The last couple of months have seen some rather large changes in my personal circumstances which have resulted in some equally large changes in my travel plans.

The short version of it is that I’m now single again after 2 years and I jetted off to Ecuador at the beginning of January, signalling the start of my next long term travel plan.

All this change and slight uncertainty has made me questions why I travel and how I’ve ended up on the path I’m currently walking.

And I’ve come to the conclusion that I use travel as a tool to run away and distract myself.


Full Circle

My first gap year to Australia was planned way back in late 2008.

At the point I was with a girl who I’d been dating for just over 3 years, and who was aware that I was wanting to travel. Initially my plans were to head down under for 3months – covering the east coast, Sydney for Xmas and new year and finishing off in Melbourne with some buddies who had moved out there.

A nice simple plan which would mean a brief period of long distance love.

But the longer the relationship went on and the more arguments we had the more drawn out my Aussie travels became.

Eventually it culminated in a massive argument, the ending of a 4 year relationship, a few too many beers and me purchasing a working holiday visa – which landed me in Australia a few months later, where I stayed and played for an entire year.

At the time it seemed like a slightly rash decision to make, but it’s the best decision I ever made. It grew me as a person, allowed me to clear my head and I came home with an exciting future of travel with a beautiful girl who I’d met along the way.

A further year down the line and a whole heaps of arguments later I once again found myself throwing away another relationship to go head back out on the road.

But was I ending the relationship because I wanted to go and travel or was I traveling because I ended the relationship?


Why I Travel

I have pondered on that thought alot recently and on why I travel in general. One of the main reasons behind all my adventures is to surf, it’s been my passion for the last decade and is firmly routed behind most of the decisions I make. I do however tend to use it as an excuse for alot of things – rash decisions included.

I also travel because I want to experience the world and explore the unknown. I want to see new things, photograph them and meet heaps of new people.

But the more I think about it the more I realise that a large part of my travelling experience is escapism.

Through my travels I escape the 9-5 grind that many of my friends have become helplessly trapped in. I’m sure this is the reasoning behind many a backpackers decision and something all gap years travellers have I the back of their minds, the postponing of work and ‘real life’.

I also use it to escape the English weather and climate – again another common reason for travel. Everyone enjoys the sun and leaving behind the rainy UK winter, and indeed summer!

It has however become apparent that I use travel as an excuse to avoid alot of other responsibilities, and as the easy option when it comes to making changes, decisions and confronting difficult periods in my life.

Mainly relationships it seems.

So far is worked out pretty well. I had an epic year in Australia and settled into Byronian living – my home away from home.

And this time I’d scored my dream job surf coaching in South America and I’ve also sorted a long term flight ticket that will take me over 18,000 miles through various places on the way to New Zealand.

Both seem like pretty amazing experiences right?

But this travel is underlined with the fact it’s cost me alot. Not just financially but emotionally.

At some point I will run out of places to run to and have to step up and face my fears – the fear of actually having to deal with the day to day issues of normal life and big decisions.

Everyone travels for their own reasons – and I’m sure I’m not the only one who uses it as a way to escape, whether intentionally or not.

I guess we’ll have to wait and see if this latest move of escapism is another stroke of glorious genius or a step too far…I’m sure it’ll entail some fun along the way though!


Have you jetted off to a far flung place to escape, did it help, or did you simply not questions what you were doing?!

Heaps of backpackers travel through Vietnam each year but where are they all going? Here are the main stops on Vietnams backpacker trail: Beginning in the north.

Sapa – Right up in the North West of Vietnam, Sapa is most famous for it’s trekking and home-stays, most visitors spend at least a few days exploring here before heading to Hanoi for some home comforts after some hard work.

Hanoi – It would be wrong to visit Vietnam without checking out their capital city. It’s a busy and noisy city because there’s always something going on just like any good major city. Why not book a Hanoi hotel for a few days to enjoy some of the best tourist attractions in Vietnam. There is plenty to do during the day and a thriving nightlife you really can’t go wrong.

Ha Long Bay – Chances are if you’ve spent more than a minute looking into South East Asia you’ve come across the spectacle that is Ha Long Bay, a must visit for anyone in the area.  This amazing seascape made up of thousands of limestone pillars is often visited via arranged 2/3 day trips from Hanoi but can be done independently. There are both sightseeing orientated trips as well as options for those looking for a bit of a party at the same time.

Hue – A small town located just above Hoi Ann does not receive nearly as many visitors as it’s close neighbor but if  it’s you’re sort of thing its well worth a day or two to explore the Imperial city.

