#JustDoIt

I’ve been told that I try to do everything now, that I need to slow down, and to hold off things until I’m older. But what I’ve always thought was…

‘What if I don’t get any older?

People try to save money all their life, intending to use it when they’re retired, then they find they’re not as nimble as they once were and can’t visit places they’ve been waiting to go to all their life.

Then there are the ‘off-putters’. The ones who say that now isn’t quite the right time for them. They may be waiting on a raise at work, or trying to raise a family. Either way they feel that whilst they’re doing one of those things, they can’t do much else. These people will never find the right time.

I was one of those people, and it was while I was walking around The Forum in Rome that I realised my mother was already at a point in her life where some traverses may be too difficult for her. As I scaled hills and hopped over relics in the sweltering heat, I could imagine my mother asking for a coffee break whilst trying to find a nice shady tree. She’s been retired for nine years, and in that time has taken every opportunity to travel. Most destinations aren’t too laborious, but she now has her sights set on Machu Picchu, a tricky place to:

a) Get to

b) Breathe at

I’m a firm believer that you can do anything if you set your mind to it. I’m also a firm believer of thinking outside of the box, and when people tell me you can’t just go off travelling the world after spending so many years forging a career path, I say yes you can! It’s difficult, and it certainly takes guts, but if it builds you more as a person, then it’s worthwhile.

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Planning the Big Move!

 With new year’s resolutions come new ways of thinking. Most people plan to be different or make a change, but the majority of us forget these resolutions and go back to how we were. Change is difficult. It’s not easy to break the habit.

For me, this year, I decided to make a change that I can no longer back out of – or at least not very easily. I decided to leave my British life behind and go to Australia.

This wasn’t a spur of the moment decision. I have always wanted to work in other countries, and over the last few years become a little addicted to travelling, so after spending most of last year at home waiting for my boyfriend to return from yet another production abroad, I’d had enough being the one holding the fort, and decided 2015 was my year.

I began my destination search by looking up working visas. As a beginning destination for my lifetime away, I wanted somewhere I could easily integrate into. I narrowed it down to Canada, Australia and New Zealand. America was out of the running as I was only able to get a working visa if I was still in education. Canada only allows a small amount of people in each year, and only process requests at certain points of the year. Australia and New Zealand however, are very accepting of British Citizens, and would process my visa at any time and offer up to 23 months on a working visa. So the decision was made. I would start my journey in Australia on a 12 month working visa, and extend it from there if I so wished.

I made a preliminary plan of places to visit. I have a relative in Brisbane, and friends in Sydney and Melbourne, so it was set. I’d start in Brisbane and work my way down the coastline.

Once this decision was made, I applied for the visa, which cost $420AUS. I received confirmation of acceptance in less than 2 weeks. As soon as I was accepted, I started organising my trip.

I began my research by popping into my local STA travel centre. STA are great for tour groups, and handling the details you may not have time to go through yourself, but I must stress, that while they offer ‘the cheapest deals or your money back’, these are not compared with online deals. If you’re still a student, look them up. They’re great for student deals.

After speaking with an STA advisor, I knew that I’d need to sort out the following things for my working holiday:

  • Flight with stopover
  • Comprehensive Travel Insurance
  • Bank Card
  • Phone SIM card
  • Vaccinations

Booking the best flights

STA helped me determine the best time of year to leave. Our summer months are expensive because of the school holidays, and from September onwards is expensive as it’s Australia’s summer, so it seemed best for me to leave in June.

STA had given me a fly cost of £780 to Brisbane with a 3 night stopover in Dubai. I took this information and searched with the following websites:

www.skyscanner.net – I always find the easiest way to search for fluctuating flight costs is by going to sky scanner. On their site you can search for the whole month for your destination airport and be as broad as all airports in the UK, narrow it down to London, or minimise it even further by setting it to your nearest airport only.

From searching on here I narrowed down my dates even further.

www.kayak.co.uk – To ensure I get the best deal I always need to compare it with another site. My favourite comparison site is Kayak as I usually find the exact same flights but a tiny amount cheaper. Every little bit helps, and in this case, a saving of £20 could be a night’s accommodation!

I managed to find flights with Emirates for £740 with the three night Dubai stopover from www.lastminute.com, via Kayak. Once I was paid, I booked my flights and moved onto the next part of the process.

Comprehensive Travel Insurance

When it comes to insurance, it can get very confusing as to who includes what and the things you do and don’t need included. A lot of people will use a price comparison site to compare insurance quotes, but these companies weren’t offering the specifics that some people might need.

