How travel has changed me
For those of you who don’t know, I’m Gabriella Wisdom, creator of this here; Postcards from Hawaii, a travel blog for the organised and environmentally conscious traveller.
Today, 22nd February 2019, I am celebrating the first anniversary of Postcards from Hawaii! To commemorate this I have decided to create a blog post that shares all the ways that travel has change me.
Despite travelling my entire life - I’m not exaggerating here, I literally mean my entire life, I’ve been travelling since I was still cooking in my mummy’s tummy - it still changes me for the better with every trip I go on. Travelling around the world, has made me a better person inside and out.
During 2014-15 I was living and working in London. I was the Meetings and Events Coordinator at a quirky 4 star hotel in west London. You’ve probably heard bloggers from all around the world say how they were working in the corporate world before embarking on their self-employed adventure, and I think there’s really something to be said about that. It was no secret that I wasn’t enjoying all aspects of my job. I loved the planning and organising side of things but I was terrible with all things sales and figures related. I really wanted to be good at my job, I would spend most evenings working in the office two hours longer than I required just to get a handle on things but every morning and night, as I rode the Central line from one side of London to the other (oh yes, the Central line!) I dreamed of getting out and seeing the world.
As a result of over exerting myself, sucking at my job, long commutes and little time or desire to cook when I eventually got home I ended up eating my sorrows. In the 12 months I was living in London I gained 19lbs! I spent many weekends sitting on the floor of my wardrobe crying because nothing fit me.
After leaving London and moving back to Norfolk, Michael and I decided to go on a round the world trip* that we mapped out ourselves to cover seven countries over 16 weeks departing May 2016. It was upon booking this trip late 2015 that I decided I needed to get into shape. I started going to the gym regularly for the first in my life and I hired a personal trainer which combined with a healthy diet that removed the endless takeaways, frozen pizzas, chips, McDonalds and whatever else that should be eaten in moderation but wasn’t from my daily consumption. Within 6 months I Iost those 19lbs, became the fittest I had been up to that point, gained confidence over my body and felt amazing!
Throw back to when I lost 19lb before my round the world trip.
Of course my weight bounces around a few pounds now and then because it’s hard to keep a steady exercise routine whilst on the go, but a life of travel has continued to inspire me to stay fit and healthy. Whilst I’m away on a trip I make good use of hotel gyms and exercises routines that I can do in my room and I am careful not to overeat, and when I’m at home I have a pretty packed gym schedule. In the last three years I have been inspired enough to maintain my weight loss whilst enjoying the food I want to in moderation.
Travel and wanting to be able to partake on active excursions is what gave me the push to look after my body and that is a pretty big deal.
Travel has completely opened my eyes to how much waste there is in the world and the effects that my contributions were having. Seeing real life mounds of discarded single use plastics, videos of animals’ tummies full of plastic and rubbish, animals being harassed for tourists’ amusement and beaches scattered with rubbish - it’s hard to ignore what irresponsible behaviour can lead to. It’s important that we all do our part to stop being so wasteful, to protect our planet from the damage we’ve caused so that future generations of animals and humans don’t suffer by what we’ve done.
You can read some of the ways that you too can help to prevent more waste and to reduce your single use plastics in my previous blog post 7 items to buy to become a more sustainable traveller. I am currently working on a part 2 so keep an eye out for that.
New and improved
Travel has made me want to be a better person. I’ve seen a lot of poverty on my travels which is very humbling and it’s hard not to take a good look at yourself and try to find ways to improve yourself and the impact you have on the world.
This goes hand-in-hand with being environmentally conscious. Over the year that I’ve been blogging my efforts have been:
Donating between 6-12 tins of food in the food shelter donation basket in our local supermarket per month.
Donated a sum of money to Epilepsy Research UK (an organisation which is close to my family’s heart).
Bought a 4ocean bracelet after researching organisations that help to clean up and protect our oceans - who knew that one purchase would lead to one of my biggest opportunities to help do just that by being invited to become a partner.
Donated blood, signed up to be on the bone marrow donor list and I’ve chosen to have my organs donated should the worst happen to me.
