After spending most of my life (since the age of 17) travelling, in April last year (9 years on from when I took my first trip) I decided to return to Scotland and officially become non-nomadic. As a full-time travel writer and blogger for around 6 of those years, it was not an easy decision to take. I knew that doing so would mean not just a huge change in lifestyle but also a huge change in livelihood too. There is, after all, no way to write about travel if you’re not travelling at all. A lot of good has come though from my move back home. It’s also enabled me to have a huge amount of reflection on a level deeper than I’ve ever experienced before.
So if you’ve been wondering what I’ve been doing these past 10 months since I came home, here are some of the highlights/main changes:
Losing weight – eating better and exercising
To date, I’ve lost 3 stone (i.e. 42lbs) since coming home, and have dropped from a UK size 20 to a UK size 14. I’m continuing to try and lose more so I can get back into sports this year. My plan is actually to lose another 2 stone before the summer and I’m literally writing this an hour before I’m due to start my first kickboxing class!
Much of my weight loss has been down to the regularity of being home, i.e. being able to adopt a regular exercise plan more easily and the fact that I can eat in more, i.e. I have a kitchen and I’m not arriving in destinations at 3am when the only place open is the fast food joint! However, it’s also just been down to me wanting to be more healthy and active. Sometimes the adrenaline hits you get on the road can be wild and the activities full of adventure, but I suppose I’ve found that the adrenaline hits you get with little effort are usually the ones that are bad for you, and being home has helped me to avoid some of those not-so-healthy behaviours and integrate a much more positive approach to my body.
I’ve started volunteering
I volunteer now as a youth worker in my local area and it’s been really cool to work with the kids and experience their unpredictability! For me, my childhood (and early teens in particular) were not always the best of times, so it’s always been an aim to go back and help kids in that age bracket. What I’d love to do next is help more vulnerable kids, and when I get a bit more time this is what I fully intent to do.
Being able to date without the expiry date
Whilst there are no long-term relationships on the cards at the moment, it has been nice to go on dates with people since I got home and not have the expiry date of when the relationship is going to end ticking down from day 1. The only slight downside is that I’m now so independent from my experiences on the road (apparently) that I’m now coming across to some people as though I’m just not that interested. Either that or I’m just a regular adult with a life. I tend to take the view of the latter, but either way, it’s been nice to go on quite a few dates recently without having that thought in the back of my head.
Paying off all my credit card debt
Whilst I’ve always been a promoter of the ‘travel doesn’t have to cost a lot of money’ motto (and by the way, it doesn’t), coming home and living with my parents for 10 months (as difficult as that has been at my age) has really paid off financially. In particular, I’ve been able to pay off both my credit card and overdraft, which has taken a load of my back somewhat. Now I just need to save up enough to get my own place again and I’ll feel a lot better!
Finishing my degree
Having took my first trip so young, and then in turn been bitten by the travel bug, I was never quite able to settle long enough during my late teens and early 20s to actually get around to doing my degree. And even later on when I eventually decided to do it, it took the flexibility of distance learning to really get me going (because it meant at the time that I could still keep travelling.) So initially I was studying for a degree in International Studies part-time whilst I was travelling abroad. However, since coming home I’ve switched to full-time to get it done quicker. This has had both positive and negative effects. On one hand, I’m finding full-time study + work is leaving me feeling like I’ve not enough hours in the day, but on the other hand I’m really enjoying my studies and the flexibility of distance learning is still allowing me to work it around whatever other commitments I have, e.g. I can study morning, evening or night. I think this is the only way I’ve really been able to fit it all in!
What will I do now I’m not travel writing?
With me obviously having to move away from travel writing since I stopped travelling, I’ve had to make some changes to how I earn a living. So far I’ve basically just been freelancing as a copywriter & social media manager. I’ve also thrown in time for a wee paid internship through my uni, which I’ve done in most part just to dip my toe into different waters and build up some university contacts. Going forward into the long-term future though, i.e. beyond the next few years, online marketing is not where I’m wanting to continue (despite having racked up quite a bit of experience in it). It’s not something I’m passionate about and I don’t see myself doing it much longer. What I really want to do is help young people.
