Travelling Welshman
Instagram @tompj

From Doctor to Backpacker

Birth of a Dream


Since the age of 14, I had already set out my entire future: “I’m going to be a doctor”, simple, no arguing. After 2 years of sixth form and 3 years of university it still had not changed. That was less than 6 months ago, and in that time my ambitions have changed dramatically. The last few months of my university life, my focus had drifted, daydreaming about when I’d actually finish university. What was I going to do? I decided I wanted to do something special, I wanted to go somewhere where I could spend some time without the responsibilities that awaited back home. My time in university would be over soon, next step in the rat race naturally is getting a job, and before that happened I wanted to do something I could remember forever.


I thought about where I wanted to go, trying to pinpoint where in the world I’ve always wanted to go. I considered it a once in a lifetime sort of trip, a blow-out before settling down in the real world. Several countries stood out as places I’ve dreamed about visiting for years: Japan, the Netherlands, Vietnam, Australia, Germany, Cuba, Thailand, the list went on. It was becoming evidently clear that picking one place to visit for this “once in a lifetime holiday” was going to be difficult.


Okay, so what about a little tour? Nothing too extravagant, maybe through a couple of European countries, or maybe the golden triangle. People do it all the time right? How can I get across as many countries as cheap as possible, as thanks to 3 well spent years in university hadn’t left me with a lot of cash left in my pocket.

Cost of the Dream


The answer presented itself in a website, , a website that set out all forms of travel from point A to B, fantastic, just what I needed! So I’d take two hypothetical European cities I’d like to visit and search the options available to me, to find travel options for LESS than £10…several times. Essentially between ALL major European cities, I found ways to travel for less than £20….how is this possible?! I thought travelling was expensive?


Okay, so travelling through Europe is actually pretty cheap, interesting, so how about somewhere like Asia? EVEN CHEAPER. We’re talking multiple 3+ hour flights for LESS than £20. This opened a Pandora’s box, this was the moment when my sights had well and truly shifted from “Doctor” to “Traveller”.


With this new found knowledge about cheap transport alone, I started planning hypothetical routes I’d like to take through Asia and Europe, still not able to decide between them. A spider-web of routes started appearing in all directions, the majority of places within range of my possible budget, not that I even had one yet. Then came the question, Europe or Asia, each had they’re highlights which fought their case: Amsterdam – Bangkok, Germany – Vietnam. It was too hard to decide, so in my daydreams I’d decided, I’ll just travel through both!


I then started to calculate how much it would realistically cost me, while my revision suffered. And who would believe, that with travel and accommodation to everywhere I wanted to go, it only came to roughly £2500, and can be done in 6 months! IT WAS POSSIBLE…a little ambitious, but possible. This was no longer a daydream, this is what I was going to do. University finished, and I left it all behind the second I walked out of my rented house, I was going to travel, regardless of how much it took. Regardless of “what are you going to do when you get home?”

Reality of the Dream


Here we are in October, and I start my journey in November, its happening. With the aid of cheap transport and volunteering work providing me with free accommodation, this daydream is a reality. The “6 month” initial estimate is quickly appearing comical, as with 6 months already scheduled after visiting 3 countries. It looks like this is my life for the near future.

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