I booked a one way ticket to London, 5 months later here’s what I’ve learned

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I’ve just entered my fifth month overseas travelling solo. At 22 years of age, I’m just a month shy of having spent a 44th of my life on the other side of the world living out of a suitcase, having not seen my family and friends (or puppy), and sleeping in a different city every few nights.

Crazy, huh?

What happened after I booked a one way ticket

For anyone who doesn’t know, I’m a full time travel blogger. I graduated university in November 2013 (with a Bachelor of International Relations & minor in political science) and a few hours before my graduation ceremony I booked a one-way ticket to London. 5 months later, here is what I have learned….

They say "getting lost will help you find yourself"... Well, is it true?

They say “getting lost will help you find yourself”… Well, is it true?

I’m stronger (mentally) than I thought

Before I left home I thought I “knew” I was strong enough to travel solo around the world for 12 months. I had previously travelled overseas by myself two years prior around Europe, as well as in 2013 to the USA, Vietnam, and Indonesia on three separate trips. But the longest of these trips was 21 days — I didn’t really know what I was getting myself into!

When I landed in London on my Qantas flight from Australia, Lorde’s Buzzcut Season was playing in my headphones and literally as soon as the plane hit the tarmac she sang the words “and I’ll never go home again”. At that moment I smiled to myself and thought it was a sign and that I was exactly where I should be (both geographically and in my life in this moment).

As it turns out, solo travel is much harder for an extended period of time. Living out of a suitcase is only fun for so long, sleeping in a different hotel bed every two nights (I review hotels) means very little sleep, and attempting to live a healthy lifestyle when you have to eat out every meal of the day is ridiculously difficult. But what’s the verdict? Well it’s been 5 months and not only am I still here, but I’m loving every minute of it.

I’m also stronger physically than I thought

In my fourth month I was admitted to hospital for a bad case of the flu / physical exhaustion in South Africa amidst an international conference I had flown out for. Imagine how bad I felt having flown 24 hours from Portugal to actually get there and having just travelled for 12 days around the country as a media guest, then actually getting to the conference I was there for and be lying in a bed in Emergency with an IV drip in my arm eating cut up fruit for breakfast. Not fun.

Fast forward 48 hours and I was flying back out of South Africa on a three-flight-journey to Barcelona, Spain, where I had 7 days of work scheduled. I felt like a zombie getting on that plane with 5 medications to take at 9 times throughout the day, but I kept going. I learned you are as strong as you think you are (I’m also pretty stubborn)!

I’ve stopped complaining without realising

I was once the kind of person who couldn’t bear the cold, would be grumpy if I hadn’t had breakfast, needed enough time in the morning to feel like I looked the best version of myself, had to workout each day or I felt lazy…. the list goes on. Three words: first world problems. I had a bunch of ’em.

Recently on a group tour in my travels I realised that my fellow travel companions had nothing positive to say. They would ask each morning “how was your sleep?” and despite having 2-4 hours of interrupted sleep (I have been in the editing phase of my latest Ebook working round the clock), I would always give the answer of “fine, and you?” with a smile and bloodshot eyes drooping down below my chin. I soon noticed that all I would ever get in response was complaints – the wi-fi wasn’t fast enough, the people next door were talking loudly, the heater was difficult to operate…. and so on and so forth.

I started thinking to myself…. yeah, my wi-fi doesn’t work at all. My heater has a mind of it’s own. I could hear the person next door brushing their teeth, the walls were that thin. But so what? I’m in a foreign country experiencing life on the other side of the world and I get paid to do this job…. no amount of trivial problems could bother me in the slightest.

I don’t value the exterior near as much as the interior

Ever wondered why I always wear a hat? That’s because I don’t bother to do my hair anymore. In fact, I can’t remember the last time I used my GHD that I packed when I left home — from memory that would be months ago on a night out in Serbia.

I’ve met a lot of people on my travels and the ones that stand out to me have been those with a good heart, an inspiring outlook on life, or a story to tell that makes me look up to them and their courage. I don’t remember what they were wearing, how amazing their hair was, etc. Actually to be quite honest they all stick in my mind as physically beautiful, but it comes from my fond memories of them as a person, not because of their exterior.

Brooke Saward World of Wanderlust

“People know me” in Croatia

Before you think I have a big head, “people know me” is an Anchorman quote!

