Daniella Moyles: 'Travelling alone is now a very routine thing for me'
With 56 countries and tens of thousands of miles under her belt, Daniella Moyles still has a passion to visit new places
When I was eight or nine I met a young boy on the beach along the south coast of Ireland. He knew a lot about crustaceans and I thought he was fascinating.
I followed him for a few hours while he told me all about the barnacles on the rocks and the marks crabs left in the sand.
For as long as I can remember I've been in awe of the planet and the endless beautiful things there are to see.
Even now, aged 28 with 56 countries under my belt, I get pangs of frustration for every place I'll miss despite my best efforts!
My first big trip was right after the Leaving Cert, a month in Thailand with eight or so of my school friends. I don't think I'll ever forget the feeling of almost sickening excited anticipation as I boarded my first long haul flight. Thai Airlines from London to Bangkok - even the hostesses seemed so exotic.
I remember they served us what looked like a familiar Pot Noodle but there were miniature octopus in it - it's these small, seemingly trivial moments that marked my eyes beginning to open to the world. Spending the following month immersed in this compelling and completely foreign place was all it took for my priorities to change irreversibly. Freedom became my most valued gift and I knew then I wanted to relive the feeling over and over for as long as I'm breathing.
If Thailand opened the floodgates, I've been riding the wave ever since, getting a little braver with each trip.
I spent the following summer living and working in Portugal, the one after that inter-railing around Europe, then island-hopping in Greece, backpacking alone down the east coast of Australia, dancing through the streets of Rio's colourful Carnival, driving from San Francisco to San Diego and then from Los Angeles to New York, climbing Kilimanjaro, working in an orphanage in Tanzania, crossing the Israeli-Palestinian border to float in the Dead Sea.
And the insatiable quest to see new places and learn new lessons continues. If travel has taught me anything so far it's that there is so much I'll never know. That, and my own irrelevance, I know that sounds negative but it has been an incredibly healthy realisation.
I've grown up as part of a generation where every aspect of who we are is up for scrutiny on a daily basis. Our clothes, our relationships, our hobbies and passions, even our faces. I think this has created a happiness barometer driven by very shallow and selfish pursuits.
What I've gained from travel is the perspective to sincerely understand that my problems and I are not the centre of the world, in fact the opposite. It's given me a fierce respect for others, a realisation that each random passer-by is living a life as vivid and complex as mine with their own ambitions, friends, routines and worries.
Then there are the thousands of lives that I'll never know existed, in which I might appear only once, as an extra sipping coffee in the background or a blur in traffic passing on the road. I think adapting this mindset early on has afforded me a lot of happiness that may take others a lifetime to discover.
My independence has been another favourable trait earned from a love of exploring. I'm very impulsive and impatient which means I end up travelling alone more often than not because I can't wait for someone to tell me if they're interested in coming along.
The idea of solo female travel can be so intimidating and uncertain that it frightens a lot of girls from taking the risk. The first couple of times I travelled alone I kept the trips close to home and had to really push myself out of my comfort zone in terms of meeting new people and looking after myself.
But like anything, if you just go for it you'll adapt and travelling alone is now a very routine thing for me.
Mostly what I've discovered is that there are kind people everywhere, common sense is a great tool for self-preservation and you should always take a book to dinner, that last tip sounds strange but trust me! A misconception I encounter all the time is that a life filled with travel is a life filled with cash and free time too, but that is just a lazy excuse.
I have a full-time job that pays me a normal, stable wage, there have been no extraordinary circumstances afforded to me to facilitate my love of seeing the world. The trick to making it work is planning.
At the beginning of January every year I look at my wall planner for the year ahead and work out which bank holiday weekends and other public holidays let me sneak in full weeks away with minimum impact on my holiday days, plus I get them booked in with the boss early.
What I don't own in designer bags and shoes I have incredible memories and life experiences in abundance.
Some of these are idyllic and others less so, but they are all equally important. For instance this year, I, like so many others, have been overwhelmed with sadness and anger by the events happening in Syria. It is the biggest humanitarian crisis of the century and I felt, and still feel, compelled to help in any way I can so I travelled to the Lebanese-Syrian border to see for myself what was happening there. Meeting these incredibly brave and kind families living in utter destitution is not a travel moment you would expect to be held in high regard, but it is these experiences that I am eternally grateful for because they shape me into a better, wiser, more compassionate and understanding person.
Maybe if I keep searching and learning and seeing with my own eyes I will live a passionate life that makes a positive difference, big or small, rather than a passive life spent distracted and unfulfilled.
Sunday Indo Living