When it comes to the whole travel/discover yourself malarky, I was a little bit of a late bloomer. While all my friends were on gap years tucking into their 'Pad Thai's', diving with sharks ,mountaineering or doing their bit for charity in a faraway land, I was at home wondering which pair of shoes to purchase next and arranging my wedding. I did a fair bit of travelling when I was younger around the British coastline and Europe, but by the time I reached my late teens, I found myself trapped in a world of materialism and only caring about the way I look. At that time my personal enrichment came from buying designer handbags and watches rather than learning about the world and during that period in my life I was genuinely happy, but I'd be lying to myself if I said something wasn't missing.
Last year I was invited to Thailand on a trip of lifetime to be immersed in Thai culture and learn about a different way of living. It was that trip that I can honestly say has changed my outlook life. As much as I'd like to avoid the cliche', I admit I came back having 'discovered myself'. One particular moment that stood out was when a young boy ran up to me in a small little village in Phrae, Northern Thailand. He kept pointing at my Instax camera, mesmerised by the technology that us Westerners are very much used to and he asked if he could take a photo. I happily obliged and allowed him to use the remainder of my filter. Before I left, he ran up to me, wrapped his arms around me and said 'thank you Jessica' with the largest grin on his face. It was one of those moments when I realised it's the small things that count in life and the memories we make with the people we meet on journeys like this. This brief encounter was worth more than any Michael Kors bag and if I invested more of my money in travelling, maybe I could make more people smile on my way or meet new people that will also give me a new outlook in life.
I'm now approaching 25 and trying to plan out my future travels. Yes I haven't spent a year in Australia like my friends or done a tour round Vietnam, but I'm still young and I have decades ahead of me. Just because I haven't done the whole 'gap yah' thing like my friends, doesn't mean I can't discover myself in my own way and learn more about the world. In fact, I'm happier that I now have a travel companion in my husband that I can share my adventures with.
On the money side of things, I'm not rich and I can't imagine taking a years break from work anytime soon, but it doesn't mean I can't tick a few countries off my bucket list each year by using my holiday allowance, even if they are Europe. One important thing to remember if that anywhere can be an adventure if you make it into one and if you are struggling for cash, there's nothing wrong with starting by discovering your own country doing mini staycations before splashing out on further away holidays. They key is to take things at your own pace and your own budget, eventually you will get round to ticking off all the dream places you have wanted to go.