I’ve always been a bit, um, different.
My friends and family know me as the girl that travels alone. The girl that’s always leaving. The girl that refuses to settle down.
While most of my friends were getting married, buying their first home, and you know, being adults, I spent the past near-decade fixated on one goal: to travel as much as possible.
So believe me when I say: I completely understand how it feels to pursue a lifestyle that nobody around you understands.
Sure, I don’t own a house and I pretty much have an existential crisis every other month. But, I’ve grown exponentially as a human being over the last decade — all thanks to travel.
I pushed myself out of my comfort zone more times than I can count. I gained confidence and a greater sense of self. I stumbled into a career that I love. And I’ve had some incredible adventures along the way.
At the risk of sounding horrendously cliché, travel has completely transformed my life.
The biggest lesson I’ve learned from this life of constant globe-trotting? I don’t want to live my life on other people’s terms.
Yes, this blog is about travel and expat life, but it’s also about my journey to create an unconventional lifestyle that I love — one that involves tons of travel.
Here’s my story:
Shortly after I graduated college, I booked a one-way ticket to Australia and spent six months backpacking solo around Oz, New Zealand, and Fiji.
I had no idea what I was doing; I took two pieces of wheeled luggage on that “backpacking” trip and spent my first day in Sydney wandering up and down the same street because I was so paranoid of getting lost. (This was before I travelled with a smartphone, mind you. Thank God for Google Maps, amiright?)
When I got back home, my wanderlust was out of control. All I could think about was travel.
So between 2011 and 2015, I worked at a seasonal hospitality job throughout the summer and travelled every winter.
South Africa, India, Southeast Asia, Central America, Europe — I gallivanted across several continents and visited a number of “dangerous” destinations along the way.
But it wasn’t enough.
In 2015, I moved abroad to Edinburgh, a city that captivated me from the first time I visited three years earlier; a place that spoke to my soul and instantly felt like home.
I spent two blissful years in Edinburgh, explored the European continent, and inadvertently created a life I loved.
I planned to stay in Edinburgh for a while, but UK immigration is THE WORST. I mean, I ran into some visa complications and willingly left when my Youth Mobility Scheme visa expired. (I’m totally over the whole ordeal, by the way. Ahem.)
In short, I was heartbroken.
was deported left the UK, I travelled around Europe for seven weeks and then went back to Canada, where I proceeded to stare at photos of Edinburgh and sob uncontrollably for an embarrassing amount of time.
Eventually, I got my shit together and fell into the world of freelancing. Once I started making relatively steady income, I decided to give the digital nomad life a go. My first stop? You guessed it: Edinburgh.
My plan was to spend a few months in Scotland and then base myself in the Balkans for a while, but I ended up staying in Edinburgh the whole time — apart from a few trips around the UK and a quick to jaunt to Lisbon.
And that brings us to now: I’m currently back in Canada, having yet another identity crisis and trying to figure out my next move. It’s cool, though — I think I’ve finally come to terms with this whole “adulting” thing. (Although I am writing this in my pyjamas while eating almond butter out of the jar…)
Why I blog
I started Ashley Wanders because I always felt somewhat out of place in my hometown.
Don’t get me wrong, there are so many amazing and supportive people in my life, but I’ve also dealt with my fair share of naysayers and well-meaning arseholes (#AmIScottishYet?).
People who rolled their eyes when I said I was going to India. People who made me feel guilty for pursuing my passion. People who constantly pestered me with soul-crushing questions like “When are you going to settle down?”
When I started reading travel blogs, I realized I wasn’t alone.
Travel bloggers inspired me to chase my dreams, they gave me tips that changed the way I travel, and they helped me realize it’s okay to choose an unconventional path (and that I wasn’t crazy for doing so).
That’s why I blog — and that’s what I hope to offer you.
I want to write words that resonate with you when you feel like an outsider. I want to help make your move abroad to Edinburgh a little less stressful. I hope I can give you the nudge you need to relocate to a new country, travel solo, or choose an unconventional path.
New to this blog? Here are a few of my favourite posts:
I lived in Edinburgh for 2.5 years (and it’s my favourite city in the world), so you’ll find lots of Edinburgh-related content around here. Check out these posts for Edinburgh tips and inspiration:
Curious to know what it’s like living in Edinburgh? Want to commiserate about how difficult it is to move to the UK permanently? Fancy chatting about travel, expat life, hot yoga, the first season of Outlander, sharks, or Asian food (I really like all of those things)? Feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.