One of the coolest things this year has been meeting people in the street who approach me and say “Are you World of Wanderlust?” Why yes, I am! The first time this happened was actually last year, but it happens a lot more now and it means I get to talk to people who find what I do/am doing inspirational – and that is the whole point! There have even been a few interviews for newspapers and magazines, I’d love to know what this Croatian article translates to…. hopefully all good things!

I’ve learned patience… I mean really learned patience

As a 22 year old, I’m no stranger to the odd foot tapping or watch monitoring when something takes a little longer than it should. Gen X and Gen Yers are used to having everything in an instant and if for some reason we experience otherwise – we tend to get a bit snappy. Oh but no more! I have waited 30 minutes for a coffee in a cafe where no one else was sitting, 2 hours in line to enter an attraction, and 5 months for any of my friends from home to come good on their promise to ‘come over and travel with me’ (and I should imagine I will make it home before any of them come to meet me).

I despise anyone who is Nationalistic in an offensive manner

Another recent realisation was how much I cannot stand people who are stuck in another lifetime in the sense of Nationhood. I was standing at a lookout point viewing a castle in Scotland when this really hit me. I was having a (private) conversation with an American lady about where I had been over the past few months and how great it was to have my job and my lifestyle. She soon suggested that I had a very interesting accent that was neither Australian nor British, somewhere in between. Prior to this I had been told I sounded like Kylie Minogue – part Aussie, part British (an obvious result of being Australian and living in Europe and the UK for an extended period of time), so I smiled and said ‘yeah I get that quite a lot actually!’.

“But you’re 100% Australian?” she asked. “Sure Am!” I replied.

Cue obnoxious Australian man…. “You’re no Aussie mate – you don’t even sound like us!”….

So I was left thinking about this for a while and it kind of stuck in my mind for a lot longer than it should. I started to think about my Nationality and ‘who’ or ‘what’ I considered myself to be (which I concluded is a global citizen).

Then someone commented on another person in the tour from Hong Kong and stated “she wouldn’t understand, it’s her Nationality”. It was at this point I felt really disheartened and offended by the comment even though it wasn’t directed at me. What is wrong with people that they can be so rude, attach stereotypes, and judge people based on their Nationality?

There’s one way for me to instantly be disinterested in having a conversation with you…

emma and brooke eiffel tower

You can find the best of friends in the most unusual of places

Introducing Emma – my 2014 friend from London whom I met…..wait for it….. on the interwebs!

It’s crazy to think I have a better friendship with someone I met last year online and met up with a few times this year whilst on my travels, than I do with friends I have had for a lifetime. But to be honest she’s pretty rad… so I think she’s probably an exception to the rule.

I’ve also made some great friends in Stef (London), Shernae (London), and Jasmina (Copenhagen), whom I talk to regularly. These girls are just a few of the amazing people I have met this year – the more the merrier!

I’m terrible at keeping in contact with back home

“You haven’t Skyped us for 4 weeks, luckily we know you’re alive from your blog”……… wow. I have never felt so guilty in my life! Luckily my parents are understanding…. but my sister who chose me as her bridesmaid not so much. My parents reminded me that it is important to keep on top of communication with back home so no one feels unimportant (they are all very important) or ignored. The reality is that I wake up 6-7am in the morning and charge through the day, return home to my hotel for dinner, and do work on my laptop until I pass out (usually spooning my laptop). I know I know, there’s no excuse…. but it can be difficult to find the time!

Be kind whenever possible (it is always possible)

I feel as though I should leave this as it is, the heading says it all. Please, if you take one thing from this post, never forget to always be kind. You never know how much someone might need your kindness for that day or what is going on in their life. Always give more than you receive, the world needs more of this.


Dancing in the street with your headphones on will not only make your day, it will also make someone else’s

I recently got my hands on a pair of Frends headphones and haven’t taken them off since. Over the last five months I have really just stopped caring what anyone thinks of me and going ahead and acting like an idiot for the sake of my own happiness, without regard for what anyone else thinks. I often find myself having a dance in public (I recently purchase Beyonce’s new album) and will turn around to see a workman laughing his head off at my moves. Well I’m glad you can laugh at my expense!

