Wow. I can now say I’ve spent 2 whole years living abroad! Living overseas and travelling the world was something I always dreamed of doing, but never thought I would get the opportunity to do. Before I left New Zealand, I wrote a post about why I had decided to sell the majority of my possessions. Reading this now makes me a bit nostalgic, but I am so proud that I managed to create a life I love.

It’s odd that I haven’t seen my friends, family or homeland for 2 years. I will turn 30 in another country, with a completely different set of friends than I began my twenties with.




Sometimes I feel I’ve forgotten what it’s like to be Kiwi, and then I’ll speak to a foreigner and they will laugh when I say I’m from ‘New Zea-LUND’ and I like ‘fush and chups’ and I’m promptly reminded of where I’m from.

During the past 2 years I have done, seen and achieved more than I did the 27 years prior. I have crammed so much in and met some amazing people along the way that it scares me to think what if I was still living in little old New Zealand? What would my life be like is I had chosen to settle down rather than travel? Usually I write ‘How To’ pieces on my blog, so I thought I’d mix things up a little…think of this post as my travel diary collection of the last 2 years of my life.

The Sony A6500 is the best mirrorless camera for travel photography

Glasgow, Scotland

Places I’ve lived:

  • Kelowna, British Columbia
  • Banff National Park, Alberta
  • Edinburgh, Scotland

Snowshoeing at Big White Ski Resort in Kelowna, Canada

Snowshoeing at Big White Ski Resort, where I completed two ski seasons

Places I’ve been:

Countries:

  • England
  • Scotland
  • Canada
  • USA (Hawaii)

National Parks:

  • Banff National Park (Canada)
  • Jasper National Park (Canada)
  • Yoho National Park (Canada)
  • Kootenay National Park (Canada)
  • Cairngorms National Park (Scotland)
  • Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park (Scotland)

Town of Banff in the evening with a backdrop of Cascade Mountain

I spent several months living in Banff National Park in the Canadian Rockies




 

Cities and towns:

  • Oahu, Hawaii
  • Vancouver, Canada
  • Jasper, Alberta
  • Calgary, Alberta
  • Radium, British Columbia
  • London, England
  • Glasgow, Scotland
  • Dundee, Scotland
  • St. Andrews, Scotland
  • Inverness, Scotland
  • Towns and villages along the Scottish National Trail

Vancouver viewed from the Granville Island bridge

Vancouver- one of my favourite cities in the world

The things that went wrong

  • When my van’s battery died and wouldn’t jumpstart on the way to a music festival
  • Getting fired (twice)
  • Fracturing my lower spine snowboarding
  • Almost getting lost in the Scottish Highlands when my phone died (and my map along with it)
  • Being so low on cash that I had to visit food rescues to eat

Read: How to take yourself on an adventure

Read: Why you should travel the world solo




My favourite moments

Bow Lake in fall

Hanging out in my backyard in Canadian Rockies




Things I’ve checked off my bucket list

  • Learning to snowboard & nailing double black runs
  • Completing 2 ski seasons (snowboarding at 3 different hills)
  • Going snowmobiling
  • Going dog sledding
  • Climbing a 60 ft ice tower
  • Surfed in Hawaii
  • Watched my first live ice hockey game
  • Standing on a frozen lake
  • Hiked a snowy mountain to watch the sunrise
  • Climbed the Stairway to Heaven
  • Seeing Lake Louise
  • Seeing grizzly bears, black bears, elk, squirrels, bighorn sheep, a fox, a badger, and a pine marten for the first time
  • Going snowshoeing
  • Going to a country music festival
  • Seeing Kings of Leon and Passenger live
  • Taking part in a Native Canadian sweat lodge ceremony
  • Going to Calgary Stampede
  • Attending Wanderlust yoga festival
  • Horse riding in the Canadian Rockies
  • White water rafting down Kicking Horse river
  • Living the #vanlife
  • Seeing the Tower of London
  • Visiting my 4x great grandfather’s grave in Scotland
  • Visited Melrose Abbey
  • Camping in bothies
  • Climbing my first munro
  • Castle hunting in Scotland
  • Spending a girls hiking weekend at a remote loch-side hostel at Rannoch Moor

Standing outside the Border Hotel next to the Scottish National Trail plaque

Starting my greatest adventure: the Scottish National Trail

The lessons I learned

There have been so many things I’ve learned about myself, the world, and different cultures. I won’t go into a frenzy trying to repeat them all, but these are some of the most recent things I’ve discovered:

Look through your eyes, not through a lens

One thing I always notice whenever I’m travelling somewhere remotely touristy is the amount of hands thrust skyward clutching phones- people either looking at their reflection or at a castle or monument…through a device. The thing is, you can Google an image of the thing you’re standing in front of at home and look at that…why not, you know, use your eyes to see it? When it’s right in front of you, and you’ve paid x amount to go and see it…
Recently I watched a guy standing in the front row of a gig (he’d stood in line for hours to claim that spot) and he filmed the whole concert on his phone. Even worse, he watched the whole gig on his phone. Don’t be that guy.

Scottish National Trail

I’ve seen some of the grandest scenery in Scotland in 2018

Determination is a very important factor for success

I consider myself successful, because I am a happy person. Not because I’m rich (I’m not), or because I’m my goal weight (I’m not). I have a great job (I love my work). I grew up on a farm in the middle of nowhere (honestly, has anyone ever heard of a place called Apiti?) where my family lost all their money, so I came from humble beginnings. I was also bullied as a child for being ugly and overweight. A teacher once said to me I would never amount to anything because I was a daydreamer. I wasn’t the smartest kid in class, but I loved reading and writing. The only thing I owe to my success is that I am a very determined person. When I left New Zealand two years ago I was determined to create a life that made me happy. It was determination that got me here.




My version of success is different from most

I roll my eyes every time I see an ad on Facebook trying to sell a book or course on how to make a bunch of money. If I were to win a substantial amount of money, I wouldn’t want billions, or even millions. I just want enough to cover my living costs, and then some more for travel. You don’t need a lot of money to have a good life. You don’t need a lot of money to support yourself. You don’t need a lot of money to make others happy.

Loch Ossian Corrour Estate

Being a freelance travel writer has taken me to some spectacular locations around the world


What’s next?

Many people ask me “What’s the next big adventure?”. Well, I don’t have any big adventures planned, I have many small and medium sized ones. The last two years have been an amazing, crazy ride, and for now I crave a little stability. Recently I moved into a flat, took up a full-time job and have started to settle in Edinburgh.

This doesn’t mean the end of my adventuring- quite the opposite in fact. I now have the perfect base to explore Europe (and Scotland, of course).

Exploring castles in London

More castle exploring in the UK is on the agenda for 2019

Exciting plans for 2019

  • Driving the North Coast 500
  • A foodie weekend in Gdansk, Poland
  • Spending St. Patricks Day in Cork, Ireland
  • Hiking Ben Nevis, the highest mountain in Scotland
  • A road trip to Wales
  • Exploring England
  • Running women’s retreats in Edinburgh with a group of fantasitic women (contact me for more information)
  • Releasing my book on being the first solo female to hike the Scottish National Trail!
  • Who knows what else I’ll get up to- but I’ll think of something 😉

 

 




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