Donated to the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation to help put a stop to the mass deforestation to farm palm oil.
Donated money Could You Cup to provide menstrual cups to disadvantaged girls to keep them in school.
If there is an opportunity to add money to a purchase that goes towards a charity or buying a bag where the proceeds go to charity, I will do it.
When I’m buying something from Amazon I only shop on Amazon.smile now so that proceeds of my purchases go to one of their select charities.
Spare change goes into charity donation boxes.
Every little thing helps to make a big difference. It’s a satisfying and rewarding feeling to know your money is doing something good.
Of course the other thing I’ve done to help people is blogging itself, I aim to make every blog post helpful for someone’s travels. When I get feedback saying how I’ve helped or even inspired someone, well that’s just one of the greatest feelings!
Despite being half Mauritian and basically growing up in a curry house, I am a little bit of a fuss-pot and I cannot handle spice, like not one bit. The other day when I was in Oahu I was starving and the hot wings I ordered were so hot even Michael rejected them. I ploughed through though, tears streaming down my face, mouth on fire… Boy did I pay for it the next day!
I digress, travelling the world has opened up my tastebuds to a multitude of sensations. I have tried so many things I never imagined I would, dishes I didn’t know existed.
I strongly recommend seeking food outside of your hotel. Granted not all street food is safe, so keep your wits about you, but you can grab a great meal by straying from the beaten path. If eating street food is asking too much, try going to local or independently owned cafés and restaurants. That’s something which is becoming increasingly easier thanks to Instagram, give it a go.
To say my priorities had changed would be an understatement! For years I thought I would be married at 26 with a house and looking to get pregnant with the first of three children. Could you imagine?!
I just turned 27 three days ago, I’m not engaged let alone married, I haven’t decided where I want to settle let alone buy a property there and I swear if I get pregnant before my 30s I screwed up real bad with my contraception.
It’s not just the long term plans that changed though. Two years ago we were seriously thinking about getting engaged, one year ago we were looking into buying a house to rent it out, and luckily my cousin made two children for me play with so broody was never an option.
The only thing that stayed the same year in year out, was the desire to travel and see the world.
Travel has undoubtedly given me ambition, a driving force to succeed. Before blogging I had absolutely no idea what I wanted to do for work. I had previously worked as a waitress for far longer than I should have, an au pair, one of those girls that hand out leaflets in a shopping mall, a meetings and events coordinator (as mentioned above) and a sales assistant. I plodded through life working just so I could travel. I would put huge chunks of my pay checks away into an account dedicated purely to travel.
You see, Michael and I aren’t party people (that sentence right there supports that!) we don’t spend any evenings out drinking, we have very few friends in Norfolk and because we are both self employed we work more than anything else. What I’m trying to say is we don’t really have much of a life outside of travel and work. Is this a complaint though? No. Sure it would be nice if we could work less and earn more - preach, right? - but we work our butts off because we enjoy what we do. For the first time, I really enjoy what I do.
Of course it’s incredibly hard work and entirely time consuming. I am never not working; I am always writing, pitching, researching or shooting. It’s easy for people to think my trips are holidays, I hear it all the time, but right now I’m spending a beautifully sunny day in Maui indoors writing because I have a blog post to put out for you all, I spent all morning shooting for brands and I struggled in the wind to tie up three balloons with an amused audience to create content that will hopefully inspire you to travel or at the very least make you smile.
At the end of the day, I finally harnessed my passion to create a career for myself. Travel blogging is finally something that I wake up excited to continue, stay up working on and put in a lot of overtime for because I enjoy it and it makes me happy. After the jobs I’ve done, I can say it is very important to be happy. I won’t lie, a hefty savings account and Michael’s job are the reason why I’ve been able to go on this journey, it is impossible to go into travel blogging without a decent amount of finances to get you off the ground, the phrase “it takes money to make money” doesn’t go amiss here, travel blogging is a huge investment both financially and into yourself. I can honesty say though, I there is nothing else I would rather be doing at the moment.
On that note I will wrap this up by saying mahalo for being on this journey with me. I am so grateful for each and every one of you from my dedicated returning readers to my new ones!