11 Ways in Which Travel Has Changed My Life


Paddleboarding in New Zealand
Paddleboarding in New Zealand

On this day, three years ago, I sobbed as I boarded a plane to Dubrovnik, a one-way ticket in hand. I was convinced I was making the biggest mistake of my life. I took a taxi to my hostel because I was afraid of public transport, I slept with my backpack on my back because I thought that was what you were supposed to do and it took only 24 hours for me to get severe heatstroke. I thought I’d be home within a week. 

When I left to travel, I was a timid, naive girl with no life experience and zero common sense. I had no sense of self-worth, didn’t have any confidence, had never been independent and didn’t know how to make friends. I suffered from debilitating anxiety and had panic attacks every few hours. I’d never been on a bus before. I didn’t know how to post a letter. I’d never eaten rice, or eggs, or anything with flavour. Everyone thought I was crazy for leaving; nobody expected me to last.

I got on that plane because I wanted to follow my dreams. I’d never travelled alone, or for more than two weeks at a time. I was terrified of everything. Yet, I had somehow managed to cultivate an obsession with travel. I’d spent my whole life desperate to see the world and I was convinced it would change my life. Like so many broken travellers before me, I was convinced that travel would heal me. I was a walking cliche.

It wasn’t much of a surprise that I hated my first month on the road. I had no idea what I was doing and watched in horror as I made mistake after mistake after mistake. But I persevered. I persevered through the mental breakdowns and the panic attacks, through the scary moment when I first came face to face with rice, and through the scams, the robberies and the near-death experiences.

Pre-travel Lauren was unable to eat more than an apple a day and once spent six months unable to step outside her house. She had panic attacks on a daily basis and couldn’t cross the street without almost getting killed.

Now, I’ve visited 50 countries across 5 continents. I haven’t had a panic attack in over a year. I’ve fallen in love with food. I seek out new experiences because I know that stepping out of my comfort zone will help me to be a better person.

Three years ago, I stepped on a plane in the hope that it would change my life.

Here’s how it has.

Surfing in Bali
Pre-travel Lauren wouldn’t have even considered learning to surf

I Conquered My Anxiety 

Before I started travelling, anxiety had control of my life. It sent me spiraling out of control, and left me unable to function. I had multiple panic attacks a day, caused by I don’t even know what, and I didn’t know how to stop them. I developed hypochondria, convinced that my mental breakdown was due to a terminal illness. I gave myself an eating disorder in a desperate attempt to remain in control of a small aspect of my life. For a period of six months I couldn’t step outside my front door because doing so would cause me to break down in fear. I was well and truly broken.

Travel helped me to gain control of my anxiety by giving me control over my life. In the beginning, I was running away from my fears, but later, I began to run towards them.

When travelling, I found myself having to face my fears on a daily basis — after all, I was terrified of everything. While I could have run away from them, it got to the point where I no longer wanted to. So I took a bus instead of spending 10 times as much on a plane ticket, and I survived. I realised that it wasn’t really all that hard. I sat next to a dead woman for six hours on a boat in Laos and, while traumatised, didn’t experience the crippling fear that I’d expected. I ate a cockroach and didn’t get food poisoning and die. My boat started to sink in Thailand and I put on my life jacket and survived. A dentist destroyed four of my teeth and I barely freaked out.

After so many horrible experiences, I realised that my anxiety was nearly always caused by me worrying about the worst case scenario. As I travelled, it became clear that the worst case scenario often did come true for me. Yet, it was never as bad as I thought it would be. I’d take a deep breath, I’d deal with it and I’d move on. After doing that several hundred times I began to stop worrying so much.

Lauren eating khao soi
I celebrated three years of travel with a big bowl of khao soi. How far I’ve come!

I Stopped Being Frightened of Food

For most people, the best part of travel is getting to sample delicious food along the way. I used to listen to people gush about the joys of travelling for food and wonder what was wrong with me. I hated food. If there had been a way for humans to exist without having to eat, I would have been all for it.

Part of it was due to my eating disorder. When I was at my lowest point, I had existed on a single apple each day. As I’d gradually introduced food back into my diet, I’d avoided anything unfamiliar through fear it would send me back to square one. I had spent my whole life eating bland food and been perfectly happy with it. I didn’t know any different.

When I stepped on that plane, I had never eaten Chinese food, Indian food, Mexican food, Thai food, Vietnamese food, rice, noodles, chili peppers, eggs, coconut, peanut, seafood, cheesecake, coffee, wine, beer… It would be easier to list the things I did eat rather than the things I didn’t.

budget cucumbers
I did eat cucumbers.

During my first week on the road, I tried calamari for the first time and freaked out because I thought the tentacles might stick to my throat and suffocate me. I also thought I was allergic to seafood despite having never eaten it before.

On my first day in Asia, I went for a meal with a girl from my hostel and had to ask her teach me how to use chopsticks. I attempted to eat my bowl of noodles with a chopstick in each hand.

On my first date with Dave, I aimed to impress him by eating a chili pepper. My throat closed up in shock with the spice and I began to hyperventilate. I rubbed my watering eyes with my chili soaked finger and temporarily blinded myself. Clearly, he knew then that I was The One.

While most people travelled for the food, it was my biggest barrier. I went to McDonald’s all the time. I ate from 7/11 far too frequently. I lived on sandwiches and candy and chocolate bars and french fries. I ate exactly how I would at home and if I couldn’t find something bland to eat, I wouldn’t eat at all.

But then I went to Vietnam.

About to dive into a bowl of pho
About to dive into a bowl of pho

Vietnamese food was perfect for me because everything that scared me came on the side. I could order a bowl of pho and know that it would be edible, but accompanied with a plate of chillies and limes and… other, leafy things. I could grow accustomed to the bland version of the food, and then add a single chili. I could then spend weeks burning up from the extreme heat until I was used to it and then add another chili. I was able to increase my spice tolerance while remaining in control. When I realised that this was the case for most Vietnamese dishes — especially soups — I went crazy. I started picking out random items on menus that didn’t have English translations. To my delight, I would adore every dish I ordered. Most of the time, I’d have no idea what it even was!

I finally got it. I finally understood the joy in trying new foods as you travel. And that excitement has stuck with me ever since. I’ve even fallen in love with Khao Soi — a dish that once made my throat feel like it was lined with thorns of sulphuric acid.

Food used to be my greatest barrier, but now it’s the reason why I travel. I base everything around finding good food and rarely eat my Western favourites any more.

I’ve now eaten brain tacos in Mexico, kangaroo in Australia, lizard in Vietnam, crickets in Thailand, cockroaches in Laos. Not bad for the girl who had never eaten rice before.

And as for wishing it was possible to exist without food — I now regularly find myself in the midst of an existential crisis when I realise I only have a limited amount of time to eat ALL THE FOOD.

Lauren at Rotorua in New Zealand
Rotorua, in New Zealand

I Improved My Confidence

From my description of how I was pre-travel, you can probably guess that I wasn’t the most confident of people. I used to walk with a hunchback and stare at my feet, trying to be as inconspicuous as possible. I spoke softly and people were always asking me to repeat myself. I avoided eye contact and mumbled. I stayed away from social situations that made me uncomfortable.

Staying in hostels changed all that. For the first few months of my trip, I didn’t stay in a single private room. Instead, I chose to stay in 6-10 bed dorms. Dorm rooms were incredible for helping me to improve my social skills and gain confidence. Every time I stepped inside, I’d have someone asking me where I was from, where I had been, where I was going. After a while, I became that person who was asking the questions. I used dorms as a way to practice talking to people and build my confidence.

I walk differently now. I hold myself up, and look straight ahead instead of down at my feet. I make eye contact with people. I tell jokes and ridiculous travel stories without fear of being judged. I no longer try and squash my personality down so that nobody really knows who the real me is. Travelling, and meeting dozens of new people every day, has turned me into the confident person I’d always dreamed of being.

puppy cuddling in Cambodia
Puppy cuddling in Cambodia

I Became More Compassionate, Tolerant, Patient, and Less Judgmental

I realised how little compassion I had when I found out my sister was afraid to tell me her college degree results because she was convinced I’d laugh at her. She was shocked when I told her how proud I was, and how she’d done amazingly well. It showed me (and her) how much I’ve changed.

