How To Move To The UK

“Adventurer Stacey’s in the London, that’s awesome for her! How do I do that?” is what I hear behind every question I’m asked about my recent re-location. I used to ask those questions too before I took on a life of travel and adventure, now that things have gone full-circle I’m smiling to myself. I’ve created a list to break down the steps for a move to the UK (or any country for that matter) which I hope you can find useful:

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#1 Draw up a plan

Preparations for relocation can start up to six months before you move. For me this time, it was only three months however, many people take less time. It’s up to you and your personal needs.

#2 Passport check!

Do you have one? Is it valid for much longer? If you need a new one start going through the process of passport application ASAP as you need a passport to apply for visas. For some people who’re eligible for a UK or EU passport, they won’t need to worry about the next steps (and the rest of us are jealous of you, by the way!)

#3 Get the correct work visa

Most Aussie’s, Kiwi’s and Canadian’s under 31 will opt for a Working Holiday visa. These are easy to get and can take as little as two weeks however, if you’re highly skilled you may want to apply for the highly skilled migrant visas. Check with the British High Commission ASAP which visa type best applies to your situation.

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#4 Book Flights

I’ve written a bit about how to find cheap flights in the past but as a general rule, booking in off season or shoulder season to the UK is usually cheaper, you may also want to see if there is a big difference between business class seats and economy as sometimes the price is very close and being such a long flight for some, you may want that luxury.

#5 Purchase travel insurance

I’m with World Nomads who I strongly recommend because their coverage is so good – they even offer coverage for work-related injuries (lets hope that’s never a problem!) and cover you for more than just the UK. You can also renew your cover as you travel which is great for those of us who need it (like myself!)

#6 Sort out your home

If you own your place, you might want to consider renting it out to help with those mortgage repayments. If you are renting, you’ll want to find someone who can keep your stuff at their place or work out a storage option. Make sure you have this sorted well in advance to moving as you don’t need the stress.

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#7 Mail: what are you doing with it?

You might want to consider getting a friend or family member to open your mail at home and relay anything important to you. Or alternately you can get everything sent to you electronically through a service or from the companies themselves.

#8 Consider power of attorney

This is not a must-do however, many long-term travellers or expats give their power of attorney to a trusted friend of family member back home. This is an extension of someone just reading your mail for you however, you might want to look into it and see if it’s an option for you considering you do plan to be away for a while.

#9 Health checks

You will want to ensure any vaccinations are up-to-date, your dental checks out and your doctor has had a good look at you before you go. You’ll also want to ensure any medications you are on are also available in the UK and take a note from your doctor about any medications you’ll be taking with you on the plane. It’s also important if you have contact lenses or glasses that you take an optical prescription with you as well.

Apparently the horse had a hole drilled in him to drain water... hole is in his penis so he looks like he is weeing when it rains. Cannot verify this story, but thought you'd like to know...

Apparently the horse had a hole drilled in him to drain water… hole is in his penis so he looks like he is weeing when it rains. Cannot verify this story, but thought you’d like to know…

#10 Pack properly and on time

I am an experienced backpacker but for sure, there were packing mistakes I made the first time I moved here. I left some things at home that I sort of needed and had to buy there. I would prefer to go that way than the other way though. You should start packing no more than a month before you leave (in order not to over-pack) and no less than a week before you leave (because you don’t need to stress about packing last moment). I have a general packing list for backpacking too that is a good starting point.

#11 Photocopy important documents

Make copies of important documents before you go: passport, travel insurance, visas, credit cards, hotel/hostel reservations and tickets. You’ll want to leave these at home however, some people make several copies and carry some with them, leave one copy at home and email another copy to themselves so if something goes wrong they can deal with it then and there rather than having to call that person at home and ask for their credit card numbers when they need to cancel them.

#12 Get some spare passport photo’s taken

Generally with travel this is a good idea – I’ve had to use spare passport photo’s a number of times for things like visas. I’ve never been unlucky enough however, I’ve heard some police in some countries want them for police reports if you have to report theft.

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#13 Get your CV sorted

I’ve previously mentioned this on the blog however, UK employers prefer two-page CV’s with dates of each job (starting and leaving). Make sure yours is UK ready before you go as this will save plenty of time and hassle once you arrive.

