It has been a fascinating process to re-read my travel journals from thirty years ago and to write about my travels then and now.
When I left Australia in 1985, I wanted to return but did I ever dream that I would marry an Aussie, that my kids would have both passports and they’d have the choice of where to live? No. My family was UK based and I was the first to go off on such and adventure.
Aussie Mate and I met a year after I returned, as he started a gap year in the opposite direction. I did visit Sydney again but as a wife and mother.
I have always looked back on those twelve months in 1985 as the best year of my life. There have been lots of good times, marriage, birth of my daughters, occasions with family and friends, wonderful holidays, but as an extended period of time, it was the best year ever.
Until now. Until this year.
The similarity between both “gap years” is the fact that I was out of the rat race. I was not working and I’ve always worked full time apart from a few months maternity leave and a few months after being made redundant in the mid 90’s.
Australia is a connection between the two years. I’m now here on a long term spouse visa. Although we have a home in Hobart we have spent eight months out and about, exploring Tasmania. If we’d got jobs as soon as we’d arrived, it would have taken us a few years to discover the joys of this island.
So another similarity has been the travelling to new places, new sights, sounds, smells, history, culture, nature, pleasures and a few scares. There are phases in life when we need the stability of routine but oh the thrill of an unstructured existence.
I guess the lack of responsibility is important. In 1985 I travelled alone, made my own decisions about where to go next, what to do each day. Now it is a joint decision with Aussie Mate but there are still days when we get up and make spontaneous decisions and head out.
What about the differences across the thirty years?
Communication is a major change. The internet, skype, face time, emails, instant messaging, facebook. I admire my Mum’s acceptance of my trip when communication was snail mail that took a week to arrive or very expense distorted phone calls. I must have seemed very far away back then.
Other things that I have noticed whilst reading the old journals include smoking on flights, smoking everywhere. One screen for the whole cabin on the flight showing one movie, like it or not. I was happy staying in hostels then but now require the comforts of a good bed and my own bathroom. It was easy to get work then, minimal red tape.
I still enjoy reading and now have several hundred novels on a kindle. I read real books at times, love the tactile nature of written word on actual paper pages, but ebooks are so convenient.
Thirty years ago we never dreamt that we would have a phone, a camera, our music collection, movies and access to the worlds biggest encyclopaedia on just one gadget that fits in our pocket. How would we live now without our smart phones.
I’m not sure where 2016 will take me but it’s got a tough act to follow.