Every story needs a beginning

I’ve always hankered to see the wider world, but befriending someone who hailed from Egypt at Uni triggered a decade long itch. Whilst the desire to travel further afield was always there, I never thought I could do it. The confidence and desire has been building little by little over the years as I’ve met new people and experienced new things. I also learnt what I liked and didn’t. Trips organised to Egypt and Finland by Teemu were amazing, a very spontaneous trip to Rome was brilliant, tearing round northern Italy in a hire car with Al was fun. A package holiday to Kos visiting “traditional villages” not so much.

In 2009 a friend wrote in a birthday card “how many more jobs are you going to try before following your dream?” I took that advice and as I started a new job told myself I’d said “next year” too many times and the job would be my last before travels – my plan was to stick at it for 18months or so to save up and then disappear. Somehow I didn’t believe myself though – life was too “comfortable”, my job was good, I have good friends…

Thankfully as I settled into the new company a couple of colleagues had done the travel thing and I spent many a hour listening to their stories and eventually their infectious enthusiasm and confidence gave me the guts to take the plunge. I still didn’t quite believe it though – going from “next year” to “this year” to actually going is quite a big step. I did start making considerations for going (e.g. buying a laptop suitable for travels not just “for now”, not taking holidays, saving up etc), but this was window dressing for the most part.

In the end, two different friends helped make me take the plunge. One took a considered view of “some times it’ll be hard and you’ll be lonely and you’ll wish you hadn’t gone, at others you’ll be having such an amazing time you’ll wonder why you never did it earlier. The other patiently talked through her experiences and gave me the start of a plan. In truth, without these people talking and helping I’m not entirely sure I’d actually be going (or at least not going to South America first!).

The implementation

Plans came and went and I delayed my departure for various reasons (an opportunity was meant to come up at work which I’d have been a fool to ignore) but towards the back end of 2010 I decided enough was enough – it was now or never. A final change in plan and I bought my flights. Sitting in the trailfinders office and handing over my credit card details was terrifying – it meant I was going! Still, I went away home that Sunday afternoon with the promise of the tickets.

This was in January 2011 and my first flight was in May 2011. Apart from getting a rough idea of times in each country and an itinerary, I was starting from scratch. Four months later, I’m about to depart and it’s been quite a ride!

Inoculations pretty much every week, researching where I’m going, trying to find a decent travel insurance policy, working out what I’ll need on my travels, building this website, working, researching malaria tablets, building my fitness up in the gym, learning basic Spanish… I’ve had to cram so much in I haven’t been able to stop.

It’s been that hectic I’ve made a few mistakes. I should have taken some holiday in March or April to go through everything rather than relying on weekends and evenings. I shouldn’t have researched as much – there is so much conflicting advice I just ended up confused and stressed. In haste I bought things to get them ticked off my list without looking into them first and thus have had to replace them (Amazon Kindle, Trousers etc).

It was so hectic and stressful that I had to lean on my parents heavily for help – they were a calming influence, listeners when I was stressed, applied logic when necessary, did shopping for basics that I had missed, help research things… Without their help I’d still be going, but I’d probably be more stressed and less confident that I had done everything I needed.

In fact, the last 4 months deserves a blog post all of it’s own!

Onwards and Upwards

As I write this, tomorrow is my final day at work. In the evening I’m heading out for a meal with most of my friends for a “good riddance” celebration. My “to buy” list is down to three or four none-essential items. I’ve got past the “holy crap what am I doing” stage where everything was stressing me out to the “holy crap I’m going” where I’m wondering if I’ve made any more mistakes.

In 6 days time, I’m heading off to see the world. How exciting!

 

A little side note:

This is my first blog post (ever!) I’ve never been one for writing prose or populating my website with content but I’m going to try and jot down some notes of where I’ve been / things I’ve done.

Back in 2004 I went out to Egypt and when I returned I jotted daily notes down in a Word document, reading it through recently jogged my memory of things I’d forgotten (mostly how I felt / thoughts etc) and it was great looking back and who I was back then and the way I’ve changed since. Thus, my idea isn’t to try and become a travel blogger, but simply to keep a record for me and for family and friends.

I hope you enjoy reading about my adventures!