I still haven’t found my prince charming, but I also stopped looking

Oh if only it were like the movies. I often used to joke about coming over to Europe and finding my Prince – any Prince – not actually a royal Prince – but just a guy in general. Five months later and no Prince. I’m sure he’s out there wrestling dragons or something…. I’ll run into him somewhere, someday, and the rest will be history.


Follow my journey on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and Youtube.

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    May 24, 2015 at 8:31 pm

    I love this and have found reading your blog so fascinating – I think I might be literally at the same point or ‘crossroads’ in my life as you were when you began this – just graduated, nothing really set in stone anymore, and desperate to see and learn about the world! Hope we can cross paths one day ๐Ÿ™‚

    April 29, 2015 at 5:21 pm

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    The Irie Explorer
    June 19, 2014 at 4:21 am

    I find a lot of times that people will get frustrated with you (anyone overseas travelling) for not writing/Skyping home with them, yet they never make the effort to get in touch with you while you’re abroad? It has to be a two way street. Usually those people who put in effort to talk to you while you’re away, will often find that you’re usually much easier to get in touch with than they originally thought.

    – Liane xx

    June 11, 2014 at 7:12 pm

    Good on ya Brooke! I too left (the UK) at 22 and spent 5 years working and travelling around, getting fluent in the languages I already knew and learning more. Have never regretted it and nearly 20 years later still have some of the best friends and memories from those years, plus a Kiwi husband who was living a parallel life to me in his 20’s, so despite being from the other side of the world immediately “got” me when we met. Good luck, be safe and if you ever want to pop by for a barbie when in London just shout!

    June 9, 2014 at 3:41 am

    Hey! I stumbled across your blog and i love it. I travelled for 5 months in 2011 and had the most amazing time. Your blog makes me want to up and leave again but I’m busy climbing the career ladder now. I hope I get the chance for another epic trip again like yours! x

    June 5, 2014 at 2:00 am

    I only just found your blog but I find what you’ve achieved by 22 very inspiring. I’ll certainly be sharing your stories with my cousins of your age. Good luck with everything! Hopefully we’ll cross paths some day.

    June 4, 2014 at 7:41 am

    Followed your Blog for more than a year now, such a Great Adventure over the last year. Your pictures and stories are trully amazing! Just booked my trip to canada and nyc this summer and also purchased your books, can’t wait to read them! Looking forward to hear about South africa again ๐Ÿ™‚

    June 3, 2014 at 11:39 pm

    Great post Brooke! I am a new reader and can really resonate with a lot of the things you say. I haven’t been a major traveller but I’ve moved around quite a bit, and I’ve learned similar lessons with all that moving. Can’t wait to read more posts ๐Ÿ™‚

    June 3, 2014 at 10:51 am

    I love your blog! I am studying abroad in London next semester and I can’t wait! I’m supposed to be there in September, so I’m planning to do some traveling before that. My parents are a little bit concerned about me traveling by myself around Europe, so if you have any tips for that I would really appreciate it! Again, i love your blog <3

    Miss Megan
    June 3, 2014 at 10:49 am

    Hi, this was the best and most amazing blog post I’ve ever read in my life.

    June 3, 2014 at 10:40 am

    I absolutely love your blog. I will be studying abroad next semester in London and I can’t wait. I’m a little concerned about the weather, I’ve never lived in a constantly-cold-rainy place. Hopefully I will get to do some traveling done before September, when classes start. My parents are a little concerned about me traveling by myself around Europe, so if you had any tips I would really appreciate it! Great blog ๐Ÿ™‚ i LOVE it.

    June 3, 2014 at 4:35 am

    Do you do couchsurfing? I tend to travel alone but I have never been abroad before so it kinda scares me.

    June 2, 2014 at 11:46 pm

    Love this blog post, I am going travelling in a couple of weeks around Thailand and I can’t wait!

    Angela L
    June 2, 2014 at 10:04 pm

    Loove this post! I’m backing Europe right now and it’s totally made me change the way I look at this trip and the things I am learning. Thanks!