Pre-travel Lauren was judgmental, selfish, self-absorbed and ignorant. I wasn’t a very nice person. When I look back, I cringe. I can’t stand the person I used to be.

Travel showed me that I was a bitch, and I resolved to do all I could to change it.

The friendliness of strangers taught me to be compassionate. People who had never spoken to me, knew nothing about me and didn’t owe me a thing would repeatedly go out of their way to help me. There was the girl who approached me when I was lost on the streets of Taichung and took me to her apartment to give me a cup of tea and help me figure out where I was going. There was the girl in Taiwan I’d spoken to for five minutes when she offered to take the day off work to show me around her city. There was the man in Thailand who helped me push my luggage to safety while we were being evacuated after the tsunami — not knowing if he was endangering his life in doing so.

There was the woman in Mexico who took an hour out of her day to help Dave and I book bus tickets because we didn’t speak enough Spanish to do so. There was the girl who offered me her couch to sleep on for a week in Hong Kong when I couldn’t find somewhere to stay. There was the man who let me jump on the back of his shuttle car at Beijing’s airport so that he could get me to my gate in time, and didn’t charge me a penny. Time and time again, I’ve been astounded by the friendliness and compassion that has been shown to me by people who had no idea who I was and had no reason to ever help me. It’s changed me. Now, I try not to judge anyone I meet, instead thinking only about ways in which I can help other people, and repay the kindness that has been shown towards me.

In addition, I used to be horribly impatient and hate waiting around for anything. When you travel, this is a terrible quality to have. Buses are late and break down, people forget your orders in restaurants, tour companies forget to show up, locals won’t understand your mangled attempt at their language, emails aren’t replied to for months. Instead of losing my temper and working myself up into a stress, I take a deep breath, I accept my situation and I do what I can to resolve it. I’m much calmer now.

Finally, I developed a love of animals after feeling ambivalent towards them for much of my life. Cats made me sneeze, dogs terrified me. Now I find myself scooping up every animal I pass into my arms and trying to persuade Dave to settle down so that we can have pets.

Paddleboarding in New Zealand
Not dying while paddleboarding in New Zealand

I Learnt That Getting Out of My Comfort Zone is Important

My comfort zone used to be the size of a pea. It’s still pretty small. The difference is now I recognise the benefits of forcing myself outside of it on a regular basis.

When you’ve never been on a bus before, when you’ve never eaten rice, when you’ve had panic attacks just from stepping outside your door, your comfort zone becomes narrower and narrower and it can be hard to escape it. For a long time I didn’t even try. If I had to give a presentation at school, I’d pretend to be sick. If there was a party I didn’t want to go to, I’d stay at home. If I was too nervous to go into work I’d find an excuse not to go. In short, if something scared me, I’d run away.

I was worried I was doing the same with travel. Wasn’t I just running away? If something frightened me then all I had to do was book a plane ticket to a new city and I’d be able to breathe again.

In fact, I was doing the opposite. I had lived such a sheltered life that it was impossible for me not to be forced out of my comfort zone on a daily basis while travelling. When you have as little life experience as I did, everything was a new experience. Exploring a city on my own, eating a dish that didn’t consist of bread and cheese, using public transport, talking to strangers. While I was terrified of leaving my comfort zone at the time — and for the first few months did my very best to avoid it — the feeling I had whenever I successfully managed to put myself out there and not make a fool of myself became addictive.

Now, I seek out new opportunities and experiences. I want to push myself. I want to experience more. I want to grow as a person. I now know that’s only possible when I’m flailing like a fish out of water.

Views over the jungle at Coba
Views over the jungle at Coba, Mexico

I Don’t Think of Bad Luck as Being Bad Anymore

To most people who have read The Incidents page on my site, I’m the unluckiest traveller around. I’m been scammed, attacked and robbed. I’ve fallen into rice paddies, I’ve sat next to dead people, I’ve eaten cockroaches, I thought a tsunami was going to kill me, my boat started to sink with me on board, brakes failed on my scooter, a dentist destroyed four of my teeth. Compared to most people I know, I’ve had horrible luck. In fact, it was always after one of these incidents that I found myself searching for flights back to the UK.

I would get fed up. I would be frustrated. I didn’t understand why nothing would ever go right for me. I didn’t know what I was doing wrong. I felt cursed. I felt like a failure.

It wasn’t until I’d been travelling for a couple of years that I began to see my bad luck in a different light. It was then that I realised I wouldn’t be the person that I am today if it wasn’t for the terrible things that have happened to me. It was the struggles that helped shape me into the person I am. Without them, I don’t think I’d be anywhere near as brave or confident.

When something horrific happens to me now, I search for a lesson that I can learn from it. I remind myself that I’ll be a stronger person because of it. And I try to find the humour in the situation. It turns out my bad luck wasn’t so bad after all.

Napping all over the world
Napping all over the world

I Don’t Know How to be Bored Anymore

Travel has showed me that there’s so much to discover in this world — I can’t even comprehend how anyone could ever be bored. Read a book, watch a movie, go for a walk, talk to someone, learn a language, go for a meal, go to the gym, meditate, practice yoga, listen to music, listen to a podcast, learn a new skill. There’s no end of things to do and see and learn. Find something you’re passionate about.

I hope to never utter the phrase “I’m bored” ever again.

glowing in New Zealand

I Care About How I Treat My Body

I used to treat my body like a garbage can. My diet was atrocious and I never exercised. I was skinny so surely I couldn’t be unhealthy? I didn’t need to change a thing! I continued to subsist on a diet of microwave ready meals and chocolate bars.

When I left the UK, not much changed. I was so frightened of food that I continued to exist on my terrible diet. I’d go to a grocery store, pick up five chocolate bars and a bottle of Coke and that would be my dinner. I’d eat fast food all the time. When I did venture out to eat at a restaurant, I’d often order a plate of french fries. I’d leave the vegetables on my plate. I never ate fruit.

My poor body.

I convinced myself that travel makes it tough to be healthy. When you’re constantly moving from city to city, it’s hard to find time to go for a run, and there’s not much point in joining a gym for just two days. Sure, I do walk a lot when I’m out exploring but that’s about all the exercise I ever got. My diet was terrible because I was trying to eat cheaply — but couldn’t work up the courage to eat street food. That left me with crappy fast food. When you’ve got a 12 hour bus journey ahead of you, it’s far easier to pick up a pack of Oreos and a bag of chips than rush around trying to find a salad that won’t give you food poisoning.

I was making excuses. It’s far easier to stay healthy on the road than I imagined. You just have to make an effort. Replace every liquid you drink with water — you’ll save money, stay hydrated and feel fantastic. Stop moving so fast and stay in a place for a month so that you can get a gym membership, or force yourself outside for a morning run before you can come up with a reason not to. Search online for healthy restaurants with great reviews so that you can have an enormous bowl of salad and know you won’t get cholera from it. Cut out the chips and the candy and the chocolate.

Last year, I attempted to cut sugar from my diet to see if it could change the way I felt. It changed my life. When you’ve felt like crap your entire life that’s your baseline. That’s normal to you. Now, I can’t believe how great I feel. I had no idea it was possible to feel this good.

Lauren and Dave in Vietnam
At the southernmost point of Vietnam

I Found Independence

From the age of 16 there hasn’t been a period of more than about two weeks where I haven’t been a relationship. I was a serial relationshipist and I didn’t know how to be on my own. I was dependent on my boyfriends. I relied on them to do things for me that I didn’t want to do, and I defined myself by who I was in a relationship with.

One of things that scared me about travelling alone was the thought of suddenly having to function on my own. I didn’t know how to do it.

But, like most things, I figured it out. It took a few months, but I finally grew to love my newfound independence. I made my own decisions, and I based them solely on what I wanted. I could be selfish. If I wanted to sleep all day I could do so without having to worry about anyone else. If I wanted to spend all day hiking, I could do that too.

