Pull back the curtain and see how a suspense writer puts the thrills and chills together.


Sacrificing it All for a Dream: The Rachael Stead Story

How many times have you met people who want results without the work?

The reward without the sacrifice?

These are the people who have always wanted to be novelists, but haven’t finished a book. The ones who want to see the world, but content themselves with quick jaunts to the Caribbean. The uncle who always dreamed of being a professional musician, but who settles for strumming the guitar at family get-togethers.

If you truly want something, what are you willing to sacrifice? What could you do to make it a priority in your life?

I was really struck by this when I connected with Rachael Stead from Leeds, England. Rachael is one of the women who will be on the China trip with me. After China, I’ll be heading home, but for Rachael it’s just the kick off–the beginning of 18 months of travel. Her very first backpacking experience.

Now, lots of people say they want to see the world. I’m one of them. But Rachael is putting her money where her mouth is…she sold her house and almost all of her belongings and moved back in with her mom to make it happen. That’s commitment! Here’s her inspiring story.

Q1) Can you describe your upcoming trip for us? 

A1) This is my itinerary as I have planned it out, but it will probably change. I am usually quite a planner in life–I normally schedule things down to the tiniest details, so I have attempted not to be too detailed in what I plan to do.

  • September: Tour of China, with extra days in Hong Kong
  • End of September: Fly to Bangkok
  • September 29–December 28: Thailand, Laos, Vietnam, Cambodia. (In Cambodia I have five days volunteering with elephants at the Elephant Valley Project.)
  • December 28-January 5: Kuala Lumpur
  • January 5-March 1: Volunteering at the Sepilok Orangutan Sanctuary in Borneo
  •  March 1-March 6: Singapore
  • March 6: Fly to Perth, travel and work in Australia
  • November: New Zealand
  • February: Fiji
  • Middle of February: Las Vegas and San Francisco

I am attempting to travel as ethically as possible, looking at tours and volunteer programmes that give back to local communities.

Q2) What prompted this trip?

A2) I have always wanted to travel. I have always been encouraged by my mum and best friend to do it, but I always put my career and education first. I became a psychiatric nurse and worked up through the ranks to what is called a Senior Clinical Practitioner (also known as a Sister). Then last August I got badly assaulted at work. A few weeks later, a friend who was also my mentor suddenly died.

It put things into perspective. I shouldn’t put off the things I really want to do. I didn’t feel happy and confidant in my job anymore, which I once loved. I didn’t feel that I was providing the optimum care I could for people, and I always said that if I ever got to that point, I would leave.

Q3) What do you hope to get out of the experience?

A3) I hope to get out of my comfort zone, meet new people, learn about different ways of life, see amazing places and just sit back and relax for some time! I also hope to maybe find a new path in life or rediscover a love for nursing.

Q4) Do you have any plans for when you get back?

A4) My job is open for me if I want to go back, but for once I haven’t got my career progression worked out.

Q5) What are your traveling essentials?

A5) I have a tendency to believe I need everything on every suggested backpacking list! I am sure I will find out what is essential as my travels go on. So far, I think comfortable footwear, a decent backpack, a camera to capture the amazing places, and a phone to keep in touch with family and friends back home. A Kindle, eye mask, and earplugs for all the long flights! I had four journals bought for me as presents, so it looks like I will need to fill them in. Toilet paper–I am not elaborating on this.

Q6) Do you have any advice for those who’d love to follow in your footsteps?

A6) Don’t put it off. Something will always crop up that will make you think you shouldn’t do it, but if I’ve learnt anything from the past year, it’s that life is very short and that you have to grab opportunities to make yourself happy when you can.

I’m thrilled that Rachael took time out from packing to do this interview for us! I find her very inspiring, and am looking forward to meeting her in person. I’m hoping she’ll check in with us throughout her trip.

Is there anything on Rachael’s itinerary that inspires you? What sacrifices have you made in order to follow your dreams? Please share your story in the comments!

Thanks for reading!
1 part newsletter, 1 part unnerving updates,
2 parts sneak peeks of new projects.


  1. Chris

    Thanks for sharing your journey, Rachel. It’s so wonderful that you’re following your dreams. Who knows what sort of opportunities will open up for you during this trip? It’s great to know that there’s a job waiting for you when you get back, but even more exciting to think about what new directions life might take because of travelling.

    Have you made arrangements to meet up with anyone as you travel, or are you playing everything by ear?

    • Holli Moncrieff

      Thanks for commenting, Chris. I don’t know if she’ll be able to answer questions, but it’s worth a try. I know she has friends in the States that she’s meeting up with.

  2. Crystal

    What an incredible plan! I hope we get to hear more about it. Will Rachel be blogging about her adventures?

    • Holli Moncrieff

      I don’t think she has a blog, and wifi access can be pretty dodgy in those countries, as I’ve learned.

      I’ll post more updates if I get them. Thanks for commenting!

  3. SittieCates

    Inspiring post. She’s right. We shouldn’t put things off; it wouldn’t create the life we want.

    One more thing: Congrats! You’re one of my nominees and awardees for “The Versatile Blogger” Award. Here’s my post on that: Versatile Blogger Award: Delighted to Receive it!

    • Holli Moncrieff

      Thanks so much, SittieCates. I’m sorry I haven’t responded…just got back from China, where I met the illustrious Rachael in person.

  4. TITLE Boxing Club

    This is very inspirational Rachael. Thanks for sharing.

    • Holli Moncrieff

      Thanks for reading and commenting! Much appreciated.

  5. Frank Powers

    I apologize, my feed isn’t showing that you’ve wrote anything in more than a month. I thought it was odd so I stopped by and you’ve written a ton. I’ll have to remember to check each day…dern blogger.

  6. Holli Moncrieff

    Thanks, Frank. Just got back from a month in China, so it’s been a little quiet around here, but I’ll get back to it soon.

    I unlinked my blog from Google+…maybe that’s why it wasn’t showing up in your feed?


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.