So how did all of this start? In probably the most hilarious, ironic way of all time for a girl who loves flying… I got dumped in an airport.
I had been dating this guy for just over two years (and five more on/off). We had just flown 15 hours from Sydney to San Francisco to attend my brother’s wedding when my ex unexpectedly pulled out a letter — a letter he’d written in Australia and carried with him the entire flight — and handed it to me. Over the airport subway gate. After I had already gone through said gate and he hadn’t. I didn’t think things like this actually happened in real life!! I spent the following week at home feeling sorry for myself and thinking of myself as a cool tragic hero, the Saddest Person Ever™, feeling superior for having the breakup story to top all breakup stories.
I’m from California and had moved to Sydney for my ex, so at the end of my time in the States I was left with a weighty decision – to stay home or go back. I decided to go. We flew back on the same plane (I somehow swung a free upgrade to business – bless u United Airlines), I moved out of our apartment the same day, turned down my ex’s request to get back together (yes…already), and set about building a new life for myself in Australia alone.
To put it simply, it went spectacularly. I made a ton of amazing new friends, discovered the joy of dating guys with accents, and accidentally learned that I’d changed in some pretty profound ways and was no longer content living the “boring” life I used to live.
I was supposed to get a de facto partner visa through my ex which would have granted me unlimited working rights and an easy path to permanent residency, but life has a way of fucking u so obviously that was no longer an option. I had a few choices about how to secure a new visa but ultimately decided to try for a second working holiday (I’ll write another post dedicated to the Australian visa process later).
For those of you who don’t know, it’s super easy to get a one year working visa in Australia. Mine was granted within 24 hours and I didn’t have to do much more than fill in my passport information, tick a few boxes, and pay ~$350 USD. A working holiday allows you to work for 6 months at one employer and another 6 months with a different one, and travel around as much as you’d like. To get a second working holiday, you have to put in a little more work. You can either spend 3 months working on a farm or doing construction work, or (if you’re American) you can do hospitality or tourism work, as long as you’re in a shitty part of the country that no one wants to live in.
I chose the least offensive option which was Darwin, Northern Territory. My first visa expired 3 months and 2 days before I arrived, so I had 2 days to haul ass and find a job, and by some miracle I was hired at a hotel as a receptionist with one day to spare. And it ended up being the best job of my life. I met so many interesting people, worked with some amazing coworkers and built some lifelong friendships, and obviously ended up seducing a hotel guest and spending the entire time sneaking around work after hours to see him. Those three months were some of the best of my life, although I spent a good portion in a drunken delirium (that’s pretty much all there is to do in Darwin).
I decided to go on holiday while waiting for my next visa (still waiting…. please let me come back Australia) and took trips to Indonesia and Singapore, experiences which could not have been more disparate and both deserve their own posts. After that trip it became clear to me that I was doomed.
I traveled a fair amount when I was younger but hadn’t at all as an adult, and I was pleasantly surprised to find that not only did I not die as a solo traveler, I actually settled into the role quite well. I was worried that as a lazy introvert suffering from crippling depression/anxiety (lol) I would either end up sitting in bed all day or panicking, getting lost, fucking up my life somehow, etc. Instead I was level-headed, navigated every place and every situation calmly, and best of all, met a ton of cool people in bars, restaurants, gardens, on the street… I know the whole eat pray love thing is a cliché load of garbage but that trip truly was a life-changing experience for me because I realized how bored, unhappy, and stagnant I felt when I was sitting behind a desk every day.
I promised myself that I would never go back to that life and that I would find a way to see the world. I landed my first fully remote position shortly afterwards and decided to give full-time travel a shot. So here we are! For the first time in my life I have literally NO idea what I’m doing or what’s going to happen next and although my mom is terrified (sorry mom) I couldn’t be more ready 🙂