#14 Contact your UK-based mates

This is super important! Sure, a whole lot of Aussie’s, Kiwi’s and Canadian’s move to the UK every single year and it won’t take much for you to make new friends but it’s much, much easier to have those familiar friends around you when you arrive and it’s never been easier to do this. Shortly before you leave (I left mine to a month before I left) you can change your city on facebook to the one you will be moving to in the UK and then search for other people in your friends’ list who’re in the same city. Surprisingly, you will find people who you didn’t know had moved. I found some old university friends which was great because they already knew what professional jobs were like here, employers expectations, etc. and could help me out. Also, joining facebook groups is a great way to hit the ground running. There’s a bunch of more formal ways to do this too like university alumni organisations, clubs and groups you’re a member of back home, etc. however, this is becoming the more popular way to connect so why not?

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I hope that break down has helped you guys’ who’re thinking of making the big move and I sincerely hope this method of breaking things down encourages some of you to chase those travel dreams. I’d love to hear about others’ experiences with moving to the UK and any advice they would have for people considering it in the comments below. Keep adventuring guys’!

There’s No Shame In Going Home

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When I left Scotland I felt pretty bad. That’s an understatement, really. I felt like I had failed at something. I’d set off telling everyone that I was going to live in the UK. There were multiple going away dinners, parties, casual, after-work drinks. There were even over-dramatized cries of, “I may never see Stacey again! I want to enjoy every moment!” I’d even written about it on the blog for my international audience. Then, after very little time in the UK, I’d decided I’d really wanted to travel. I wanted to just backpack freely with little to no plan. This was how I’d travelled previously and I really missed the sense of freedom and adventure.

While I was traveling and feeling the unpleasantness of stomach issues, how travel was harder than I told myself and around the time I discovered the spiritual side of travel I felt an epiphany. I really loved backpacking and I was broadening my horizons more than I could have previously imagined but, there I was feeling the pull back to the UK. But not to Scotland, to London. I wanted to experience a mega city. I wanted to see things in a different light as a foreigner living somewhere rather than travelling. I was now ready. Finally.

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Sometimes, as strange as it can seem, we are not ready when we assume we are. Sometimes, actually almost all of the time life is not as we think it should be. Instead of a smooth course that goes on until it reaches a logical conclusion, life can throw things at you all the time that you never expected and that’s fine. That’s life, you have the learn to be adaptive and roll with the punches as much as you have to learn to sit back and enjoy a few cool rums and some lobster on the beach (Belize was a happy find for that!).

I’ve learned so much from my first “failure to launch” in the UK and feel so blessed to have had that experience. If I had not, I would not be now happily telling you all that I’m landing in London on the 22nd of March, would you like to catch up? I also wouldn’t be able to share my own story for those who’re upset at the idea that maybe things won’t turn out as planned and maybe they will have to go home for whatever reason. Perhaps they will run out of cash quicker than they imagined, perhaps they will have to go home due to family emergency, perhaps they will get sick or perhaps they just weren’t ready like I was.

Swimming up to say hello (one of my favorite shots from snorkeling in Belize!)

Swimming up to say hello (one of my favorite shots from snorkeling in Belize!)

Whatever happens, it’s always okay to go home. There is no shame in admitting that life happens and the best laid plans do not always work out. Maybe next time.

Over to you, have you ever had an experience of leaving a place earlier than expected? What advice would you give to others staring down the barrel of these decisions?

2016 Is Here! No-One Forget Their New Year’s Resolutions!

Often people set themselves unrealistic New Year’s resolutions. Thing like, “I’m going to lose weight” and “I’m going to learn a language” are great, but just a few short weeks’ in, they’ve stopped going to gym and have stopped their language classes through a mixture of complicated emotions, unclear goals and other personal reasons. If people really wanted to do these things, they wouldn’t need a resolution to do them, these things would just get done.

Fireworks in my home town of Melbourne, Australia. (Image credit: Chris Phutully)

Fireworks in my home town of Melbourne, Australia. (Image credit: Chris Phutully)

However, as someone who’s so interested in travel she has a travel blog and nerds on all about travel whenever she has a chance, I feel I can attest that any travel-related New Year’s resolutions I say I will do will happen because 1) I am obviously committed to following my travel dreams and because 2) you are all watching me and will remind me this time in 2017 if I do not fulfil these travel dreams.

