Option Everyone.

Jemma here… Recently I can safely say that I have been digging around for inspiration and bravery to take off again. Do what and go where – I dunno! Torn between ‘option everyone’ – staying in the rat race which involves saving a lot of money for a wedding, buying a bigger house and having a baby and ‘option adventure’ – working my way around the world. With Taz. We are living ‘option everyone’ right now and have been since we returned home in January, all that time ago!

Quiet times at work help me to kind of dismiss ‘option everyone’, because none of those costly things are financially realistic – we can’t afford a wedding, we can’t afford a bigger house and we don’t really want a baby yet. Also I strongly believe that marriage and weddings are 2 different things anyway. Marriage is important to me. Yes everyone may remembers your wedding day but so what? Yes I want marriage, a lifelong partner, but I’m not fussed about the faff and the party and the expense. However obviously it’s human nature to want to settle and find stability. The routine of working for myself and climbing and holidaying in free time and loving being with Taz is comforting and enjoyable. I certainly love the climbing part. And Taz in general! But my dreams are a little more adventurous than reality and involve experiencing the most beautiful and/or interesting places globally and working to fund this. It’s that simple.

Travel. If all else fails we still have our beautiful little end terraced house to come home to and although it’s a recession I can always find something to pay the bills. My pride won’t be dented. Even if shit happened and we came home after a disastrous attempt at working, living and travelling somewhere new, it’d add a bit more excitement to life than never doing anything and never finding out. We could just try something else. When people hear brief stories from us about working at Harmel’s, or travelling through Asia the reaction is positive, people are intrigued and you know you’re doing the right thing. Then to be polite you suggest that these options are open to everyone, and you get the same scrunched up face reaction and the “yeah but…”. We’ve done loads and we’re still ok…

I realise that most people are content with something like ‘option everyone’ so finding someone to talk with and share ideas is tough because to most people think I “have my head in the clouds” and can’t live like that, even Taz sometimes who’s impulse to settle is much bigger than mine. But there’s a pattern that tickles me – he becomes a different person when we reach the airport – he changes instantly from “worried about money and the future Taz” to “Mr Adventure, where to next, Taz”? I know he’s also comforted by my ability to be obsessively organised. He knows that whatever we do the bills are always paid, I know exactly where we are financially so that what we’re doing is affordable and most importantly our little house is sat here waiting for our return so that we can pick up where we left off, whenever that may be.

In a perfect world I would put our house up for rent, load the car with a tent, bbq and climbing gear and tour Spain and France and other nearby sunny destinations. We could see their cities, their countryside, eat their food and climb their rock. I have always wanted to fruit pick. I know it isn’t easy. Its supposed to be quite brutal really, but it would be a simple life and would sustain us for a while and I’d rather do that than be here.

Another option is TEFL – especially since we met people doing it in Yangshuo, a beautiful, magical place in China with too much rock climbing for 2 people to cover in a year. Or in South America we could TEFL, there’s endless climbing there too and it’s somewhere we’ve never been.

Or up sticks and move to Canada for a year. Or Australia.

So much to do. So little time.

A common misconception about who should be enjoying the kind of life that I gravitate towards is that it’s a lifestyle for young students or retired people – people who are preparing for a life grinding away at work or those who have already filled their life with that. But I wonder why do it at all, if you’re not so fussed about the end result, a big house and a tonne of material possessions that you give up when you die? Can anyone answer me that?

Is it crazier that people work themselves stupid their whole lives just to say “If I have my time again I would…” while they’re laying bed bound. Or are the crazy people those that say they are happy with how they lived life? Sounds simple to me. But extended travel is not really part of modern culture where we are all expected to be career focused, and if we aren’t, we’re perceived as not capable of a career. People that work backbreakingly hard all their lives and don’t balance that with taking opportunities that take you away from work and money every now and then have never seen both sides of the coin and that’s a shame.

I love being with people that think like me, being isolated surrounded by ‘everyone else’ gets a bit depressing and you start to think their way is right. It’s not the social norm what I’ve been doing and intend to keep doing for the foreseeable future… but massive fear of regret is enough to convince me that there’s more to life than work and reproducing. But most people will not encourage this sort of spontaneity because it freaks them out. Nothing makes me sadder and drives me more towards ‘option adventure’ than hearing people talk about not being able to do what they’ve always wanted to do, be it travel or something else, when the opportunity had been there their whole lives and they were to afraid to do it.

