My travel experience building up to the mammoth trip!
Apart from a few holidays (rather than ‘trips’) to France, the Canary Islands, Portugal, the Greek Islands and some city breaks, the first taste of Proper Travelling was around Italy for 3 weeks – beautiful country, and I learned the language for a year before we went. (None of the above was solo travelling).
Then a few years ago, approaching 30 and wanting to do something a bit different (aka run away!) I booked on a G Adventures tour to Tibet. With about six or seven weeks to go I booked it all and arranged my Chinese visa, and went to the airport to get on a plane on my own for the first time ever! It was an amazing experience, and it helped me to realise how easy it is to go travelling on your own and not be alone. On that tour I literally arrived on the first day of the tour, and flew home on the last day.
After that I had my sights set on Patagonia (because of recommendations from friends) and wanted to be a bit braver, so I had a few days before the organised trip started in Buenos Aires, and a week or so afterwards in which to do my own thing and see how comfortable I was. It was great! I was incredibly lucky to meet a lovely girl who sat next to me on the plane who I then spent some time with for the next few days. I did another G Adventures tour for 3 weeks with a brilliant bunch of people, and then went to Iguassu Falls on my own where I met some more nice people! That all made me think I could do this for longer, so I started planning The Big One!
Ventures outside the UK:
Florida, USA (x 2)
Dublin, Ireland (x 2)
Italy: Milan, the lakes, Verona, Venice, Florence (via Bologna), Siena, Rome, Naples.
Kuusamo, Finland (skiing)
Minneapolis, USA (with work)
Paris, France (x 2)
Moissac (nr Toulouse), France
Kunming Lijiang and Shangri-La, China (via Bangkok); Lhasa, Tibet; Kathmandu, Nepal (home via Bahrain)
Hamburg, Germany (with work)
Buenos Aires, Argentina; Patagonia, Chile & Argentina; Iguassu falls, Argentina & Brazil
Amsterdam, the Netherlands; Bergen, Stavanger, Geirangerfjord & Olden, Norway (on a cruise!)
Thurs 20 June 2013 fly Heathrow to Rio
24 June Rio to Quito (Ecuador) via Buenos Aires
Language school in Quito for two weeks
15 July fly to the Galápagos islands for three weeks of conservation volunteering
5 August fly back to Quito
I made my way South through the Andes towards Cuenca, then across the border to Peru.
15 September Inca trail for 7 days
Then I did a bit more travelling in Peru, crossed into Bolivia and finally into Chile to head towards Santiago ready for my flight to Auckland on 16 November.
I originally aimed to find seasonal work in New Zealand in order to fund me staying there for 6 months; but luckily my budget allowed me to just do wwoofing (volunteering) before I had to start heading home! My next flight was to Sydney for just 24 hours before then flying to Bangkok, in order to see Cambodia for a month before flying back home to London… with a whole new outlook on life, but no good plan for what to do next and a bit of a sense of dread at the thought of coming back to reality. But I looked forward to seeing a small handful of kind familiar faces!