Don’t lie to yourself, you totally will remind me and that’s totally okay, I welcome it. I appreciate the social responsibility here as someone who’s constantly trying to inspire others to travel to do some travel myself.

How cheeky those London street artists are!

How cheeky those London street artists are!

So my travel resolutions for 2016 are:

  • I am going to succeed in living abroad. I’m not going to just go abroad for a short time, decide it’s too hard and leave again. I’m going to be a proper expat, if only for a few months. I have some plans in the works that I’ll talk about in the coming weeks’. Watch this space!
  • I want to see three new countries this year – I’ve visited something like 32 countries to date (I think, don’t quote me on that because I never was much of a numbers woman) but I want to visit three new ones, countries I have never visited before, so I can have different experiences and insights into a new (to me) culture.
  • I’m going to connect more – with the places that I am and the people that I meet. I want to find out one interesting thing about every person I meet on the road in 2016. Perhaps I will write them down. I will write them down and share the most interesting with you all. Likely this blog post will come out in late 2016 so again, keep watching this space.
In front of Chichen Itza Pyramid (Did you know they were built to mark my birthday? 21st of September, those Mayans!)

In front of Chichen Itza Pyramid (Did you know they were built to mark my birthday? 21st of September, those Mayans!)

Those are my three. I would write more but those three are enough. I’d rather focus on three totally awesome things to achieve and do them well over a bunch of things that I could do not-so-well.

Now it’s your turn! What are your New Year’s Resolutions for 2016 and do any involve travel?

What It’s Really Like To Survive An 8.3 Magnitude Earthquake

Chile-Adventurer-StaceyI felt cosy tucked into bed in my pink, flannel PJs, I’d been talking to a girl who’d been placed in my dorm room maybe an hour before when the room started shaking. I was the first to notice as I was lying in bed and her standing. Like anyone who wants to be in denial I turned to the new girl and asked, “Is that an earth quake?” At first, she tried to laugh it off, “of course not! How could it be!”

I stood up anyway and walked to the doorway, I’d seen this in an American film. They had earth quakes in America and they always stood in doorways until it was over.

There was this guy feeding his well-dressed alpaca in a city park, awesome!

There was this guy feeding his well-dressed alpaca in a city park, awesome!

Quickly, a few things happened. A French-Canadian guy asked me if it was an earth quake too (apparently I’m not the only one who’s keen on denial) then a Spaniard jumped out of the shower, towel around his waist and asked me the same question. As the Spaniard got out of the shower and found me sharing my doorway with two other people, we all realised how funny the scene was and laughed. I laughed all the way down the stairs and onto the street as our hostel owner ushered us out of the building: you’re told to leave buildings and stand on the street in case of earth quakes as buildings often collapse and it’s best not to be in that collapsed building if you can help it, right!?

As we stood there plenty of locals passed us on the Santiago street. They all looked confused and some women even gave me a funny look. Where did all these gringo’s come from and what did that girl think she was doing, standing around in her PJs? I wasn’t the only fashion disaster as I stood next to the guy in his towel. Luckily we weren’t out there long – the first time.

I loved how excited people were for the national day - Chilean flags EVERYWHERE!

I loved how excited people were for the national day – Chilean flags EVERYWHERE! (Photo taken in Valparaiso, one of the most heavily damaged tsunami areas)

I messaged my parents (like any well-trained solo female traveller who had a habit of being in countries when they had natural disasters). My dad messaged me back quickly to let me know there was a tsunami warning and the earth quake had been a big one, he sent me this message even before people in-country knew what was going on. The power of the internet! I wasn’t really sure if I should worry about tsunami warnings however, so asked the hostel owner if this was a problem. He said we were inland and it wasn’t. I would read in news reports later that coastal towns I had just visited were affected by the tsunami and realised that I was lucky that I had come back to this hostel earlier than expected because I had had such a wonderful time here.

The second big earth quake hit again when I was in bed. Again I walked outside. Everyone teased the man who had previously been wearing a towel and told him he shouldn’t bother with the clothes he was now wearing before rounding on me to tease me about my poor fashion sense.

Santiago-Chile-Mountains-And-City-Adventurer-Stacey

Even with a light atmosphere I did feel a bit uncomfortable, I could feel this earth quake was bigger than the last one and that it had lasted longer. Later I would discover this earth quake was an 8.3 and the previous had been a 7.9. Of course I hadn’t been at the epicentre so the earth quakes I felt were not as strong as they were in other places.

