Well, You See That Girl In The Picture Above? (and actually the picture below…and well, pretty much the face you’ll be seeing consistently throughout this blog!) Yep, That’s Me! Jennifer.
Or, I guess most people just call me Jenni (far too many syllables in Jennifer apparently!), so you can just call me Jenni too.
So now that we know what I look like and what to call me, perhaps I should start by telling you a bit more about me; who I am, what makes me tick and what my travels are about. Firstly though let me start with saying a quick thank you to you for coming onto my page and reading about me and my life and what I have to say. I know we all live a fast paced busy life, so it really means a lot. Thanks.
So Where Is Home For Me?
Home for me is England. A little village just outside of London. Thirty minutes on the train or twenty minutes down the M1 and you’re in the centre of busy, bustly London. And I love it! To me London has to be one of the best cities in the world, (Istanbul a close second… Patriotism and a skyline that includes St Paul’s Cathedral grounds enough for taking the lead). Being right on our doorstep I’m able to enjoy the excitement of Capital city life against local village life the absolute perfect amount. I can go in as and when I please quite easily and economically. I can visit my favourite places; bookshops, pubs, restaurants for example. I can soak in the city’s character and diversity and I can take a stroll up and down the Thames or through the quirky side streets and markets, watching life happening all around me. I can do all this without ever growing tired of it, the novelty never wearing off… Because I then get to leave and come back home, back into the calm and peaceful pace of countryside and village life. This to me is the finest definition of the best of both worlds.
How A Passion Was Born
I think one of my earliest memories in life was as a little girl, just three years old. I was on an airplane with my mum, my dad and my brother travelling to America. I remember getting upset because I had wanted to go and sit next to my dad (sorry mum). In the end I think the notion of a screaming three year old on a tin can flying however many miles up in the air was just way too much, and so they let me move. Much to the relief I’m sure of our neighbouring travellers. (Just look at that picture… Yes folks, I once was really that cute!)
This was to be the first of what would become a lifetime of flying back and forth from America, my second home in the world. My uncle had moved there before I was even born. He married who is now my aunt, and they gave me and my brother our three cousins. Over the years we have road tripped from their home in Florida to camp in the smokey mountains, visit family members in Virginia and Pennsylvania, with a little side trip to DC. We’ve abused the crap out of the fact they live next to some of the finest beaches in the world, and of course… well, Disney!
The feelings I would get travelling out to America still sit with me today. I knew even then that it was something special, something different. Even now I can’t describe that feeling, and as I sit here trying to write about it I can feel it in my chest, rising up to my throat. A sort of flutter of excitement tinted with lust and yearn, and maybe even a bit of sorrow. Does anyone else understand what I mean? It’s become the feeling that I associate now with any type of travel, the idea of being on the move, visiting somewhere out there in the world. There’s no word for it, just a feeling. And it’s become a feeling I think I’ve come to chase or that I can’t live without.
So Uncle Keith, little did you know when you moved out to America the ripple effect it would have on someone who wasn’t even a flutter of the eye back then. Not only has it provided me with a hundred of some of my best travel memories, it’s also given me the gift of the passion to explore. Perhaps without it I wouldn’t have been inspired to get out and see the world the way I have, and the way I will continue to do so.
A History Of Travels
I guess you can say I’ve been travelling independently now since I was 20 years old. I had packed my backpack for the first time and headed for the Greek Cyclades. I spent a month hopping from island to island. The rush of not knowing where we would be staying from place to place and the freedom of knowing we could choose any island we wanted as the next island… Well that was it, I was in love with the backpacker style of travel.
What do I mean when I say backpacker style? To me this doesn’t have to mean simply travelling with a backpack. I mean anyone can carry a backpack and then plonk themselves in a resort to stay there for two weeks. Or reversibly anyone can travel from place to place carrying a wheely suitcase. Nothing wrong with either scenario. I guess when I say it I just mean to say travelling into the unknown. Not knowing exactly where I’ll be staying or going. Be it for a short time or for a long time. Having the freedom to chose these things as I go along.
After a month of hopping around, I then decided to board a catamaran bound for Turkey. I made my way to the guesthouse I had stayed in for a week the year previous, lay down my backpack, and made the decision that I would find a job and stay here for a year. So that’s what I did. I worked in the guesthouse and I found a job on a beach bar. I learned the language (most of which I’ve forgotten now… well it was over 12 years ago!). I created a family of friends, and fell head over heels in love with the food and the culture. From here on in Turkey would become my third home in the world.
A quick fast forward to now and I’ve travelled the best part of the far east and southern Asia, meandered my way through parts of southern and eastern Africa, and have driven the big open roads of America. I’ve dipped my toe in the Middle East, the Indian Ocean, and Europe. I’ve done this in installments of week long holidays, two week long holidays, or longer trips (When does it go from being a holiday to being a ‘trip’ I wonder??).
