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  • Gemma Fottles

Dream job as a travel reporter: the end of the road

Updated: Aug 28, 2020

I've been travelling the world as a travel reporter on the See the World with SPAR campaign for 4 months. I've been to four different continents, taken 15 flights, wiled away hour after hour on trains and buses and created more incredible memories than I can count. As I am writing this, I’m sat in a tiny hostel 10 minutes from Johannesburg airport in South Africa. I’m on my own, completely, for the first time in two months. And tomorrow, as I board my flight back to the UK, my time as a travel reporter for SPAR international will come to an end.

The end of an adventure: bittersweet emotions

It’s hard to describe my current stance on my imminent return home. In one way – the generally expected way,  I guess – I’m extremely sad about my dream job as a roaming travel reporter coming to an end. I'm very aware how insanely fortunate I have been to bag this opportunity as soon as I’ve graduated university. It has been a truly amazing experience. I’ve been to 12 countries in 4 different continents, learned more about creating travel content than I could have ever expected, done some mind-blowingly cool things in crazy destinations (travel highlights to come when I’m not in such a brooding frame of mind...), met a tonne of people from all over the world, and made a handful of beautiful friendships that will last forever.

Who wouldn’t be sad at this ending? It has been a dream.

But full disclosure: there is another side of the coin. This has been the most amazing opportunity of my short 21-years, but I also feel a sense of relief. It's over! Spending every day living out of my rucksack and sleeping in rooms with several other people is over! I'm looking forward to relaxing into everything I've missed: my friends, family, my own personal space, my favourite food, a comfortable bed, a whole wardrobe of clothes to choose from... Yeah. I guessed I've started to miss home quite a lot in the past couple of weeks.

Travelling for work is not what you expect

What I've realised in my time as a roaming travel reporter, there is a big difference between travelling for the sake of travelling, and travelling with a professional purpose. As idyllic as the work of a travel reporter can be, it is still hard work. Adventures need to be planned, photos have to be taken. Time has to be spent on your laptop, and you have to travel to destinations that you may not have chosen to travel yourself. Travelling for work, at least, for me, has not always catered to the idea of falling in love with a place and truly discovering all it has to offer. I've scraped the surface of many awesome destinations, but the gruelling travel schedule of the trip meant moving around. A lot. And that leads me to something else...

For the past four months straight travelling, I’ve been constantly doing something... I'm tired.

I'm tired. I truly I am. I'm mentally exhausted, physically exhausted... all kinds of exhausted. I'm ready to sleep for 48 hours straight in the comfort of my double bed. Don't get me wrong: this is happy exhaustion. To be able to have thrown myself into such a big travel project for the past four months has been a wild, exciting ride. I've learned so much about the world, about travel, about business, about travel writing, creating content and everything in between. But four months is a long time, and I'm ready to go home. Or, at least, I'm ready for an extended break before the next adventure.

Life has been unbelievably sweet for the past four months. From getting lost on an Island in Italy to road tripping in Australia with three of the best people I’ve been lucky enough to become friends with, to nearly drowning in the Zambezi River – it’s been a blast. I might have mixed emotions on my final penultimate night away from home, but I honestly feel like the luckiest girl alive. A huge, huge thanks to the team of SPAR International for giving me this opportunity and letting me share my stories around the world, and an even bigger thanks to all the people who made it happen: who voted and shared my entries across the internet and then followed me every step of the way. Thank you!

Now I shall go enjoy my final evening as a SPAR International travel reporter with an icy Savannah Dry and reminisce some more. See you back in England!

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