Throughout the night it felt like there were aftershocks constantly. I had tried to sleep through them but was a little jumpy – getting out of bed two or three times thinking it was another big earth quake when it wasn’t – I eventually got to sleep and the next day discovered that my bed was half off its base, obviously in the night the earth quakes had moved my bed so much I was almost on the floor, yet I hadn’t woken up. Proof you can sleep through anything if you’re tired enough.

Life's tough for palace guard dog's as you can see...

Life’s tough for palace guard dog’s as you can see…

At breakfast we read more about the earth quakes – finding out how big they had been and the damage they had done. I was surprised the death toll was so small, I knew locals were used to earth quakes but that they’d managed to get through such a huge event relatively unscathed still surprised me. Of course there were huge problems close to the coast with people’s homes and boats being flung around by the waves.

Later that same day I met a local guy who was a friend of the hostel owner. His whole family were in affected areas and he was saying he would go there and help them rebuild – another testament to the generosity of Chilean people, he had no question weather he would go help his family: Family are important and it’s just what you do.

Reading reports of the earth quakes later inspired me to write my own story so others’ would see that they are not as scary as had been made out in media and that the world is much safer than we think. Also because I think Chilean’s are pretty awesome people and this is a place everyone should visit and not be scare off by seismic activity.

Spiritual Journey’s And Travel: Totally Not Just A Romantic Notion

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I very often meet people in life who have romantic visions of travel, they’ll tell me how much they want to go here or there and how beautiful the world is and how my life must be amazing because I travel so much. Yes, anyone whose read this blog long enough knows anyone can do what I do but that’s beside the point, travel is something we romanticize more than any other journey in our lives.

In the same hostel where I met the worst intestinal parasite ever a book almost fell into my hands from their book exchange. I had been reading much of Gabrielle Bernstein’s work online and had watched her youtube clips before I’d taken off on this latest adventure. I liked her and was aware of her but she wasn’t influencing my life any more than cute cat clips on youtube do at that point in time.

That was until her book fell off the shelf in the book exchange and I began reading it.

I lay in a hammock for almost the entire day while my friends’ were out on an adventure tour. I flipped through the pages and wrote reflections in my travel journal.

Then later that night I noticed Gabbie’s insights coming to life. In my room there was a few new backpackers, one of them had several answers that I had been seeking. I was so happy to meet her and that she had given me insights I sorely needed at the time and that would change the course of my trip and also my perspective on life and perception (ie. If you think you’re having a good time, you do. If you think you’ll have a bad time you will).

The next morning, without doing all the touristic adventure tours that this area of Guatemala was known for, I jumped on a bus and from that moment on started letting go of the things that weren’t serving me and of the feelings of expectation I was receiving from people outside of myself: from readers of my blog, from friends and family back home, from other travellers (and trust me, we push much of our travel expectations onto one another as travellers – there is very little recognition of me being on my own journey same as you). I just practiced gratitude (I am so greatful for the opportunity to be here) and mindfulness (Being in that moment, not waiting for the next great thing to happen, but remaining where I was).

After only a week or two of practicing mindfulness and gratitude I was noticing huge shifts in my thinking and behavior. I was free internally rather than just externally (having the ability to travel). I wasn’t being held down under the weight of anyone’s expectations least of all my own.

The truth is, I have so far to go but I wanted to share the beginning of my spiritual journey with you guys.

When I was open to it – I received the wisdom I needed, and still do every single day.

What about you guys, does travel have a spiritual component for you? Is there a great story you would like to share about how you first accepted spirituality into your life?

Don’t Let Anyone Mushroom You About Travel

A friend of mine in the UK was complaining about her manager, she said he was mushroom managing her and launched into a tirade about how much it sucked she wasn’t being told anything. At the time I patiently listened and didn’t interrupt – not even to ask what mushroom management was – after we spoke however, I did some googling.

According to Urban Dictionary:

mushroom management

A management philosophy prescribing to the theory that to best motivate your employees, you must at all times:

  1. Keep them in the dark.

  2. Feed them full of shit.

I thought this was such a great expression! Mushroom management! Being that I wasn’t working at the time – I was travelling – I couldn’t use it but then started thinking of how much it related to travel.

