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Hi, I found your site by chance when I was looking for one of those student programs for working abroad, and I love it. Right now I'm 17, doing AS Levels in Media, English, Photography and Psychology at a sixth form college in London. I'm planning to go travelling as soon as I'm out of school. When I found your site I decided that I am going to spend my whole life travelling, living in different places around the world. I want to be a writer and a photographer, and I'm pretty sure travelling is going to give me all the inspiration I need for books, etc.

I wanted to ask you a few questions like: do you have any serious career ambitions? Or are you going to travel forever? (I thought I might want a proper job but now I think I could be really happy to just wander the planet for the rest of my life.) Also, I wanted to ask, do you travel alone or with friends or what? I'm thinking of going off by myself but I worry that I might be lonely in some strange country where I don't know anybody, especially since I'm not that great at making friends with strangers. Another thing: where do you stay on your travels? Do you rent flats or stay in hotels? What's your daily budget? Any advice you could offer would be great.

The last thing I wanted to tell you is that your website is really inspirational. I think you should write a book :) Hope everything's going great for you in Japan (?) right now. Good luck.

Love, Grace.


Dear Grace,

I am sorry for the delay in replying. I’ve been very busy this week, what with moving house etc.

Reading your email a few days ago, I felt that I was looking at something that I myself had written 8 years back. My situation was that as described in my brief history ( I was longing to explore the world, and had the urge to simply travel until the day that I died. This was quite a scary prospect however - even at that age I was worrying about my pension!

I too had concerns about meeting people and feeling lonely in strange countries. I had always been very very shy, keeping myself to myself and hiding behind a mask of mild madness! However, what I soon discovered was that once on the road, I was free to be myself. The people that I was meeting on a daily basis had no preconceptions, I could be exactly who I wanted to be without fear of being judged. This feeling enabled me to truly begin to get in touch with myself (now there’s a lifelong journey!) People do talk about “finding themselves” through travel, and others may scoff, but I personally believe that it has helped me a great deal in achieving just that. I found that it was a lot easier to make friends once outside of the UK. That’s not to say that I was never lonely! Oh boy no! 2 years up a Swiss Alp was by no means easy, and as for last summer spent in a dungeon in northern Japan, well if that wasn’t 100% loneliness I don’t know what it was. But, I got through it, and I’m stronger for it. By no means should you think that a life on the road is one great romantic adventure – it’s not. At times it is absolutely miserable, depressing, you may be completely out of money with nowhere to stay, and not a friend in sight. However, it is at those most desperate times that you will learn the most. Inner strength that perhaps you thought you never had may emerge – whatever happens you will stronger and wiser for the experience.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s not all misery or I wouldn’t be doing it! The rewards really are immense.

I am currently in a very difficult position here in Japan. Not only can I not work due to visa restrictions, but also I am over 10,000 pounds in debt (spread across 6 credit cards!). Yet, I am determined to stay here as I am in love with this country. Every day of my life is a great challenge; I wake up in the morning wondering just what crazy thing will happen to me in the day ahead. Where will I be next week, next month? Last week I nearly booked a flight to Malaysia having decided to go and live on a tropical deserted beach for three months. I changed my mind that evening having spoken to my Japanese girlfriend (whom I have been with for over two years now). What I’m saying is that every single moment of every single day is an adventure, and that enriches my life as nothing else can. This is the main reward. There are many others besides (for example, I have met someone very special whom I never would have had the chance to bump into had I stayed in that house that I bought in Devon at the age of 19, and sold 2 years later for one pound!)

I, like yourself, love to write, and yes, it is my goal to publish my scribblings along with my thousands of photos. Life is a story and I am simply noting down all that happens to me. In addition to all you see online, I have a private diary (now in its 13th year!), in addition to video and audio diaries. I hope that all of this when put together will make addictive reading!

Until this year, I have always managed to stay financially healthy by finding work as I go along. You simply MUST buy Work Your Way Around the World (see ) and join WWOOF (see ). That book is the reason I’m here. Wwoof has enabled me to feel settled when first arriving in France, Japan and Switzerland.

Now to your questions.

Serious Career Ambitions? Well, I think mega-superstardom in the travel book world would do me nicely. I would love to be a successful author, and feel that every word that I write is bringing me a step closer to that, including this email. I’m still young (25) and there is plenty of time for career U-turns in the future. I used to say to the people around me, “I’m going to travel all of my life!” I now appreciate that unless you have a crystal ball a statement like that has absolutely no meaning – one’s entire life can be turned around in a split second by a freak event. It is very dangerous to have strong fixed ideas about your future, as when change occurs, as undoubtedly it will, you will be left stunned and find it much more difficult to adapt to any new situation. Life is a fluid, following the paths laid out before it: that’s not to say that you have no control as of course you do, you can help to direct the flow. Also, I’m not saying that all planning is a bad idea – just don’t feel that you have to decide right now what you are going to do every day between now and your death.

Do I travel alone?

Absolutely. Until I met my girlfriend I had never found anyone that I was comfortable travelling with. But, It does depend on where you are going and what you are going to do. For example, if you were to do something like WWOOF or a placement scheme where you have folks around you who can help you in times of need then going alone is ideal as you have no choice but to immerse yourself in the new “family”. However, if considering doing something like hitch-hiking to India under no circumstances should you go alone, especially being female. There are a lot of crazy people out there as I found when a known paedophile picked me up when I was hitching around Ireland at the age of 16!

Do I stay in hotels or hostels?

To be honest, I don’t do all that much of the moving from place to place on a daily basis thing. I tend to base myself somewhere for a few months, and my home has usually been my place of work too (such as when I worked in a Swiss Hotel and a Japanese guesthouse). When inter-railing around Europe with a broken collarbone I stayed in hostels mainly – although the best thing to do is to tell as many people as possible where you are going before you leave, and wait for them to say “oh, I’ve got a friend there! You could stay with them!” I am currently renting a private apartment in Tokyo.

Daily Budget?

Don’t ask! It’s quite horrendous here in Tokyo, everything’s so expensive. Although I am currently in debt, until late last year I managed to live abroad for about 4 years with no financial problems. I originally left England with 500 pounds. I then worked in Switzerland, where I was able to save for a trip to Japan – in Japan I worked for a year and saved enough to live in Italy for a few months, and so it goes on. (It’s only when you do things like buy a 2000 pound ticket for a same-day flight from Japan to Italy to try and get your girlfriend back after a phone call suggesting you break up, its only then that you experience financial problems!)

I think that joining some kind of student program is a fantastic idea. That way you don’t have to worry so much about it all. There is plenty of time in the future for doing it alone, I suggest that you ease yourself into travelling through some organisation. I spent a summer on an American summer camp for severely disabled adults. That was really really tough but taught me a hell of a lot, and I didn’t have to worry about accommodation or food etc.

Anyhow, I really better go as my eyes are going all squiffy. Do stay in touch, I’d love to hear how you get on. If you have any more questions just ask.

Take Care,


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