After finishing my law degree in 2007, and doing lots of random jobs, including being a Redcoat at Butlins, I decided I'd just have a little gap year, before the career kicked off. I initially started quite tame by doing a ski season in France, and I then won an all expenses paid trip to New Zealand after being crowned Britain's Craziest Student. You'll have to YouTube that one to find out what I did.
However, controlled by the need to make money and not waste my education, I sold my soul and started to make it in the tough legal world, along with killing myself doing further studies to get qualified. Seemingly content at first with my 25 days holiday per year, I rammed in as many trips as possible. Then one day, I looked around the office, saw how miserable everyone was, and how I'd become one of them and 3 weeks later, I was on my way to Africa. I did a volunteering project in Uganda teaching 9-11 year olds Mathematics and English, visited Death Row (think Shawshank Redemption) and an orphanage in Rwanda. I then went on an organised tour through central, eastern and southern Africa. Being in a group had its ups and downs and having travelled South Africa after that independently, it cemented my preference of doing trips my way. The travel bug had hit me. I then bobbed around Europe, North America, the Caribbean, Asia, Australia and Fiji. I was now on a mission to visit every country in the world and throw myself into new experiences.
One of my favourite trips to-date has been a 4-month tour around the USA and Canada in a rented campervan. I went to 33 American states and 2 Canadian provinces and it really was an adventure of a lifetime (cheesy, but true). Just promise me you’ll do it one day?! It also made me rethink the whole overlanding travel style. I loved it...and that’s why Dougal and Kermit were bought.
In the latest expedition, I was originally travelling in a converted 1977 Land Rover ambulance (Dougal), which was shipped out from the UK to Florida, USA in August 2013. The plan was to visit every country from Mexico to Chile and in-between. These 21 countries included 8 countries in Central America, 13 countries in South America and also the Galápagos Islands and Easter Island. Dougal completed his Central America mission, but couldn't muster the strength to get past Venezuela. Tired of his hissy fits, I shipped him back to the UK and sold him on. I now have a newer, more reliable vehicle (I hope) called Kermit. He's a 1996 Land Rover Defender that is currently being converted to be a fully working home, office and the ultimate overlanding machine.
I work hard, but play harder, often juggling 2/3 jobs and packing in as many hours as possible to save up for the next expedition. Currently, I am working in Kazakhstan, after making an unscheduled stop here to get more funds together before I ship Kermit out again to South America.
After South America, there are talks of re-visiting Central America and making my way up to the Arctic circle (Alaska)...but I'll see how this adventure pans out first.
Deciding on this overland lifestyle and taking an expedition vehicle through a continent was never going to be an easy option, but I have now racked up over 100 countries and lived in 3 continents, so I’m no stranger to the road. The next expedition, commencing at the end of 2015, will be circumnavigating South America in Kermit, which will be my most ambitious trip to-date, not least of all, as I am now the only consistent member of The Overlanders crew. It’s a little daunting, as I’m just an ordinary girl trying to do extraordinary things and still have a lot of learn!
Also, wish me luck…as I think I might need it.