Real tales of adventure, told by real Flashpackers. This piece is written by a member of our incredible Flash Pack community. To share your own Flash Pack story, drop us a DM on Instagram and we'll be right there.
Bored, deflated and dreaming of human connection, feeling stuck or working too hard? Do any of these feelings resonate?
This was me, 2019. My name is Kat, I’m a Flashpacker and I’m here to tell you how departing on my first Flash Pack adventure to Vietnam & Cambodia seriously changed my life and altered my wellbeing.
Not only did this leap of faith open up countless new opportunities and create lasting friendships, but it increased my confidence to go out and live my life the way I wanted and continue my adventure. Surprisingly, this life-altering experience didn’t solely make itself known whilst I was travelling but more importantly when I returned home.
It taught me new ways to manage my mind, open myself up to different de-stressing techniques and unwind after a busy day working in the office.
I’m sure some of you will relate to being ‘stuck in your own ways’, following the road in life that everybody else thinks you should take. Being judged for not being on that traditional path, being stuck in the same ‘bubbles’ of people or lifestyles. Are you living to work rather than working to live?
I wanted to change this and, not only that, actively encourage more people to do so and live a more meaningful life for themselves. I remember praying for the weekend, looking ahead at my diary at my sporadic days off, watching them come and go at a pace that I couldn’t fully engage with or enjoy. I was forever dreaming of exploring this beautiful planet we all have the luxury of living on. To me, it seemed unimaginable not to explore this, and I knew something had to be done.
If it wasn’t for Flash Pack opening my eyes to adventure, experiences and togetherness, none of this would have never been possible.
Learning to leap
I grew up and live in a small Norfolk rural town and as much as I love it in some ways – the peaceful countryside, friends and family – a connection to the outside world was missing. People in the ’bubble’ did not have the same adventurous mindset as me. Most of my friends felt the urge to follow the ‘settled’ route in life. However, I craved adventure.
In January 2020, I decided to quit my job as a Sales Manager for a large estate agency group to explore, volunteer and help people in a more meaningful way than just financially.
I left partly because I felt a need for sunlight, physical work and distance from normal life, but also because I could feel a rumbling inside me – a decision to be made or a realisation to reach. Whatever it was, it needed space and time to be heard…and I had neither. So I gave myself a break, some space, a change in pace and took myself off into a new world of discovery. Some of my most important values are growth, freedom and adventure so I wanted to enjoy these things alongside other people that thought like me; to explore, connect and help others collectively, together.
When I reminisce on this time (which I often do with awe and huge amounts of pride) I remind myself of what the deciding factors were for me.
A sense of belonging
One important lesson I learnt about life whilst exploring with my fellow Flashpackers was: “you get what you give back”. Nothing in this world comes for free, but human connection is the most valuable of them all.
For the last two years, we’ve all realised this even more. When meeting new people in a professional setting, I was always uber confident, knew my worth, what skills were required and thrived with public speaking. In a personal setting, it was another story. Strange but true! I was nervous, almost anxious on being in a large group of people, completely different to how I was in my working life. This baffled me for a long time.
Flash Pack changed this for me – it enabled me to realise that I could build strong connections with people on a group and one-to-one basis. Most importantly, that I could meet and converse at depth with like-minded individuals (people that I would have never come across in my everyday life ‘bubble’) and for me this was a breath of fresh air. From this moment on, a spark had been lit.
It’s imperative to highlight the difference between meaningful travel and what most think of as ‘backpacking’. Travelling and building relationships with people from all over the world and with different cultural backgrounds is contagious and an eye-opening experience. Dining with locals, staying in luxury accommodation, listening to cultural differences; it all really allowed me to connect with myself and my fellow Flashpackers like never before. It was most surprising and inspirational to me that it wasn’t necessarily the place or the trip itself.
It was the PEOPLE you meet that made it this way.
Never stop climbing
After experiencing so many wonderful moments whilst on adventures with these incredible human beings that were driven like me, thought like me and thrived on adventure like me, I kept in touch. I travelled around the world with them, became close friends with a few and regularly relied on them for remote lockdown connection on my unexpected return to the UK. We were forever day-dreaming of past travel memories alongside planning future ones.
Since my two Flash Pack adventures, I’ve met Flashpackers that live in the USA, Australia and also within the UK – I still speak to them all regularly – and this is where the magic of Flash Pack comes to life. The trip and experience doesn’t end on your flight home. It’s simply the beginning.
Following on from my love for travel, I found a love for photography and videography and am currently learning different skills and techniques for landscape photography. This is a subject pre-Flash Pack I didn’t know I had nor the skills or the passion for. You can check out how I’m getting on over on my new Insta profile @solotravellingkat.
Since returning to the UK (due to obvious reasons) in March 2020, I realised a few home truths. I’m committed to a world in which people have access to achieving the extraordinary – both in terms of surpassing what they imagine to be possible for themselves and in terms of creating lifestyles that are extra-ordinary – or outside of the ordinary. I’m passionate about proving that we can create our lives as agents of our own futures, rather than live reactively and simply accept what we see as the inevitable. All of my thoughts had already had this common theme within it, but I hadn’t been living my own life in a manner that was consistent with my vision.
So, I did something about it:
I’ve now negotiated a zero-hour contract with my employer and work where and when I would like, then take long-term leave to fulfil my travel dreams and personal projects at home. I spend more meaningful time with much loved friends and family and indeed master the work/life balance that I had previously struggled with. I have more time to practice daily wellbeing rituals, that have helped me excel personally and professionally. I’m really living out my dream life, and that door was opened to me when I booked my first solo trip with Flash Pack.
Actually living the dream
So, to sum it all up, what am I trying to say? Just book that trip.
What if it actually changes your life? What if it gave you a completely different outlook? What if your general wellbeing and confidence improved? Imagine how amazing all that would feel, alongside lots of new meaningful connections with like-minded people from all over the world.
I thrive and get really excited about helping other first-time solo travellers take the leap as I know and have experienced all of these things first-hand. I’ve always been totally inspired by helping others achieve their full potential professionally in my career, so now I want to help people fulfil their passions, dreams and life goals outside of work.
Go for it! You will never look back. I promise you.
I talk a lot more about this and anything else solo travel over on my blog, Solo Travelling Kat. Whether you’re new to this or a seasoned solo traveller, there’s something for you. I’ll see you on the other side.
This article was written by a member of the incredible Flash Pack community. Got a story or adventure that could inspire a solo traveller like you? Tag @flashpack on social or email email@example.com to be featured.