From a very young age, my parents brought me, my sister, and later my two brothers on camping holidays around France, Spain, and Italy. It was no doubt these experiences which instilled in me a passion for the outdoors and travel. One scout trip across the pond to England at twelve and I was an explorer in my own eyes, the thrill of being away from home, surrounded by things to do, no fear of boredom setting in, what more could a young boy want?
Fast forward a few years and a few more camping trips in Europe later and I was in secondary playing rugby with my school. Never the most attentive student I was often caught by my teachers staring out the window daydreaming of all the more exciting places I could be and as soon as my schooling years finished, I was getting out on the road and that was that.
After my first year in university, I travelled with four friends to Hawaii to live and work for the four months of summer. Working in a restaurant and hostel in Waikiki was a real eye-opener for me, meeting people from around the world and experiencing a totally different culture than what I was used to. Working hard and saving all summer I quit with a few weeks to go and travelled around the island of Oahu getting into a shark cage off the north shore, skydiving and taking a trip to Maui on the money I had earned, further developing my love for all things adventure.
Throughout the following year, I developed a passion for surfing, mountain-boarding, cliff jumping and basically anything that would fuel my adrenaline habit. When two of my friends suggested a round the world trip I was in and that summer we spent four months travelling from Ireland to Thailand, where we became certified scuba divers, trekked in the north, bunjee jumped and took longer bus journeys than we ever knew possible. Next stop was Australia, flying into Melbourne and out of Cairns we rented a simple camper and drove the whole way taking in the highlights of the East coast in just six weeks. Diving the barrier reef, surfing in the south, snowboarding in the Blue Mountains and doing a skydive outside of Sydney for my 21st birthday among so much more made it an incredibly memorable trip.
From Oz it was onto Fiji and it was here that I truly felt like an explorer/traveller, I had never been this far off the beaten path before and I loved it. On the south coast of Viti Levu we stayed with a local surfer in a simple hut on the beach, jumped off the top deck of a huge passenger ferry in Vanua Levu and sand-boarded the dunes of Sigatoka, Fiji blew my mind like nowhere else. Our final stop was Hawaii but it felt a little stale having been there before, lesson learned, when you have the opportunity, go somewhere new!
Back to university for another year and the following summer was another working/holiday visa to America, this time to sunny California, spending four months working in a snack stall on the beach in a hot, sweaty kitchen staring longingly out at the sand and waves was not my first job of choice but you have to what you have to do and by the end of the summer I had saved just about enough money for a Californian road-trip taking in Vegas, The Grand Canyon, Yosemite National Park, Los Angeles and a host of smaller towns along the coast. A trip to San Fransisco for my 22nd birthday to see Pearl Jam live in concert was the icing on the cake to a summer of surf, sun, good friends and a great time.
With a six-month work placement mandatory for my final year in university my travelling should have come to a halt but with the money I had earned through my placement I bought a van and with a friend we drove around Europe, sleeping in the back of my DIY camper following a few of the 2007 Rugby World Cup games, surfing on the west coast and generally tripping around. When Noelle came to join me we drove back up the west coast to Cherbourg stopping everywhere we could along the way and then it as the ferry back to Ireland.
I love Ireland, it’s an amazing country and all my family and best friends are there yet every time it’s time for a trip to end I don’t look forward to going home but I get really down. With this realisation Noelle and I decided to pack up and hit the road and wander for as long as we can through whatever means necessary and we’re still wandering on.