For me, I wanted to make sure my insurance covered the following:

  • Stopovers / short trips outside of my destination country i.e. Fiji
  • Passport & cash cover
  • Extension cover
  • Personal Liability Cover

I scoured the internet for people with previous travel experience, and who they suggested getting insurance with. Most suggested were these two sites:

Nomads – www.worldnomads.co.uk

True Travellers – www.truetraveller.com

Yes these companies are a quite a bit more expensive than most, but they’re higher for a reason. I found True Travellers website really helpful, as they had an online chat service to answer any questions I had before going ahead and choosing with them.

As I’m stopping over in Dubai for more than a day before heading onto Brisbane, I wanted to make sure I was covered already, but I was also looking into a mini holiday on the Fijian islands whilst I’m still in the area. True Traveller can cover you for up to 7 days depending on the duration of insurance. Having this on top of my cover for Australia and New Zealand really calmed me as I knew I’d always be covered the entire time I was out there. On top of that, I’d also be able to extend my insurance no matter which country I was extending it from. You’ll find that most of the cheaper insurance companies won’t allow any extensions and require you to return home before taking out any more insurance with them. This is no use to people who have no real plans to return!

During my research with what other backpackers had said about passport and money cover, it was decided that it was worth the minimal extra to cover such an important document and small cash I may have been carrying.

Having never really taken much notice of any previous insurance I’d taken out over the years, I was suddenly made aware of ‘Personal Liability Cover’. This freaked me out. As soon as I read what it was for, I imagined myself accidentally killing someone with a wombat! No one would want that. So this cover immediately became one of my top priorities in my search for the perfect insurance.

Bank Card/Money

You must create a bank account in Oz within the first few weeks of arriving so that you have a tax file number and account to actually get paid into. One of the biggest banks around is the Commonwealth bank, so these generally seem to be the best one to go with for ease of access to money.

I’ve also been introduced to Transferwise by a friend of mine who’s out in Oz already. By using transferwise to move cash from your UK bank account into your Australian account, you’re not losing as much money in the process as you would if you just transferred the cash directly from your British bank.

‘Transferwise converts money at the real mid-market exchange rate’

This is something I’ll be able to report back on better when I’ve used it a bit.

Phone or Sim card

Telstra has the best signal overall in Australia, and that’s VERY important. Australia is HUGE, and you’ll see from this map how vast the areas are without any signal at all.

http://opensignal.com/coverage-maps/Australia/

When I’ve been looking through volunteer listings, I’ve seen a few mentioning whether they have signal or not and they always mention TELSTRA, so this is clearly the best by far, and the one I’ll be buying a sim for.

Having an old iphone 4, I was undecided as to whether it was time for me to buy a new phone with more storage or just stick with what I’ve got and just make sure it’s unlocked for other sim cards. In the end, it just didn’t seem worth turfing out the extra cash for something I already owned that was still working perfectly.

My contract runs out a week after I leave the country so in May I’ll be telling O2 that I’ll be cancelling my contract. As a pay monthly customer I’m able to request for my phone to become unlocked free of charge. I just need to fill in this form:

https://www.o2.co.uk/apps/help/help?qid=1&q1=2&route=unlocking&case=Handset%20Unlocking%20Form

Vaccinations

Last year I’d received my first jab of Hep A, meaning that if I topped it up this year, I’d be covered until 2025. So off I popped to my local Doctor’s for their Saturday morning travel clinic. Each doctor will handle vaccinations differently, and depending on where you live or how much time you have until you travel, you may find it easier to book into a private travel clinic such as Nomad’s.

My local doctor allows you to book an appointment letting them know there and then which countries you will be visiting, and they will order the correct jabs for you. Oz and NZ don’t really need anything, but I wanted my Hep updated so that if I did go onto Fiji, I’d still be covered jab wise.

Planning ahead and organising your vaccinations through your doctor means that you won’t need to pay for anything. There are the more exotic jabs such as yellow fever for example that will require a small charge, but all of these will be minimal compared to a private clinic, so it’s always suggested that you try and sort them with your doctor first.

That’s where I’m at so far! If you think there’s anything else I should be considering, let me know. I’ve made a preliminary packing list which I’ll share soon, then will probably update closer to the time.

Why I Decided to Leave England

As I sat in my box room at work, stressing over the creativity of my latest project, I had the same thought that had been recurring for years – Why have I settled for the daily grind? Everyone has their reasons for living the way they do, and I’d suddenly realised that I didn’t need to be existing in the manner that I had been for the last 3 years.

Like many, I’d chosen a career which was best spent in the big city; London. I’d gone through many different roles to get the job title I’d always wanted, and now I was in it I had no aspirations of where to go next. So I realised. I don’t need to tie myself down like this. I don’t need to pay extortionate rental to get on an unhealthy, packed underground to be stuck indoors in an air conditioned office until the hours of 7 or 8pm to take that same underground train back to a sofa where I was too tired to work on any of my other passions or hobbies.  My creativity was gone. I was spending all my energy and caffeine drinks on constantly coming up with new ways of thinking or creating the next, best promo, and yet I still wasn’t satisfied at the end of it.

