It was a crisp, bright morning in early September 2014 and it was certainly a morning with a difference. No more routine, no more early morning traffic. I was going travelling; a round-the-world trip I had been planning for 18 months was finally starting.
As I boarded the Delta flight to New York, I think it's pretty accurate to say I was experiencing almost every emotion possible. Excitement, apprehension, expectation, nervousness, and pride in the decision that I had just decided to drop everything and just go and do it.
Part of the nervousness was obviously down to leaving family, removing myself from the 'comfort zone' and the familiarity of England. But also, a large part of it was attached to something else in my life that meant a huge amount to me. Fitness. It's safe to say travelling and fitness don't naturally go hand-in-hand. Exercise and maintaining a decent enough nutritious diet are certainly entwined in routine. Repeated workouts and meal planning were tough enough already, let alone when I was on the road.
I knew it was going to be a challenge. I hoped I'd just 'forget it'. However, amongst all the experiences and incredible things I learnt during my backpacking year, incorporating fitness into this lifestyle was one of them.
New York, west coast USA, Fiji, Australia, New Zealand, Thailand, Laos, Vietnam and Cambodia formed my itinerary from 8/9/14 to 8/9/15. There must be something about that date. The high reaching skyscrapers in NYC, the vast landscapes of the Grand Canyon and Yosemite National Park, the golden beaches of Fiji which reflect the sun as it sets, the magic of Melbourne, the breathtaking beauty of New Zealand which I still struggle to justify with words, the ancient towns of Vietnam and the welcoming nature of the Thai people helped form the memories I will hold with me forever.
Maybe it was all these experiences and more which cause this thing they call 'wanderlust'. Maybe I caught the travel bug. But I truly believe it's more than that. It's life. Travel changes your perspective. It inspires you. It consumes you. You want more, because you know there's a world out there of endless discovery.
I won't say it was easy combining my love for fitness and passion for travel. But I feel it opened up opportunities. I learnt a lot about myself, found new ways of enjoying fitness and balancing it into the most incredible year of my life so far. You don't need a gym to work out and you don't need a cupboard full of Tupperware to eat healthily. I'll never forget running along the Nadi beach as the sun rose and the waves gushed on the shore. It was so peaceful; so beautiful. Then there was running by the Hudson River in NYC with all the New Yorkers just starting their day like they always would. A highlight for me was trekking up various hillsides in New Zealand and being rewarded at the top with yet another picture-perfect mountainous view.
Not forgetting the incredible cuisine on offer. Perfect fresh fruit in Fiji is pretty much what I enjoyed the whole time I was lucky enough to be enjoying the wonderful islands; papaya, pineapple, bananas. And in Asia; dragon fruit, mango, the list goes on. Furthermore, there's a large and thriving health scene in Australia with plenty of nutrition-orientated cafes and inspirational figures who are big on the fitness scene with their blogs and Instagram following. I've never tasted such amazing 'brunch' as that on offer in the suburbs and backstreets of Melbourne. Smashed Avocado with poached egg, chilli and lime dressing and toasted whole seeded sourdough. Cacao, chia seed and peanut protein balls, 'positive organic pancakes' with banana nice-cream (healthy ice cream). Amazing. So much choice and so deliciously nutritious! Don't even get me started on the coffee... Proper coffee!
Whilst I enjoyed incorporating this into my travels, I still enjoyed the odd Cricketers Arms pint on Southbank in Melbourne, a few glasses of goon on Fraser Island, a few famous Tim Tams during Tim Tam slam (just try it!), and of course, delicious Pad Thai in Asia, because that's what it's all about. Whilst I maintained my love for fitness and always will, I made the most of the opportunities and experiences each country had to offer.
Running with breathtaking views beat any standard treadmill in the gym. Beach running certainly provides a decent workout. However, my advice to anyone with these dilemmas is to not let your love for fitness consume you when travelling. Let it become part of the experience, incorporate it when you can, but most of all, enjoy every single day and let yourself thrive. Maybe you'll go a few days without a workout or maybe you'll eat a few delicious spring rolls on Khao San Road with a 30p pint. It's all part of the experience. You can always get back into your fitness but you get one chance at making these memories. Make it count!
WRITTEN BY HELEN WRIGHT