How overseas experiences change your life for the better Derek Cullen

When I first left home for the continent of Africa, I was rather naïve in terms of travel and entirely unprepared for how it would change my life. At the time, I was still reeling from the loss of both parents and doing everything to maintain my sanity but in truth, working at the bank was not my dream job and did little to inspire me out of bed every morning.

I had booked a place on an overland tour through Africa and during this time I spent several months encountering majestic scenery, colourful tribes, exotic wildlife and unforgettable experiences. However, this was the first of many continents on my trip, as I would spend another two years traveling the world, exploring foreign lands and working overseas.


Encountering A Deeper Meaning of Travel

While I will never forget these experiences in their primitive form, I must also say that looking back, the complicated process of booking my first flight completely altered the rest of my life. You see, there were endless carefree times throughout this period but when you travel or stay overseas for a prolonged period, you begin to recognize that the experience of travel has a much deeper meaning.


After all, I would decide during this trip that I would never again work in a bank, or any other office environment, for the world was far too interesting and big to explore from behind a desk. Furthermore, the prospect of returning to that lifestyle was no longer inevitable as working in such an environment now seemed unnecessary as I was exposed to so many opportunities during this time, and I was perfectly qualified to undertake them.


Volunteering, Teaching Abroad and Becoming A Tour Leader

You must also understand that I had relatively few qualifications back then but I was now learning that the world was such an immensely big place that there was always somebody interested in something. And where this was true, there was also always some kind of paid work in which I could be involved. For example, I volunteered in Africa without contributing any form of payment and before taking on the role of a freelance travel writer, I applied to become an adventure tour leader on the continent in Africa.


Of course, I had no prior experience when it came to leading tours but then the same could be said when I entered the banking industry, investments and then the life of a travel writer. It was my belief that if I wanted to teach abroad, I could find a way. If I wanted to work in a new industry, I could learn a new skill and if I wanted to become a tour leader, the only way to start was to ask for some experience.


Leaving Conventional Life For Exciting Opportunities

Whether it was teaching in China or volunteering in Thailand, the experience of moving overseas had made me realize that there were endless ways to pay for my travels around the world. That being said, the money was merely a means to get around as it was the way in which these experiences changed the way I felt about the world which made it so worthwhile.


I was never entirely sure in terms of when I wanted to go home but one thing I did know was that returning to an environment which made me feel so miserable in the past, was something I would never need to do again in future. In many ways, this new lifestyle was more about freedom than anything else, for I was finding the confines of my previous life disappearing with the arrival of some genuinely exciting opportunities.


How Travel Changed My Life Entirely

I decided to continue traveling while I was “still young” and venture home once every couple of years. Spending any period away from home can be a challenge but over time, the benefits of moving overseas begin to ring true. After all, if the very essence of adventure is change and uncertainty, then surely staying in the one place is quite an unadventurous way to live.


In the end, I can say that travel has not only changed my life but also the positive and curious outlook which has evolved within me through these experiences. I mean no disrespect to anyone working in a bank or any other office job for that matter but in my opinion living the life of a volunteer, teacher, travel writer, explorer, adventurer and leader seems like a far more interesting life to lead.


 P.S. I did get that job leading adventure tours in Africa – it just goes to show how overseas experiences can change your life for the better.



Derek Cullen is an adventure travel writer from Ireland who left home in 2008 to travel the world. It was on this journey when he became a travel writer, tour leader and outdoor adventure before starting an online marketing agency for new businesses and ambitious start-ups.

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