By Lou Blair

When I meet people and tell them a little about myself, even I have to stop myself from rolling my eyes at how cliched it all sounds.

Up until a few months ago I had been building a career in a global, well-known corporation.

I Loved the people I worked with, and while there's no doubt I worked hard and often felt completely exhausted at the end of the day, I was genuinely interested and motivated in my role, reports News.com.au.

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I lived in a trendy inner-city suburb in a warehouse-style sharehouse in Sydney. I had a great group of friends and social life. I made enough money that allowed me to live a life full of dinners, drinks, festivals, and holidays.

And most importantly, I made enough money to have a toasted cheese sandwiches and diet Coke home delivered through Uber Eats when I was hung-over, and not feel too guilty about it.

In summary I had your typical selfish, comfy, first-world mid-twenties lifestyle. Yet I was always aware of the fact that there was only so much happiness that a surface-level lifestyle could bring me, and started to crave a more "humble" and "meaningful" existence.

So of course I quit my job, packed my backpack full of floaty dresses and yoga pants to set off on a personal journey through yoga retreats*, third world countries, and blah blah blah to find myself.

This story sounds kind of familiar right?

Ever since Elizabeth Gilbert #blessed the world with her personal story Eat, Pray, Love, it feels like every professional female in the world has closed the door on their conventional lifestyle to find happiness.

And please don't get me wrong, I still think that this is fantastic, and power to them. I still ADORE Liz, I too want to learn the secrets of the universe from an old toothless man called Ketut.

Santa Teresa, Costa Rica. Photo / Instagram: Lou Blair
Santa Teresa, Costa Rica. Photo / Instagram: Lou Blair

I, after all, jumped on that same bandwagon and unashamedly became a bliss seeker.

But frankly, like everything in life, there are still downsides to the wanderlust lifestyle that is portrayed in heavily filtered and curated Instagram accounts (guilty).

I'm not talking about wellbeing and safety concerns as a result of fearmongering. Despite horror stories of solo female backpackers being robbed, raped, or worse, women are more confident than ever to travel on their own.

In the past months I have met more 20-to-25-year-old females travelling alone, than I have men. And once again I still praise my fellow female travellers and plan to have many more solo trips in my lifetime.

The lesser known downsides to packing up your life, travelling alone and chasing your dreams as a solo female I feel are often ignored. Because #fear #doubt and #anxiety don't seem to be popular hashtags.

What it's really like to quit life for the great unknown is now so over romanticised that we often forget that we still have to deal with the ups and downs of everyday life.

You still have to take care of yourself and be able to support yourself, both mentally and physically. An open mind and free spirit won't pay your bills when you find yourself in a remote clinic in the Andes with a severe sinus infection.

Parque Nacional Cahuita. Photo / Instagram: Lou Blair
Parque Nacional Cahuita. Photo / Instagram: Lou Blair

So what kind of downsides am I talking about? For example, I'm an advocate for avoiding making travel plans more than 24 hours in advance, but upon reflection I've realised you still need to have a rough plan.

If you're an extremely indecisive person like me, who needs to ask waiters to choose a dish for you, deciding where to go or what to do can waste an awful lot of time.

This could mean that you miss out on must-see attractions or visiting more places in your current region, not to mention that indecisiveness isn't always best for travelling on a budget.

Which brings me to my next point - travelling solo can actually be quite expensive. It means you don't always have people to split travel costs with such as guesthouses or taxis.

And if you don't speak the country's language, you're not always able to figure out the cheapest and most efficient way to travel from A to B.

Not a huge issue if you're on holiday, but it certainly doesn't help curb anxieties when you've just quit your full-time job.

I'm still completely grateful and in awe of the freedom I currently have, and I haven't forgotten how hard I worked to be able to do this.

What I've learnt is that quitting your job and flying to a picturesque beachside location isn't going to result in instant bliss and happiness.

For me, it's actually been quite the opposite. I had no idea how much anxiety I would have over not having a secure job, or having a completely solid plan.

I would consider myself to be relatively free-spirited and I don't necessarily believe in following the traditional career, marriage and mortgage path.

But having a rough plan and security does free up some headspace to allow you to fully relax and enjoy the moment.

I think it's important to speak candidly about the reality of following your dreams to avoid disappointment.

Long term travel isn't always fun - it's not always going to personal development and chai lattes. Unless you're seeking some deep level of enlightenment, there's only so much yoga one can do in a day.

This is still real life. And the fear, anxieties and insecurities that you may have felt in your everyday life are still going to be hanging off your back, between you and your worn out rucksack.

*To date, I have not stepped foot in one yoga retreat.