An Unsettled Mind
Not only have I travelled over the years, I’ve also lived my life back home in England. All the normal things I’m guessing you would expect; I’ve studied and have tried to find my place in the working world. I’ve had my heart broken and I’ve broken hearts. I’ve watched my family grow and am now the proudest aunt to my kickass nephew. I’ve been happy and I’ve been sad. I’ve succeeded and I’ve failed. On paper I had all the things that suggests a person should be happy. I had great friends, I had a nice flat that I rented and a decent car to drive. I wasn’t rich by any stretch of the imagination but I had enough money to afford all that I had and for holidaying to far flung places. So why wasn’t I happy? As much as I tried to shrug it off and adapt into this life I was living, I just couldn’t shake this feeling. I couldn’t settle. I felt guilty for it. So many people in the world with less than me, yet here I was saying that I wasn’t happy, that what I had wasn’t enough for me (as it turns out it’s not that it wasn’t enough, its just that it wasn’t right). I ached for something more, a life outside of this monotony, outside of material accomplishments. I mean I’m not one of these people who doesn’t enjoy a luxury here or there…I absolutely do. But for it to be my everything… No, it felt lacking. I had lost my spark, my passions, my direction.
So after years of feeling this way I decided that I just couldn’t do it anymore. I decided to do something about it. To take a chance on my instincts which were calling me out into the world. “Maybe my opportunities are hiding somewhere in the world” I wondered. And so on the 5th April 2016, I left. I left the job I had working as a travel specialist. It was a good job with chances of promotion into different areas of travel. I left my family, my friends. I left financial security. I left everything that made me feel safe and secure. I headed for the mountains and that big open road.
Simply put, it’s been the best decision I could’ve made.
I’ve been to this place and that place sure, and it’s been great. I trekked to Everest Base Camp…something I had dreamed of doing for years. The feeling when you set your eyes on the highest peak in the world for the first time…well it’s just spectacular. I finally travelled overland from Cape Town to Nairobi, something I’d been yabbing on about since I first visited Kenya. These have all been incredible experiences, that’s a given. But were these things the only reason for me leaving? No. Some people like to think that I just needed to scratch an itch and I’d be ready to move on. All desires to be out exploring the world over with. Done and dusted. Perhaps there is an element of truth in what they are thinking, I mean I am home now and a lot happier! But also I had left in search for a lifestyle. One that I could make work, that I could adapt my lust for the world with. Is it possible to create a life of freedom and travel whilst also creating foundations? What exactly do I mean by freedom? Was it a physical freedom I was searching for when I left home? Or was it a mental freedom? Possibly a little bit of both initially. I’m still not entirely sure but I am definitely getting closer to figuring it out. I am getting myself back again and I have regained control of my life. I may not have all the answers, but let’s face it…who the hell does! But I am happier now than I have been in a long time and I think that has to count for something. So whilst I understand that changing your life for the unknown is not for everyone, for me it couldn’t have been more right.
I’ve been working on a couple of projects for the best part of my travels, one of which took me back to Nepal early and mid 2017 (you can read more about this by visiting my ‘Make a Difference’ page).
The other things …my treks! I want to help inspire you to believe that you too can trek to see Everest. Anyone who is new to the idea of walking in the mountains, who is unsure whether it’s for you or even whether you can do it…that was me last year. I can relate to how you’re feeling. Not only is it an incredible feeling to walk next to such epic mountains and absolute natural beauty, but walking is an incredible way to find that peace you might be searching for, that clarity. So I’m super excited to finally be able to start this venture with you….to learn more click here.
So I am now back home in England and ready to start yet a new chapter here (life is full of ever changing and new chapters). I will be starting a new job soon which will have me heading back to Botswana and Zambia for a month before coming back and becoming a travel specialist in these two countries.
So yes, my travels have taken me around the globe and then back again. Have I sold out for coming home? Should I still be out there trying to create something? The answer to that, for me, is no. You see, the things I have experienced over the last 18 months, the challenges I’ve confronted and prevailed, the discoveries of knowing what I am able to achieve alone…they’ve all contributed towards finding that peace of mind that I was so craving for. I believe in myself, in my abilities. I’ve regained a control of who I am and ultimately a control of my life and how I wish to live my life. For now that includes knowing that I am happy to be home ready for some new adventures….
…whatever they may be!
Although I’m back home I will still be getting out there and exploring the world! So don’t forget to keep yourself up to date with my happenings and goings on from around the globe by following my blog and reading my posts. I’m so happy to be sharing them with you 🙂