The following blog series is based on "The Expedition" - a self drive adventure in a Peugeot 206, 2001 model hatchback, from London to Sydney. It was completed solo by a woman. Peugeot now lives in Sydney. She still drives to work each day.
About The Expedition
In 2016, I drove a Peugeot 206, 2001 model hatchback from London, England to Sydney, Australia. I was on my own. I had no-one to organise the immense number of documents needed to cross certain borders, no fancy navigational instruments, except for a TomTom that served as a paperweight after Europe (I didn’t have a map for half of the planet). I didn’t have a lot of money (hence the vehicle), I didn’t have any sponsors, I didn’t even have a radio as company for large parts of the journey – the signal in Western Kazakhstan was as elusive as their roads.
But what I did have in abundance was will and determination. Born and raised in Australia, I moved to London and lived there for 2 years. While in the UK, I set my sights on a fantastical dream which over time had become my real-life goal. It was every bit a part of me as my beating heart – I couldn’t imagine still living without having at least given it a red hot go.
Journal the Journey
Thanks to a habit that I started years ago of keeping a journal (see “benefits of keeping a travel journal” blog) of my thoughts and basic outline of the day’s events, I was able to document and see the clear link between the experiences that I was having in London - the lessons being learned and adapting to a different walk of life - were gradually conditioning me to be able to undertake The Expedition. I'm certain that I couldn't have attempted something like this before the indirectly related experience of moving overseas.
Travel absolutely is transformative.
I rarely go back and read old journal entries – just the exercise of writing things out is enough to force your brain to recall and consciously articulate events, and this often has the added benefit of making something that might have been missed, a life lesson for example, more plain and obvious. In the case of The Expedition and its recording, I'm fortunate that I have the events leading up to it documented, which is perfect for retelling the story, as well as seeing the overall lesson that was handed down - that all things which happen to us are linked. In other words, All is connected.
The Transformative Power of Travel
Travel is a doorway of no return. Having been forced to start from scratch in London (open a bank account, apply for a tax number, find a job, find a place to live, find people to talk to) with few resources (just what I had saved before leaving Australia) and to do it all on the other side of the world, far away from my friends and family, I had become toughened yet flexible. I could endure a lot more than I previously thought I could and I could definitely go with the flow a lot better. In fact, I barely cared what life threw at me after a while - I knew a set back just meant it was time to try a different tack rather than it being the end of the course.
Once I had decided to attempt it, I could see that my experience of moving from Sydney to London would be linked to undertaking The Expedition. At the beginning of my London journey, I didn’t realise that I was gradually being transformed for the purpose of something I simply would not be able to do without the transformation. I was just doing my thing, taking it all in and learning from all that life threw at me. However, all of that would prove to be invaluable to The Expedition. All the more reason to be grateful for all that life throws at you - even if it doesn't makes sense at the time.
The London journey had changed me. Because I was forced to roll with punches that I didn’t need to dodge in Sydney, I had become accustomed to taking action in order to pursue ideas. After a while, I was ready to be challenged in new ways that I would not have been able to attempt before, and, I wasn't hesitant to try – such is the transformative power of travel.
The roads of Western Kazakhstan
It’s not some kind of magic - it’s not even a real mystery - as to how travel always manages to transform the traveller. Whether we are always conscious of it or not, life in general is a constant process of transformation and we take the shape of what we consume. Travel simply speeds up the process and, just as in day to day life, travel will shape you for better or for worse – it all depends on how you react to life’s lessons.
One of the most fundamental methods - and possibly most crucial - travel uses to transform, is to simply remove your comfort zone. This not only forces you to do things you never thought you were capable of, giving you an insight into your endless possibilities, it also gives you a fresh new perspective on old ideas and prejudices. You begin to realise that a lot of what you thought you knew for sure was not even close to the truth. This makes you more open to receiving new ideas and opinions, making you more understanding of others.
The Expedition was the ultimate test of bringing together all that I learned – about myself and what I’m really capable of, my mental strength, going with the flow, following my intuition – and seeing it work on a very practical level. This stuff is real. Now, I want to show you how you can achieve more than you ever thought possible. Spoiler alert - it's already within you.
This series of blogs is about The Expedition. There's a lot to unpack and cover, so I've broken it up into different categories to make it easier to read and enjoy. It'll focus on the places that were visited, give tips for fellow travellers, observational insights and (hopefully) provide a bit of inspiration as well as proof, that even the most unlikely things are possible – even for the most average person.
The Caspian Sea