After reading a post on Angie’s blog this week, I felt urged to tell you a little more about my travel story, why I started blogging, the trips that inspired me and what initially gave me the travel bug. It’s a little long, and paraphrased in some parts, but I hope you enjoy.
HOW I CAUGHT THE TRAVEL BUG
I never travelled overseas with my parents when I was growing up, but after a school trip to Japan, I was very much stung by the travel bug. And I’ve been non-stop travelling ever since. After my first year of University and soon after I turned 18, I moved to America for a ski season in a luxury ski resort. It was my first overseas trip without supervision and I couldn’t have been happier. I didn’t know how to ski, but I didn’t care. I wanted to get as far away from Australia as possible. I had a very strict religious up bringing, so it was hard for me to have a sense of freedom. And freedom is what I felt when I got on that Qantas flight to Los Angeles.
Being 18 years old in a whole new continent was liberating to say the least. I worked in guest services in Deer Valley Ski Resort and travelled to the likes of LA, Vegas and Aspen on the weekends. It was the most epic thing I had ever done (at that age), and I will remember those days forever.
I came back after the ski season had finished and re-enrolled in University. I completed one more semester before I packed my bags again, this time for a ski season in Colorado. I loved living on the ski slopes and travelling on the weekend – it was the best type of life for a 20 year old. I also started a baby sitting business on the side and waited tables for extra money so I could travel more after the season finished. The season finished, and I celebrated my 21st birthday in New York was able to throw my fake ID in the bin! Hooray!
Don’t worry, I did eventually return to Australia and finished my International Business and Japanese Degree. I have a big respect for anyone that has taken the time to invest in their education (I paid for mine all on my own) but I don’t think its for everyone. If I was to go back in time and re-do a university degree, I feel like I would choose an entrepreneurial course or something in health. But having the strong foundation of a business degree, I felt like I had a good chance at launching my career in Sydney. I was 21 and ready to take on the world. For my 21st birthday I asked for an airfare flight to Bali and spent 2 wonderful weeks drinking my weight in cocktails and having the time of my life. I didn’t really want to come home and start my “professional life” but you know, we all have to adult some day.
MY FIRST TRIP TO EUROPE
After a few years working the city life and earning quite good money for a young graudate, I saved up $15,000 to go on my first girls euro trip with my best friend and sister. As young Australians, we planned our entire trip around the best beaches that Europe had to offer. Ibiza, Croatia and Mykonos were high on our priority and we did a mixture of sailing, hostels and hotels. I negotiated six weeks off work and we were ready for the most amazing adventure possible.
I’d need a entire separate blog post to tell you about that trip, so I’ll save it for another day or maybe I’ll write a book with all my stories. But there were VIP experiences with James Blunt (random I know), private villas and adventures on huge super yachts. Yes I need a book to share all.
In short, it gave me a insight to another world that I had never experienced. A world of tradition, history and cultural richness. The people were different, the places were different and my eyes were opened to another world. I wanted to see more and and experience more. Nevertheless, the next year I returned for another six weeks of exploring. I knew one day, I needed to live closer to this melting pot of cultures and unimaginable beauty. It only took my another 7 years before I moved to London.
MY FIRST TRIP TO SOUTH AMERICA
After my two big trips to Europe, I thought I would mix it up a bit and book a South America trip for my twenty sixth birthday. I convinced my big sister that this would be a fabulous idea and we both booked six weeks off work to explore this side of the world. We flew into Argentina and celebrated my birthday dancing on tables and drinking jugs of sangria. We flew over Iguazu Falls in a helicopter, danced the streets of Impanema Beach for Rio Carnival, fell in love, hiked the Inca trail and watched the sunrise over the Macchu Picchu ruins. Finishing up the trip in Chile, we both fell in love with the delicious food, passionate people and the gorgeous but diverse landscapes.
WHEN DID I START BLOGGING
On September 7th in 2009, I wrote my first ever blog post to the world. I had no idea what I was doing, what it was going to be about, but I just started writing. My nickname back then was PJ as my first name is Phoebe-Jayne. So it was suppose to be a little space on the inter web where I could share – whatever I liked.
Here is the first entry:
Yes – that’s right – it is still live! And I have no idea how to pull it down as I no longer have access to that email it was registered too. I use to share healthy quinoa receipes, reasons why you should eat organic eggs, why sugar was bad for you and how to do a detox. I was writing about wellness long before it became a “thing.”
At this stage in my life, I was 25, working in Marketing for an Australian makeup brand Napoleon but I was spending all my money on travel. After my South America trip, I decided to leave my current job and look for something in travel. Why not right? Made so much sense to be able to get free travel compared to free makeup.
Soon after, I started working as the head of Digital Marketing at Contiki Holidays. For those who don’t know Contiki, they are a youth group travel operator. As part of my role, I was scouting “travel bloggers” to send on free trips. Hold on a minute, free trips? This is a thing? And these travel bloggers back then, weren’t doing anything special. Peejayhearts was soon upgraded to woodandluxe.com and the travel blogging began. Wood represents the “organic and outdoorsy” part of my life, and luxe represents the more luxurious side of my life. More on that here.
I had years and years of travel stories and tips in the memory bank so I started to share my experiences. I was so passionate about travel and I had spent all my hard earned cash on my trips. It was easy for me as I was speaking from lots of experience and I loved sharing my stories.
WHEN DID WELLNESS BECOME MY LIFE
I was raised by my beautiful mum as mostly vegan. We use to have holidays to the rainforest, swim in waterfalls and eat grated raw pumpkin for breakfast. We wore our birth stones around our necks and being healthy wasn’t a choice, it was our way of life. I didn’t know any different. So wellness was never a trend for me, it was my life. Having green juices for breakfast as a child and salads every night for dinner was just the norm at the Greenacre household.
I started yoga when I was 15 with my mum and was always a super active child. Swimming in the ocean, hiking in the National Park going for long beach walks after school. It was my child hood.
As I got older, and realised not everyone had the same upbringing as myself, I would help my friends with healthy eating habits, alternative medicines and fun healthy receipes. The love my mum had for healthy living was innately passed on in my genes. Don’t get me wrong, I can easily eat a whole block of milk chocolate in one sitting and love a bottle of red wine in good company. But 90% of my life, spinach has appeared on my plate everyday. Well maybe except when I was travelling through Europe.
SHOULD YOU START A BLOG
It feels like everyman and their dog has started a blog these days – which is great. If people are passionately curious about something or they feel that blogging is an outlet for creativity then that is fantastic. I heavily encourage you to start a blog if that is what you want to do. Find something you’re truly passionate about and just start. You saw my first blog post above and it is completely embarrassing to look back at that now, but we all have to start somewhere. If you want some more embarrassing blog posts to read – the actual site is still live! (Covers face and blushes). So if you want to go and have a squizzy, here is the link: http://pee-jayhearts.blogspot.co.uk/
So there is a little more about my travel story, why I started blogging and how Wood and Luxe came to fruition. My travel style now is mostly boutique luxury hotels, eco lodges and spa breaks. It’s now been 8 years since my first blog started and I can’t see any reason for me to stop. My country count is at 50 right now and I’m about to head to number 51 next week. I said to my partner I want to have a baby once I reach 100 countries so I have a little more work to do.
Think you’re too late to the party? Never. Think you’re too old? Not at all. I turned 33 this year and the older you are, the more life experience you have to share. The world is your oyster! Travel far, travel wide and don’t go home until you’re bored.
So that’s my travel story so far, as part of the July travel link up. What’s your travel story and what’s your travel style? Please leave a comment below.