My long term plans will probably involve setting up some sort of charity or NGO, and I’ve already been spit balling some ideas, but I’m also thinking I’d like to get a bit more experience first before embarking on such a huge personal challenge and commitment. That and perhaps this is something I could do at the same time as something else, certainly to begin with anyway. So in the meantime I’ve rounded down my plans post-degree to either:
A) Doing a masters and going into some sort of research role in human rights.
B) Becoming a (Modern Studies) teacher (and then eventually a Guidance Teacher if I was lucky enough).
or C) Going into social work (although I keep changing my mind about this one as to whether it’s something I’m the right fit for.)
None of the above 3 options will be able to happen until I’ve completed my degree, so I won’t know for another 2 years yet which direction I’ll be going in exactly, all I know is I want to help people (particularly those more vulnerable) and that is my plan going forward.
So what will happen with this website?
Well, to be honest, I wasn’t really sure about what to do with this site a long time. Initially I thought about selling it but just couldn’t bear to when push came to shove. When my site went down for a week at the start of the year due to an error with my hosting company, this further reaffirmed how much this site and ‘Runaway Jane’ means to me – even if I’m not really using it anymore. So I’m definitely going to keep it on the internet, but perhaps mostly in archived form. I will post new articles and videos from time to time, but seeing as I’m not earning a living from it anymore (and therefore having to spend a lot of time doing other things to make money), it has become increasingly hard to find the time lately to be honest – hence the lack of posts in recent months.
Another point is, that whilst when I do go on holiday I’ll be picking new and exciting places to go to, if I’m not really travelling that much will I be able to write about travel whenever I do post an article? It’s a question I’ve been pondering for about the last year or so, and initially whilst I did try to reinvent this blog as one covering social issues and human rights, again I just really haven’t had the time to do it justice when I need to focus on my studies and earning a living elsewhere. So I think, what’s most likely is that when I do post something it’ll perhaps be a mixture of stuff. Some travel, some social issues/human rights, and perhaps maybe just whatever else I think is interesting, funny or important. Who knows! Maybe you can give me some suggestions?
Will I travel again?
Of course, but just not in a long-term capacity. I’m enjoying being home and spending time with my family right now, as well as forming and maintaining community connections around me. Travel has this funny thing of allowing you to form amazing friendships with people all over the world, but then ultimately resulting in you not seeing those people very often because you then inevitably go home or move onto the next country. What I need more in life right now is my friends around me and I’m enjoying that experience. However, that is not to say I have no interest in travel anymore. I will always be interested in visiting interesting destinations, but perhaps just on a holiday timescale.
Reflections on life since I came back
I’m not sure whether it’s because I’ve come home after such a long period of time on the road or because I also started my travels so young (and I’m just at an age where I’m reflecting more on the past), but I’ve been having a really deep form of reflection since I came home that has actually quite startled me. These past 10 months I’ve thought about periods of my life and people that I haven’t thought about in a very long time. Particularly those people who have had the biggest impact on me. It’s left me feeling rather bitter sweet. Sweet that I’ve been able to have this incredible life because of the amazing influences and rock-steady helpers that have been in my life at various stages throughout it, but also sad that not all of them are people I’ll be able to get in touch with again (or who’ll perhaps want to get in touch with me). I’m hopeful that those who can will, that when I reach out they’ll respond, but if I had one regret it’s probably letting some of these people slip away. Getting so caught up in my own journey and adventures that I’ve allowed the ignorance of youth to allow me to lose certain past connections that I’m appreciating now that I’ve had a bit of time and age.
And last but not least, whilst I’m completely ready to move on from long-term travel personally, it’s definitely something I’d always recommend to every young person before they embark on any future study or career. Seriously, it’s the best time to do it! I honestly think they should make a year of travel compulsory before you start college or uni! And whilst travelling for extremely long periods of time like I did can eventually lead to perhaps too many sacrifices being made (hence the reason I’ve given it up), 2 or 3 years of travelling/working/living abroad is one of the best life learning and exhilarating experience I think any human being can have. I definitely hope that anyone who has been reading my blog over the past 6 years has at least taken that from everything I’ve written or tried to communicate. Don’t waste your life waiting for the right time. There is never a right time to do what you love. There is never the perfect set of circumstances. Find a way to do it now.