But like everyone I have moments of weakness where I think “Nah, put it off for another day, making that massive whopper of a decision.” Writing this blog, I have totally convinced myself. The problem is I have 1 very important person to convince. Again! One more day living ‘option everyone'”…

Jemma (and Taz)

The come down! Wanderlust returns… What’s next?!

Jemma here…

It’s insane that one minute you’re like, “we’re home!” and you’re happy walking about getting blasted sideways by wind and rain, still smiling like a crazy person because it’s good to be home. You catch up with people that want to catch up with you. But nobody’s ever really THAT into your travel tales as you because life does carry on while you’re away… So I tell the tales via a blog so that people that are interested can find them 🙂 After a couple of silent nights (meaning excellent sleeps) and weeks of locking myself in the kitchen cooking up everything I’ve missed (roast chicken, fish pie, pork belly and pea soup etc) the excitement wears off…  you know it’s going to happen but when you land home and you’re giddy you’re like “nah, I LOVE England.” And I do love England, it’s nice.

But you miss the warmth and the relaxation that finding a nice, quiet, exotic place brings. The places that you don’t want to leave because you feel so lucky that you found them and you can stay there for however long you want, and do whatever you want there. Life just ain’t nothing without ADVENTURE! I’ve read a couple of other peoples blogs when they’ve come home and apparently it’s expected “to be a bit deflated after a great adventure.” Sometimes when I’ve got 4 pre-school kids in the house, tea to cook, washing to do and tidying and cleaning and paperwork, I think of traveling with fondness 😉 For now, reminiscing is good… At least we have some really really cool trips to reminisce about! My mind flashes back to sitting on a couple of beaches along the way feeling completely relaxed and that isn’t something to be taken for granted, it’s good for your health! I didn’t think that on a 3 month trip that was pretty much routed out, that we could feel free but we did. So memories like this mean that pretty soon the wanderlust kicks in. Again! Just being able to scoot around a sandy island looking for the perfect location for sunset or the perfect bowl of noodle soup is a great way to fill days 🙂 We have nothing against jam packed shortish trips now too, they’re easier to organize work around – mum I may need you to cover for me again soon 😉 And that what I said about a handful of Thai people pissing me off – I take it all back. Thanks for robbing us multiple times – great memories 😉 I love you Thai people!

Tattoo’s come off??

To rub it in that the fun’s over for now, I faced the music at a tattoo shop today who recommended getting my travel souvenir lazered off my foot. Every time I have looked down at it since it was inked on, it has faded. It’s now an unreadable word and the foot is so feint the staff said a few more weeks and that part would probably be gone on it’s own! I asked them to tattoo over it but they said if it has faded like that this time, it will just do the same again. It seems that tattoo’s that are on your foot can do this, and they also said it was too far down in the first place to avoid fading….. bummer. I am too tanned and the tattoo is still too recent to get it lazered yet, so I’m booked in for April. I won’t be getting it replaced here in England. Because that wasn’t the point!

Keeping Busy = Creating Distractions = Happy Jemma and Taz

To keep busy I’ve been throwing myself into work with the child minded kids and Taz has been straight back into long hours and weekends! I am right back to organizing girl guide camps and activities and the weekly sessions with a handful of other people obviously glutton for punishment. We have a blog that I look after – http://www.prestonguides.com for our Guide group. We’re taking them to Switzerland in July so that should be fun. We’ve been climbing lots indoors in Preston, Liverpool and Kendal but I speak for both of us when I say we miss real rock! We went to CWIF and saw a few films at their annual outdoor film festival – SHAFF. We watched the pro’s in action all weekend and combined it with a good short break in Sheffield and a top night out in The Green Room. One film we watched featured a climbing trip to South America and got us both daydreaming. We’ll be climbing outside on some nice sport routes in Malham when it’s not raining or -2 degrees and snowing! We’ve never been to Malham to climb but we’ve heard great things along the grapevine and it’s only and hour away.

Mini Trips!

