Meander With Meg Takes A Holiday
It’s been almost a year since I’ve posted on Meander With Meg and for that I apologise to myself, and to you.
In all honesty, the speed at which those months have slipped by has been nothing short of incredible. Since landing back on UK soil in April 2017, my life has been consumed by what I have been working on (more on that later) and Meander With Meg had to take an unfortunate back burner.
This post will serve as a recap of what I’ve been up to for the past 18 months following almost six years of on-off travel. In a strange way, I think I need to write this post probably more than you’ll ever want to read it, as it will give me the opportunity to put down my thoughts in a (hopefully) cohesive manner.
In publishing this post I will bridge the gap between what has gone before and what is still to come. It will serve as the catharsis I need to allow me to continue creating content for this blog, which I love dearly and am fiercely proud of.
And there is a lot more content to come, believe me, and I am determined that in 2019 I shall continue to write. The last count of my blog post ideas numbered 200 so there is no shortage of fresh content to publish on Meander With Meg.
Let me explain why Meander With Meg has been silent for so long and what has been keeping me from blogging to inspire other first time solo travellers.
The end of a 5 year adventure
On June 6th 2017 I published one of the most honest blogs I have ever shared on MWM. (Don’t worry if you need to dive off to read it – I’ll wait!)
I titled it “I Thought I Was Supposed To Find Myself Travelling” and I discussed how I’d never set off travelling those six years before to “find myself”, but more simply because I knew there was a great big, hectic, heady world out there that had bewitched me with visions of the unknown. So, ashen and sweating with nerves, I boarded a plane at Heathrow Airport by myself and jetted off into the sticky heat of Bangkok.
Landing in reverse at a somewhat chilly Manchester airport without my bag (now that’s another story!) I, just as numbly as I was when I arrived in Thailand, settled into my new reality of Life After Travel.
When I published that post on the 6th June I was about as raw as you could get. Totally overwhelmed by my life after travel and desperately trying to find my footing in a country that I had not based myself in for a number of years.
Why did Meander With Meg stop long-term travelling?
That’s a good question and it’s time to be totally transparent with you again.
I closed that incredible, challenging and unforgettable chapter of my life because… it felt right. I was 32 years old and I had been on the road since the age of 26.
Although I had enjoyed travelling up until that point, something in the last few months of backpacking was telling me that I was ready to go back home. I recall having long, wistful conversations with a travel friend of mine as we paced the shoreline in Jurien Bay, Western Australia about a new reality I pictured for myself:
- spending more time with my family and reconnecting with old friends
- establishing more of a home base
- putting down roots a try for a while, you know, to see how it felt.
But could I tell you how this new life was going to look? Nope, not one single bit.
And can anyone answer me why going home is more daunting that going travelling alone in the first place? Hmm, I know, it’s a tough one to quantify.
Life after travel
I have already published a post about how it feels to return home after travel. However, there will definitely be another post from me on how to cope with life after backpacking. But for now, all I will say is that it it the first few months has definitely had its ups and downs.
One of the hardest things about crafting a new reality for yourself is knowing how to best to shape it. Not wanting to sound arrogant or entitled, but you may find there are several choices open to you in terms of what to do, where to go and how to set up your life. You are, most likely, landing back in your home country without a job and therefore (depending on how you look at it and how you are for money) able to use this time in your life to head off down a different path.
What I’m trying to say is, you’ve made the break once by (presumably) leaving your job, tying up loose ends in your life at that time and jetting off on your adventure. So if you fancy doing something else, now is as good a time as any to give it a shot.
For me, the one thing I was certain about was that I didn’t see myself re-entering the 9 -5 world particularly quickly. After following my heart for the previous six years, taking odd jobs to fund my travels as I went, my horizons had expanded beyond my desk and I decided that I would try anything to keep from returning there to feather someone else’s nest.
A location independent lifestyle
My immediate focus when I came home to the UK after travelling through Malaysia and Borneo following my second year in Australia was to create a location independent lifestyle for myself. I had plans to work online so that I could – in theory – continue my travels whenever I saw fit.
Although I fancied the idea of staying in one place for a little while, the thought of restrictive annual leave in a full-time permanent job was leaving me feeling a little hot under the collar after years of working six month seasonal contracts.
Picking up freelance work online for writing gigs, I quickly found that I could blend my passion for writing and blogging with my nerdy, organisational streak left over from my days as a personal assistant in local government.
Smash Your To Do List
This culminated in a business I called Smash Your To Do List. I work as a virtual assistant supporting busy business owners to tackle their behind the scenes admin one tick at a time.
The beauty of this is that all the tasks can be carried out online (location independence – tick!), but the downside of building a business from scratch, hustling for new clients and building up an online and offline presence is that it takes time. Lots of time.
What soon became apparent was that my dream of a location independent business had to be put on hold for the time being as I worked to establish my footing, grow the business and create a consistent income…
The baby steps I have been taking have paid off, however, it’s definitely not been a walk in the park. Coupled with the pressures of finding work and bringing in money ASAP, as a backpacker newly returned into life at home, there has been the emotional mountains to climb also.
Those emotions rose up like waves and battered down over me as I struggled to get my fledgling business off the ground and settle into a new normality at home. You’ll be seeing a post on what it feels like to stop solo travelling for sure, but I can tell you that I found it difficult to charter native waters again after so many years away.
Has there been any travel in the past year?
Whilst I feel like saying no to this question because it’s sometimes felt like I’ve been not been anywhere, the reality is that I have been able to shut down the laptop occasionally and step away from Smash Your To Do List.
Before I launched the business I went campervanning with two friends around the Outer Hebrides in Scotland in June 2017. The following year, in June 2018, I had five fabulous days in Bratislava, Slovakia, where I used the city as a base to explore and take day trips to Vienna, Austria and Brno, Czech Republic.
For the first time I visited Edinburgh in August and experienced The Fringe Festival, which was a long weekend filled with late night comedy shows, eclectic music and lots of food and drink.
What saddens me the most is that those trips were gone in a blink of an eye and then I was straight back to the laptop.
So, I promise to myself and to you that there will be plenty more travel content to come on Meander With Meg. I will weave first time solo travel stories in with life on the road, surviving life once the adventure is over and plenty of destination specific blogs to get you planning.
What’s coming up for Meander With Meg in 2019?
Whilst there are no set travel plans on the horizon, I can say this; there will be plenty of adventures retold on the blog. Plus, my goal for 2019 is to write the first in a series of books to inspire first time solo travellers to hit the road.
You’ve heard it here first. Now I just need to hold myself accountable and finish what I’ve started!
If you’ve reached the end of this naval gazing extravaganza, thank you.
Perhaps you have also been travelling before and reached a stopping point in your journey, or maybe just a momentary pause. If so, do let me know how you’re getting on with Life After Travel.
I’m always happy to hear about your adventures… so leave me a comment or drop me an email!