I finally began to recognise the benefits of depending on only myself. I gained life experience and stopped living my sheltered life. I figured out how public transport works, I tried new foods, I figured out how to do laundry, I learned how to make friends. I finally felt like I could function in the world — far better than I could have if I’d have stayed at home.

When I met Dave, I was concerned that my independence would fade away but the opposite happened. Unlike my previous boyfriends, Dave encouraged me to remain independent and wouldn’t allow me to take the easy way out. He’d urge me to leave my comfort zone and do something for the first time — and he’d be there to celebrate with me when I proved I could do it. We even aim to spend two months out of every year travelling solo so that we don’t get too wrapped up in our couple bubble.

Working from anywhere
Working on a beach in Belize

I Realised That Freedom is Most Important to Me

Travel has taught me that travel isn’t the reason I travel. What? I mean, I love travel and you’ll know from all of my planning posts that I’m always trying to visit far more places than I have the energy for. I spend so much time staring at maps and plotting routes that I know travel makes me happy.

But it’s not the thing that’s most important to me. I probably won’t want to travel full-time for the rest of my life. Maybe I will. I’m assuming I won’t, though. In fact, Dave and I are currently discussing moving to New Zealand in 2016 to build a tiny home on wheels. I don’t think we’ll ever stop travelling forever, have kids and hang ourselves from the corporate ladder, but our lifestyle will evolve. It’s having the freedom to pursue what appeals that’s important.

I love being self-employed. I love that if I’m feeling exhausted and drained I can take three months off from work and go skip around Southeast Asia. I love that I can work from anywhere that has an Internet connection. I love that I can open up Skyscanner and book a one-way ticket to pretty much anywhere in the world — and arrive there tomorrow morning. I love that if I decide I suddenly hate travel, I can choose to buy a house and settle down. Freedom is what makes me happy and it’s so precious to me.

Lauren at Tulum

I Know Who I am, I Like Myself, I’m Happy

It’s a cliche but when I left to travel, I hoped that it would help me find out who I am. I wanted to heal myself and become the person I knew I could be. I hoped to rid myself of anxiety, overcome my eating issues, find independence and stop being frightened of everything.

I still have lots of work to do but I feel like I’m getting there. I know I’ll never be perfect but I’m determined to be the best possible version of myself. As soon as I conquer one hurdle, I’m setting the next one down.

Against the odds, I did find myself through travel. I have become the person I’ve always wanted to be. I actually like myself now.

Most of all, I’m the happiest I’ve ever been.

 

Here to the next three years! 

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178 Comments

  1. Katie @ Second-Hand Hedgehog
    July 18, 2014
    Reply

    Wow Lauren – this is incredible! And so honest about the person you were before. It’s great to be able to look back on your past self with that level of detachment and self-awareness. And such an inspiring story! I’m lucky, in that I’ve always been fairly adventurous with food anyway, but I know people who can list the things they’re prepared to eat on one hand, and think of pizza as ‘too adventurous’. It’s great to see you travelled in spite of those food limitations, and even overcame them. Thhanks for posting! :-)

    • Lauren
      July 30, 2014
      Reply

      Thank you so much, Katie! :-) The food issues were definitely a problem at times but I’m so glad I managed to work past them. Now, I just want to eat everything!

  2. Beverley - Pack Your Passport
    July 18, 2014
    Reply

    So SO happy for you Lauren, and so SO SO PROUD. I remember following you on Facebook and Twitter when you first started travelling and now, look how far you’ve come. You’ve also actually made me think about how much I’ve changed since getting on that flight to Australia. Before I left…urgh, I wasn’t a great person. I was selfish, and self-absorbed, and I had absolutely no tolerance of other people at all. And to top it all of, I’d sometimes need to leave the house I shared with my then-boyfriend but instead found myself just staring out of the window, afraid of what people might think of me.

    I still have issues, everyone does, but I think it’s all about looking at the positives and realising how much you’ve grown, how much you’ve changed, how much you’ve accomplished.

    Like I said; SO happy for you xx

    • Lauren
      July 30, 2014
      Reply

      Awww, thank you so much, Beverley! :-) I’m so pleased to hear that travel has changed you for the better as well, and that you’ve realised that!

  3. Ali
    July 18, 2014
    Reply

    Seriously wonderful post, Lauren! I’m so happy for you for pushing yourself so much over the past 3 years and finding who you are and breaking out of your comfort zone. And I’m impressed. I have my own issues, though not as extreme as some of the things you dealt with before you started traveling, but I do know how hard it can be to force yourself to do things that make you uncomfortable. I know travel is good for me too, and it would probably be even better if I went for longer than what I’ve done so far. Congrats on an amazing 3 years! I’m looking forward to hearing about the next 3 years!

    • Lauren
      July 30, 2014
      Reply

      Thank you so much, Ali! It’s great that travel has been beneficial for you, too :-)

  4. Jamie
    July 18, 2014
    Reply

    This has been such an inspiring post, Lauren. I can totally relate to this article. As someone who is terribly shy and introverted, I know how hard it is to step outside a comfort zone that’s the size of a pea. I’m still learning how to be more confident and independent, but hopefully with a little more traveling I’ll get there soon! :)

    And congratulations on how far you have come these past three years!

    • Lauren
      July 28, 2014
      Reply

      Thanks so much, Jamie! Travel does help improve your confidence because you’re always putting yourself in unfamiliar situations. You’ll get there eventually :-)

  5. Gillian
    July 18, 2014
    Reply

    Past Lauren is so unrecognizable! Super happy to see how far you’ve come and thankful that you can now enjoy the best food on earth – Khao Soi!!

    • Lauren
      July 26, 2014
      Reply

      It’s so good! I can even eat the ones that are a Thai level of spicy now.

  6. Nikhil
    July 18, 2014
    Reply

    Amazing, just amazing, and so inspiring to read this!!

    Please please please do write in more detail, about how you transformed you diet to a healthy one, and how that changed your bodily health. That experience could even help non-travelers!

    • Lauren
      July 26, 2014
      Reply

      Thanks so much, Nikhil! I’ll write a post about that within the next month or so :-)

  7. Frances Bibby
    July 18, 2014
    Reply

    Amazing post, totally agree – leaving your comfort zone is really important.
    Travel is brilliant for forcing people to get over their fears/limits, that’s what I love about it too. And I never say ‘I’m bored’ these days either, you’re right there’s too much fun stuff to do!

    • Lauren
      July 26, 2014
      Reply

      I have a few friends on Facebook who seem to complain about being bored every day of the week and it drives me crazy. I can’t even comprehend running out of things to do!

  8. Kendra (the Escapologist)
    July 18, 2014
    Reply

    This post is so motivating for me. I can’t believe how much you’ve changed over three years! I have some anxiety/depression issues that seem to spring up again when I’m stuck in a place too long, especially when I’m sitting in an office cubicle. It’s good to know that things can change with the right outlook (and maybe a little adventure).

    Not many people can openly admit their faults. It’s amazing that you now have the ability to step back and look at who you used to be and admit to not liking that person. Here’s to the next three years!

    • Lauren
      July 30, 2014
      Reply

      Thanks so much, Kendra! I think I had such a drastic change through travel that it was tricky not to look back and assess how I used to be, and how much I’ve evolved.

  9. Eleanor
    July 18, 2014
    Reply

    I was reading this and just nodding along the whole time! Although I can never say I was shy, I had some real issues with hypochondria and anxiety around food, mainly that it was going to give me food poisoning so I guess those things are related! After getting salmonella poisoning in Morocco though, maybe I’m cured ;-)

    Great post anyway, following you on Bloglovin’ right away!

    • Lauren
      July 30, 2014
      Reply

      Thanks, Eleanor! Sometimes I think you have to experience the things you’re afraid of in order to realise that they’re actually not that big of a deal!

  10. Chris
    July 18, 2014
    Reply

    yeeewwwwww go Lauren!

    I’ve enjoyed following your travels from the word go and have seen the change in action. Luckily you’re still going to get yourself in crazy situations but at least you’re cool with that now!hahaha!

