I Went On Holiday For Three Months, Nek Minute I Moved To Canada Indefinitely
When you finally finish your university degree and fling yourself into full-time work, it's quite common to find yourself in a rut where you have no idea who you are, what you're doing or where your future is leading you.
Liv Keen is a 23-year-old Notre Dame graduate who found herself in exactly that anywhere-but-here situation, and immediately booked a three-month holiday. Nek minute, she moved to Canada.
So how did a holiday turn into a major life-altering experience?
MTV Travel interviewed the young Aussie traveller while she was living in Whistler to get to the heart of why travel can be so important at those inevitable crossroads in life...
Why did you decide to leave Sydney?
I think like a lot of 22-year olds fresh out of University you kind of realise you have no idea what just happened for the past three or four years and have no idea who you are.
Just before the trip all those big aspects of life changed for me. Before I left Sydney I had just graduated University, was looking for a new “real” job, moved out of the place I was renting, then I broke up with my long-term boyfriend and realised that there wasn’t really anything grounding me in Sydney anymore.
I was in a place, geographically and emotionally, where I just knew I needed to get myself out of that rut and booking a three-month holiday seemed to be a pretty decent way to do that.
Why a solo trip?
Solo wasn’t necessarily my intention, but ultimately it was a good thing - it pushed me in a different direction for the trip in terms of it just being about my total freedom, my choice, no compromises, but also the challenge of being completely reliant on just myself too. I knew people at different stops on my trip that was I planning on visiting so that was comforting. I was doing this by myself but there would be familiar faces along the way.
How much did the trip cost all up?
I think it was $10,000. The whole push to stay longer than my intended three months was that I still had a decent amount of money left and was able to continue for another three months before I finally had to get a job.
In the beginning it probably took me less than six months to save, and honestly I’m a pretty frugal person anyway so cutting costs wasn’t a huge issue for me as I kind of do it naturally. It’s just being smart about the places you’re staying, using your connections, prioritising what you want to spend money on. If you splurged on a bunch of cool things one day then maybe the next day you spend reading a book by a lake.
What made you decide to switch the trip from a holiday to moving to Canada?
I flew to Vancouver and worked my way east across Canada and down the east-coast of the US. I kind of ended in Las Vegas at my friend’s house. I was sitting on her couch sulking about having to find my way to Los Angeles and fly home and she just looked at me and asked, Why? It was this cliché, but really cool moment where I realised I didn’t have to do anything. So I cancelled my flight, and hung out in sweltering hot Vegas for a little while longer whilst I figured it out – and that’s when I decided I’d go back to Canada and see where that took me.
You never have to be the same person in the same place doing the same thing as you were 5 minutes ago, you can make life-changing decisions at any moment and I think that’s really cool and not enough people remember that.
What’s your normal day in Canada like?
I live in Whistler and try and get up the mountain and snowboard as much as possible, but I do still work about 45 hours a week so there’s that too. It’s so, so social here as well; I live with four of my best friends, and six houses up the road from the rest of our main group. We spend pretty much 100% of our time together so you’re always doing something, even if it’s not necessarily super-fast-paced, someone’s always around.
How have you dealt with homesickness?
There were times travelling by myself in the beginning that I’d get into a very low place, and the friends I had back home would be right there on FaceTime to make it all okay. It sucks when big things are going on, whether its birthdays or engagements or illness or breakups. It’s tough not to be able to hug them or see them in person, but I’d never say I was homesick to the point of actually wanting to get on a flight home.
What would you say was the purpose of the trip? What do you think you've gained?
Hindsight is always 20/20 and I think looking back on it I realised the trip was about putting space between me and the things I wasn’t happy with at home. Everything felt so static and this trip gave me the space to make changes without backlash. Sorry, I’m in Canada, decisions made, bye. All you need to do is turn your phone off and focus on the things you want to do. It was also about figuring out who the hell I was and what I really wanted, and I think I’ve gained a lot of confidence in those aspects.
What advice would you give others who want to do a similar adventure?
Just go for it. Building an amazing career and buying a house are all still things I want, but I just don’t feel that pressure or that inadequate feeling that comes with that anymore.
Pick somewhere, book it. You'll have mostly the best (but sometimes the most average time), and then do it all again. Unless you’ve done something horrible, regrets are not worthwhile. Mistakes are part of life, I try not to wake up at 4am too much thinking about that stupid thing I did in 2008.
When are you coming home?
I will be back early July! Canadian summers are beautiful, but I grew up on Sydney’s beaches so nothing can really compare and I’m getting too settled again. It’s time for me to come home and knuckle down to earn some money and then I’ll inevitably get itchy feet and book another flight somewhere.
...But I won’t be actually going home though, I’m moving to Melbourne instead of Sydney for a while and then heading off again – so I’m not sure if that really counts. Hopefully, I'll come back to Whistler via Japan next season.
Ummm Liv... CAN YOU PLS TAKE US WITH YOU!?
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