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We have two lives, the second begins when we realize we only have one

We have two lives, the second begins when we realize we only have one.

Confucius

Give me five minutes and I’ll tell you a story. A story of how I turned my life around by travelling. 

If you’re looking for a reason to start travelling, with any luck you might find some inspiration in my story.

Some of my earliest memories are from around the age of 3 or 4 in random locations around Europe. My parents took me on overland journeys for our annual summer holiday in an old camper van. They didn’t have much money, but I didn’t know that at the time. What they lacked in wealth however, they made up for in ambition and curiosity for new experiences. Every summer, my sister and I were taken on a new adventure. Most of the time we travelled with a couple of their friends and a small budget of a few hundred quid. 6 people crammed into a rather small and modest camper van with only the bare essentials.

Almost every year until the age of 16, I received the opportunity once again to cross the Channel and open my eyes further to a fascinating change in scenery. This developed my love for road trips and long-distance driving. I think the first time I went on an airplane I was 16 years of age. I was always excited to see new parts of France, Spain, and Portugal, however my horizons were relatively narrow in relation to the rest of the world. These family trips were enjoyable for sure, but everything was laid-out for me; I didn’t have any input and that bothered me. I wanted to have the freedom to dictate the journey and the destination.

The Grind

Now in 2016, I turned 26 years of age. I was finding it harder to stay enthusiastic about my life in London, it felt like a tiresome grind. This sprawling goliath is home to 9 million ants and it’s the only home I’ve known. The fast-paced, unforgiving nature of it had been wearing me down for quite some time. You see, I’m happiest when in nature. So, imagine a concrete jungle full of steel, glass and iron; hardly my perfect match.

I worked full-time for many years, working in all kinds of jobs and shift patterns, 9-5, 8-7, 6-4. Slowly, the intensity of this dense, chaotic environment seemed hellbent on sending me into the lowest gutters of depression. I recall even on the most gorgeous days I found it near impossible to open the curtains, let alone venture outside. One day missed from work turned into many as I tried to re-evaluate my life and find it’s purpose. I could see a pattern emerging in this lifestyle and the things affecting me were only getting worse. One day it dawned on me that I’d have to ditch my monotonous routine, it was now a necessity. I needed a change of scenery, and I needed it fast.

With this idea in mind, all of a sudden I had a focus. I felt like I needed to get away from it all, albeit with a bit of a plan in mind. One afternoon, I began researching travel destinations online that were within reach with a motorcycle and a few weeks of holiday in my pocket. I became so intrigued by so many countries that I came to the conclusion there were too many locations for me to settle on just one; so, I decided to say yes to all and design a route through Europe where I could visit multiple countries and experience something new. The doors of discovery were slowly opening and an escape from the norm finally seemed possible.

At this point, it’s probably worth mentioning I’m a keen motorcyclist. At the time, I had been riding various motorcycles for 8 years but never had it crossed my mind to use it as a means to visit places I had always wanted to see in mainland Europe.

The Crash

Fast forward a year to 2017. I still hadn’t taken the plunge and embarked on my own adventure, for one reason or another. I had just spent another summer holiday in Spain with my parents.

Just a week that I had been back at work and I was involved in a motorcycle accident. I didn’t feel like going into work that day, but I certainly didn’t wish to end up in the hospital. I emerged from the accident lucky to be alive, the paramedics told me. I had lost consciousness, broken my ankle, bruised all of my ribs and exploded some fingertips.

Somewhere between my head impacting on the rear windshield of the 4×4 and flying through the air, to landing with my spine in the steel barrier, I blacked out. When I woke up, there was a state of nothingness. I was unsure what was real, for 15 or 20 seconds I laid with my face buried the grass. I could see shoes around me but nothing was familiar or made sense. At this point, I was confused and nauseated. The colours I was seeing were vivid and my vision was hazy, I thought for a moment I could be in Heaven…

After being taken to the hospital with the lights blazing through traffic, I underwent surgery in which a 7-inch titanium plate was attached to my bones with 9 screws to fix the snap. This was followed by 4 months of being bound to the sofa, instead of being at work, which was another new experience for me. During my recovery, I had a lot of time to think, almost too much, about anything and everything. I felt like, had I died that day at the age of 27 I would have been disappointed with myself, not because of what I had done, rather those things I had not. This close shave with death instilled in me a unique desire to get out there into the big wide world and do everything I had not. To see the world for what it truly is and to not take anything for granted.

I had spent the last few weeks of my 4-month recovery learning to walk again and regaining strength in my wasted away left leg. In between physio sessions, I was repairing my motorcycle with crutches by my side and by late January I was finally physically able to mount a motorcycle once more. When I first climbed back on the motorcycle I realized things felt different, my whole mindset towards riding and adventure and the purpose of it all had evolved, it was like I had really learned something and it felt incredible.

The Second Life

It was the start of a new, exciting time, with the warm feeling of exhilarating moments ahead of me. That April I went on my first solo trip to Catalunya, Spain. I explored the mountains and I rode by the sea. I carved my way through dense forests and went full-throttle on open plains. That baby adventure opened my eyes to everything I was incapable of seeing before. I returned from my adventure 2 weeks later, a changed man. I had completed roughly 3000 miles onboard my Yamaha Fazer and enjoyed every single minute of it with a passion.

 

Barely a week had passed since my return and I was already deep into planning another trip. In late July I made it happen, once again. This time I took my best friend and together we rode through 10 different countries for a total of 5 weeks, clocking up over 5000 miles and meeting many inspirational people along the way. My whole world was now bigger than ever before, and all I wanted to do was just explore more of it and spend less time at home.

Thinking back to my darker days, I realised this really was the cure for any mental health issues I had been fighting a losing battle with, the spontaneous nature of riding without a plan in mind and only doing what I wanted to do was exactly the kind of wanted to live, not solely for my enjoyment but for my personal well-being.

Since then my passion for travelling the world and learn things from others has only snowballed into something much greater. To date, I’ve visited a little over 20 countries by motorcycle, travelled more than 15,000 miles and I only intend to keep adding more to the list. Last August I got as far as Romania and Bulgaria, opening my eyes to a completely different side of Europe.

Whatever problems you face in your life, there is always a way to solve them, sometimes it is others that can unknowingly help in this journey, sometimes they are in different countries and terrains just waiting to be met.

On my travels, I have formed friendships that are still strong to this day, because of the circumstances in which we met and because I was willing to escape my comfort zone and debunk any ignorant preconceptions I may have had about the countries that are often so negatively represented in western media.

Not only did my crash changed my perspective of life, but it also gave me a thirst to go out there and truly live, and not just exist. So if you haven’t already, create your own adventure and start living the life you were always meant to!

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