    Keep up the good work – travel changes everyone for the better!

    Here’s to the next 3 years!

    • Lauren
      July 26, 2014
      Reply

      I love my crazy situations now — they give me so many great stories! :-)

  11. Alexa
    July 18, 2014
    Reply

    This post really spoke to me! I’m embarking on my first solo travel adventure and I just wanted to let you know how much of an inspiration you are to me!
    I feel like I can relate to so many of these things that travelling has done for you, and I hope does for me as well! Thanks!

    • Lauren
      July 26, 2014
      Reply

      Thanks so much, Alexa! I really hope you find travel to be as beneficial as I have :-)

  12. Michelle
    July 18, 2014
    Reply

    Love this post! Very inspiring and I’m glad that you started traveling :) You have come a long way!

    • Lauren
      July 26, 2014
      Reply

      Thanks, Michelle! I’m pretty glad, too :-)

  13. Andrea Anastasiou
    July 18, 2014
    Reply

    What an inspirational story, Lauren. As someone who’s been reading your blog for more than two years now it’s been nice to see the transformation in action. Well done you!

    • Lauren
      July 26, 2014
      Reply

      Thanks so much, Andrea! I really appreciate you sticking with me for so long! :-)

  14. The Guy
    July 18, 2014
    Reply

    Lauren, wow. I’m almost speechless. What an amazing transformational story you’ve gone through and travel has done amazing things for you.

    When I began this piece I was thinking what, you’ve never eaten eggs! Yet now I understand and the transformation is awe inspiring.

    I am curious at where you were in your life, being so afraid, what on ever gave you the courage to go on that first flight away from home?

    • Lauren
      July 30, 2014
      Reply

      Part of it was the fear that I’d spend the rest of my life full of regrets if I didn’t leave. I was pretty obsessed with the idea of travel, and I knew I wanted to try it at some point. When my boyfriend broke up with me, that was the catalyst that forced me to give it a go. I’d hit rock bottom and knew there was very little for me at home. I figured I’d give it a go and see what happened — surely having a panic attack on the beach in Croatia would be more preferable to having one in my bedroom at home? :-)

      Thank you so much for your kind words!

  15. Scarlett
    July 18, 2014
    Reply

    I LOVE THIS AND I LOVE YOU xxxxxx

    • Lauren
      July 26, 2014
      Reply

      Love you too! :-)

  16. Ngaire
    July 18, 2014
    Reply

    Thanks for sharing – I can relate to many of your points! Oh the ‘experiences’ or shall I say dramas I’ve had. People often think I’m just unlucky, but like you I now consider them experiences – what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger right?

    Very interesting and inspirational post – if you’re in NZ in 2016 who knows I might bump into you as I’m heading back over that way to live in about a year after my travels!

    • Lauren
      July 26, 2014
      Reply

      Absolutely! Having bad luck strengthens you as a person and helps you to develop in ways you wouldn’t have had you only had good luck :-)

  17. Dalene
    July 18, 2014
    Reply

    It amazes me, in your description of pre-travel Lauren, that you ever ventured out in the first place! :)

    Love the tiny house on wheels idea…I’ve been sending Pete info on that myself.

    • Lauren
      July 28, 2014
      Reply

      Yep, there were so many times when I very nearly didn’t leave in the build up!

  18. Becki
    July 18, 2014
    Reply

    Looking happy, healthy and bloody fabulous! I remember when you were a year in and I just started….what a journey it’s been and many great times ahead.

    You found yourself and that’s more incredible than most things you have seen.

    • Lauren
      July 30, 2014
      Reply

      Thanks so much, Becki! It’s been fun following your journey around the world, too :-)

  19. Ben @ Road Affair
    July 18, 2014
    Reply

    Very inspiring and everybody who is making excuses why they apparently can’t travel should look at your blog. Congrats on making 3 years and changing your life to your liking.

    • Lauren
      July 26, 2014
      Reply

      Thanks, Ben! :-)

  20. Abbey Hesser
    July 18, 2014
    Reply

    Hey Lauren, I’ve never really followed you before; always just read about you through Dave’s travels. I just wanted to say that when I saw him post this on his timeline, I felt compelled to read to just get to know you a bit better and am completely surprised and amazed by the journey you’ve been on. I am so happy you have found yourself in all of this chaos and that you have been able to articulate your metamorphosis so perfectly :) Although my journey is completely different, I relate to so much of the emotion you’ve felt through your transition. I’m sure this article will be such an inspiration to so many people and I’m so glad that you are in Dave’s life (so I could get to know you as well!) I really hope to get to meet you some day soon, and will buy you a congratulatory beer :) Best of luck and give that sexy BF of yours a big hug from me!

    • Lauren
      July 30, 2014
      Reply

      Thanks so much for the lovely comment, Abbey! I hope we do get to meet soon — Dave has nothing but great things to say about you! :-)

  21. Ashley
    July 18, 2014
    Reply

    This is such an amazing post. Such an amazing way to find yourself and learn new things.

    • Lauren
      July 25, 2014
      Reply

      Thanks, Ashley! :-)

  22. Elena
    July 18, 2014
    Reply

    This post is probably the best post I’ve ever read.

    I admire your strength and courage and determination and the way you look at all the bad things that have happened.

    I recently had a horrible car crash and it has taken me a while for me to see that I was lucky to have survived and not suffered any serious injuries, but it is far too easy to feel sorry for yourself and think ‘why me’.

    I will re-read this post for months to come to help me with my healing.

    Keep doing what you love doing!

    Elena

    lennyloveslife.com

    • Lauren
      July 25, 2014
      Reply

      Wow, what a compliment! Thank you so much, Elena :-). It took a very long time for me to change my way of thinking whenever anything bad happened to me. It was so much easier to wallow in self-pity! But at the end of the day, you were lucky to survive, so focus on that instead of the negatives :-)

  23. Jazzy
    July 18, 2014
    Reply

    This was a very candid and awesome post. Congratulation ! I think it’s amazing how you have overcome so many things. This is a very inspiring post and I hope you continue to grow, change and challenge your comfort zones.

    Cheers !!! Good luck

    • Lauren
      July 25, 2014
      Reply

      Thanks, Jazzy! I’m planning on forcing myself further from my comfort zone over the coming months, and hope to never stop growing and improving :-)

  24. Nikita
    July 18, 2014
    Reply

    This is so beautifull! It’s lovely to hear stories like this… And yes, I’m sure travel changed you, but really you changed yourself in purchasing that plane ticket and powering through your fears! I wish you many more happy, anxiety-free years!

    • Lauren
      July 25, 2014
      Reply

      Thanks so much for that thought, Nikita! :-)

  25. sunseeker escapist
    July 18, 2014
    Reply

    I’m glad to read travel can heal. It’s a wonder, it has therapeutic effects and indeed – it helps.
    If they use music and pets in healing emotional problems, then why not use travel?
    I bet no-one has ever thought about this…

    • Lauren
      July 25, 2014
      Reply

      I think that people who suffer from anxiety find anxiety to be such a daunting prospect that it would be hard to give it a go. Buying a pet or listening to music is much less intimidating.

  26. TammyOnTheMove
    July 18, 2014
    Reply

    What a lovely and honest post. You should be very proud of yourself. Someone very close to me suffers from anxiety too and so I know how hard it must have been for you to board that plane. You have clearly come a long way since then. Congrats on turning your life around!

    • Lauren
      July 25, 2014
      Reply

      Thanks, Tammy! Sometimes I have no idea how I found the strength to get on the plane but I’m obviously so glad that I did.

  27. Tracey
    July 19, 2014
    Reply

    Wow! Really inspiring story. I’m not heading into long-term travel for another year or two, but I get very very homesick whenever I’m away. Bookmarking this post to read again in the down-times when I know it will help keep me positive and push through the difficult times. Here’s to the next 3 years! :-)

    • Lauren
      July 25, 2014
      Reply

      Aww, thanks so much, Tracey! Let me know if I can help you out in any way as you prepare to leave :-)

  28. Reclaiming Your Future
    July 19, 2014
    Reply

    Oh hun, I love this (and you). I remember when you were first starting out, the FB chats we would have when you were upset and so anxious about leaving wondering if you could go at all and look at you now! So proud of how far you’ve come and to see your journey for myself.