By the end of 2014, my boyfriend and I had been renting a flat for the past two years and were fairly sick of our well earned money going into someone else’s pockets. We discussed our savings and decided that 2015 would be the year to get onto the property ladder. I started looking into mortgage options, and we soon discovered that no matter what savings we could pull together, we still wouldn’t be offered enough money to afford a place in the area we’d need to be based in.

By the end of January this year I was utterly through with the way things were and the way I was allowing things to carry on. My travel plans had always been discussed with my partner and I, and it was decided that I could work abroad as he was usually away himself with work. This June I turn 30, and so begins the countdown until I’m ineligible at gaining a working visa in many countries. The clock was ticking, and I made my decision over a few weeks of research. Yes I had a few friends across Canada, but I have more in Australia and New Zealand. Not only that, but Canada is notoriously difficult to get accepted into and hold only a few application processes a year. Australia was able to process and accept my visa within weeks.

By entering Australia just after my 30th birthday, I am able to apply and enter New Zealand (if I so wish) before my 32nd birthday. This gives me 1-2 years in Oz followed by 1-2 years in NZ, depending on how it all goes. With my basic plan set, the decision was made.

As much as I love England, there’s also a lot not to love about it in its current situation. I’ve always wanted a life of adventure, and hopefully this will be the beginning of many.

The Career of Your Lifetime

Last night I went out for some drinks with old work colleagues. I hadn’t seen them since I’d ‘come out’ with my plans to travel around Australia, and they were intrigued as to what had made me up and leave. They’d always known me as a hard worker, always striving for the next level up in my career. For me to be leaving it so suddenly seemed quite unlike me, and they were concerned as to what I was going to do in the future.

I explained to them briefly what I’d come to realise over the past few years. London is a stressful environment, and where some people thrive on that kind of atmosphere, some can’t hack it. Being from the countryside, I never could quite sink my teeth into the London life, and ended up taking some time off of work towards the end of 2013. Since then I’ve had to view work differently, a little less passionately, and I’ve distanced myself from getting wound up with emails from clients. Everyone must realise at points in their lives that work pays the bills but shouldn’t be all you have time for. We all live this one life, and none of us know how long we’ve got. Although a grim realisation, we shouldn’t take it as such, but more embrace it. LIVE YOUR LIFE. It’s as simple as that.

I believe I’ve spent my entire life trying to be content but ever-reaching. I don’t think humans can truly feel completely content – otherwise what are they living for? My boyfriend is actually one of those people who says that he’s content with his life. Of course he’s still striving for the next step up on the career ladder, and he’s still saving up to move into a better place. So really, he’s not fully content. To me, to be truly content, you would need to feel like you’re comfortably living, you love and are loved back, and that you’re happy with the way you make money to survive.

I never used to think this way, and it’s only in the last year or so that I feel I’ve expanded my mind on work choices, which has opened up new horizons.  Our fathers are from a generation who worked their shifts to make the money for their families. We now live in a world where you can learn as much as you want from birth with the power of the internet. Having grown up in the last generation before the internet, some careers weren’t open to me as I didn’t know about them until it was too late. In opening up my views to a new way of working, I’ve learnt that you don’t have to do the 9 to 5; or in most cases the 8 ‘til 8.

From dropping my current life I have in London, giving up my career I’ve been building for the last 8 years, I’ve begun learning about the new ways in which people are earning a living without a set timetable. Whether it be by creating your own online business, or writing blogs or reviews, there are so many new paths you can take, with no specified location. The most important thing is that you have enough Wi-Fi signal.

My research into a new way of living began with a scriptwriting course my boyfriend had bought me for Christmas. In January I attended the course once a week and I learnt that the tutor had found a way of making money by reading and reporting on people’s scripts. All he’d done to get this ‘job’ was read a book called ‘Reading for a living’ by T.L.Katahn, and got to know enough people in the industry to be given their scripts for review. After being told about this book I immediately went online and bought it from Amazon. Yes it’s quite old now, but you can certainly still learn from it.

From reading this book, I started to wonder what other jobs there would be out there that I could take on from any location whilst I was travelling around Oz. I looked into digital nomads and the types of jobs people are taking. Having no qualifications in programming or coding, my options are currently limited, but that doesn’t deter me!

There are free online courses in coding, and introductory courses into just about anything. The information is all there if you know how to find it. Over the next few months I intend to learn about different areas I could get into. I’ve bought ‘The 4 hour week’ and ‘The happiness of pursuit’, and will keep you updated on how I get on.