front of the Eiffel Tower or Big Ben or The Colosseeum.
It’s about meeting new people- like the old German couple who helped me navigate the Paris Metro System, it’s about eating a heap of local food (it’s my biggest expense when I travel because while sometimes necessary for budget reasons I hate cooking normal food in a hostel kitchen when I could be tasting the local cuisine), and it’s about really discovering the history of a place (I’m someone that digests every little bit of information or history I can get about historical sites like the Vatican etc, and this is even more exciting for me than seeing it).
With the realisation of my love of travel came an obsession with saving every last of my pennies for the next big trip. I had to wait 2 more years for my next one.
Following the completion of my high school studies I hopped on a volunteer trip to Gahini in Rwanda.
I spent a week there staying with the church (I’m not a religious person but I attended an anglican school and our diocese was matched with the Gahini diocese), hearing the harrowing stories of the genocide from local people who had actually experienced it, and assisting in the occupational therapy unit of the local hospital which basically meant playing a heap of games with some cute kids most of whom were getting treated for club foot.
On the way home we stopped over in Nairobi where I famously kissed that Giraffe, and where we spent 3 days on safari.
In July 2013, I had my first taste of the Asian region travelling with some friends for a debating tournament in Kuala Lumpur. After the tournament we spent some time in Penang- and by spending time I really mean devouring as much street food as we possibly could.
I then skipped my first week of classes to fly over to Vietnam where I visited Hanoi, Halong Bay and Sapa. I know people go either way with Vietnam- they either love it or hate it- well I’m definitely on the love side! I’m pretty sure the Pho instantly puts me on this side of the debate, even without the amazing experiences I had with some of the local people.
In February 2015 I rekindled my love for South East Asia with a trip to Thailand– my new favourite country by far! I loved the food, the people, the beaches and the culture and I can’t wait to return. It also made me realise that whilst in most cases I prefer to travel alone, travelling with my sister is probably the exception!
My First Huge Adventure
I used Frequent Flyer Points to book a Business Class Flight to Europe. I left Australia on the 23rd of November 2015 and returned on the 3rd of March, 2017. A whole 15 months and 10 days on the road.
I spent 10 months in Europe, including living in Florence for 2 months while I studied at my university’s overseas campus. After Europe, I headed to Mexico with a quick stopover in New York City. I then headed to Cuba before starting the last leg of my trip in Colombia. From there I worked my way down through Ecuador and the Galapagos, to Peru and Bolivia and finally to Chile, Argentina and Brazil. I finished in Rio just in time for Carnival before returning home on another rewards business flight.
So… What’s Next?
I’ve only been back in Melbourne a short few months but soon I’ll be flying off to new adventures. At the end of June 2017 I’m heading to Malaysia to study in Kuala Lumpur for 2 months. I’ll be able to finish a whole semester’s worth of units in this time which will then give me the ability to stay in South East Asia and travel for 6 more months. I plan to do weekends trips in Malaysia to places like the Cameron Highlands and Borneo, to spend a long time island hopping in Indonesia, to explore the temples of Myanmar and then to head to Laos, Vietnam and Cambodia for an extended period of time. I’m hoping to spend the last two months of my trip in the Phillipines and Thailand before I fly home at the end of February. I can’t wait for this new trip!
How Am I Affording All Of This? (PS. I Hate This Question)
So if you don’t know me you might be guessing I come from a wealthy family and can rely on my parents for handouts. That could not be further from the truth- in fact I managed to get a scholarship for university based on the fact I came from significant financial disadvantage and grew up in a rural area.
Unlike many students in Australia I don’t live with my parents as I had to move to Melbourne to go to university so I also have to support myself that way.
I’m proof that it doesn’t matter where you are placed in society- if you work hard enough and prioritise travel you can afford it. I work 7 days a week while studying full time; it takes up most of my time and its been pretty tiring but I’ve managed to save lots of money through my hard work. I’ve also made lots of sacrifices and reduced my expenses to the minimum- you can see my tips here.
I’m also lucky that at least for the meantime, the university system in Australia facilitates my travel goals. My university- Monash, is especially focused on study abroad programs. It markets itself as the travel university. Thus in addition to my aforementioned study scholarship that I’ve been religiously saving since first year, I’ll also get some form of funding for my university for the study abroad programs I intend to complete on my trips.
The Australian Government also lets you put $6000 on your HECS loan (essentially a very low interest loan scheme that we use to pay for our student contributions- unlike the US model I don’t have to worry about paying this money off until I’m earning a good wage and it comes out in increments through our tax system), which I will definitely be taking for the two semesters I intend to study abroad.
What Can This Blog Offer You?
However in the meantime you should check out my posts on:
- Destinations posts on every country I visited in Europe.
- Food in Melbourne– I love food and Melbourne is a foodie dream so I’ve got tons of reviews on my favourite places to eat in Melbourne.
- Australian Travel- including how to do it cheaply, Melbourne and day trips from Melbourne, Sydney and Adelaide.
- Frequent Flyer Programs– the frequent flyer programs in Australia are confusing and I’ve got some handy guides on how to earn points with Australian programs.
- General Travel Tips– including packing guides, how to survive both overnight train journeys and long haul budget flights and even getting a tattoo overseas.
If you have any questions you can:
- Comment on this post!
- Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
- Send me a message or write a post on my facebook page.
- Add me on instagram at @adventureliesinfront
- Tweet me at @advliesinfront