    Love you! xxx

    • Lauren
      July 25, 2014
      Reply

      Thanks so much, Toni! I can’t believe I nearly cancelled leaving at the last minute. It was chatting to you and knowing that you were also terrified but managed to do it that convinced me to try it out :-)

  29. Jessica of Curiosity Travels
    July 19, 2014
    Reply

    What a fabulous, honest and inspiring post. Congrats on how far you’ve come!

    All your points are great but I totally love the part about maintaining your independence…even now with Dave. That is so great that you both encourage each other to do things on your own and not get stuck in the “couple bubble”. Awesome!

    Cheers to you and happy travels Lauren!

    • Lauren
      July 20, 2014
      Reply

      Thanks, Jessica!

  30. Susan @ Travel Junkette
    July 18, 2014
    Reply

    Awesome post, Lauren! I’ve been following your blog for a few years now, and it’s fun to watch your evolution! Cheers to travel! xo

    • Lauren
      July 25, 2014
      Reply

      Thanks, Susan. I appreciate you sticking with me over the past few years :-)

  31. Shelley Graner
    July 19, 2014
    Reply

    Beautifully, bravely written. Made me tear up. Travel may be the vehicle, but the work is all you. Bravo for pushing yourself, and congratulations on how far you’ve come. Very inspiring- thank you for sharing!

    • Lauren
      July 25, 2014
      Reply

      That’s so kind of you to say, Shelley! I really appreciate it :-)

  32. Tom
    July 19, 2014
    Reply

    Absolutely amazing post Lauren! Your best post yet! Look forward to many more. Also, I love that you and Dave take two months to travel solo each year. I think most couples would benefit from scheduled time apart. Glad to see that you are doing as well as ever.

    Once again: brilliant post!

    • Lauren
      July 20, 2014
      Reply

      Thank you so much, Tom! Our two months apart are very important to us because we usually spend every second of every day together. It can get pretty claustrophobic at times. Spending time apart allows us to actually miss each other! :-)

  33. Dan B
    July 19, 2014
    Reply

    Very inspiring post, Lauren! Actually, there’s a book I recommend you read if you have the time for it. My Age of Anxiety by Scott Stossel. It’s a non-fiction book all about anxiety. Sounds horrible, but it does explain the history of anxiety and possibilities of where it comes from as well as sharing some of the author’s anxiety problems.

    One theory is that it’s based on a fight or flight response. When we get into life threatening situations instinct kicks in and suddenly we either run away or fight. Some people believe that anxiety is that instinct gone haywire. You feel like you should run away or fight, even when not in life threatening situations. You panic even if there’s no reason to.

    I think for me, I still have some way to go before I conquer my own anxiety and really I don’t think I ever will 100% be rid of it. Travel can definitely help, but at the same time it can make things worse. My theory is that travel is so overwhelming for our mind and senses that we find it hard to feel anxious as we’re too busy thinking of other stuff. Travel is a great distraction. Sitting in the house is no distraction at all!

    • Lauren
      July 25, 2014
      Reply

      Thanks for the recommendation, Dan! That it could be based on the flight or fight response is interesting and would make a lot of sense. Travel is definitely a good distraction from anxiety, though. I hope it helps yours :-)

  34. Diana Edelman
    July 19, 2014
    Reply

    I LOVE this post and I LOVE YOU. You have grown and changed so much. I am so happy for you and everything in your life!

    • Lauren
      July 25, 2014
      Reply

      Awww, thanks so much, Diana! :-)

  35. Catherine
    July 19, 2014
    Reply

    What a beautiful post! I know you’ve mentioned you had issues with anxiety and food, but I had no idea how bad it was! It is so amazing how you’ve transformed your life, very inspirational!

    • Lauren
      July 25, 2014
      Reply

      Thanks for reading, Catherine :-)

  36. Charlie
    July 19, 2014
    Reply

    A really inspiring post, Lauren. It’s amazing to read how far you’ve come. From reading your past posts you’re old self is unrecognizable! Travel has done similar things for me with confidence and being happier within myself. Travel makes it easier to grow and push yourself out of your comfort zone but it’s still never easily, well done for all the hard work!

    • Lauren
      July 25, 2014
      Reply

      I’m so glad to hear that travel has increased your confidence, too, Charlie! It would definitely be tough to try and remain in your comfort zone when travelling — so many things go wrong all the time. Eventually you start to realise the benefits of leaving it.

  37. Veera Bianca / Wanderlust Expert
    July 19, 2014
    Reply

    FANTASTIC POST! I absolutely loved this! <3

    • Lauren
      July 20, 2014
      Reply

      Thanks so much, Veera! :-)

  38. Jodie Young
    July 19, 2014
    Reply

    What a wonderful post. I remember reading your blog when you first started out travelling. It has been fun following along with your travels and as cliche as it is, it really sounds like travelling has changed you. I think sometimes all it takes is a change in attitude and outlook on life to start the healing process.

    • Lauren
      July 20, 2014
      Reply

      Thank you so much, Jodie. I completely agree — you have to really want to change before you can.

  39. Davy
    July 19, 2014
    Reply

    Lauren, you are truly an inspiration and make some of wish we had made different decisions in our past and took a chance on travel. I’ve been to a lot of countries (49) but most just for short trips between 3 and 17 days I’ve never really let myself become part of the culture.

    As I know you like places you can visit on a budget (which is probably why you’ve avoided Scandinavia) you should visit Albania the beaches and countryside were amazing, the people were very friendly and hospitable and it’s also pretty cheap.

    Good luck on you future travels and I look forward to hearing more about your exploits.

    • Lauren
      July 25, 2014
      Reply

      Thank you so much, Davy! I’m very keen to get to Albania. I’ve come close a few times but always ended up going somewhere else instead. I hope that I’ll be able to visit next year. And yes, Scandinavia seems a little too pricy for now! :-)

  40. Jeff
    July 19, 2014
    Reply

    This blog is best for non-travelers to give them the courage to travel too.Congratulations!The story is really inspiring though I would like to know more about overcoming the poor body step by step.Thanks for sharing Lauren!

    • Lauren
      July 20, 2014
      Reply

      Thanks, Jeff! A few people have asked me to write about that in more detail so I’ll get up a post about it soon.

  41. Deb
    July 20, 2014
    Reply

    Beautifully written as usual Lauren. So lovely to hear the happiness radiating through what you write! x

    • Lauren
      July 25, 2014
      Reply

      Thanks, Deb! :-)

  42. Jennifer
    July 20, 2014
    Reply

    Lauren,

    I found your blog about two weeks before you left, and I have loved your journey every step of the way,. You are very inspiration. We are so similar it is scary. I suffered a severe eating disorder and I have let it stop me from pursuing many dreams (including travel!) You are an inspiration and I am so glad you have been forthcoming so younger girls can read your journey and know!

    Jen

    • Lauren
      July 21, 2014
      Reply

      Wow, thanks for your kind words, and for sticking with me for so long, Jen! :-)

  43. Rebekah
    July 20, 2014
    Reply

    That’s such a great story. It sounds like you’ve overcome so much…. would make a great book… just a thought :)

    • Lauren
      July 21, 2014
      Reply

      I can’t comment on that right now but… stay tuned! :-)

  44. Ray
    July 20, 2014
    Reply

    Hey Lauren,

    I’d have to agree with the other comments – definitely one of your best posts! How could anyone disagree with the statement that travel is the most life-enriching, character-building, awe-inspiring thing a person can do?

    Having read some of your first posts when you started off in Eastern Europe, though, I think you may be selling yourself short! I noticed that you had a hoard of followers posting comments pretty much from day one – not bad for a shy and retiring girl who apparently didn’t know how to post a letter! You seem to have had the knack for writing, entertainment and photography from day one. I know from personal experience how hard it is to build something as good as you have built!

