At the age of 16 I started working. Like most other teenagers my part-time jobs’ purpose was to give me extra cash to pay for all the luxuries my parent’s generous donation of £10pw couldn’t afford (or wouldn’t allow). Although for the most part I’d say I was pretty good with saving, I still managed to spend a fairly large amount on pointless material goods, adhering ignorantly to capitalism because well, that’s what everybody else was doing.
At the age of 17 I started travelling, and from this point onwards my reasons for, and attitudes towards, working had completely changed. Suddenly my bank balance was begging me to be invested somewhere other than H&M. It all started with a crazy jam-packed 5 day visit to Beijing (February 2011) with my 6th form, Havant College. Before this trip the extent of my travels was going back and forth to Ireland to visit family, and two skiing holidays during my early teens (Bulgaria 2008, & Austria 2009). But in Beijing I was bitten by the bug; it was such a culture shock I couldn’t help but want to see what else lay across the British Isles. On my return to the UK I immediately booked a 4 day trip to Athens (April 2011), followed by a 10 day trip to visit a friend of mine in Austria (July 2011); a 2 week InterRailing trip through western Europe (June/July 2012); and a weekend on my own exploring Dublin (August 2012). In just over a year I had visited twice as many countries than I had ever visited in my life.
As you can probably tell, these trips were short and rushed. I’d just about manage to run around and see the main tourist attractions, but before I’d even conjured up the courage to use my phrasebook, I’d be back in the UK. After each trip I never felt fulfilled and always wished to have more time to really soak in the culture and learn about the countries I’d visited. Since 6th form I’d been dreaming of going to South America, but in my head that trip wouldn’t be possible as the flights alone cost twice as much as a week’s holiday in Europe, so if I was gonna make the trip out it’d have to be for longer than a fortnight. But then (sometime during August 2012) impulse took over me and before I really thought it through I had put a deposit down to spend 4 weeks in Peru, volunteering with Globalteer. I had no one to go with, or even a job for the winter to fund it, but that was it. Someway, somehow, and no matter how much my Mother hated the idea, I was determined to go to Peru.
I soon gave up hope that someone else would join me, and I straight away applied for a job in a supermarket to pay for my Peruvian adventure. The next thing I knew my flights were booked; I had decided it would be a great idea to spend a few nights on my own in Lima; been injected with 3 courses of Rabies & Hepatitis B, 1 round of Typhoid, and 1 Hepatitis A booster; ordered a Latin American & Quechua phrase book; a Lonely Planet Guide; bought my first pair of hiking boots, and had reserved a place on a 4D/3N Lares Trek to Machu Picchu.
It was a complete whirl wind – I was still planning and booking things mere hours before my flight! I questioned my sanity regularly, but somehow I made it in the end. I am currently into the 5th day of my trip and am writing from my hostel room in Cusco.
So there you have it, Now I must find some vegetarian food to eat before my tummy starts asking for cuy (guinea pig).