Look, it’s not going to be as detailed a post as you think. I guess that type of article is still to come but every now and then I do reflect on the journey a professional travel blogger took me on. In many ways, I hold it responsible for my decline, demise and depression (despite really knowing a culprit I met on that journey was the real catalyst). A bit of a reflection though. When I took a job as a business English Tutor in Poland in 2016, it was the first time in three years, that I was being paid by an actual company on a more regular contract for work in set locations. Yes, it was just some part time teaching to high profile businesses in Poland, but it was a move back into the working lifestyle that I had left behind around 2013. Back in June 2013, I quit my life as a Kindergarten, Primary School and Freelance English Teacher in Hong Kong to concentrate on full time blogging and backpacking.
Surprisingly, that lifestyle was a rousing success, at the time. I didn’t need the money from bar work, teaching, farming any more. I explained at the time that I was earning money in many different ways including sponsored posts, copywriting, compiling itineraries, editing and selling adverts on websites. It was all internet based and I’d simply move from city to village, cafe to bar, hostel to hotel writing and working. The truth is, I didn’t pay for a tour or a bed in that time either. So when you followed my stories through places like East Timor, Belize, El Salvador, I was a full-time professional travel blogger with a boundless lifestyle. These tours were just a few of those sponsored:
- That sugar cane, that tasted good in Suriname
- Safari in the Serengeti, Tanzania
- Titanic Centre, Belfast, Northern Ireland
- The entire The Gambia and Senegal trip
- Backpacking in Samarkand, Uzbekistan
- Touring the Vatican City
and around 150 more. I was writing about them with passion, loving them, promoting them and happy to be saving myself time and money. There was no organising to do, no payments to make, no checking dates or times. I was booked on tours I also had to turn down due to bus and train delays etc.
These hotel and hostel stays were some of around 300 sponsored stays from 2013-2016:
- Formule One Hotel, Ahmedabad, India
- Whitepark Inn, Ballintoy, Northern Ireland
- 3 Luxury Nights in Madonna’s Town, Xanadu, La Isla Bonita, Belize
- A Night by the Thames at the Mad Hatter Hotel, London, England
“Last night I dreamt of San Pedro” – Madonna (except I really did)
Many meals were either provided free or subsidised such as:
- Dinner of Wild Boar in Shymkent, Kazakhstan
- Exquisite Mexican food at Plaza Real in San Cristobal de Las Casas, Mexico
- Fine Dining at Sir Christopher Wren, Windsor, England
- Cheesecake in Belmopan, Belize
- Shakshuka in Jerusalem, Israel/Palestine
These pub crawls and food tours were also part of being a blogger:
- Gracia food tour in Barcelona, Catalonia
- On the rip in Munich, Bavaria
- First ever pub crawl in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan
- Pub Crawl in Jerusalem, Israel/Palestine
- Food Tour in gorgeous Gdynia, Poland
“We got stars directing our fate” – Robbie Williams.
That’s the reality of it all. But to be honest I had some struggles in early 2015 while backpacking in Estonia and this was before long term depression kicked in (July 2016). My laptop kept failing again – a dreaded Apple MacBook, so it was time to consider a new option. No thanks to the laptop breaking, I also lost almost all my photos from Kosovo, Northern Macedonia and Bulgaria. Only thanks to this blog and social media, is there any proof I backpacked that hat-trick. So I decided once and for all, I was moving back to the more traditional PC. I decided to sell my MacBook , get a spare hard drive to replace all the photos I had lost. SO I used cash in your gadgets to sell my MacBook.
When I look back now, I know that I am not actually back to those days yet. It was basically 2013 – 2016 where everyday was a cheap and easy adventure on my journeys. I settled in Poland and my moniker came by mistake one day when I dreamed up Northern Irishman in Poland (Ulsterczyk). That settled income in Warszawa allowed me to find a flat in the city and move my stuff and life from Australia, Hong Kong and Northern Ireland to Poland. Lately, I’ve needed to legalise my stay in Poland and will do the best I can to get back to the level of professional travel blogging I once craved.
While I can blame myself for this, of course the catalyst is as always, down to Karola Bueller’s lies in 2016. Without that, or at least with a reasoning and apology, I have no doubt I would have backpacked every real country in the world by now and would be sat in the Seychelles or somewhere sipping a cold cocktail celebrating.
Maybe one day…