A TikTok trend made me pack up my life and move to the other side of the world

Words by Tiffany Forbes

“I wasn’t moving forward and I was lost, so I started trying to look for signs to help answer the question: ‘What’s next for me?'”

Editor’s note: There is currently an overseas travel ban in Australia. To learn more about the ban and see if you’re eligible for an exemption, head here.

I can’t say I’ve always been a travel-fiend, but the age-old phrase ‘Once you start, you can’t stop’ rings as true as ever. Once you begin to dabble in the sweet taste of freedom and serenity that comes with galavanting around street corners in places where nobody knows your name, it becomes euphoric (and addictive as hell). 

If it wasn’t for our least favourite virus and the Australian government putting us on a travel lock for the next year or two, I’d have promptly packed my bags last year and booked a one-way flight straight to the Italian coast. 

TikTok shows you what you want, like serene travel videos, but it also censors lots. Learn more about TikTok’s algorithm here

The plan was to spend my days freelance writing on a secluded beach, followed by eating my body weight in gelato and Aglio e olio – the modern-day Elizabeth Gilbert from Eat, Pray, Love, if you will. But the universe had other plans, and instead, it seems I’ll have to trade out Positano for Melbourne’s torrential rain for at least another year. 

To rub salt into the wound, my ‘For You’ page on TikTok didn’t quite get the memo. Every ungodly hour I’ve spent on that app seems to be filled with travel video after travel video detailing how Jenny, 21, from Texas gave up her nine to five job in corporate to live in a van on the outskirts of Hawaii. While it may be a pipedream for me at this point in time, for others, it’s their reality.

Recently, I jumped on a Zoom call with Australian teen Madeleine Anderson, who took a leap of faith last year and packed up her life in Melbourne to move halfway across the world to London, all thanks to a couple of TikTok videos. Bewildered, the first thing I asked her when I managed to sync up our waking hours, was how a couple of 30-second clips managed to spark such a move.

@tamarcimentI don’t really know what this video is but I hope you enjoy it anyways♬ original sound – tamar

“Obviously last year we were in quarantine [and] I was doing nothing. Originally, I was meant to be taking a gap year and travelling – which didn’t go to plan thanks to COVID-19 – so I was basically just working two jobs and I felt, in terms of life, that everything was just so sedentary. I wasn’t moving forward and I was lost, so I started trying to look for signs to help answer the question: ‘What’s next for me?’

“That’s when I started seeing all these videos that said, ‘This is your sign to move overseas, do something to change your life’. They definitely had over two million likes, but I just remember thinking, ‘This is definitely for me’. So, that’s where my revelation kind of began,” Maddie laughed. 

While she’s aware moving countries is obviously not a new thing, the idea of actually doing it really hits different when you’re seeing seemingly average people all over the world – who all lead similar lives to you and I – take the plunge first. TikTok content like this makes this once out-of-reach desire feel more achievable (and more alluring) than ever before.

Of course, for many, there are very real financial and personal constraints that prevent them from packing up their lives and moving to a different country, the ongoing pandemic being one of them. But if you feel that a move is financially and personally viable for you (and either wait till the travel ban is lifted or are granted an exemption to move overseas) there is no shortage of hospitality, English teaching and childcare work available overseas.

@0allasGo where your soul feels alive. #travel #traveltheworld #traveling♬ Sleep On The Floor – The Lumineers

Thanks to her hard work balancing two jobs and scrupulously saving, Maddie found herself in this position. Eventually, thanks to TikTok, she realised the only person holding her back from doing what she wanted was herself. “We live putting these invisible limitations on ourselves. You say, ‘Oh I could do this, but oh, no, I can’t because of this.’ But why? Why not? There’s really no reason. The earth is literally just a massive floating rock, nothing matters,” she said.

Following her newfound lease on life, Maddie recalled creating a profile on AuPair World and applying for a nannying job with a host family in London, to being interviewed and accepted all within the span of a week. 

“I remember thinking at the time, ‘Wow okay, this is really happening, this is it’,” Maddie explained. “Sometimes, even now, I still can’t believe this is my life.” Having moved in the midst of a pandemic, I asked Maddie the question on all of our lips: “Did the UK’s soaring case numbers deter you at all?”

She shook her head. “I feel like, with a lot of things in my life, [if] you just wait for perfect timing to do something then you’ll never do it. I knew it obviously wasn’t great timing. But if I were to wait until everything was back to normal, I feel that I’d be waiting a long time and I’d end up doing something I didn’t want to be doing for longer. That’s why I was like, no, I just need to bite the bullet and do it. And honestly, it might have never happened if I lost that momentum.” 

So, if you’re here reading this article, this might be your sign to take a leap of faith (once travel is made accessible to us again, of course). Maybe you’re sick of your unrelenting nine to five, or perhaps you’re simply looking for a change of scenery. Whatever the case, it’s 2021, and by today’s standards, why the heck shouldn’t you let a TikTok trend dictate your fate? After all, the earth is just a floating rock, and we’re all just living on it.

Dreaming of an overseas jaunt? Check out some of the best and worst ranked cities to live in. 

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