I was bitten by the travel bug in 2011. It infected me and now I must live with the consequences of being bitten by this bug: I travel almost every single year since the incident. Although the affliction has seriously affected me, I find that it’s enhanced my writing and I can write from so many different perspectives now.
I attended a Christian school in Australia – it was strict, but there were many benefits to attending this school. The biggest benefit was the opportunity to travel overseas as a school group. My first trip took place in 2011: I headed to Africa for a 2-week long trip. It was an amazing experience. It was my first time travelling and I didn’t really know what to expect. I especially didn’t know what to expect from Africa. It honestly turned into one of the most eye-opening and amazing experiences of my life. I learnt so much about other cultures and was able to see a landscape that was so different than the one I was used to.
I saw a world so different than mine. The people were happier than most Westerners are, and they carried on their hard days with a smile on their face. It was inspiring. I took so many photos on this trip, and it’s one of the places that inspired my early (admittingly terrible) short stories. I still draw on this experience in my writing today. I’ve used photos from my time in Africa to paint a picture of how the world looks in my novel – using the feelings I had while there.
I remember the sun belting down on us, the dirt whipping around our ankles and the dryness never ending. Electricity was a luxury, and not many places used it. It was a world without all the first-world commodities I’m used too and it was an amazing thing to experience.
I have used my experience here in my writing so much. When writing a post-apocalyptic world, experiencing somewhere that doesn’t use electricity or the things we take for granted was so necessary. I learnt how these beautiful people went through their days and how much harder it was to get necessities, such as water and food. I was determined to continue travelling after this experience and learn as much about the world I lived in as possible.
My next trip was to Fiji in 2012. Now, Fiji wasn’t quite like my experience in Africa but it was still something I value to this day. It was a beautiful country and I enjoyed experiencing somewhere with more greenery, and yet with its own struggles. Many people in Fiji live without all the devices that I have, and they have to fetch their own water and grow their own food. I learnt more about how people in these situations need to supply their own necessities.
Not only this, but I also learnt so much about how different people deal with stress, and I also gained a lot of insight into how 20+ young adults crammed into a small hotel deal with each other (a hint, it did not go well). I remember being cramped into this tiny hotel with half my grade. I had to share a single bed with my best friend, while three others slept on the ground of our tiny bedroom (the photo below shows the floor where the other three girls were sleeping). It was hot and uncomfortable and tempers were flaring the following day.
Apart from this not so stellar experience, Fiji was amazing to see, and it had its own beauty in the world. The people struggled in their own way and I have been able to use this experience in my writing, showcasing the everyday struggles that people without supermarkets, electricity and easy access to water have.
Continuing in my travels, I went to Melbourne, Australia, in 2013 and 2014. Melbourne is a beautiful city filled with so much culture and life.
I needed to experience places in my own country, and Melbourne was a good place to start. I’d been to Sydney and Canberra before, as most people need to see those cities, but Melbourne was an obvious choice to travel for an artistic person.
The streets were full of life and cafes everywhere. So many funky and amazing creative people were around and I loved being able to see what kinds of different people there were in the world. I use these experiences in my writing quite a bit when I create characters, as I met so many quirky individuals that become amazing characters in my writing.
In 2015 my travels continued, and I went on a cruise that went around New Caledonia. Now it was a bit more luxurious than my previous travel experiences, but I loved seeing more countries and learning how Islanders lived and what their villages looked like. It was amazing to see and although I didn’t spend long overseas, I loved what I learnt, and it’s been invaluable experience for my writing.
I skipped travelling in 2016 due to chaos at University and work, but I made up for the break in 2017 when I spent 2 months travelling around Europe. I visited so many places while I was overseas, such as London, Paris, Rome, Pompeii, Munich, Berlin, Prague and Amsterdam. I visited so many places over those 2 months. I learnt so much history in the places I visited, going to historical sights and seeing the ruins left behind.
The ruins from the Roman Empire were amazing to see in person and I snapped so many pictures of how the ruins looked. In my story, war has devastated the world, so ruins are a common thing to see. I’ve been able to incorporate what I saw and learnt in Europe in my writing and it’s enhanced the world my characters are living in.
While I was in Poland and the Czech Republic, I learnt how much war devastated Europe and how much they are still recovering from it. Poland was an amazing place with so much ingrained history, specifically including World War II.
Seeing the devastation that the country still has, and experiencing a place like Auschwitz, really opened my eyes to how people would have felt in those times and how horrific the war would have been. I used this in my novel, as the characters in my book have just experienced a world-changing war. I had to really consider how my characters would be feeling and incorporate those feelings into my novel.
I did take my laptop with me to Europe and I wrote so much while I was away. I had to jot down my feelings while standing amongst ruins and whenever I had an idea in Europe, I’d write it down. This trip really helped my writing grow and I was so thankful I was able to go there. I need the experiences that travel gives me to give more depth to my writing and character development.
My most recent trip was last year, 2018, when I went to Thailand. I experienced yet another culture. It was only a short trip, and I stayed in a resort while there. Thailand is a beautiful country and it was awesome to see how hard the people worked and what kinds of clothes they wore in order to stay cool and not burn their skin to death.
The experience was also valuable to my writing. I was able to see what people did to stay cool and how they went about their days. I saw so many beautiful sights and really had an amazing time. I didn’t use as much of my experiences from Thailand in my current novel, however I have another one I’ve been collecting ideas for that I could use this experience in. The scenery was essential in my other writing and I could use the beautiful places I experienced.
My travels around the world have taught me so much. I’ve learnt so many amazing things from so many incredible cultures. I was able to incorporate so many of my experiences into my writing and my writing grew so much because of it. I’m planning more travel in the future – I’m going to Japan in a few months and hopefully back to Europe at the end of the year. I have been seriously bitten by the travel bug but it’s been so amazing for me. I’ve learnt so much about other cultures and been able to use so many of my experiences in my writing. I’m always looking for new places to travel and can’t wait to get back onto a plane and travel again.
Any places you’re looking at travelling to and why?