Mini adventures arranged… We’re going to Germany for Dodie’s 30th birthday in May and a climbing road trip through Europe in September 🙂 There’s a series of Brownie and Guide camps that I’m going on, including the 10 days in Switzerland. I have recently been secretly hoping that work doesn’t pick up and a few weeks climbing in Europe turn into months…!

The Future’s Bright!

But then just today when I have been trying to be the sensible one for a change regarding travel and have been trying to get used to saving for things other than travel, we went into Preston city center together to wander around cotswolds looking at travel gear and Taz wants to know if another trip is possible in January next year?! So we decided that a new jar was needed – a saving pot for the next trip. We are searching our post-it covered map on the bedroom wall, wondering where’s next… Even the calculators been out, it has been tapped away at until a number comes up that is a manageable amount to save and we quickly convinced each other there’s no reason why we can’t but 12 months to save is more realistic, we just need to decide where?

The world is our oyster –

“if the world is your oyster, you have the ability and the freedom to do anything or go anywhere”

Some Lovely, Very Random Moments, Funny to us – but you probably had to be there…


2 weeks today we set of on an 80 day adventure through Asia

Jemma here… 2 weeks today we set of on an 80 day adventure through Asia… Climbing, eating and sleeping our way through 4 (I suppose 5 if Hong Kong wants to be seperate from China…) SE Asian countries.

Without wanting to offend people that are genuinely not wanting to travel in life, I’ve got a personal opinion to share before we leave on this trip aimed at people that do want to travel. I have only met 2 other people that feel the same way as I do (Craig and Sarah M!) about travel being an actual lifestyle. I thought this time I should mention how we feel and why we do it, or at least why “I” do it, to start things off. I’ve read a lot of interesting travel blog’s recently and the best ones have a bit of controversy in them, so here’s my contribution, to boot wannabe travellers who are browzing blogs for inspiration into action and a small part of this is to educate people that know me but don’t understand my life choices, why I don’t concentrate on the things most people want from life (Yes I am 26, have a partner of 6+ years and have no plans for children in the near future – shock horror) and might even believe I go on long holidays because I don’t want to work hard. Hmm when you think about it… who would work themselves to death over a life of travel? Most of you actually….


What’s scarier than totally risking your career to travel? Everything. That’s what. Especially not travelling at all! Risk it, don’t be conned by yourself into thinking like 99.9% of the population and not go because it’s not the “right time”, because “someone’s going to get promoted soon and it might be me”, because “we have a mortgage to think about”, because “we’re saving to get married”…. blah blah blah… excuses excuses….

I’ve got a mortgage.

I’ve got a job.

It’s not like you’ll be catching me thinking “oh my god I missed out on that teeny tiny pay rise whilst I was sipping a cold Chang on a sunny Thai island after a day of climbing, exploring and swimming in the sea for the 80th day in a row.”

Don’t wait for the right travel partner, don’t wait for the right time at work, don’t wait til you’ve saved a fortune because believe me I hear it all the time – and they NEVER do it – Always waiting. Sitting and waiting…!! People say this to me all the time – “I wish I’d done that when I was younger”. Don’t turn into one of those wishers when you get old. It’s only “normal” to save, get a bigger house, a better job and more children because most people do. But there are people like me too. What’s wrong with the way I want to do things? When I get doubts about whether I’m living in a dream world, I remind myself of the old wishers.
You can earn more, gain more, but you can’t take money to the garve with you, you know. All that material is pretty worthless in the end. I think we can ALL agree on that 🙂 I am content in feeling that I haven’t got married yet because everyone else is and haven’t had kids yet because everyone else is because there’s people out there that do it for the wrong reasons and aren’t quite so happy ever after. I can think of a few people that I’m not close to anymore because they get so wrapped up in what everyone else is doing with life and try to do the same and it really winds me up, it’s my guess that they’ll end up old wishers too. When I do those things it’ll be the right time.

Popular Excuses I’ve heard over the years…

1. Nobody to go with – book into a hostel, you’ll have lots of friends. Done.

2. Not enough money – put a 1 way flight on a credit card (our Bali one way was £330, Bangkok return this time £549 and you can get to Oz for cheap nowerdays too) and get a working visa to pay it off. Ta-da.

