After resigning from my job, a trip to Bali made me feel alive again

Card image

Just before joining Flash Pack’s trip to Bali last September, I drastically changed my life. I’m Latvian, but for the past 10 years I’ve lived in London – most recently working as a solutions architect for a major global tech brand. I worked for a great company, in a good role and with excellent compensation. But I did not feel happy.

One of the biggest “ringing bells” for me was in the middle of the year, when I began to struggle to find joy in anything. This difficult period was not only caused by my job, but it formed part of the bigger picture. Because of the long hours I worked, I didn’t have much time leftover for a personal life. I knew I was ready for significant changes. Before embarking on a grand replanning of my life, I felt like it was important to reconnect with myself and what I wanted my life to look like. I started thinking, am I focusing on the right things in my life? Am I spending my energy and the hours of my days on what matters most to me? 

Part of the issue was that my identity at the time was closely tethered to my job. For a long time, my career progression had been logical, based around artificial measures of success such as salary and promotions. In a money-focused city like London, it felt a bit reckless to leave a great job with an amazing company that everyone admires. I was trading safety for the unknown. 

Card image

But the moment had arrived for me to be brave and confident. I was ready to rethink everything. And I wanted to try and listen to my spirit, rather than get distracted by the expectations of society or the wider world. I left my job just over a week before I travelled to Bali. Amid all the preparations for resigning, I wanted to plan something that would allow me to ground myself before jumping into a new phase. As it turned out, the adventure was life-changing in terms of my mindset and how I chose to move forward in the next chapter of my life.

I chose Bali because I wanted to go somewhere with a completely different culture and religion from my daily life; and with scope for adventure and immersion in nature. And I loved the idea of sharing that experience with other like-minded people of the same age. While I don’t mind travelling on my own, it felt like I would be able to learn some incredible life stories this way. And who knows, maybe I would make some friends, too.

The itinerary offered the perfect mix of spirituality and adventure; both of which helped to bond our group. It’s a combination that also helped me to find inner peace and start enjoying the beauty of life once more. Activities like mountain climbing or swimming with turtles were all about waking up my inner child. 

Card image

Early on in the trip, we went swimming in Banyu Wana waterfall and one person chose to climb up the rock face and jump in from a high spot. You could tell everyone wanted to do the same thing, and experience that fun, be-a-kid moment. Eventually, we all ended up trying it; shaking off any sense of self-consciousness along the way. It’s moments of carefree freedom like that helped us connect and open up without any masks. 

On top of that, our group shared quite a few spiritual experiences together, like private meditation and temple bathing. That was great, because it allowed us to feel more comfortable sharing our vulnerable stories with one another. It’s so healing to be able to open up about your struggles and have your worries validated by other people. You feel understood.

One magical experience for me occurred when we visited Ubud’s ancient Tirta Empul Temple. The water there is believed to have a purifying effect on your body and soul, and there’s a ritual where you make wishes at each of the 19 water fountains. When “picking” wishes to think about, I was truly listening to my heart. There was something about being in nature and listening within that moved me. It’s not often that we think about wishes, and what is missing from our lives. I found myself crying because I finally started to hear my inner voice about what it is that I truly want – not what I’m expected to want, or what “success” looks like for the external world.

Card image

One of the things I found refreshing about my Bali group is that lots of other people were at a transition point, too. Like me, they were in the process of planning significant changes in their lives for a range of reasons. Hearing everyone’s stories was a reminder that many of us don’t have everything perfectly settled in our lives. We all just tend to hide that fact, because we feel we are the only ones that don’t have answers to all the questions. But, in reality, everyone is going through something.

Another thing I liked is that – although we were all professionals – we didn’t really focus on what each other did for a living. When I was considering resigning from my job, one of the things I worried about was that work was a huge part of my life; and therefore my identity. Often, when people meet one another, “what do you do?” is the first thing they ask. I feared losing that big part of me. 

But during the trip, we almost never talked about work or our job titles. Our group was more focused on what was happening on our trip, and getting to know each other and our different personalities as human beings. One person told me that I was the kindest person they’d ever met. That means so much more to me than any job title could; it’s something that I can always take with me. 

Card image

The word “friendship” is very meaningful to me, I don’t take it lightly. And I’m happy to say that, during my adventure to Bali, I ended up making close friends with two other ladies. We built a very good, deep connection together and we’re already discussing what Flash Pack trip we’ll join next. 

My time in Bali provided a vital way for me to reconnect with myself before starting to build the next phase of my life. During the adventure, I made a deal with myself not to stress about what lay ahead. But once I returned home, I was able to reflect on how well the holiday has worked for me. It inspired me to start filling my life with the things that I enjoy.

I started reading more around meditation, for example, and I also enrolled on an online career change course with the goal of starting my own business. It’s not simple to do a midlife career switch, but the programme has taught me how to take small actions towards bigger change. It means I won’t get caught in overthinking, and I can lean towards what my heart is telling me. I also remembered that I’ve always wanted to live in a different country. So I’m currently living in Lisbon, the capital of Portugal. 

Card image

It has been proven that social connection and meaningful connections is one of the defining criteria for happiness. Going to Bali with people I connected with – rather than alone – was crucial to me feeling alive again. I am a different person now than I was before my trip. My inner child is wide awake and I’ve started noticing the beauty of life again, such as birdsong or other simple pleasures. I can’t remember when I last felt as open to other people – and to the world. 

Olga Petrova is a Latvian ex-tech expert and aspiring entrepreneur who travelled with Flash Pack to Bali

Got a story or adventure that could inspire a solo traveller like you? Tag @flashpack on social or email [email protected] to be featured.

Subscribe to our newsletter


Hear about our new adventures before anyone else

Hear about our new adventures before anyone else.

Be the first to hear about exclusive Flash Pack offers.

Access exciting competitions.

Receive weekly inspiration and travel stories from solos just like you.