I’ve been back at home in London for almost two weeks now.
It’s been a definite shock to the system: after six months and fifty different beds, I’m back on my comfortable but creaky single mattress at my dad’s house, which, despite the welcome addition of my cat, just isn’t the same as the Asian guesthouses I’ve been used to.
I feel a bit empty, and constantly confused; instead of filling a backpack with passport, camera and suncream, it’s suddenly all about putting Oyster cards and house keys into a handbag. I have too many shoes to know what to do with, I’ve no idea how to cope with English weather, and since when was London transport this expensive??
But never fear, folks: this is just a passing crisis. And it’s definitely not the end of Flora the Explorer! Not by a long shot.
The next six months are actually set to be a bit of a whirlwind. Because it only took a couple of days in London for me to realize that I wasn’t done with the travelling bug just yet – and so I immediately started planning out my next big adventure.
The destination: South America.
The time: February 2013.
I’ll be heading to Ecuador to do a teaching placement for five months, before setting off around the continent to explore all the incredible sights it has to offer. And here’s the most exciting part: I’m booking a one-way ticket.
Which means that, instead of returning to England with the typical post-travel dread, I’ve got myself on a countdown to leave again. Six months to learn as much Spanish as I can; six months to improve my blog to the best of my ability; six months to explore London, to look back on my past adventures, and to prepare for an even bigger one.
This, in turn, means evening classes at a Spanish school on Oxford Street as I try to converse in the language of an entire continent (give or take); epic gym sessions to make me hardy enough to hike the Inca Trail; a multitude of catching up with the friends I haven’t seen in months; the thrills and spills of a part-time job in the local pub; a lot of frenzied typing in coffee shops; and a continuing hunt for the elusive perfect travelling backpack.
So what about the blog?
You might see where I’m going with this. Despite returning to London, there will be no sudden silence where this travel blog is concerned. Because I am a writer, dammit! And I want to ensure that this chosen career path doesn’t take a dip just because I’ve come back home for a bit. I’ll be keeping you up to date with everything I’m doing, as well as revisiting some of my past travels, which I haven’t yet had a chance to write about, but am longing to!
Over the next few months I’ll be reblogging old trips, starting with the most memorable & working back – like volunteering at an Icelandic music festival, learning to live like a local in Florence, wandering through the souks of Damascus, partying it up in my year abroad in San Francisco, and discovering my love for all things ancient in Petra. It could even go as far back as my first long distance trip, aged 8, to Japan. Not so much a solo travelling trip – my dad was directing a play there – but it still felt pretty adventurous at the time!
My itchy travelling feet can’t sit still for long though, so there’ll be a handful of trips around Europe while I’m waiting for ‘the big one’ in Feb. This should precipitate a whole new onslaught of fresh posts, too, as I rediscover my old European stomping grounds with fresh new travel blogger eyes.
I’m heading to Milan next week for a reunion with some of the girls I met in India, hopefully going back to Iceland in November – and then there’s my trip to Europe next month, the reasons for which are proof that I’m taking this whole travel blogging thing much more seriously of late.
The next level: blogger style
One of the first questions you’re asked while travelling is “so, what do you do?” See, while I was away I got used to telling people I was a writer. Freelance, self employed, and job hunting; poet, author and blogger; I said it every which way possible. And after a while, I began to believe it myself.
So much so that, during my six weeks working as a PR consultant in Punjab, I acted on impulse and booked myself a ticket for the Travel Bloggers Unite conference, which takes place in Porto, Portugal, at the start of September. A pretty adventurous move, some may say, for a girl who’s only been blogging for a few months. But I figured hey, why on earth not?
Fast forward a few months more and I’ve also organized my attendance at the TBEX conference in Girona, Spain, a couple of weeks after TBU. This means that, firstly, I’ll be spending most of September ‘on the continent’, as it were, but secondly, that I’ll be eagerly absorbing as much as I can about the travel blogging world from the very people who I’ve been reading and researching ever since I left for Asia. It’s a really exciting opportunity, and one I’m sure will help bring this blog’s progress along in leaps and bounds. There’s also a rather exciting element to this trip which I will divulge later… but it’s a good’un!
Lessons from the road
But there has to be a reason for travelling so long, right? What awe inspiring self-discoveries have I made since I left Heathrow in the snow at the beginning of February?
- I’ve found that free guesthouse wifi, when accessed on a lowly iPod, never seems to work when you’re lying down on your bed. Instead, it’s only discoverable if you walk around holding it up in the air – and the best connection is always mysteriously in the bathroom.
- After suffering the infamous Delhi Belly for much too long, I’ve been dry-brushing my teeth for months. I resolutely spit away all shower water that makes it past my lips, and I’m still cautious about drinking from the tap in London.
- I’ve mastered the art of the bucket shower with particular finesse and am a bit bitter about using shower heads again.
- I stopped wearing eye liner when India’s climate constantly sweated it off for me, and I haven’t looked back since. And I finally like how my face looks without it!
- I took my first hesitant yogic steps in the most terrifying form of yoga around and am pretty sure I won’t be searching out my local Iyengar centre any time soon.
- I learnt more about my own hair removal than I ever have before, in more variants than I ever thought possible.
- My threshold for spicy food has all but disappeared, after eating curry for practically every single meal. Although the food I eat in England now seems to always be missing a certain something…
But most crucially? I reaffirmed my love of travelling, and my certainty that I can keep on doing this and really enjoy it – for a good few years more, at least.
Which is why I’ve already put my South America plan into action. This time in six months I should be catching a flight to Ecuador. A new continent, a new adventure. And I can’t wait!
What exciting travel plans do you have coming up?