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Australia

I’d started that fateful day waking up late. The alarm on my phone thought it would malfunction, and go off without making a sound…which is never handy. Dashing around like a mad thing, I eventually made it to my first meeting of the day on the opposite side of the city, half an hour late. Nobody was impressed, least of all me. Travelling between my first and second meeting on the bus saw me almost get pick-pocketed, and realise I had then somehow gone to the wrong venue. Once again I was late. By the time I was on my way back into the city on my penultimate bus of the day I was ready to go home and never face the world again.

I was at the bus stop in town, sat in a shelter without a roof in the pouring rain. I was waiting for the connecting bus when a car went flying through a huge puddle and drenched me from head to toe. I was as thoroughly miserable as I was soaking wet, and desperately needed a little pick-me-up. The bus wasn’t due for 20 minutes, so my eyes went scanning nearby buildings for somewhere to seek solace. Moving from a florist, onto a men’s clothes shop, I immediately stopped on STA Travel. “Can’t hurt to browse the brochures for a while”, I thought.

Australia has been a dream travel destination of mine for at least ten years. I can’t say what triggered the fascination, nor what made it grow, but it has remained ever strong. I have looked at flights, and explored visa options many times, but nothing has ever come of it. I was browsing flight comparison websites again a few nights before, and found some good deals with Emirates to fly later in the year. I’d filed it in the “to re-visit” section of my brain.

And so, when I was idly flicking through a brochure in the shop, I found myself responding positively to one of the agents asking if he could help in any way. I sat opposite him and began to explain my dream. Despite extensive questioning on his part, I discovered I really had no plans in mind other than wanting to land in Melbourne and be there for the Australian Open. I suppose that made his life easier in terms of searching prices, maybe not so great in terms of selling add-ons. Before I knew it, he had found quotes that beat the flight comparison sites and with amazing routing. He seemed a little surprised when I immediately handed over my card and told him to go for it. I suppose faced with somebody who had extremely vague requirements, the least he would have expected was for me to want to go away and think about it.

The truth is I’ve been thinking about it for ten years. I’ve been talking myself out of it for ten years, and always managing to find reasons to stay at home “for another year or so”. There will always be reasons to stay at home, and delay the trip of a lifetime. There will always be a job where you earn a good salary, or family members and friends who will miss you to bits (and vice versa). However chances to live in, and explore, another country become more and more limited as the years progress. I want to make the most of the opportunities whilst I have little commitments or responsibility.

Stop thinking and start doing.

I had missed the bus by the time I had left the travel agency and returned to my wet spot in the bus stop but, for the first time that day, I was smiling.

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