Jessie has the world at her feet
JESSICA Gretener was only seven when she first told her parents she wanted to travel the world.
She may have been too young then but when her wanderlust continued they agreed she could go.
Today, at just 15 years of age, the Mountain Creek State High school student is living her dream and seeing the world on an adventure that will have her cover seven countries in three months.
Travelling alone, she has visited France, Italy, Switzerland and England in the past six weeks and has Germany, Austria and America in her sights.
Her trip caused a bit of a stir among some who believed she was too young to travel alone but her mum Kylie and dad Rafael are both in the travel industry and say they have no fears for her safety.
Besides, the taekwondo black belt is meeting up with friends and family all along the way.
Amazingly, the trip is her first out of Australia.
"Jessie is an independent girl with a lust for travel so strong we could not deny her of it," Mrs Gretener said.
"A lot of people questioned the decision to let her go and everyone had an opinion about what might happen to her.
"The only thing in our mind that could go wrong would have been the logistical side of things and if she missed a flight.
"Anything else could happen while she was walking from her home to school, so it never even crossed our minds."
Mrs Gretener said Jessie's determination to travel started at the age of seven.
"She watched the Lizzie McGuire movie when Hilary Duff went to Rome," she said.
"She said, 'When I am 13, I was to travel' and by the time she was 13 there was no stopping her dreams."
So far, Jessie has worked in a Swiss school and made plans to volunteer as a teacher's aide in Italy.
"She is determined to come home fluent in Italian," Mrs Gretener said.
"Her whole aim is to immerse herself in the culture and take in everything she can."
And while Jessie had her parents' support, she had to work hard to make her dream a reality.
Working part-time to save money, she also arranged to finish a school term early, even accepting assignments during her travels.
"She amazes me every day that she travels," Mrs Gretener said.
"She has been frustrated up until this point because all she has ever wanted to do was travel and write."
Jessie will spend Christmas and New Year's Eve in Vienna, Austria, before flying to New York for two weeks before returning home.
Switzerland, London, Paris, Berlin, Germany, Italy, back to Switzerland, Germany, Austria and New York.
We will be posting regular blogs from Jessie in our travel section so stay tuned