    While you should definitely be proud of what you have achieved in these years as a traveller, don’t forget that you are and have been a very talented and hard working person even before you set off from the UK all those years ago!

    • Lauren
      July 20, 2014
      Reply

      Thanks for the compliments, Ray. When I struggled to communicate with people in everyday life, I’d turn to my online world instead. When you’re unable to step outside, you can dedicate an awful lot of time to sitting inside on your laptop and writing (15 hours a day!). It’s also easy to mask any shy and retiring qualities when you’re typing, as opposed to having a conversation in person.

  45. Jayne
    July 20, 2014
    Reply

    What an amazing change and so many fantastic things to have travel to thank for. You’re such an inspiration for so many people who may be afraid of travel and change.

    • Lauren
      July 21, 2014
      Reply

      Awww, thank you so much, Jayne! :-)

  46. efe
    July 20, 2014
    Reply

    Hello, great article. ı will be on road on september, it will 6-7 months ı hope. ı am at worst stage of my life. anxiety, deep loneliness, family issues etc. ı have to do something. so ı am travelling. ı hope ı can change just like you. ı have nothing to lose right now. have a nice day. If you want to travel Eskisehir mail me. you can check images out from google. Eskisehir is good city..

    • Lauren
      July 20, 2014
      Reply

      Good luck :-)

  47. Chu
    July 20, 2014
    Reply

    Brilliant article.

    Travelling on your own does help you force yourself to do things that you otherwise wont do.

    Kinda wished I had done more just after leaving Uni, and maybe my outlook on life would have been a whole lot more different.

    faced with the choice of being stuck in the uk over xmas, or spending 2 weeks in thailand without the ex, i took the brave pill, moped on the plane and then the survival instinct kicked in once i landed. most of it riding around aimlessly around the thai countryside on a moped.

    did more in 2 weeks than i had done on any other trip.

    ps lauren. the unhappy ending. been there. awkward, very. lesson learned always consult Trip Advisor, especially in Patong!

    • Lauren
      July 21, 2014
      Reply

      Thanks so much, Chu! It’s true what you say about the survival instinct. Whenever I’ve been completely overwhelmed with a situation — missed a bus, lost in the middle of nowhere… — I’ve managed to get myself out of it by being far more function that I’d expected! Thailand’s great for scootering around, hey? :-)

  48. Tom @ Waegook Tom
    July 20, 2014
    Reply

    Hilarious, heartwarming and inspiring. I LOVE THIS POST. And that’s all I have to say <3

    Well that, and be prepared for more deliciousness when you come to Taipei!

    • Lauren
      July 21, 2014
      Reply

      I’m so excited!! We’re thinking about spending a month in Taipei now! :-)

  49. Laura
    July 20, 2014
    Reply

    What an inspirational story, you’re so brave to share it with us

    • Lauren
      July 21, 2014
      Reply

      Thanks, Laura!

  50. Richelle
    July 20, 2014
    Reply

    I’m really impressed that you decided to travel the world on your own with everything you had going on in your life back home! What made you decide to abandon everything familiar and go travel the world on your own?

    • Lauren
      July 21, 2014
      Reply

      The short answer is that travelling made me happy. Whenever I would go on family holidays, I’d find myself beaming for the duration and then sobbing whenever I had to return home. I was always happiest when I was exploring somewhere new. I’d spend all my spare time gazing at maps and reading about other countries that I eventually decided to do something about my obsession. There were a few other factors, such as a bad break up that gave me a bit of a breakdown, that catalysed me actually leaving, but mostly I just wanted to give it a go so I wouldn’t have to live with regrets.

  51. Arianwen
    July 20, 2014
    Reply

    It’s so great that travel has done so much for you. I definitely feel like a different person too. It was such a gradual change that I didn’t feel it happening, but looking back to how I was 3 years ago I’ve definitely become braver, more confident and more independent. I loved your Central America photos too – I’ll be there in 2 weeks!

    • Lauren
      July 21, 2014
      Reply

      That’s so great to hear, Arianwen! Hope you have a great time in Central America :-)

  52. NZ Muse
    July 20, 2014
    Reply

    I LOVED reading this, Lauren.

    Travel changed me. In the biggest way, it made me a food snob. Food is the single biggest thing I miss about travelling. I don’t want to travel full time but I sure wish I could hop on a plane anytime I’m having a food craving.

    I also learned to love dogs while HelpXing on a farm.

    And I guess like most people, I learned I’m a lot stronger than I originally thought.

    xx

    • Lauren
      July 21, 2014
      Reply

      Haha! I can feel myself slowly transforming into a bit of a food snob, which is hilarious to me! I get so grumpy when I spend my money on a terrible meal now. Travel is great for showing you how strong you are as a person — it feels like your strength is tested everyday on the road!

  53. Aftee
    July 21, 2014
    Reply

    Amazing! I truly enjoyed reading this. You are a great writer and very inspirational! Keep doing what you do. All those smiles and stories are contagious!

    Cheers & good vibes from Wisconsin! = )

    • Lauren
      July 21, 2014
      Reply

      Thanks so much! :-)

  54. Stephanie
    July 20, 2014
    Reply

    Wow, look at the amount of comments on this post Lauren.
    I daresay that this is your best post yet! It’s lovely to see how far you’ve come and how travel has made you like yourself more.
    I was a bit of a wimp before I went travelling and just not happy. Travel opened my eyes to the beauty of the world and how insignificant my worries were!
    Here’s to many more months of travelling the world! (Until you settle down in beautiful New Zealand…Wellington perhaps?).

    • Lauren
      July 21, 2014
      Reply

      Thank you so much, Steph! I’m pleased to hear that travel helped you, too :-). It’ll probably be somewhere in the South Island in New Zealand. We’re very tempted by Wanaka at the moment.

  55. Katie @ The World on my Necklace
    July 21, 2014
    Reply

    Inspiring post Lauren – you have come so far! Travel has definitely changed me for the better as well – I feel so much more content now, am a more compassionate person and just feel like I get it now – I know what is important in life and what isn’t. Thanks for sharing your struggles with us, I’m sure that that will be very inspirational for people who are scared to travel

    • Lauren
      July 21, 2014
      Reply

      Hi Katie. I’m so pleased to hear that you’ve experience positive results from travelling, too! Thanks for your kind words :-)

  56. Maria @ Best Carry-on Luggage Guide
    July 21, 2014
    Reply

    First post I’ve read on your blog and it certainly won’t be the last! This makes so much sense. I managed to do a lot of traveling when I was younger and can relate to all of this. I only wish I had chance to do more nowadays. Good luck and I’m excited to read about your next adventures!

    • Lauren
      July 25, 2014
      Reply

      Glad to have you on board as a reader, Maria! Thanks for your kind words :-)

  57. Charles McCool
    July 21, 2014
    Reply

    Wonderful post, Lauren. Seems pretty common that to find yourself you need to travel as far away from your comfort zone as you can. Great for you that you were able to do so and become an awesome person for it.

    • Lauren
      July 22, 2014
      Reply

      Thanks, Charles! Forcing myself out my comfort zone has been so beneficial for me, and I’d recommend it to everyone! :-)

  58. Christine
    July 21, 2014
    Reply

    So amazing to see all you’ve accomplished in a few short years! Congratulations on such a wonderful and full life!

    • Lauren
      July 22, 2014
      Reply

      Thanks so much, Christine! :-)

  59. Jess
    July 22, 2014
    Reply

    What a great turn around. I have a similar (less dramatic) story. I was incredibly shy and had zero confidence when I first travelled aged 19. Travelling healed me and being away from home and other people’s expectations allowed me to grow. It’s also really important to have a passion and direction in life – a reason to work, to save, to live. Travelling has served me well. And still does as I’ve been lucky enough to take my kids around the world and make a living out of it too.

    • Lauren
      July 23, 2014
      Reply

      I’m so pleased to hear that you found travel to be beneficial too, Jess. It seems to help most people improve their confidence and social skills.

