MUM was making lasagne the day I told her.
“I’m going to quit my job to travel the world,” I said, worried that I’d be met with a look of shock and a bit of Italian guilt thrown in there for good measure.
“Oh good,” she said, pouring another spoonful of sauce into the tray as if I’d just told her I’d bought a new pair of jeans. “You’ve been wanting to do that for ages.”
I had been wanting to do it for ages, but a whole bunch of thoughts would usually whiz through my head. They were thoughts like: don’t be silly, it’s time to grow up, where are you going to live, how on earth are you going to afford that?
At the time, I lived in a nice apartment in Brisbane, spent my weekends sipping soy chai lattes with friends and life was pretty fantastic, but something was pulling at me to go. And it didn’t even really matter where.
While my best friends were getting engaged, buying houses, saving money and making anxiety-free eye contact with strangers — you know, being functioning adults — I was Googling how to say “A beer, please” in Spanish and wondering how many pairs of bikinis were too many for my stint abroad.
I was excited about the adventures I hoped were to come, but a part of me felt like I’d be left behind while everyone else was busy “growing up”. I worried I was making a mistake, that I’d return broke, unemployable and be doomed to live with my parents for the rest of my life.
The other half of me thought, heck, let’s give this thing a shot!
So, out of the apartment I moved, any belongings that didn’t fit into my 55-litre backpack were sold and I forgot all about any of the usual adult responsibilities I had assigned myself.
It was time to go. And my first stop was Colombia.
Why Colombia? Well, after many years of reading books by Nobel Literature Prize-winning Colombian author, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, it seemed like a good place to start. I wanted to find out where on Earth this magical, whimsical, tumultuous country I kept reading about was. It turned to be in South America, so that’s where I went.
Arriving at the El Dorado airport in the capital of Bogota, I watched as taxis wove in and out of traffic, the drivers seemingly unfazed by the many near collisions they encountered.
I spotted middle-aged women pushing prams filled with chocolate bars, chewing gum and lollipops for sale to passers-by. I watched men in business suits embrace their families in parked cars, all while I stood on the footpath and watched with my overpacked backpack feeling heavy on my shoulders.
Even though I’d never visited this city before, even though I had no grand plan, or even any idea how to get to my hostel, I felt like I was taking the right step.
No job, no idea, no plan, no worries.
In the year I spent in the country, I travelled through dense jungle, spotting wild hogs and
hummingbirds buzzing between flowers. I strolled along Caribbean coastlines where the high-pitched twangs of the accordion were played to friendly crowds on beaches.
I climbed Sierra Nevadas where snow peaks meet the sea, I fell ill and was nursed back to health with the help of shamanic medicine and I rode a horse through mountains on a dark and spooky Halloween night.
I danced and drank, then drank some more, swung in hammocks, made lifelong friends, and
somewhere along the way, even though being an adult was the last thing on my mind, it all became my job.
I started by telling stories about my trips on my humble travel blog, then a newspaper published one of my articles, then New York Magazine mentioned me in a post, a television program interviewed me, radio shows got in touch — all because I listened to that little voice inside me that said, go on, quit your job, buy that ticket and go travel abroad.
I haven’t stopped travelling since, or Googling how to order beer in different languages, and now, all these years later, I’m working for lastminute.com.au, one of Australia’s largest online travel sites, and a brand I have dreamt about working with for years.
Now I have my dream job: writing stories, sharing experiences and inspiring other people to enjoy the adventure and listen to that voice inside them that says “GO!” because you never know where a trip will lead you … it could even be your dream job.