I can remember the exact moment the travel bug bit me.

It was the summer of 1993 and it seemed everyone from school was off on a week’s package holiday paid up over the year. But even putting a bit aside each month was too much for my unemployed, single mum, who had enough trouble keeping us housed and fed. We’d never even had an overnight holiday and when we stayed in B&Bs it was because we were homeless and that was where the council had dumped us.

Still, at age 12 the only thing I wanted was to have my own passport, wave from the top of the stairs of a plane, and, most of all, to have been, always said in hushed reverent tones, "abroad". Coming from where I did, I couldn’t imagine it. It seemed like an impossible luxury, to go somewhere just for the pleasure of it, eat as much as you wanted and lie in sunny places, far, far away from my grey Lanarkshire scheme.

One day, in a fit of Pernod-fuelled bonhomie, my errant and alcoholic, but fairly well-off, dad, told me he’d take me to Greece in the holidays. "You choose anywhere and I’ll get us the ticket," he’d cheerfully slurred down the line as I gripped the payphone receiver in elation. God love the kindly, slightly orange, travel agent on Coatbridge High Street who let me take an armful of glossy brochures even though she guessed, as I’m sure you have too, that my dad would not be taking me even as far as the local playground that summer, let alone to an all-inclusive hotel with water flumes in Crete.

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Still, I have him to thank. Lying on my belly in front of the three-bar electric fire reading those brochures long into autumn put another sort of fire in my belly:  I would go to all of those places. I wanted to drink fresh orange juice for breakfast and swim in a sea so blue it looked like it was chlorinated. I wanted to fly in a plane and have a tiny can of Coke and an even tinier packet of peanuts. I wanted far broader horizons than I was meant to ask for myself. I wanted it all so painfully it hurt. And that was me bitten by the travel bug.

Since my dad didn't deliver, and I eventually realised he never would, I found a way to do it myself. Age 18, having worked three jobs all summer (a darts game at the end of the pier, selling hotdogs in an amusement arcade, piercing ears and noses of drunk tourists), I got on a plane by myself for the first time to America. I was off to work in a camp for disadvantaged kids in Bear Brook Park, New Hampshire. In recent years I found out from listening to the podcast, Bear Brook, there was a serial killer on the loose around that time in those woods, but all I remember was the sheer elation when the plane rose into the sky, like everything was about to begin. And the wonder of meeting people from all over the world, of travelling to New York and drinking coffee from giant cups just like in Friends.

Once I realised that I could travel without money, that it wasn't that I didn't have any resources just that it was me myself who was the commodity, I couldn't be stopped. Next, I went to au pair for a filthy-rich couple who owned a model agency in Paris. We stayed in their yacht in Cannes and even at 19 I could tell theirs was a nasty, empty world and cried myself to sleep every night. I had a happier au pairing job, in Italy, looking after a beautiful blonde Dutch two-year old by day, eating pizza and walking the streets of Rome in floaty dresses at night imagining myself in an Audrey Hepburn film.

The Herald: Helping to transcribe stories in Jaisalmer, IndiaHelping to transcribe stories in Jaisalmer, India (Image: Kerry Hudson)

Later there was a post-heartbreak dash to a new-build chateau owned by the Sultan of Oman just outside Paris. My job was to look after the Sultan’s team of endurance jockeys who were training there for the season. No, that's not a euphemism. I simply cleaned their rooms, washed their pants, laid out their food and one fun weekend was tasked with taking them to Paris to eat huge ice creams with a view of the Arc de Triomphe and to buy tiny Eiffel Tower trinkets to send to their kids back home.

Until I realised I could work and travel, I had imagined that it was for other people. Sure, I might squeeze a week away in the sun that I’d pay for over the rest of a calendar year but in books and on TV, travel to far-off, exotic places seemed to be for rich, old men. Or for rich young men and women who said it was their "gap yaah" and had done some volunteering to bump up their CV before Oxbridge.

What I didn’t realise was that I wasn’t just traversing the globe, or smashing the class ceiling, I was simply following in the footsteps of all those working-class men and women, like those jockeys from Oman, who through economic necessity and a desire for better things understood, that for better or worse, they were their own commodity and had adventures money can’t buy on the way.

In later years my work is less cleaning pants and more writing with residencies in Latvia and South Korea, or working remotely while on the move in Brazil, Budapest, Sarajevo but it’s never taken away the joy. In fact, working in those places, knowing I’ve done it for myself, has made every blood orange sunset and tteokbokki rice cake taste a little sweeter.