Becca Cronk, 24 years old, 🇬🇧, tells the story about her world travel in 2014 and how she dealt with her fears and gained valuable experiences.
FEAR DIDN’T HOLD ME BACK.
Saying goodbye to the people you love before boarding a plane by yourself for the first time is an incredibly hard thing to do. For many people, travel is just talk. An idea they get after finishing school or university that they intend to work towards, but end up settling into a career instead. I have met so many people whose lives have become just that, I wasn’t going to let that happen to me. I have always been the type of person that gets excited by the idea of something but never actually follows through, however this was the first thing in my life where I was determined enough to work my ass off for it.
After leaving 6th form College in 2012, I worked multiple jobs for 2 years until I saved enough money to start my adventure. There were many things that could easily have set me back from going, but they never did.
My parents are driving me to Heathrow. My dad puts on my favourite song, Secret World by Peter Gabriel, and I sit in the back reading various cards and letters from friends and family wishing me goodbye and good luck. Any sense of excitement or anticipation I may have felt were shadowed by the fact that I was utterly terrified. Not only had I never lived away from home before, I had never been away from home for longer than 3 weeks. But there I was, on a plane to Vietnam. The start of a round the world trip, and I wouldn’t be returning home for 11 months.
The thought of travelling alone can be quite intimidating to anyone, but I wouldn’t have done it any other way. Not that there weren’t difficult times. I recall my 3rd night in Vietnam, I was on a boat in Halong Bay – one of South East Asia’s most beautiful natural wonders, with a group of people I had only met a couple days before. I spent that evening curled up in my bed, crying hysterically whilst frantically trying to get through to my parents back home. I spent £30 in overseas calls, but I didn’t care. At that moment I was adamant that I made the wrong decision and wanted to come home.
Of course I am glad I didn’t, and truthfully I don’t think I ever would have, but this is an example of the personal struggles that come with travelling alone for the first time. However, I am glad I experienced that emotional breakdown. The fact that I pushed through it in the way that I did was reassuring to both myself and my family back home, and there is nothing wrong with a little self doubt to put things into perspective and to learn not just about culture, by also myself. Luckily for me, that was the only time during the entire 11 months where I considered myself homesick. Sure, I missed my family and friends, but not enough to actually want to leave. I was far too preoccupied soaking up as much experience and knowledge as I possibly could; What a journey I went on.
A cambodian market, and the line of bracelets were a beautiful but tragic symbol of memorial at the cambodian killing fields.
The first 6 weeks were spent in South East Asia. I made my way through Vietnam, Cambodia, Southern Thailand, Singapore and Bali. I guess you could say I threw myself in at the deep end starting in Hanoi. It was quite a culture shock, but I think that’s what I needed. A place that is so different in almost every way to my familiar homeland. I can still remember stepping outside of the Airport after I landed, the humidity was so intense I felt like I was in a Greenhouse.
It took my typical English-self a few days to adapt, but I shortly learnt to indulge in it. It really intensifies the simple pleasures like a cold beer or running into the ocean. The kind of things I wouldn’t have thought twice about back home. When it rained, I would be found walking around outside, a warm shower to my skin. I don’t think I’ll ever be able to enjoy English rain like I used to again.
The weather I experienced in South East Asia contrasted with my experience of getting off the plane in Sydney. It was September, coming to the end of an Australian winter, the air was bitterly cold and the only clothes I had with me were shorts, dresses and tops, the majority of which I purchased at various Thailand markets. I don’t think I can consider myself a ‘traveller’ for the 7months I was in Australia, as I spent a lot of my time working in Sydney. I initially got a bit of stick for choosing Sydney as a city to settle down in, as it was considered an obvious choice, but I think its popular for a reason. Its full of culture, art, nightlife, beauty and landmarks, and I think I felt more welcome in Sydney than I have in any other city I’ve visited. I learnt so much about myself in that city, and for a short period of time, it was my home.
I was 22 years old, when I returned home from travelling. I came back with very little money and was living with my parents. Yet I considered myself richer than I have ever been before in my life. My experiences are something I wouldn’t change for any career or any price tag.
From the turquoise waters surrounding the Thai Isles, to the 5am breakfast at Mount Batur in Bali. Treating myself to a trip to the Sydney Opera house, and driving down the Great Ocean Road with a friend I had become so close with so quickly. The privilege of being with my parents as they lived out their lifelong dream of travelling New Zealand, and feeling like I really was in Middle Earth when I first saw the snow caps on top of the mountains. Road tripping across the West Coast of America and seeing places I wanted to visit since I was a child. Seeing the Redwood trees for the first time, and camping out amongst the mountains in Yosemite. I feel blessed.
Scenic Views of New Zealand.
I returned home exactly as I left. My parents smiling at the gate as I struggle to keep up with my luggage. Dad puts on Secret World by Peter Gabriel on the drive home as I try to put on a brave face whilst battling emotions. I am exhausted, physically and emotionally. But it’s not over. I have had a small taste of the world, yet there are so many more places for me to explore. We live in a day and age where we are privileged to have the opportunity to see what the world presents us. Its your world, so go and see it.