Sydney Australia Great Escape

I’m Moving to….. The Great Escape 2016

In Australia, Gap Year, Great Escape, Guatemala by Katelyn8 Comments

Great Escape 2016

I’ve been waiting to write this post for years now…

For the past 2+ years I have been slaving away at various jobs to put myself in a financially stable position to travel for an extended time. I’ve created an emergency fund, paid down a large chunk or my student loan debt, and stashed away thousands of dollars to travel the world.

And now it’s time to leave!

I embark on my Great Escape on Tuesday, January 19, 2016!

For the past 6 months I have been slowly inventorying my stuff and selling it at consignment shops, on Facebook, and Craigslist. While I was a bit sad to sell both my bicycles, the act of selling my material objects is surprisingly liberating. I’m only bringing what I can fit in my backpack. What doesn’t fit must go (or stay in my childhood bedroom at my parents house).

Over the years my Great Escape plans have changed and evolved. Originally my tentative plan was to backpack through South America and then head over to South Korea to teach English for at least year, but those plans quickly changed in August.

After spending a week sailing the Greek isles with Medsailors and a bunch of Kiwis and Aussies I started looking into working holiday visas (WHV) to New Zealand and Australia. I’ve known about WHV for a few years, but I thought that you could only be in the country on a WHV if you’re under 30. My clock’s a ticking and I didn’t quite think I would make it. Then I found out that you can apply for an WHV up until your 31st birthday meaning you could be in the country at 32 years old. Perfect!ย 

During my research on working holiday visas I came across the Go Overseas Work and Play in Australia contest. Go Overseas partnered with the Australian Tourism Board to provide up to 13 people the chance to live and work in Oz for a year. And guess who was one of the two grand prize winners?!

This girl!!

Out of the 3000+ applicants I was chosen as one of the two grand prize winners! I never win anything so this was a pretty big “f-ing” deal for me. My prize consists on roundtrip plane tickets from LAX to Sydney, a week with Ultimate Oz getting adjusted to life in Australia, a 5 day surf camp, my working holiday visa fees covered, and a year of travel insurance with Guard.Me.

I still can’t believe it. As a freshmen in high school I wanted to study abroad in Australia for a year, but my father thought I was way too young to move half way across the world to live with strangers so instead I wrote a research paper about the history of Australia. Now, nearly 15 years later… I’m finally going to live in Australia!

Sydney Australia Great Escape

By Hai Linh Truong from Sydney, NSW, Australia (Sydney Opera House Close up HDR Sydney Australia) [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

I’ve been keeping my Great Escape plans under wraps since August as I still want to be employed through most of January, but now it is the time to tell the world! But I’m not heading straight to Oz just yet. I’m taking the long way through Central America, Europe, and the Middle East… because obviously that makes the most sense!

I begin my journey on January 19th in Guatemala for a month exploring one of my favorite Central American countries that I got a brief taste of in 2014. From Guatemala I’m heading to Honduras where I plan to obtain my PADI certification in Utilia where it is super cheap and beautiful diving. I’ll most likely head over to El Salvador for at least a few days since I’ve never seen the Pacific Ocean before in my life. My travel plans at this point are rather loose. I’ll be working on the road and want to leave my schedule open for whatever opportunities, both work and play, that might arise.

Morocco Desert Great Escape

I’ll be home for a few days in February before jetting off (first class nonetheless) to Europe. I’ll be in Spain for a week before flying down to Morocco for a week long tour with Travel Talk Tours where I’ll camp in Sahara, ride camels, drink copious amounts of mint tea, and explore the medinas.

Next up… the Big Smoke. I get to celebrate my birthday in London with some friends and catch up on sleep and work. And hopefully not go poor with the currency conversion!

Hydra ice cream shop

Hopefully I get to hang out with a few of these goobers in London

From here my plans get a little hazy as I’m still undecided about the latter part of my winter European tour. I know I’ll be heading to Paris for at least a few days and from there probably up to Amsterdam, Copenhagen, Germany, Poland, and then perhaps down to Budapest. I might swing up to Sweden or Norway. Either way, my flight leaves Abu Dhabi on April 2nd. I plan to spend at least 4 days exploring the UAE before flying FIRST CLASS with Etihad to Sydney!

It’s going to be a whirlwind adventure and I’m so excited and blessed to start the next chapter of my life. I have no idea where my life will take me or even when I’ll be back in the US of A for good (I’ll be home in August for a few weeks). There is just so much to see and do in this world and I want to do it when I’m young and healthy. As I’m still trying to figure out what I want to do in life, I believe this trip and once-in-a-lifetime experience will bring me closer to figuring out what gets me up out of bed excited every morning.

Any advice for this girl? Travel or life?


  1. Wahoo! What a wild ride you’re in for — enjoy the opportunity and keep us posted with how everything goes ๐Ÿ™‚

  2. What a luck! It is really amazing that you were chosen among so many people! It is really amazing and wonderful that you won because apparently you have always wanted to move to Australia! I also love everything about Australia and New Zealand. They are really amazing countries and I hope that someday I’ll be able to move to one of them, or at least visit them. Have a great time! Thanks for sharing!

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