I can’t remember exactly how old I was, early high school years maybe, a family friend of ours had just returned from travelling around Australia. Every time he had rang home, his mum had put a pin on a map, I thought it was awesome. He then showed me the photos of him climbing up the Sydney Harbour Bridge and that was it, I knew I had to do it too…climb up a bridge, how cool!!! From that point, I had made it my goal that one day I would visit Australia, 10000 miles away. It was the first thing on my bucket list and something I was desperate to complete ASAP.
I was 18, just completed 2 years at college (studying Travel and Tourism none the less!) and in the September, I landed a 25hour a week job working behind a bar in a restaurant for minimum wage. When I took the job I knew it was only going to be a way just to earn a bit of cash, I’d already signed up to spend 3 months working in America on a summer camp so would be leaving in the near future anyway. This gave me 8 months to save enough to cover my time in the States and for a month I wanted to do in Australia once I had returned home.
I was still living at home, which helped me out a lot. I gave my parents a bit of ‘housekeeping’ money and I had a tiny car to get me to and from work, but I put away £500 a month from each pay cheque into the travel fund.
Did I make sacrifices to be able to afford travel?
Hmm a little bit I guess, I found that working in a restaurant gave me odd shifts but I was also working with my friends so it killed 2 birds with one stone. I saw my friends at work, so I didn’t spend any money going out afterwards…the shifts always clashed so we never really had days off at the same time to go out anyway. I’ve never been a big shopper so that wasn’t a problem either (although with my very first pay cheque, I treated myself to a memory foam mattress…I got fed up of springs digging me in the back!)
So come June I had paid all my Camp America fees, I planned to use the money I earned on Camp to fund a week sight seeing in New York City before coming home and had booked my all important month trip to Australia. 4 months of travel, paid for in just 8 months.
The trip didn’t disappoint. I visited Sydney, Brisbane and Cairns with 2 of my friends. We stayed in 4 person dorms and made no sacrifices when it came to experiencing everything we wanted to (white water rafting trips, seeing the barrier reef, Steve Irwin’s zoo, jet boating, the Blue Mountains, surf lessons, the Sydney Harbour Bridge climb and lots more).
What did the trip teach the younger me?
- That ANYTHING is possible if you put your mind to it.
- The value of money.
- Work hard, play hard.
Having a dream to visit Australia at such a ‘young’ age, gave me a purpose when I actually started earning money. I didn’t blow my ‘new found fortune’ on just random stuff or going out getting drunk (like most people my age), I saved it knowing the more I put away, the quicker I’d be able to fulfil my dream. That was 9 years ago, my bucket list continues to grow, I’ve been fortunate to visit over 30 countries now by continuing to be sensible and saving my money. It also motivates me to know that bucket list dreams ARE reachable (including staying in a water villa in the Maldives!). I don’t just put them on there for the fun of it, I know that by working hard and saving hard, that they’ll eventually be a reality, and if that’s not motivation, I don’t know what is.
Can you remember what your childhood dream was? Have you been able to fulfil it or another life goal?