    Isa Dione
    June 2, 2014 at 9:13 pm

    This post is just what I needed to read right now! More positivity, more spontanity and less worries. YES PLEASE! ๐Ÿ™‚

    June 2, 2014 at 5:34 pm

    I loved this! It’s so nice to read a blog by someone who is so down to earth, despite living what many of us would believe is a fantasy life ๐Ÿ™‚

    June 2, 2014 at 6:35 am

    I love your blog and I love this post! I travel a lot and one of the things that gets to me most is when people are so dismissive of cultures (be it that of the country they are visiting, or of another). Keep up the great work and don’t forget to relax sometimes ๐Ÿ™‚

    June 2, 2014 at 3:40 am

    Wow Brooke your story is so inspiring. Spending so much time alone traveling you don’t just get to know a different place but you also get to know yourself much better.
    I’m fascinated by all the places you go to and the things you experience.
    Always love reading about your adventures and the new things you’ve learned in life.
    xx Cheyenne

    June 2, 2014 at 2:57 am

    Just love this post. You have such an amazing spirit even in the face of been hospitalised and losing your luggage!!

    Department of Wandering
    June 2, 2014 at 12:29 am

    There is so much truth in this post, Brooke. When you travel, let alone move across to the other side of the world from Australia to Europe like I did, you really do learn so much not only about yourself but also your relationships with others. One of the most interesting things is how your perspective and outlook on life changes. The concept of ‘home’ is a very fluid and ever-changing one. Keep exploring! It’s great keeping up with your adventures. ๐Ÿ™‚

    Paola Ysabel
    June 2, 2014 at 12:23 am

    This is amazing. Your posts inspire me to go out and see the world more! ๐Ÿ™‚

    June 1, 2014 at 10:52 pm

    And don’t forget to visit Stockholm – Sweden. A great place to be

    June 1, 2014 at 10:28 pm

    I loved this! I’m 23 and I have just booked a one way ticket to London leaving in a few weeks. I’m so nervous yet so excited. Thank you for such a great post, I loved it and will take with me your tips!

    June 1, 2014 at 9:52 pm

    I’m your uncle and I don’t care that you don’t Skype etc. Just glad you are loving the experience as you blaze your own trail.Very proud of your writing, photograph and business acumenโ€ฆ. and maybe just a bit jealous of all the exciting places you are visiting.

    Paris Marx
    June 1, 2014 at 9:14 pm

    I love this post. I was in the Middle East and Europe for about six months and I learned many of the same things.

    My main takeaway was not to let fear hold me back. There were so many cases where I was scared to do something because I might encounter a language barrier or people might see me make a fool of myself, but every time I did it anyway it was never as big of a deal as I thought it would be and I felt great for pushing myself (and the times I didn’t, I regretted it.) I guess I found travel helped me be more confident, and less concerned with the thoughts of others.

    I studied political science in Uni, too, with French as my minor. ๐Ÿ™‚

    June 1, 2014 at 8:37 pm

    Lovely post! I have discovered similar things – definitely useless at keeping in touch w people at home x

    June 1, 2014 at 7:19 pm

    Your posts are fascinating! ๐Ÿ˜€ I really envy the lifestyle you have, it’s brave to just leave home and live out of a suitcase… for that long!! Even thought i chose to move to the other side of the world from home, there are always so many issues when I wanted to pack a suitcase and go somewhere for a week, and then i end up staying at home. But recently i’ve been traveling much more, and I really like it! Your blog has been very inspiring! ๐Ÿ™‚

    June 1, 2014 at 7:04 pm

    I’m from Zagreb, so I can tell you what title means (rest of the text is to small): In Zagreb people are very friendly, and in Dubrovnik people are distant. Young Australian in just one year has visited 14 countries and 30 cities of the world. (:

    June 1, 2014 at 6:04 pm

    Pretty much the exact same things that I have realized on my journeys through the past few years, eventhough they were much shorter than yours. I wish you luck on your travels, and if you want to, I can translate that article for you, I am from Croatia. ๐Ÿ™‚

    June 1, 2014 at 5:42 pm

    Beautiful post! I would love to do the same and see sides of myself that I never knew existed. There should be more people who think like this!

    June 1, 2014 at 5:00 pm

    I’ve only recently discovered your blog. I found your video on taking pictures when you’re traveling alone. You are so inspiring! I’m 24 years old, and I’ve never been out of the country. I have this pull on my hear that is telling me to go. I will soon. I work a full time job, but I’m definitely planning to make travel a priority, and following your journey keeps it on my mind. Good luck with the rest of your travels! I can’t wait to hear about them! ๐Ÿ™‚