Hoi Ann, Vietnam
Hoi Ann

Hoi Ann – One of the more popular stops in Vietnam famous for it’s tailors. Hundreds of shops offering to make just about any item of clothing you could want, out of any material you want.  Very well made and at ridiculously cheap prices it’s no wonder  so many people chose to get suits and dresses for all occasions made here and sent home.  Hoi Ann has far more to offer than shopping and is arguable one of the nicest towns in Vietnam to explore on foot.

Nha Trang – The must have beach stop along the route, Nha Trang is a typical tourist town.  Sit by the beach all day, take advantage of drink offers at night and maybe squeeze in a day at the waterpark.  What more could you want?

Waterfall in Vietnam

Dalat – Your gateway to the mountains, Dalat is the most visited city in the Central Highlands and offers great adventure activities in the stunning surrounding areas. Easy rider tours are also a popular way to explore the often overlooked mountains of Vietnam.

Mui Ne – Another tropical beach stop, this town is often visited for the main attraction of sand boarding on the nearby dunes.

Ho Chi Minh City – Despite not being the capital HCMC is possibly the most known city in Vietnam.  It truly never sleeps and usually mesmerises its visitors instantly with the constant cramped flow of traffic that fills the roads. HCMC is huge and has tonnes to offer both during the day and at night, you’ll need at least a few days to even scratch the surface.

Mekong Delta – Where the famous river of the SE Asia, The Mekong, meets the sea at the southernmost point of Vietnam, this watery world is easiest seen via a guided tour and if it’s your cup of tea well worth the money.

We loved our time in Vietnam, and with great, regular, cheap transport available from The Sinh Tourist throughout the country it really is easy to cater your trip to exactly what you want.

Certain things change when you start travelling, particularly in the backpacker world. You suddenly have the desire to do things out of the ordinary and act in different ways than what ‘normal’ society dictates. It can be simple things or down right stupid things so You Know You’re a Backpacker When

  • You have the sudden urge to wear anklets/foot jewellery/random bits of string
  • Drinking excessively on a weekday is completely normal
  • …and being sober is an odd sensation and kinda painful!
  • Beard growing, dreadlocks and general hairiness are actively encouraged (sometimes referring to both sexes!)
  • When you won’t spend $4 on a meal, but will blow $20 on booze without a second thought
  • You’ll haggle over 10baht with complete stubbornness – despite it only being 30p
  • Suntan cream and bug spray are your biggest expenses
  • Trying to sleep in a room where people are having sex is something you just deal with
  • The swimming pool DOES count as a shower (failing that public beach showers are the way forward)
  • Wifi is the deal breaker when looking for a bed for the night
  • Sleeping in a van at the side of the road is living the dream

    Parked up for the night
    Parked up for the night

  • Shoes are no longer part of your day to day dress code
  • …and wearing a tshirt is “getting dressed up”
  • …you also genuinely can’t remember the last time you wore socks!
  • Jumping out of a plane is a standard day out
  • You post status updates on Facebook for no other reason that to annoy your friends at home
  • You have no idea how much money you actually have – but you’re sure it’s enough
  • Smelling your clothes is how you pick what to wear (aka “sniff and see!”)
  • This rule also applies to food!
  • The free food shelf is a gold mine
  • You have 800+ Facebook friends but can only really remember a handful of them
  • You’ve perfected the squat toilet technique
  • Tiger balm cures EVERYTHING
  • Your iPod is your most treasured possession
  • If its free, you’ll take – regardless of whether you like/want/need it!
  • You save money by putting apples through as onions on self serve supermarket tils!
  • You can tell anyone the price of booze and where happy hour is…but have non clue about what the time is

    Forget the Amazon tour, let's drink!
    Forget the Amazon tour, let's drink!

  • …or what day of the week it is (see airport transfer concerns!)
  • The only local language you know is how to swear, order a beer and chat up girls/guys at the bar
  • You have a massive craving for things like PG Tips, Heinz Baked Beans, Peanut Butter….
  • You steal toilet paper from places simply so you don’t have to buy it
  • Being able to juggle, dread hair or play with fire suddenly seems like a good career path
  • “I’ll do that tomorrow” actually translates as “I’ll leave it to the last minute or forget”
  • You can name every possession you own
  • …and where in your bag you need to locate it at 3am in a dark hostel dorm
  • Which also means airline baggage handlers are your arch nemesis
  • A 31 hour bus/ferry/train combo is preferential over the extra $40 it’ll cost to fly there in 3 hours

So how many have you guys ticked off – or is that list simply making you wary about hitting the road?!