My name is Amanda and there is nothing extraordinary about me. For most of my life I had wanted to travel and learn about other cultures. I had a few hurdles in my way. One being financial and the other being that I have autism. I was diagnosed with ASD as a kid and it has made things more difficult for me. I had to put my dreams on hold until I learned how to adapt better to adult life. My autism causes me to be ultra sensitive to sounds, light and certain textures. It makes me feel anxious in crowds and in social situations. It causes me to thrive best in a structured, organized environment. All of the above make travel more difficult. One day, I said “Fuck it”, I will travel anyway.
I had been working one of those horrific restaurant job that was loud and the building had these awful fluorescent lights. I hated that job and hated the direction of my life. I had only been living independently for 10 months at the time. I had lived with my parents for me entire life prior to that. My life changed to quickly as only two years before I had got my first job of my adulthood. One year before that, I learned to drive. I was able to save up some money when living with my parents. When I moved out I lived in a rundown hell hole with immensely low rent. I now had some extra cash and determination. I eventually left my job and home to travel.
I initially thought, it would only be for 6 months at most but it lasted for 4 years. I had no real home for that time period. I had shelter but called no place home. I was and still am a citizen of the world . I found a work exchange website that I used so I would not have to pay for food or lodging. I would soon do many jobs for food and shelter. I got my first job and flew into Dublin to start work at a dairy farm. I would also work in hostels, do child care , pick fruit and clean. I also did refugee aid during the 2016 Syrian refugee crisis. This taught me a lot about the world and humanity.
Typically, I would stay in one place from 3 to 9 weeks so that I would get a better understanding of the culture. I have been to over 40 countries and 4 continents. Because of financial reasons, I often stayed in developing countries. Probably half of that time was in Eastern Europe. I spent 6 months in the Balkans and 3 in the Caucuses . I probably spent a year in and out of Ukraine.
Was it hard? No, not really. I was scared at times and worried about where I would sleep at the beginning but it got easier. It would have been easier without autism though. I have meltdown in the streets when traveling and have anxiety issues at airports. I had more difficulty connecting with people than most NTs would but managed to make some fantastic friends. Only because of this, I am no longer painfully shy and am a lot more confident. I am not saying that it is ideal for all people on the spectrum but it helped me. I ended my travels with driving from Louisiana to NYC. I was meant to keep driving to see the country but stopped after a month. I finally had found my home and am living in one of the most expensive cities in the world. I am making it. Just barley but it is better than it was 5 years ago.
What is the Purpose of This Site?
The Purpose of the site to to give me a platform to share my writing and Photographs. I also want to offer some insight on managing travel with autism. I have yet to read a travel blog but a female on the spectrum that traveled alone and in the style that I have. This gives me the idea that it is not so common for autistic people to be nomadic for a period of their lives. This blog is not inspirational porn to make you feel good about yourself. It is also not an over-romanticizes travel blog that make travel look fun and easy all of the time. It is not. This i meant to be a very honest recollection of my travels and hopefully future travels. I guess it is photojournalism in a sense. I hope someone will read it and get something out of it. If not, then I will.