The Bad Backpacker
On why I didn't go to Bali, why I'm a bad backpacker, and what this means for my travel writing 'career'.
She's always going to be known as the girl who didn't go to Bali.
Yes, I did just use a quote from The Hills to dramatise my life. Whilst Lauren turned down a once-in-a-lifetime work opportunity in Paris, I turned down a once-in-a-lifetime holiday to Bali. Lauren worked at Teen Vogue, I write a blog. Lauren rented a beachside Malibu property instead of going to Paris, I am eating Aunty Kath's cookie dough in my living room (it's the m&m flavour if you were wondering). As you can see, the similarities between Lauren and I are endless.
Why I didn't go to Bali
Put simply: I didn't go to Bali because I was homesick. Really, really homesick. Only instead of going back to the UK I went to my new home in Australia, but surprisingly it did the trick.
So, I'd spent the last 10 days or so travelling alone around Thailand. I'd always wanted to travel alone so I wasn't really phased at first, but then I got a lil lonely. I did meet people in hostels, went to dinner with them and hung out with them, but we always parted ways after a few days and headed on to pastures new. I know this is the backpacker way but sometimes it's nice not to have that revolving door of friends. It also didn't help that I am quite introverted, so putting myself out there and inviting myself to places with people doesn't really come naturally to me. Anyway, enough with the self-pity.
Another big reason why I cut my trip short was my anxiety. I'm anxious by nature so this didn't really come as a surprise to me, but I think I was just being overly ambitious anyway. Travelling around SE Asia for the first time is a big deal. Travelling alone for an extended period of time is a big deal. Moving to the other side of the world is a big deal. Mix all three together and add a pinch of uncertainty and you'll get the perfect storm. Had I just been travelling around SE Asia, I think I'd have been fine. Had I just been moving to Australia I think I'd have been nervous but fine. Had I travelled with people instead of "bravely" going off alone, I think I'd also have been fine. We shall never know. In hindsight I definitely would've done this whole extravaganza in two parts: the travelling and the move. Again, not one of my best ideas.
The Bad Backpacker
Whilst having one particular freakout in a hostel somewhere in Thailand, I came to the conclusion that I am a bad backpacker. I just don't really enjoy it - kind of ironic for someone who planned to make a career out of it, eh?
Allow me to explain. One of the guys on the India trip once told us that there were two types of traveller: long-term and short-term. Makes sense, right? Long-term travellers are the ones that can just continually travel. They don't mind being on the road for months or even years at a time and they don't necessarily need a "home base". On the other hand, short-term travellers prefer to have a home base and just do short trips around. Like the name suggests. I fall into the short-term category. I'm a homebody at heart and I just can't go that long without the creature comforts of home - be it my own bed, a washing machine, or carpeted floors. Simple things please simple minds. I think this reason alone makes me a "bad backpacker": I just can't travel for long periods of time, 4 weeks is my maximum. Although as I said, had I been returning to my home country and not moving abroad as well, maybe I could've lasted longer. Secondly, I don't cope well with spontaneity. I like to plan, organise and list. Lists are my favourite. I think it's a byproduct or even a coping mechanism of my anxiety if I'm honest. Having a set routine and being aware of all the details makes me a lot calmer and happier, I'm a bit of a control freak. Therefore the whole spontaneous-travel-lifestyle doesn't really gel with me. I was actually very spontaneous in Thailand, not booking tickets or accommodation until the night before, but maybe that was actually a hindrance? What came first, the chicken or the egg? My indecisiveness or my anxiety? Either way, I was suffering from both homesickness and FOMO. I wanted to go home but at the same time, I didn't want to miss out on anything or for people to judge me for wasting this amazing opportunity. At the end of the day, I just made the executive decision to go home, I was too panicky and I just wasn't making the most of everything.
Can I still be a travel writer?
Even though going to Bali and seeing a bit more of Thailand would've been very convenient blog-wise, my decision not to go isn't the end of the world. I can still go back to Bali and in the meantime, Australia is a massive country. Actually huge. So there's a lot to see and write about here. Plus being a long-term traveller isn't a necessity for travel writing. Technically I'm still 'travelling' whilst in Australia. I mean, I'm on a working holiday visa so I'm legally obliged to holiday once in a while ;)
But on a more serious note, there's plenty I can still write about. I haven't even touched on studying abroad. There is hope for me yet! Plus I've just got Final Cut Pro so expect some cinematic masterpieces coming your way soon . . .