Back in 2012 when I packed my bags and left my home town, I never imagined I’d still be on the road 6 years later. That was always the ultimate goal, but I’ve forever been a dreamer and I knew it would take some working towards.
Over those past 6 years I’ve called 2 far away cities home, 2 tropical islands part-time homes, I’ve visited over 30 countries, revisited a handful of special ones (because I fell hopelessly in love), had thousands of adventures across several continents and I’ve been officially on the road and fully nomadic for more than a year now.
For me, leaving home wasn’t a hard decision. I knew I was ready for a huge change and a massive adventure. I was ready to take a risk and see what rewards it might bring. I was craving so much more from life than what had become my norm.
When I think back to the day I boarded that plane (to Saudi Arabia of all places!), I was young, naïve and I had so much to learn about life and this extraordinary, but somewhat challenging world we live in.
Life over the years has become a rather fun game of trial and error, a few lessons being learnt the hard way. But that’s OK. Now I can guide others planning to make a move, pack their bags and take a risk. Or those simply toying with plans of making their own dreams come true.
So, here are a few things I wish I knew the day I boarded that flight on route to a new life….
1. Research where you’re going
Sounds like common sense, right? But I don’t just mean google the place. I mean really get stuck in. Read books, join forums, make connections. When I was planning a move to Saudi Arabia I spent a solid 80% of my life doing research. I researched the food, the culture, how I should and shouldn’t behave, what I should wear and how I should speak. I spent hours on the internet building up a picture in my mind of how my life would be. What I’d eat, where I’d go on a weekend, who my friends might be. I joined forums, asked questions, read blogs. We are blessed to live in a digital age where people all over the world openly document their experiences from different corners of the earth on blogs and online communities. Utilise all these resources. You need all the information you can get.
2. You’ll be nervous
From the moment I landed the job in Saudi Arabia to the final goodbyes to my mum at the airport, there was not one ounce of me that doubted my decision. I was confident this was the right thing and I’d not experienced one single nerve.
Until I got off the plane. Then I was a jittering wreck.
It doesn’t matter how confident you are that this is the right decision, you are going to be pushed so far out of your comfort zone that you are going to be nervous. You’ll be nervous of being alone in a strange place, nervous of being thrust into a culture so far removed from your own, nervous of meeting new people. Simple things like going to the supermarket become nerve wracking.
Prepare yourself for these natural feelings and work with them. They will wear off as you become more comfortable, and they don’t mean you made the wrong decision. It’s just going to take time to settle into new customs and habits and to break old ones that have become second nature.
3. Stay in touch
Sometimes distance and time differences can make it seem hard. Trust me, try and keep in touch, by phone or email. Especially with family. I’ve learned that it can be as hard for them as it is for me and that they love hearing about what I’m up to much more than I initially gave them credit for.
It’s true that during years away from home, friends will dwindle. Times will change but the important ones will always be there. Learn to accept that.
Not everyone will understand, be interested in or even accept your new life. Be OK with that.
Remember that sometimes being far away from home can be a lonely place and that sometimes you will need them too.
Plus, if ever move back home you might need them even more!
4. You don’t need much stuff
Oh my god, you do not need much stuff! I am still constantly trying to get rid of stuff. Stuff I don’t want, stuff I don’t need. I have nowhere to keep stuff and I live out of one suitcase. Even if you have a base, you learn not to hold on to stuff. It becomes a pain and quite frankly, once you break away from a materialistic lifestyle and begin to fill your life with adventures you stop even wanting stuff anyway. The desire to have stuff completely fades.
And finally, the most important…
5. Believe in fate
You’ve just taken the biggest risk you’ll probably ever take in your life. Take a step back, admire the view. Be inspired, be empowered, be motivated, be proud. Let the universe do its thing. Live in the present, try to forget about the past and not worry about the future and let life take its course. We all need to learn to be a little more present. Enjoy yourself and see how things turn out and what opportunities arrive. I have been surprised time and time again by the doors that have been opened to me simply by having the courage to step out of my comfort zone and into the big wide world that I have grown to love so much.