Entering into a lava tunnel on Isla Isabella, Galapagos Islands. I didn't know then how much my claustrophobia would be put to the test...

Entering into a lava tunnel on Isla Isabella, Galapagos Islands. I didn’t know then how much my claustrophobia would be put to the test…

When I was in the Galapagos Islands for example, I had the ferry ride from hell. I was so sick on the ride that I had to lean over the side several times, losing my lunch as well as my dignity. Later after finding a hotel I had a shower and washed my hair before catching a friend for dinner.

I said to her earnestly, “Everyone has these romantic ideas around travel, but today I threw up in my hair!” she thought this was the funniest statement and told me I should write it down (well here it is, I do hope she is reading!)

This is very true though – people are always mushrooming you about travel. At the time that people are travelling, it’s hard. They’re lost in a foreign land with no real idea where they’re going or what they’re doing, they have language barriers to contend with and often other things that crop up too, people taking advantage of their not knowing the city or country, being robbed, mugged or ripped off, weather extremes you wouldn’t believe, never having a decent nights sleep and having to function above how they would have to at home just to navigate this strange land.

A Galapagos Sea Lion moments before it attacked someone who was sitting nearby. Doesn't look aggressive, does it?

A Galapagos Sea Lion moments before it attacked someone who was sitting nearby. Doesn’t look aggressive, does it?

I love travel, but I’m under no illusions that it’s hard work.

Sure, we post pictures of nice beaches and cool animals to Instagram but the reality is that to get to that nice beach we had to walk through some pretty shady parts of a highly dangerous city to find the ferry terminal and to see that animal we had to pay an extra few thousand dollars in flights and learn enough of the local language to find a hotel, a restaurant, a taxi, whatever.

Travel is not easy, at all, ever.

But I still love it and I can’t see myself seeing the world any other way, even if I had a lot more money. I just feel so much richer from being forced to learn another language, from being forced into close quarters with such a variety of interesting people, from being forced to eat the local food and to find it’s absolutely amazing!

Horses warming down after informal street racing (where I almost got hit)

Horses warming down after informal street racing (where I almost got hit)

Travel isn’t romantic at all and it’s far from easy, but it makes me happy so I’m going to keep doing it.

Even though travel is hard, you still want more of it too right?

Travelling Creatives: Wandering The World, Making Art

Travel really brings out creativity in people, to live an unconventional life of travelling freely for extended periods of time people have to get creative.

Artisans from a nomadic tribe currently in Guatemala create beautiful jewelry

Artisans from a nomadic tribe currently in Guatemala create beautiful jewelry

While I was in the UK I was staying in hostels (or living in hostels technically when you consider the length of time) and while I was there I met some of the most talented musicians I think I have ever met in my life. I felt so much richer just for having been enchanted by their art.

In South America the creative types morph from buskers with guitars into jugglers, circus folk and artisans who make jewellery, handicrafts and even bars of soap to sell in their pursuit of a live lived on the road. These guys’ seem to be living a much rougher lifestyle from the outside however, they seem much happier than their often better-off European busking cousins.

In the past I’ve also met traveling hairdressers, the best hair cut I ever had was in a hostel in Belize. They’re every bit as creative in their marketing to backpackers for fast cash before moving onto the next town as the traditional artisan creatives.

Scots-Bagpipes-Edinburgh-Adventurer-Stacey

Being around all of these creative types feels amazing! While in Edinburgh I was nudged by some musicians who were living in the hostel to come to a bar and listen to music. Sounds unremarkable as most bars with live music tend to put a band on themselves however, this bar had just opened the floor to anyone who was interested in playing. As a result half of the bar was talented musicians and the other half was people like myself who happily listened. The bar was so full of people one could hardly move but that didn’t matter, you had no reason to want to go anywhere. To buy a drink one would pass their money to the bar from person-to-person (a lot of trust here) and then have their drink passed back from person-to-person (even more trust when you consider how much Scot’s love a drink!). It was such a great experience and one I will cherish always, it really fed my soul.

Being as surrounded by creative energy as I am while on the road I want to dust off a guitar and learn to play again, or start up my own travelling micro-business in handicrafts or to learn to cut hair so I can cut travellers hair and make enough to travel onwards.