  60. Sonja
    July 22, 2014
    Reply

    Wow.. I just discovered your blog recently but I love reading it! You’re such an inspiration! So many people would like to travel the world but are too afraid – you did it and you accomplished so many things! I love these pictures and it seems as if travelling was the right choice for you, I’m really happy for you:)

    • Lauren
      July 22, 2014
      Reply

      Awww, thank you so much for the lovely comment, Sonja! :-) Travelling definitely was the right choice for me.

  61. Oscar
    July 22, 2014
    Reply

    Lauren, you missed Bolivia on your trip, we hope to have you here in the future!

    • Lauren
      July 23, 2014
      Reply

      Bolivia is right at the top of my list of countries I want to visit. I hope to get there soon :-)

  62. Cecilia
    July 22, 2014
    Reply

    What an inspiring post. I love how detailed and honest you are with all the accounts of your fears and anxieties. It is very rare to be candid about such extreme circumstances, it really does give people hope that they can also fulfill their dream one day despite the gravity of their situation. Your entry shows that it took months and even a year to overcome certain obstacles and change your outlook. Congratulations on your accomplishments! If you ever hit a low – remember that your readers (including I) are rooting for you!

    • Lauren
      July 25, 2014
      Reply

      Thanks for the support, Cecilia! I’ve been doing a lot of analysing over the past few months for my book, so I was happy to share it here, too.

  63. Angie
    July 22, 2014
    Reply

    This was such an inspiring post and made me tear up! You definitely have a lot to be proud of and I admire your bravery, courage and honesty.

    • Lauren
      July 25, 2014
      Reply

      Thank you so much, Angie! That means a lot to me :-)

  64. Amanda
    July 23, 2014
    Reply

    You go, girl. Thanks for taking us along with you on your journey. I really hope our paths cross one of these days!!

    • Lauren
      July 23, 2014
      Reply

      Thanks, Amanda! I really hope so too!!

  65. Ed
    July 23, 2014
    Reply

    Awesome post. You nailed it. This should be mandatory reading for all those out there that look at you funny when you talk to them about a life of travel. Oh, and please make sure I know what your schedule around the world is so we are never in the same locale. Crazy stuff happens to me all the time too (I’ve been through two of the top 15 largest storms already and I don’t even hang out where they have hurricanes much). I fear the world might not survive both of our karmas….

    • Lauren
      July 25, 2014
      Reply

      Hahaha, noted. I’ll make sure to steer clear of you ;-)

  66. rebecca
    July 25, 2014
    Reply

    one very awesome article! From reading your blog there is no way I would of imagined pre-laura existing! Very inspiration. Thanks for being so raw and honest in telling this story. Glad everything worked out for you

    • Lauren
      July 26, 2014
      Reply

      Thanks, Rebecca!

  67. MichaelSteinberger
    July 31, 2014
    Reply

    OMG, this is marvelloues how you came upto the new things and enjoyed. Your smile in each of your pictures shows how much fun it is while moving towards a new challange with courage.

    • Lauren
      July 31, 2014
      Reply

      Thanks, Michael!

  68. Cat
    August 3, 2014
    Reply

    Thank you, thank you, thank you for sharing your story. You’re amazing and you help me believe I’m an amazing person too that can travel and overcome my own issues. You rock! :)

    • Lauren
      September 7, 2014
      Reply

      Awww, thanks, Cat! I’m so pleased I could help.

  69. The CounterIntuitive
    August 8, 2014
    Reply

    I think this is one of the best posts you’ve done Lauren. Congrats on how far you’ve come and how your article will inspire others to do the same.

    • Lauren
      September 1, 2014
      Reply

      Wow, thank you!

  70. Pavithra
    August 12, 2014
    Reply

    Wow! Your transformation has been fantastic and inspiring and you have a great way with words. This post really touched some deep parts of my heart I didnt know I had! Thank you so much for writing about this.

    • Lauren
      September 1, 2014
      Reply

      Thank you so much for your kind words, Pavithra! :-)

  71. Rodrigo
    August 14, 2014
    Reply

    Thank you for opening up like you do, Lauren. You’re a real inspiration to me, a travel lover who still hasn’t had the guts to throw his excessive precautions to the wind and set out to see the world full-time. Not yet, at least…

    In fact, found this post so inspirational I’ve just emailed my friend about it and offered to translate it all to Portuguese so she can read it. She, too, has had panic attacks her entire life and is extremelly afraid of stepping out of her comfort zone, and I believe your story is exactly what she needs. I’m hoping it’ll help her muster the courage to follow your never-ending footsteps!

    Keep up with this wonderful blog! :)

    • Lauren
      September 7, 2014
      Reply

      Hi Rodrigo,

      Thank you so much for your comments, and for sending the post on to your friend. Let her know she can email me at any time if she needs any help! :-)

  72. Tori Miranda
    August 17, 2014
    Reply

    Such an inspiring article. Continue to inspire people thru writing blogs. God bless you always on your journey.
    Come visit middle east! Specially Oman, perfect months would be fr December to April.
    You’ll enjoy it in here!

    • Lauren
      August 18, 2014
      Reply

      Hi Tori, I was actually in Oman in April! I loved it and can’t wait to return :-)

  73. Cristy
    August 17, 2014
    Reply

    Hi Lauren! I can relate to how travel changed your life because it did the same thing to me too. Honestly, Im a bit introverted type of person before, having enclosed within the four corners of my room but then I realized that I’m missing a lot in life. Travel taught me how to engage people and overcame shyness. Anyway, great experiences out of travel often changes the mindsets we used to have. Thanks for letting me drop by!

    • Lauren
      September 1, 2014
      Reply

      Hi Christy,
      I’m so happy to hear that you found travel to be beneficial as well. It’s so great at getting you out of your shell and into the world :-)

  74. Alex
    August 18, 2014
    Reply

    Your story makes me so happy. I’m solo traveling myself and sometimes it gets really lonely and difficult. I always feel like I’m the only one going through all of this, but hearing your story (and many other people’s) stops me from booking my flight home and keeps me looking at new destinations!

    • Lauren
      August 29, 2014
      Reply

      Thank you so much, Alex! It can definitely be a challenge to travel solo but I do believe the benefits outweigh the drawbacks. I think everyone struggles with it at times, but not many people are vocal about it so it can feel like you’re the only one. You’re not alone!

  75. JP
    August 30, 2014
    Reply

    Hey Lauren!

    I must say that after reading all this, I have a completely new perspective about life. Your story is truly inspiring, what you have overcome is bigger than words, and the lifestyle you have chosen for yourself is honestly the way I want my life to be. I’m a 16 year old boy from Panama, and I know that being a journalist for CNN or the Washington Post about it is what I want to do. And even better, having the chance to travel around the world and just write about it. I personally believe, that our purpose as humans is to enjoy the wonderful gift that has been given to us, which is our beautiful planet. We have a whole world awaiting to be discovered, awaiting to be experienced by us. Because life is definitely not meant to be lived in only one place.

    I have heard so many times, and from so many different people that what I want to do won’t pay off, won’t give me enough income or whatever, won’t lead me to a steady life. The thing is that after some time I actually started to believe it, and that’s when the doubts came up. And then I found this, which I can say was exactly what I needed. Seeing that there are more people with the same vision I have, people that are passionate about the world and what’s within it. The diversity… The different people, the different traditions, the different cuisines, the different places, the different lifestyles. And the idea of going all over the place in search of something new and amazing, just blows me away. Your story has definitely inspired me to stay true to my idea, step out of my comfort zone, and just do it… Do exactly what I know will make me the happiest human alive. I thank you for taking the time to share your wonderful story, and just inspire others who want to follow your path. I wish you nothing for the best, Lauren.

    Happy Travels!

    Best Regards,
    JP

    • Lauren
      September 1, 2014
      Reply

      Hi JP,

      Thank you so much for your lovely comment — I’m so pleased to hear I could inspire you. I also had plenty of people who told me that I wouldn’t be able to do what I’m doing now — friends told me that I’d die, that I was sacrificing career opportunities, that I’d hate travel and be home within days… I didn’t know many people who were actually supportive of what I wanted to do.

