They say everything happens for a reason. But whether you believe in fate or not, there’s no denying the life affirming power of travel.
For one girl, Janette Aracely from the USA, that life affirming moment happened last year whilst travelling with Contiki through China. So how did one trip change the course of this travelers entire life? That’s what you’re about to find out…
What inspired you to book Contiki?
Before my first Contiki trip I was just working at my 9-to-5 job in LA, trying to decide what new continent to cross off my list. I opted for Asia. I had never travelled alone before and thought that Contiki could provide me with the best of both worlds. The adrenaline rush of getting on a plane headed to a new continent solo, but the comfort of knowing I’ll be with people my own age with similar interests.
What was your favourite moment from the trip?
My favourite moment was turning 26 years old on an overnight train drinking Chinese Fire Water, celebrating and bonding with my tour family and soon to be close friends.
Was there a pivotal moment during the trip when you realised you wanted a change in life direction?
The pivotal moment was when I was speaking with the group and everyone was talking about the different places they were going to visit after the Contiki tour ended. They asked me what I had planned – I was just flying straight home, landing on a Friday, and starting work that Monday.
They asked me about my job, what I did, my experience with the corporate world, and I was shocked that out of almost 25 people no one was able to relate to my yearly struggle to get time off. I think I may have been the only one who didn’t extend my trip either prior to or after the tour.
During the conversation, I got to learn about different countries and their holiday schedules. Before the Contiki trip it had never really been put in perspective that most people don’t have to be limited to 2 weeks of relaxation per year. I knew from the second my plane landed back in LA, I had one weekend left before waiting another 365 to experience the joy that foreign travel brings me.
What did you do when you got back from your trip?
When I landed, I panicked. I wasn’t ready to be home. The experience I had on Contiki and the countless conversations with people who lived in different parts of the world had changed my perspective and way of thinking. When I spoke with them my initial thoughts were, “I wish I could live in one of these countries and get more than 2 weeks off per year.” That thought stuck with me for days, which resulted in constantly asking myself, “Why can’t I?” Each time I asked, I could not think of a single reason.
I don’t know how many times I had to ask myself that before I officially decided it was time to move, but it happened in a matter of days after landing. One of those days I went home and completely focused on how I was going to turn this idea into a reality.
I decided I would still like to continue my career in Digital Marketing – so I needed a country where English is the dominant language (and a place that wasn’t too cold). Just these two requirements quickly narrowed my options. I then recalled that almost every country I’ve travelled to, I’ve met Australians – which reassured me I would be a fan of their work/life balance.
Once I decided on Australia it was only a matter of days before I applied for my Visa, then started saving immediately and prepping for the move. A few months later I landed in Sydney, Australia – my new home.
What are you doing now?
I currently work at a Digital Marketing Agency in Sydney. The move allowed me the opportunity to pursue my two greatest passions: Digital Marketing & travelling. During the day I work at my company, then at night I like to chat with my awesome Instagram (@janettearacely) followers who are incredibly fun to talk to and nice enough to share their life/travel stories with me. On the weekends I always try and visit new parts of Australia.
Since being here I’ve been able to visit many surrounding cities, New Zealand and Tasmania, and in just a couple of hours I’m headed to the airport to begin my next Contiki tour in South East Asia! Cannot wait!
What would you say to people about the power of travel, and the power of friendships made during travelling?
Travel is a lot more powerful than people expect – and it’s a lot more powerful than I expected.
The friendships made and stories you hear from different people whilst travelling have the ability to change your entire state of mind, which can then change your entire life. Traveling changes the way you experience things, the way you think about things, people, yourself, the list goes on.
I actually sent a message to one of my best friends (who I met on Contiki China) saying “I find it insane that I have no idea where in the world I would be or what my life would be like at this very moment had I not gone on that Contiki trip”. I started an entirely new life, in a new continent, and am doing what I love – the thought of me not having gone on Contiki China is honestly terrifying.
That’s why I decided to build my Instagram account around travel, so I can share this journey with people. I want to push anyone interested in traveling to stop questioning whether they should or shouldn’t, but to just take the plunge. One trip literally changed my entire life – this could be the case for many others like me and I hate the thought of someone missing the opportunity. So I’ll leave you with the advice I live by: Stop being afraid of what could go wrong and start being excited about what could go right. Go. Just go.
Do you have a story about the way in which travel changed your life? We’d love to here it. Drop us a note in the comments and we’ll get in touch.
You can follow along with Janette’s Australian adventures and world wide wonderings on her Instagram here.