Sadly, I am lacking in these areas at the moment. I am a writer and find great pleasure in a quiet corner of a hostel common room, tea mug in hand writing for my blog and for my personal travel journal. This is my creative streak expressed.

Although writing is solitary I know it won’t make me quick money like busking or selling jewellery will. Perhaps I should have polished some other skills before I left home. Hindsight is twenty-twenty!

 

Do you have skills that can make you money on the road? If so, will/do you use them to aid your travels?

Goodbye Scotland, can’t say I miss ‘ye

Scots-Bagpipes-Edinburgh-Adventurer-Stacey

It’s not that I didn’t have a good time in Scotland: I learned plenty, saw some beautiful landscapes and castles (as anyone on my Instagram will tell you) and came into contact with a culture I’d been curious about for some time. Meeting a Scot abroad is not the same as meeting one in their homeland so I knew I would need to go to the place to get a real feeling for why the people are the way they are and also to meet more of these lovely people.

But then there were the other things. Edinburgh my chosen city was full of foreigners, although I love a good international city the rich Scottish culture I had been seeking wasn’t as strong as I’d hoped. The scots I met there (outside of service jobs which the Scots and indeed anyone no-one in the UK excels at) were generally nice people with a few exceptions as happens anywhere else in the world.

People chilling out in the grave yard at lunch time: Only a Scot wouldn't notice how depressing that is!

People chilling out in the grave yard at lunch time: Only a Scot wouldn’t notice how depressing that is!

 

I had my heart set on Scotland, and Edinburgh in particular so the idea of moving back down to London or to another UK city didn’t really appeal to me right in that moment. I tried Glasgow (a nightmare from the first), Belfast held little interest for more than a day trip, I had previously decided London was too big and crazy for me (still love you though London!). Generally nothing else really fit the bill for what I wanted – a small city with charm and great food and night life.

Although this feeling has changed after leaving the UK, I wonder how much of that is nostalgia or me not knowing I had a good thing when I had it.One needs to give herself some time to consider this as the obstacles for working in the UK as an Aussie are quite difficult.

 

I swear, Edinburgh has the biggest Sea Gulls! Pretty sure their dogs are smaller...

I swear, Edinburgh has the biggest Sea Gulls! Pretty sure their dogs are smaller…

 

One of the big barriers for me was the cost of living in the UK and the fact that as an Australian who was in the country legally it was near impossible for me to do basic things you need to do before I can work like getting a national insurance number (a tax requirement for anyone working in the UK) and setting up a bank account. I met plenty of Aussie’s who’d given up on working legally despite the hundreds of dollars they had spent on the visa and who were working illegally for cash and earning much less than the minimum wage (the UK minimum wage is not a living wage to start with). Some as low as four pounds an hour which is lunch money.

I never thought the move would be easy but it really was an uphill battle right from the start. Without the option for legal work, I would be stuck working illegally in industries outside my own (I’m a scientist) and would be living underneath the poverty line in foreign country. What about my dreams of international travel within Europe? About a wonderful resume when I return home with yet more international experience?

It got dark at around 11pm but was cold much, much sooner that far north.

It got dark at around 11pm but was cold much, much sooner that far north.

Taking a look around at this situation you can imagine what I did next. The next logical step after touring the UK and visiting all those castles and ruins I was so crazy about was to book a one-way ticket to Mexico! Didn’t see that coming? Not on my Instagram then?

If you’ve had similar issues with travel plans not going quite to plan, I’d love to hear them! Please share in the comments below. Or just commiserate with me. Poor girl, has her health but cannot live in cold, dreary Scotland! Must be so hard!

How I became the mascot of the Scots Dragoon Guard (Scottish Cavalry)

UK-Scots-Flag-Adventurer-Stacey

It was dinner time and like any good visitor to Scotland, I was looking for a pub that served cold beers and hot food. feet made tired from constant pounding on the cobble stones I turned into the nearest pub and made a bee line for the bar through the crowd of old Scottish guys’. While waiting at the bar it occurred to me all at once that I was in the tourist district of Edinburgh, there were never any Scottish people here. At least not in these numbers. I turned to one of the older gents’ and he started to tell me his story.