      Good luck in following your dreams and I hope it works out as well for you as it has for me. Let me know if I can help out in any way :-)

  76. clelia
    September 2, 2014
    Reply

    This is such an inspirational post Lauren.
    I’ve been following you since the beginning and what really makes you special is that you can show your “flaws” and transform them into your strengths. I know as a fact that it’s not easy to live with anxiety and what you did with your life is simply awesome.

    That’s why people, me included, find you so inspirational:because you are a living example of what people should do with their lives: stop complaining and start making an effort to change what they don’t like about it.

    I still have many things that I need to change, but on my own way too. This is one of those blog posts that really make me think about how good it feels like looking back and see how far you’ve gone both mentally and physically.

    Some blogs are awesome because they talk about awesome places. Yours have something that not many other blogs have: A soul.

    Thanks so much for opening up and sharing your troubles and victories with us.

    Keep it up girl, you seriously rock!

    • Lauren
      October 22, 2014
      Reply

      That’s the loveliest comment ever — thank you, Clelia! :-) Comments like yours make me glad that I decided to be as honest as possible on my site.

  77. Mary
    September 7, 2014
    Reply

    Loooooovvve this post! So inspirational. Our family loves to travel and reading this post really helps to solidify that we need to continue to do it. Thank you!!!

    • Lauren
      October 22, 2014
      Reply

      Thank you so much, Mary! I’m really pleased to hear that :-)

  78. Jerrica Peterson
    September 9, 2014
    Reply

    Hi Lauren! I loved reading this as I am also your typical ‘travel has changed me’ walking cliche. But it has. I recently spent a year living and working in Australia, and am now continuing on the expat journey in New Zealand. I am also an aspiring travel writer/blogger and hope to make that dream a reality as well one day! Is that how you are able to work online? Is it through your blog or another platform? I’d love to hear how you made it happen. The freedom to roam endlessly is my ultimate goal, and working online would be a great start. Also, where in the world is that last picture taken? It’s about to make the top of my ‘to do travel list’. you can check out my blog here if interested: http://www.writingandwanderlust.com ! I would love to hear from you. Happy travels!!

    Jerrica

    • Lauren
      October 22, 2014
      Reply

      Hi Jerrica,

      I’m glad to hear that travel changed your life, as well! My travels are funded through several different things: advertising on Never Ending Footsteps, affiliate sales through Never Ending Footsteps, freelance writing, freelance editing, and I’ve just received a publishing deal for my travel memoir. But yes, I’d say that most of my income comes from Never Ending Footsteps, either directly or indirectly.

      That photo was taken in Tulum, Mexico! :-)

  79. Swan
    September 9, 2014
    Reply

    What an inspirational post! I am so happy for you!! I can relate to a certain extent, because after my first solo trip I became much more adaptable, independent, and sure of myself – it made me feel refurbished on the inside. Keep on living your dreams and best wishes for your future adventures :)

    • Lauren
      September 9, 2014
      Reply

      Thank you so much, Swan! I’m so pleased to hear that travel helped you as well :-)

  80. Jessica
    September 10, 2014
    Reply

    Lauren,
    Your story is so inspiring and amazing to me. I have always wanted to travel the world ever since I can remember. I was wondering what you do for work and how you go about all of your adventures. I would love some advice or pointers from you as I would love to start my travels but I’m not sure how to take that first step or how to fund my adventure. I am currently looking into a program called woofing, have u heard of it? And I’m very interested in what you do for work online as I feel something like that would suit me very well. I look forward to hearing from you, thanks! – Jess :)

    • Lauren
      September 17, 2014
      Reply

      Hi Jessica.

      I work online as a freelance writer, and Never Ending Footsteps helps to fund my travels, too, though advertising. I’d recommend that your first step be to build up your savings while you’re at home. Working online can be tough and there are some months when you’re panicking that all the work has dried up, and vice versa. It’s good to have a cushion of savings supporting you so that the lean times are not as stressful.

      I’ve heard very good things about WWOOFing, and I think it’s great for extending your travels, but as you’re working in exchange for accommodation and food, you’re not going to be earning. It could be good idea to try it out while trying to build up your online business in order to keep your costs low.

  81. Anna | slightly astray
    September 11, 2014
    Reply

    Hi Lauren, I’m a new reader to your blog, and this is such an inspirational post!! Your story, and what you’ve overcome, is just amazing. I especially love the part where you say that you realized you’re doing the exact opposite of running away. Often, I feel like that I’m not independent enough to make it on my own (I’m currently traveling with bf and terrified at the idea of being solo) and sometimes I wonder if I’m perhaps traveling to run away from issues (ie. unsupportive family). It’s so great to hear about how far you’ve come and it gives me hope that I’ll figure it all out someday too.

    • Lauren
      September 17, 2014
      Reply

      Thank you so much, Anna! I’ve definitely been where you are, and I used to have zero independence in life, but it does come to you eventually. And travel is so great for forcing you out of your comfort zone that it can really help you develop as a person. Start by spending a day exploring a city without your boyfriend, and eventually it won’t be such a big deal to spend time alone :-)

  82. Harsh
    October 6, 2014
    Reply

    It was so wonderful to hear about your journey Lauren. I also love travelling but was dormant after I graduated college. I am trying to rekindle the passion again. Just back from a trip to Bhutan and it feels amazing.

    Looking forward to more inspiration ! (y)

    • Lauren
      October 13, 2014
      Reply

      Wow, Bhutan! How was it? It’s very high on my wishlist!

  83. Emma
    October 23, 2014
    Reply

    Great inspiring post. The way you described yourself before and after makes me think that most of the people live in the comfort zone and they don´t care about the rest. Congratulations for your accomplished goals in life.

    • Lauren
      November 13, 2015
      Reply

      Thanks, Emma! Leaving your comfort zone is so beneficial — more people should challenge themselves to do it more often!

  84. Krishna
    November 5, 2014
    Reply

    Fantastically in-depth post, complete with a healthy dose of inspiration.

    What struck me about this post was the ‘get up and face your fears by confronting them’ message, even if you do not know the end direction or where the path will lead you in life. This spoke volumes to me with regards to going to University at age 34 with a general idea of what I am interested in doing but without a clearly defined end goal in sight, less changing my life completely from how it has been for the last 10 years. Very helpful!

    I love to travel as well, have traveled quite a bit, and I must agree that travel changes you as a person. The same can certainly be said for facing your fears by going against them in whatever aspect of your life they are rearing their ugly heads.

    Thanks for the inspiration!

  85. Claire
    December 22, 2014
    Reply

    I love this post :)

    I’d already been planning my trip when I stumbled upon your blog but it’s made all the difference.

    Yeah, I like your informative posts on countries I might travel to but mostly I like you honesty on the travel experience.

    Thanks for all the inspiration Girl!

    • Lauren
      November 26, 2015
      Reply

      Ah, that makes me so happy to hear! Thanks, Claire! :-)

  86. Manjulika
    February 22, 2015
    Reply

    Very inspiring.. I was a bundle of nervousness on my first flight but now I love traveling. However I am yet not comfortable traveling solo…maybe one day I will do that too.

    • Lauren
      March 8, 2015
      Reply

      You should absolutely try solo travel! It’s one of the best things you can do :-)

  87. krystal
    September 22, 2015
    Reply

    i love this post so much! I am planning a RTW trip and so much of what you’ve shared speaks true of my heart. You are a total inspiration! infinite blessings to you!!

    • Lauren
      November 13, 2015
      Reply

      Thank you so much, Krystal!

  88. Jon
    February 29, 2016
    Reply

    Excellent post! Thank you so much.

    • Lauren
      March 15, 2016
      Reply

      :-)

  89. Daniel
    May 10, 2016
    Reply

    Amazing

    • Lauren
      May 10, 2016
      Reply

      Thanks!

  90. Edmund Butler
    August 25, 2016
    Reply

    Hi Lauren, That’s one awesomely compelling and disarmingly honest story!! I’m sharing it with my 19 year old daughter in hopes she’ll also be inspired to travel so bravely and wisely. Thank you. I’m sure you’ll go very far in life. Take good care! E.

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