My travels started at the end of 2008, leaving my corporate life behind and embarking on adventures on the other side of the world. I originally planned to set out to travel for 1 1/2 years, but now over 8 years later I am still living abroad. I am now working in Thailand as a Dive Instructor and Underwater Photographer. A decision that I have never regretted and thankful that I have had the chance, ability and willingness to do.
Travel was something I have always wanted to experience. Our family was lucky enough to live abroad in Belgium for a number of years when I was younger. During this time we explored many countries in Europe. My sense of adventure, discovering new places and cultures started early on. My sister went on a round the world trip in the 90’s. She visited many of the places I have now been to. I am guessing that many things have changed culturally, infrastructure wise and technology wise since she went!
Luckily enough in today’s world we are blessed with easy and quicker modes of communication rather than the odd postcard or telephone call we received from her every now and again. She inspired me, as well as making me jealous. Mainly because for someone who didn’t like being away from home she must have been enjoying the sights, sounds and experiences abroad.
After finishing school I had the chance to travel with some friends to Australia but at the time I was unable to go and went straight to University. After 4 years at University I was financially broke so I started earning and saving. My fist job was in the Wine Industry and then later in the Meat Industry. Both jobs were particularly useful not only for BBQ’s and parties but also in understanding account management, customer service and sales. I have had a lot of great teachers, bosses and guides along the way who have been hard but fair. They have also taught me some valuable life lessons along the way. As my career grew it was harder and harder to get away and travel.
Whilst working I also embarked on a number of housing projects which again made it harder to get away. I had often discussed with friends when we should go, but another promotion or chapter in my life or theirs arose that put it off for another few years. The turning point happened in Utila, Honduras when I went over on holiday to meet up with my best mate Gary. He and his girlfriend Trish, had embarked on a round the world trip a year earlier. They were in Utila doing their Dive master course, the entry point to proffesional diving.
A few things happened to me when I visited them –
1. I tried diving for the first time and absolutely loved it. I then found out you could actually make a living from diving. Not a great living, more a lifesytle choice. If I progressed high enough up the PADI ladder, I could sustain myself.
2. I could travel on my own. I didn’t need to go with someone else as I realised you meet plenty of like-minded people along the way.
3. I realised the hardest part was going to make that decision to leave the UK, my job, home comforts and my family and just go for it.
Leaving friends and family and creature comforts have been the hardest part of travel. You soon forget the home comforts and the materialistic things. You can easily live without latest plasma TV when you have a beautiful sunset materializing in front of you.
So after talking it through with my friends, family and some other travellers the decision was made to just go for it. The next part was to start planning what I wanted to do, where I wanted go and I wanted to see. I have never felt so nervous as the time that I had to hand my letter of resignation into my boss. Luckily my boss was great about my decision and fully accepted what I wanted to do. Once I handed in the letter there was rush of relief, tinged with anxiety. At time though I did think, what the hell have I done! I had 3 months of gardening leave to get through and started getting ready for the big departure.
So now after 8 years away and after travelling through many countries and continents and diving many places. I am now working as a Diving Instructor and Underwater photographer on Koh Lanta. I work for an amazing Swedish a dive shop called Lanta Diver. You can read all about my journey in my blog. I am still loving the adventures, living in different cultures and countries, teaching people to dive, taking photos of marine life and underwater diver portraits. There are not many jobs in world where in one day you come in to contact with 10 (sometimes more) nationalities. Each nationality has their own traits, cultures, quirks, communicating style and lifestyles.
Although I have to get up early every day, I relish each day. Getting up early has never been my strong point, but getting up for a job you truly enjoy is good! When I am in the water I often thinking to myself – what are my friends doing right now? sitting behind a desk? stressing about life? I am very lucky to be doing what I do and at the moment and wouldn’t change it for the world. May the dream continue!