Skip to main contentSkip to footer

How a five-week solo holiday changed my entire life

Amy Chapman, 36, travelled alone to Australia – and discovered a passion that took her in a new direction

Woman leaping on rocks in the mountains
Share this:

Seven years ago, I was feeling disillusioned with life. Every day felt like Groundhog Day and I knew something had to change.

I worked in corporate media and spent all day every day thinking about leaving my job. The thing that finally pushed me into taking the leap and quitting was the fact that decisions with unknown outcomes normally give me anxiety, but the thought of leaving my career wasn't making me anxious. I knew I needed an adventure, so I took the plunge.

Immediately it felt like a weight had been lifted off my shoulders. Sure, I was quitting my job with nothing else lined up and that terrified me, but I was also looking forward to a bit of a time out. I had saved up enough money to go on a long holiday and travel solo, which was really exciting.

Australian adventure

I decided to visit Australia for five weeks and chose Melbourne because I had a friend who lived there. As a solo female traveller, it was important for me to have that safety net if needed.

Little did I know, my decision to base myself in Melbourne would be a huge catalyst for change in my life.

Extending my trip

I’d planned to go to Australia for a month but I ended up extending my holiday to five months in total because within the first few weeks, I joined a local running club in Melbourne and immediately felt so settled into the gang.

Woman running in grey leggings in the forest© Tristan Furney
Amy Chapman began running ultramarathons with no prior experience

I made new friends and felt like I was a part of the community, and it made me want to stay. Before that I’d been a casual runner, doing the odd five kilometres, but despite my inexperience, my friends in the running club encouraged me to sign up for an ultramarathon because they were doing it – and I found myself agreeing.

According to holiday company First Choice, I wasn't alone in throwing myself into the unknown on holiday, with research showing nearly half of Brits have discovered a new passion abroad.

INSPIRATION: A favour for a friend totally changed my life – here's what happened 

Discussing why travel is a motivator for trying something new, Harley Street psychologist Dr. Becky Spelman says: "When we travel, there’s often an opportunity to be active and immerse ourselves in new experiences which we wouldn’t have otherwise.

Woman setting off for a run© Arran Mcaskill
A solo trip changed Amy's life

"Changing your environment by going abroad takes your mind off autopilot and wakes up the neurones in your brain, making you more receptive to learning a new skill when you’re away, plus the break from routine allows our minds to embrace fresh experiences and hobbies, while the new setting fosters optimal conditions for learning and personal growth.”

Running an ultramarathon

Running an ultra for the first time, with no proper training and no idea what to expect isn’t advisable, but it made me realise I can turn up to something, give it my all and be surprised at what I’m capable of, which was a massive confidence boost.

woman leaping over a river© Max Willcocks
Amy loved challenging herself

I also learnt to face my demons and my negative self-talk, which taught me to manage that voice in other areas of life too.

When I finally came back from my extended holiday, I immersed myself in endurance sports and running culture and have taken part in more long-distance and endurance races around the world.

INSPIRATION: I'm doing my first ultramarathon at 46 – and I've never been a runner! 

My next challenge is a 350-mile relay race across Death Valley in California with a team of all women to help collect data on women in endurance sports, as there’s a huge gender data gap in sports science supporting female-focused research.

My life changed when I took up running, all thanks to trying something new!

Amy hosts the London run club of The Alpine Run Project, an initiative aiming to get young people out to experience the mountains and trail running.

More Health & Fitness

See more