Lost Girl of the Week: Alexandra BaackesLost Girl of the Week — By Lost Girls on July 20, 2011 at 6:00 am
Lost Girl of the Week, Alexandra Baackes, gave up on trying to save up for a dream trip and escaped New York to explore the world while working along the way. Currently based in Scotland, she is freelancing her way through a European summer before relocating permanently to South East Asia to work in the dive industry. By blogging along the way at Alex in Wanderland, she hopes to demonstrate travel doesn’t require a big bank account or even a big plan.
I vividly remember the first travel blog I ever sniffed out on the internet. I was in high school and mysteriously obsessed with South America. I desperately wanted to be there and to know what it looked like and smelled like and felt like, but I couldn’t really imagine how I would get there. I was aloofly searching the names of towns I saw on an atlas map when I stumbled upon the blog of a couple taking thirteen months off from their home and careers and lives to travel the world. I can’t describe this in any way more eloquently than to say it blew my mind. Who did these people think they were, just quitting their jobs and running away like that? Didn’t they worry about their health, and their retirement funds, and visiting their grandmother at Christmas? Most importantly, how could I, a middle class girl from the suburbs, be them?
From then I was hooked. Blogs, memoirs, anything I could get my hands on. Anything that told me a story of how people broke out of their lives to do something outside the norm. Prior to this awakening, I don’t think it really entered my orbit of thinking that people could see the rest of the world in a way other than two week vacations in hotels and resorts.
Halfway through college I finally had the means and the gusto to take my first major trip. I was meant to go with a roommate but when her plans fell through I stayed the course and at age 19, I got on a plane by myself headed for Bangkok. It was the best thing that ever happened to me. While volunteering at an animal shelter on a small island in the gulf of Thailand, I fell head over heels in love with both scuba diving and my scuba diving instructor. Those blogs and books I used to read of people living unconventional lives? I was meeting them live and in person, and every day strengthened my conviction that I was never going back to normal. I pushed back my return and traipsed around for weeks with my dive instructor before returning home with $40 in my bank account. I’d never been happier.
The next summer we both found jobs in Grand Cayman, working in the dive industry. It was at this point that I realized I didn’t have to wait years after college to build up my savings- I could travel and work along the way! Eight months later, I graduated University, and the last ties binding me to stay still were broken. Two weeks later I left on what I now refer to as my Great Escape.
Right now I’m in the United Kingdom for six weeks, exploring my scuba instructor/boyfriend’s homeland of Scotland before a two week jaunt through Greece and Turkey. Then we head back to our favorite place on Earth, Thailand, where we hope to spend a year living and working in Southeast Asia. Nothing is set in stone, but I’ve got Muay Thai boxing training, getting my divemaster certification, and taking a motorcycle trip through the Isaan on my Thai-bucket list. I also want stamps in my passport from Vietnam, Laos, Indonesia and the Philippines, and fresh stamps from past loves Malaysia and Cambodia.
After that, who knows? It’s a big world out there and I don’t know if I’ll ever be done exploring. This trip has no end date, no solid itinerary, and no real backup plan. Just adventure, adrenaline, and a lifetime of globe-trotting daydreams fueling it. And that is what makes it the greatest escape.