I arrived in Cairns on the 24th February 2016 after 5 weeks of travelling around New Zealand. Before I left home for my epic trip I had a plan - I wanted to travel for a minimum of one year to New Zealand, Australia and South East Asia. I was really looking forwards to New Zealand and SEA, but Australia never appealed to me as much. It didn’t take long for me to change my mind, in fact, it was almost an instant love affair. As soon as I got off my plane at Cairns Airport I had an overwhelming feeling that I was going to like Australia…a lot. Having stayed in Cairns for 10 months, my instincts were on point.
I never planed to stay in one place for a such a long period of time, especially considering that the working holiday visa for Australia only allows you to stay up to 12 months (unless you do 90 days of farm work to apply for a second year) but as we all know life doesn’t always go to plan…I not only fell in love with tropical sunny Cairns, but I also fell in love with the hostel that ended up being my home away from home and of course with the people who became my friends and family for the duration of my stay.
Initially there were two main factors which swayed my decision to stay in Cairns, firstly I wanted to learn to Dive and what better place do that than in the Great Barrier Reef (I mean we have all seen Finding Nemo right?). Secondly I wanted to find paid work to save more money for my future travels. Luck must have been on my side the day I arrived in Cairns because I found work as the the receptionist in the hostel I was staying in within the first week of being there as I guest.
The other reason I chose to stop in one place was because after 8 weeks of constantly moving from place to place in New Zealand, I craved being surrounded by familiar places and faces. Human beings are naturally habitual creatures and I am no different, I wanted the comfort that comes with having a routine.
Truth be told, after about 3 months the novelty of being in the same place was starting to wear off. I had done most of the fun activities around Cairns, had become a certified advanced diver & had partied more than I care to recall. I was beginning to get itchy feet again but at this stage my reason for wanting to stay had morphed into something else - I had forged amazing friendships with other long term guests at the hostel where I worked and lived and I didn’t want to leave my friends. You meet a lot of people throughout life, many of which will come and go with little effect on your life, but from time to time you cross paths with really special people and when that happens it is hard to walk away from their daily presence in your life.
In addition, another factor which came into play after about 6 months of being in Cairns, was the fear of change which once again made itself comfortable at the back of my mind. You would think that having travelled half way across the world alone the fear of change would be well and truly conquered…but no. As soon as you find an environment you feel safe & comfortable in, the fear of change sneaks right back in! I once again found myself questioning if I could travel, if I would regret leaving the comfort of my new home, if I would have a good time on the road, if I would meet new friends and if they would be half as good as the ones I was leaving behind…and on and on the internal conflict went. But, I told myself, if I did it once I could do it again.
The surprising thing is, as soon as you face your travel fears the good old wanderlust returns in full force. So, as I sit here on a plane somewhere between Australia and New Zealand I don’t feel sad or scared at all. I feel lucky to have spent part of my life in a place which gave me so much, I feel blessed to have met people who I will remember forever and I feel excited to be able to treasure the memories of my life in Cairns as I continue to explore the world.
So, as I embark on yet another adventure I urge you to face your fears, book that ticket, share your story and join me and the other Travel Sisters in exploring the world.