3. Miss out on career – You might not want that job when you’ve opened your eyes to the rest of the world and realised how dull your plans were anyway. Sorted. Of the travellers I’ve met, few go home and continue as normal in terms of jobs, your perspective changes, you can’t be arsed with the same crap day in day out when there’s a whole world out there and so much more interesting stuff to do.

4. Pension – Are you 65 yet? No… and when you are you can spend your life savings on nursing home fees while you’re fighting arthritis/cancer/heart disease… lucky us.

5. I’ll regret it – You’ll get over it. And you’ll regret not going anyway.

6. Kids – Erms I don’t know what to say, other than you’re lucky you if they’ve not started school yet and can take them with you?!

Take it from me, you really won’t give a shite if you get home and people have “progressed”. If you want to do it, do it. Take this as the kick up the arse you’ve been sat about waiting for. If you are content and don’t want to travel far and wide in your life then good for you. GENUINELY don’t want to offend this group of people that I can’t begin to understand and relate to. Want to travel indefinitely – DO IT… Want to take a year out – DO IT… Want a career break – FOR GOD SAKE JUST DO IT…!

But I’m not a perfect example – I am also trying to be a good fiancé and sticking to shorter trips to keep him happy! You can’t have it all it seems without facing bigger sacrifices…

Book a flight for now/future and start planning. You won’t look back 🙂

Ok I’ve finished my rant.

If you enjoyed it an want to read more, here’s an inspirational article I came across recently, similar ideas as me, but written much better!…



A whopping 3 years and 4 months ago? LOADS! Starting at the beginning, I finished University whilst working full time selling holidays and earning a decent amount of money. This took  alot of getting used to after 6 months away, I’d find myself having a little cry in my car before starting a 8/9 hour shift, I had a really hard time re-adjusting. I just didn’t want to be back yet! I didn’t see the point. To pass time, we bought a repossessed house in Ashton (Preston) and renovated it. I love our house. I got a 2:2 at University in Business and Tourism Management – my heart just wasn’t in it but it’s better than leaving empty handed! I have since realised that I love to travel and read and write travel but studying travel is a different kettle of fish and it isn’t quite as exciting. I worked a year at a holiday village 10 miles away with a plan to progress to management (I had to choose something?!) and Taz went self-employed in his trade as an electrician. I managed to land a job in a hotel locally in management so left the holiday village, but after 6 short months I decided it wasn’t for me, I had a “why am I in this concrete block 60 hours a week?” moment, and I left and became a childminder. I have been a childminder for over year and it’s by far the best paid, best hours, most fun job I’ve ever had. For the last year I’ve been looking after toddlers and school children and filling my days with zoo trips, swimming, beaches, parks and play areas etc. I will stay in this job after travelling, I have my kids lined up to start back with me after the trip so we won’t have to worry about finding new jobs when we get home. I have no doubt though that I’ll find it incredibly hard to re-adjust again.

In my free time we climb 2 or 3 times a week, for 3-4 hours at a time mostly indoors where it’s a bit cozier and there’s cafe’s and… vending machines. I’m happier now than I’ve ever been in any other work/play situation in the UK, doing exactly what I enjoy. I have no boss and I can climb lots. 1 more change, we got engaged July 2011.

Where have we been to since the Big Asia 2009 trip? We’ve only managed to fit in 2 short but sweet holidays around the massive home renovation which absorbed nearly every free penny and all our free time! So we went to Agadir in Morocco for a week in Feb 2010 and then we did a rock climbing trip in a beautiful little town called Montserrat in Spain in June this year. We stayed in a monastry converted apartment block which was basic but comfy and lovely and I didn’t want to leave. Such nice views and amazing dry but cool, high up in the mountains type weather. We’ve also been camping a few times, and travelled about the country going to rock climbing competitions and turned them into weekends away. We’re not major competitiors or anything, just like rubbing shoulders with the best! Anyway – both more than ready for 80 days of Asia 🙂


You couldn’t meet a more excited couple right now.

Thinking about the 3 months that’s quickly approaching us it gives us butterflies the size of wide screen TV’s. 80 days of travel, starting with another Qatar flight to Bangkok. We’ll miss Christmas this year. I will especially miss my niece Lily because I see her almost every day. But missing 3 months of a cold, rainy winter to have big sunny adventures does appeal!

