I’m writing this just after finally saying goodbye to my life in Australia.
For the next 15 months, the world will be my home. As my departure loomed over me, I found myself experiencing mixed emotions. I was full of excitement about the people I was going to meet, the places I was going to see and the food I was going to eat.
But saying goodbye is hard.
When embarking on long-term travel, there is bound to be someone we are likely to miss. Given the strong relationships I have with my family; my parents, my grandparents, my sister and my friends, leaving was harder for me than it might be for someone else.
I think the more connections you have to your home town and the people in it, the harder saying goodbye is. And you all know how much I love Melbourne!
Thus I spent a long time saying goodbye.
Lucky for me, I’ve only ever been offered support in my endeavours to travel. I’ve heard many stories about people that have to convince their parents why they should go, that have had to justify their decision to pack up their life and travel long time.
This is not something I’ve had to face. I never felt the need to validate my decisions about my life with anyone else, but even if I did I wouldn’t have any problem with my friends and family.
I think it helps that I’ve been travelling since I was 16, when I headed off on exchange for 3 months. I think from that moment, Mum resigned herself to the fact that I had wandering feet and I was always going to travel at any opportunity I had.
The support that I got from my friends and family about this trip made saying goodbye easier.
What made leaving easier was that in my last weekend in Melbourne, I endeavoured to catch up with all of my friends and family for one last time.
On the Friday night, I invited all of my friends out to a Vietnamese restaurant on Victoria St for dinner. I was overwhelmed by the amount of people that turned up to say goodbye. It was a great night with good company and good food. Obviously, there were also many drinks involved, as at that point I was looking for any opportunity to curb my anxiety.
Whilst I caught up with my friends on Friday, I left the Saturday night for my family.
I have a huge extended family that is incredibly important to me. I’m close with both of my sisters, especially Maddy who I travelled to Thailand with. My mother, while driving me crazy sometimes, has always been there for me.
I almost considered cancelling my trip at the beginning of this year when my Dad got sick; lucky he is doing really well now. And my grandparents are probably my favourite people in the whole world, the kind of people that do absolutely everything for their family.
I know Christmas and Easter will be especially hard for me while I’m travelling, as they are usually a large family affair in the Jeffs family. Hence it was great to have so many of us together for one last time before I left.
I felt very emotional saying goodbye at the end of the night, especially when my Dad, Nan and Pa left! So emotional in fact that my best childhood friend Meg, my sister and I decided to go out for drinks after everyone left and we didn’t return until 2am! It probably wasn’t the smartest idea to be having a big night the day before I left Australia, but it was a great night.
I awoke to my final day in Australia with a killer hangover and a belly full of nerves. I managed to squeeze in one last brunch before we headed to Melbourne. Of course I was totally unorganised, and my sister wasn’t impressed by how late we left. I swear even when you have packed your bag early; the last minute things take forever!
Given my nerves, I wasn’t especially keen to sit around a table for dinner that night. Instead we headed to the Melbourne Night Noodle Market. Considering Asia is one of the few places I won’t be visiting, it was a good opportunity to devour some quality Asian food.
My sisters, my mum and her boyfriend Pasq, my friend Sam and our family friends all came. It was a bit of an emotional night, with my Mum trying to hide how upset she was at me leaving.
The problem with a 3.30am departure is that the goodbyes seem never ending. My family dropped me off at my godparents in Port Melbourne, where I would be spending a couple of hours before my chauffeur picked me up for my flight. Saying goodbye to my mum and my sisters was definitely the hardest goodbye. There were lots of tears, especially from Maddy! (She is going to hate me for mentioning that here).
The final goodbye came when my car finally arrived and I had to say goodbye to my godparents. At this point, I think excitement had started to outshine my anxiety, as I finally began to realise that this was it! This is when 2 years of planning and saving finally comes to fruition.
At the end of the day, there is no right or wrong way to feel when leaving for a trip of this length. For me, the tears, the anxiety and the nerves sucked, but it didn’t mean that I was going to turn around and never leave. It’s understandable to feel scared, to feel nervous, to almost think ‘why am I doing this!’.
But by the time I got on that plane, I knew that despite the emotions and the difficulties of saying goodbye, I had made the right decision. Melbourne, my friends and my family will all be there when I return in 15 months!
Besides, I’ll be seeing almost everyone at some point of my trip. My Mum and her boyfriend are visiting me in Italy in April, my Nan is coming to meet me in Greece, as is my sister and her boyfriend.
My grandpa is meeting me in Edinburgh and we will travel together to Poland, the Czech Republic and Berlin. My godparents are going to come to Bulgaria and Romania with me. And my Dad is meeting me in New York City and Mexico. Lucky for me, the travel bug seems to be a genetic thing!
I doubt I’ll have an opportunity to miss them!