Tomorrow there would be a march down the royal mile to celebrate 200 years since Waterloo and these fellas were all marching. They were part of the Scots Dragoon Guard and explained to me that it was the Scottish cavalry. Since then I have visited several sites around Scotland and have learned a heap about their military history. Below is an extract taken from Army.mod.uk:

“The Royal Scots Dragoon Guards are Scotland’s most senior and only regular cavalry regiment, formed in 1678”

Now, these guys were not the original Scots DG (although, they looked old enough! Just kidding!). The men in front of me had been all over the world and being that I love a good story of adventure I did plenty of listening as I sipped my beer.

One of the fellas owned the bar and was giving me beers to taste (whole pints mind!) and another lad was giving me small mementos of my visit to the pub, Scots DG pins and a bracelet were promptly pushed into my hands and I was told it would be rude not to take them so I did.

After the bracelet was placed around my wrist this tipsy Scot was walking me around to show someone else. The other gent was mildly upset that I had been given the band as I was clearly not a member of the Scots DG and wouldn’t even know what to do with a horse. Then it came out, “She’s our wee mascot!”

I looked at my new friend confused, “What do you mean your mascot? Like that little boy the Aussie soldiers stole and took home with them?” He looked at me perplexed as I told him about the small boy who had been adopted as a mascot by an Australian regiment and one soldier who took particularly kindly to this orphan had smuggled him back into Australia and raised him as his own son.

The scots laughed, then started telling each other about their new Australian mascot. At this stage I had been in the pub drinking for several hours and still had not eaten. These fellas were really drunk too and I couldn’t understand their now very thick Scottish accents half the time. I smiled, made my excuses and left.

Petting a manta ray... do you see my pretty blue Scots DG Bracelet?

Petting a manta ray in Belize… do you see my pretty blue Scots DG Bracelet?

Meeting people now, I often am asked about the story of the bands on my wrist, so I tell them the tale of how I became the mascot for the Scottish Dragoon Guard, a senior cavalry regiment in a bar in Edinburgh.

I think it’s a good story anyway.

What qualifies me to give you travel advice

I read a lot of junk on the internet, plenty of it written by self-proclaimed experts in their fields. Most of the experts are just regular people who have plenty of experience in one area. For example, if someone has 10 years marketing experience, they might call themselves a marketing expert online. It sounds better than just talking about their experience, right?

Recently a friend introduced me as a “travel expert”. I had to laugh at this then thought about it, I guess I am as much an expert as people on the internet as I travel extensively, research widely and have several years’ experience at this, but that’s not why you should listen to me when you are planning your travel.

Berlin-Wall--Adventurer-StaceyI have said it before and I will say it again: on the road, I have made a lot of mistakes. I have gotten lost, gotten ripped off and potentially put myself at huge risks, with the thought in mind that I can handle anything. Worst of all, I get scared about travel and have my own fears of the unknown.

These things are natural and human, mistakes are common, fears are more so. Overcoming those fears is less common and getting back on the horse after making big mistakes and getting on with it is less so as well. I could have given up my dreams of travel at any time and retreated back to my comfort zone, but I didn’t and I won’t finish travelling until I feel happy with my personal achievements.

Travelling solo in NYC I made some new friends, check them out!

Travelling solo in NYC I made some new friends, check them out!

Travel has helped me develop as a person, to find my strengths in communication and negotiation and gave me the opportunity to exercise my personal charm and capacity for empathy. Travel has thought me a lot and continues to teach me. I am a student of life and love that the whole world is my classroom!

Right now I am in the UK at the beginning of my working holiday. It’s been a really good time full of new adventures and exploration. I have allowed myself the freedom to go anywhere in the UK and will be exploring more of Westeros the UK in this next two years than I ever have before. I’ll explore Europe further at a slower pace than I have in the past as a backpacker speeding about.

Free Falling (the wind in my cheeks!)

Free Falling (the wind in my cheeks!)

It was my travel dream to be here and I am achieving that as you read this. If you are going to get advice from someone that someone should have been where you are in the past and be living their dream now. To inspire you, they have to be doing what you want to be doing, right? I think I qualify.

What’s your travel dream? What do you want out of travel? In years from now when you’re in a nursing home talking to all the other elderly women and men, what will you tell them? Will you tell them you followed your dreams and had your own adventures or that you let your fears stop you?

NYC-Central_Park-Adventurer-StaceyTime to take the next step? As always, I’m here to help and am available for travel consulting sessions via skype. Yes, even in old Blighty, I’m here for you guys.