Sofia Machado, of Sofia in Australia shares her amazing story about her adventures in 42 countries, and how she found love while traveling.
A few years ago, I quit my job, packed 20 kg of my life into a backpack and moved from Lisbon, Portugal to Australia. Here’s how it happened:
While I thought at first that these desires for exploration seemed to come out of nowhere, the seed was actually planted some time ago. My father has sailed the Atlantic on a catamaran, crossed the Sahara desert in Africa on foot and ran the breadth of the U.S.A. as part of a NASA project. It’s no surprise that I grew up with a natural travel bug.
Every weekend or holiday, Mum would quickly pack the car, pick me up from school and Dad from work and we would explore new places. We would go skiing, snorkeling, trekking, kayaking or simply pitch a tent somewhere in the wild.
At age five I somehow convinced my parents to put me on a flight by myself from Portugal to Germany to visit my Aunt. It was love at first flight – I still remember feeling butterflies in my tummy and that sense of having grown up and achieved something big, just by sitting in that window seat.
The feeling of adventure has stayed with me on every trip in my adult life. I have been fortunate to visit 42 countries and have explored everywhere from Australia to Mozambique, Cambodia to Morocco and Brazil to Turkey. The number doesn’t really matter to me, though. I enjoy traveling slowly and trying to absorb the culture, experiences and adventures within each place.
If this means I miss a monument, I would prefer to retain this feeling of wanderlust than have an album full of famous landmarks. The type of travel is not important- whether it be relaxing on a beach, setting up a camp fire, finding my bearings in a city or spending the day organizing for the next part of the trip. The very spirit of travel has me hooked.
All of my adventures, however, have not been filled with pure moments of joy. I have been ill-prepared for ambitious mountain climbs. I have been lax with crossing borders and spent a night in prison as a result. But, in between these errors in judgment, I have toured Vietnam on a motorcycle, lived in the Alps for 6 months snowboarding and stayed with a remote village in Brazil, only accessible by canoe. If there is a great experience on offer, I am all too happy to drop the original idea and head in a new direction.
In the end, it was love that brought me to call Australia home. Traveling through the Baltic countries, I fell in love, although not under the most romantic circumstances. With messy hair, a big backpack and no shower for a couple of days, Paul had missed a number of trains and looked anything but glamorous when we met. He wasn’t in the best mood after being stuck for days at train stations waiting for trains that did not come, due to the strikes that were currently going on.
We started chatting out of mutual interest in knowing the “real” cost of the ferry to Montenegro. Over time, and after Paul showered, I realized as we explored Montenegro we both shared a passion and enthusiasm for travel. Even though he was an Aussie from the other side of the world, we just fit together so well, and chose to stick together ever since.
At first, he moved to Portugal, and later I made the move to the other side of the world and haven’t looked back. There is much to appreciate in the little adventures at the end of each day in Australia.
I must admit, I am more inclined to go on these adventures now than before. My life has changed from taking trips away from the city in order to be in nature, to now being surrounded by it on a daily basis. Living in a small town, I now have the choice of jumping into a creek at the back of our house or walking to the end of my street and going for a surf.
My new life has been the fuel I needed to experience more adventure rather than to just settle. How often do we wonder what it would be like to see what’s down that street, or know the story behind that beautiful little shop? I now choose to explore these things more often than not.
I wanted to live in a small town by the beach and both Paul and I always wanted a Land Rover. Our wishes have come true, and now, we take Lucy, our Land Rover and climb over sand dunes to camp with kangaroos! I am always planning to go further, longer and wider each year!
Moving to Australia was a chance to hit the reset button on my life and pursue my biggest dreams. When we moved, I also started to write my blog, Sofia in Australia where I share my passion for travel, give tips and advice to everyone who wants to keep or start traveling, which has quickly became my passion!
Read more about Sofia and her adventures on her blog.
Follow Sofia on Instagram.