The Six Month Plan: England, Europe, Ecuador and More

London England Big Ben London Eye

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??

“Put me in a rickshaw and get me back to India, quick!”

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.

India Mamallapuram Krishna's Butter Ball

A giant rolling boulder gathers no.. people?

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.

Porto Portugal river boats

Porto, Portugal
(photo courtesy of Suzy Guese)

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!

Girona Spain Costa Brava

Girona, Spain

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?

Well.

  • 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 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.

Delhi India gurdwara chapatti rolling Westerner

Rollin’ chapatti like a pro in a Delhi gurdwara

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? 

About Flora

Flora Baker is the founder and editor of Flora the Explorer, where she writes about her travels around the world, her volunteering exploits and her ongoing attempt to become fluent in Spanish by talking to anyone who'll listen. Follow her on Facebook, Twitter, and Google Plus.

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14 Responses to The Six Month Plan: England, Europe, Ecuador and More

  1. Monica Stott (@TheTravelHack) August 21, 2012 at 2:18 pm #

    Wow, sounds like you’ve got a really exciting 6 months planned. I’ve never been to South America but would love to. And I know what you mean about getting home and not knowing what to do with all those extra shoes and clothes, especially after having no choices other than flipflops or bare feet for so long!

    Looking forward to meeting you at TBU!

  2. Ceri August 30, 2012 at 1:28 pm #

    I’m so excited for you, hun! 😀 I can’t wait to hear about your South American adventures and, until then, read all about the past ones! 😀 (I’m especially curious about how you spent a year in SanFran given that US immigration usualy hates all foreigners. Hahaha)

  3. Jennifer Cowan September 3, 2012 at 4:30 pm #

    Great blog Floa! I completely concur with your experience arriving home. I am still a bit disoriented and just want to keep adventuring. Funnily enough, my next destination is South America and hiking the Inca Trail as a must. Might not be until next fall though….reasons to be revealed at a later date.
    I miss you and love “seeing” you on FB and keeping up with you and the other dear girls.
    Sending you much love,
    Always
    Jena xoxoxo

    • florabaker September 16, 2012 at 10:43 pm #

      Thanks so much Jenna, glad to hear you’re reading about my exploits 🙂 It’s definitely a weird feeling, isn’t it? But your next travel adventure sounds wonderful – and might we possibly be in the area at the same time?! A meet up will definitely have to be arranged if so.

      I look forward to hearing about what you’re up to! Missing you hugely xx

  4. Brendon Of Nerd Travels October 25, 2012 at 5:57 am #

    Good on you :). Really cool blog you have here. I really admire your passion, and writing style. Can’t wait to read about your future travels. You never know I might even run into you in South America next year haha, I’m traveling through Central and South America for 6-8 months starting next week.

    • Flora November 11, 2012 at 4:35 pm #

      Cheers Brendon! Your trip sounds great, and I’m sure we’ll probably run into each other somewhere! Somehow bloggers are never found too far apart :p What kind of route are you doing?

  5. Pips Spratt February 22, 2013 at 10:28 pm #

    Strange question – but I LOVE your top in the first photo of you in the rickshaw at the top….did you buy that in India?

    I’m off to India in the summer, monsoon I know, but its the only time I can go for a decent length.

    Also saw the picture of you making chapattis in Delhi….where was that? And would you recommend it? Xx

    • Flora February 28, 2013 at 3:52 am #

      Haha no, that top is actually from Monsoon! I bought it just before I left but it was perfect for India, lovely and breezy plus didn’t look creased 🙂 have an incredible time in India – which part of the country are you off to? I was making chapattis at a gurdwara in Delhi, not sure of the name but it was just up the street from the Red Fort.. It’s a lovely place to visit but I only helped out in the kitchen for twenty minutes or so!

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