I’ve gotten feedback that people would be interested in the entire story of my trip, including the “before takeoff” portion. Trying to capture what’s in my head and how I’ve been making decisions wasn’t easy, but I attempted to put it all down in writing to those of you who might be interested. I can already picture myself looking back at this six months into my trip and remembering the anxious excitement that I couldn’t contain. Here’s an update on my round the world trip planning.
It took a full two weeks of unemployment (or, as I keep referring to it, a “funbattical”) to feel like I was out of my corporate world rut and finally ready to focus on the future. I know it sounds weird considering how exciting planning a round the world trip should be, but, until last week, I was feeling tired, burnt out from work, overwhelmed by where to begin my planning, and the departure date of August 19th felt very distant.
The transition from exhaustion to excitement started when I came upon Rita Golden Gelman’s Tales of a Female Nomad: Living at Large in the World and decided to read it for an insider’s perspective on solo female international travel. Rita started traveling at 47 years old, while separated (then eventually divorced) from her Hollywood exec husband and she continued for over a decade. In the book, Rita details her travels exhaustively, which are fueled by a desire to enter the world’s most exotic cultures, learn their customs, and spend as long as she must to eventually be accepted.
The book got some really scathing reviews, but regardless of whether you like Gelman as a person, what she did was ballsy and pretty interesting to read about. The circumstances around her trip and her attitude are both quite different from my own, but nevertheless, while reading I found myself smiling at my iPad, adrenaline kicking in, thinking – I am doing this too!
That was the beginning of this new phase I entered into. One could call it “The Planning Phase” but it really feels more like the “Chicken-With-Its-Head-Cut-Off Phase.” I have random questions, details, and to-dos running through my head at all hours. I am constantly scrambling to put all these thoughts down somewhere while I can hold them in my brain. There has been a constant stream of adrenaline since I entered this phase and I’ve focused this energy on setting myself up for success while post-job and pre-travel. This is the best way I can break down how I’ve approached trip planning and preparation…
Mental prep: Getting in the mindset for what my life will realistically be like day-to-day and trying to get the most out of each location I enter
Taking Spanish class: I’ve never been much of a language person and always wished I could be. I took French in high school and it didn’t really click for me. Somehow no one in my immediate family took Spanish and it is something I’ve been wanting to learn. I signed up for a class which will hopefully give me the ability to get around on the streets of Granada and order a glass of Tempranillo. Using this part of my brain will also hopefully help me with all the other languages I encounter.
- Taking street photography class: One of the big reasons I wanted to travel was to photograph the world, which includes capturing the people in those regions. However, photographing strangers is something that I’m terrified of. It feels very vulnerable to photograph someone you don’t know (although, being the subject is probably even more vulnerable). So I thought this class would get me out of my comfort zone and enable me to take the photos I really want to take, rather than being too scared and missing opportunities.
- Making a rough budget: I originally put this down below under “Emotional Prep”… whatever it is, it’s obviously really important to know what the typical costs in each location are. It hurts though.
- Reading, reading, reading: books, blogs, articles, lists. There is a new sunken-in spot on my couch to prove it…. I am always reading. I should also add “watching Anthony Bourdain shows.”
Physical prep: Getting the things I will need and avoiding/getting rid of the things I don’t
- Researching and ordering the best gear: I have purchased a hybrid rolling-duffle-backpack, a daypack, hiking boots, “the most comfortable flats in the world,” and many other items which will be necessary along the trip. It’s taking up a lot of space in my 355 sq ft apartment and will hopefully all fit in the pack!
- Moving out of my apartment: This is the thing I have been avoiding most. I love my apartment. I’ve only lived in it for a year and I’m sad to be giving it up (I rent). I have to be out by August 1st and I’ll crash somewhere for a few weeks before my departure. It’s forcing me to get rid of excess, which is good. But I HATE moving. I have moved way too many times. I suppose I better get used to it though…
- Renewing my Australian passport: there is, conveniently (sarcasm), no Australian embassy in Boston, so I’m venturing down to New York next week to get this settled. Having my citizenship to Australia offers me a whole slew of benefits which I will want to take advantage of: lower visa costs, special types of visas, oh and, people just like Australians more.
- Trying to drink less: I enjoy adult beverages, if you know me, you already know that. However, they aren’t a necessity and I keep reading that they are the most expensive item in most places. It’s not like I’ll be ordering really nice bottles of wine… what I mean is, even the cheapest touristy areas mark all alcohol way up to make a profit off of the partying backpackers. I am not saying I won’t drink during my trip, but I plan to limit my intake both for my own safety and for cost-effectiveness. (Hold me to this!)
- Researching visa requirements for each country: boring but necessary.
- Yoga/tons of walking: Also helpful for mental and emotional prep.
- Shots, shots, shots, shots: I meant immunizations!
Emotional prep: Feeling prepared, safe, and connected.
- Creating a rough calendar that I could follow: …but could completely disregard, which is apparently what happens when you’re backpacking. On Myers-Briggs (yes, I brought it up), I’ve tested as both P (perceiving) and J (judging). So while I am somewhat organized, I’m also really comfortable with spontaneity. I am a person who needs a possible plan, but I don’t need to end up doing any of it. I think this balance will be useful during my trip.
- Starting the blog and sharing it with friends/family: I was terrified about this, but again, everything I read said, “if you plan on starting a blog, establish it before you leave.” So here we are. (To me this feels more emotional than mental, but put it wherever you want.)
- Saying goodbye to people: bah! This is the hardest thing, partially because it doesn’t feel real yet and probably won’t until I’m on the plane to Reykjavik. I am trying to pack every possible social event in before I go. Coffees, lunches, dinners, weekends at my family’s house, music festivals, sailing trips, house painting, bachelorettes, baby showers, weddings, NH, VT, NY, TX, RI. It’s very busy but so fulfilling to get it all packed in before I leave.
So that’s where I am these days. I wonder what the next phase will be… One month to go!
Categories: Before Takeoff