Asia wasn’t our original destination this time. We were supposed to be going to visit Taz’s relatives who had moved to Canada, do a little trip through the Rockies and then head down to the Caribbean via the USA. When we heard the relatives were moving back to England we made a small loss each on our Canadian flights and re-booked to Thailand for Cheaper flights and cheaper travel/food/accom overall. Budget = paupers in Northern America or Kings in Asia. We decided on the King option. We were going to include a trip to Vegas in the original plan, but we are going to the Vegas of the East this time – Macau. So we’ll see how that turns out.


I will include as much detail about the climbing as possible in special little sections of our future blog for those that are reading up on the climbing over there. Climbing, food and meeting other travelers is what travel is all about for us. This time we’ll have ALL of our rock climbing gear with us. Although we were lucky enough to meet travellers in Krabi last time that shared their gear, this time we’re trying to fit in as much climbing as possible so we’re taking a new 70 meter rope, harnesses, chalk bags, slings, a mountain of quickdraws and carabiners, climbing shoes and belay devices etc… HEAVY!! This is just some of the stuff we’ve been collecting together in the front room so we don’t leave anything behind on the day.

We’re taking the same bags (the reliable and lovely Berghaus Jalan’s), so we’ll have to cut back on something. But I do have every intention of packing hair straighteners this time if they fit in, as my massive curly hair is not suited to humidity and sometimes I just want to look like I haven’t been dragged through a bush for occasional classier nights out than flip flop beach bars.

Indonesia 073

So the itinerary…

  • 6th November – Bangkok. We’ll spend a few days in the city, Taz wants to do some fishing here too, you can catch fresh water stingray apparently. Then we’ll head down south for climbing in the Railay/Tonsai area, we’ll go to the full moon party on Phi Phi (we dont want to make the effort to get to Phagnan, because we’ve been before) on the 28th Nov and then up to Chang Mai for a week and maybe see some sights along the way. All in all, we’ll spend 29 nights in Thailand during this leg.
  • 5th December – We’re flying to Macau to see the famed gambling city, and also see Hong Kong which is an hour and a half boat trip away and then see Yangshuo for some climbing, especially the location of the petzl climbing trip 2011. 15 nights.
  • 20th December – We’re flying into Clark airport in the Philippines for Christmas and New year. We’re going to the relatively unspoiled Bantayane Island, but other destinations to be decided. 20 nights. (AIR ASIA HAVE JUST SENT AN EMAIL TODAY ADVISING THAT AFTER 1ST DECEMBER 2012 THERE WILL BE NO SERVICE BETWEEN CLARK AND HK – SO TODAY IM CLAIMING MY REFUND AND RE-PLANNING THIS PART, OOPSY!)
  • 9th January – We’re flying from Clark to Kuala Lumpur for 4 nights. I want to see the Petronas towers in all their glory at night time again. So beautiful. So romantic!
  • 13th January – KL to Krabi, Thailand. So 11 more nights left, we’ll probably climb lots more in this region and explore the area. Sarah and her cousin Laura will be in Thailand at this time so we hope to meet up with them, especially as Sarah has recently got into climbing too. In general we hope to OD on massages and thai food before we have to come home!
  • 24th January Home from Bangkok to Manchester (back to work Monday morning…)

It’s nice to meet up with people that you know whilst you’re away.

Craig, who we met up with in Bangkok last time we were travelling happens to be in Thailand whilst we’re there again so we’ll meet up with him for a bit and he’s even offered to take us both on our first scuba dive if possible. He’ll be working as a scuba instructor for a few months I believe.

We’ll also be hooking up with my friend SarahE again, Sarah is one of my closest friends (and future bridesmaid), she visited us on our last trip for 3 weeks in Thailand and she’s coming again in January to Thailand (possibly KL too) with her cousin Laura for 3 weeks, with a trip to Dubai on their way home! Better luck this time though, last time Sarah’s appendix burst whilst we were away…

There’s also an overdue reunion to happen with SarahM who I met when I worked on a ranch in Colorado. Luckily she only lives in Stockport so we met up and talked travel lots and drank wine lots before she took off with her boyfriend Ali to Asia and Oz more than 2 years ago! I can’t wait to see them both again, possibly in the Philippines?!

JemAndTaz x