I am embarking on my first major backpacking trip in 20 days. I am a jumbled mess of every emotion imaginable and I have been this way since roughly September. I always imagined planning a round the world trip would be this way, and unfortunately, I was right. Don’t get me wrong, planning such a trip is amazing and exciting, but it is one of the most stressful things I have ever been through. It is SO. MUCH. WORK.
I spend every waking second thinking about my trip in one way or another. During the early stages of planning, my brain looked like this: “Which countries will I choose to go to on this trip?”, “How can I choose just a handful of countries?”, “I can’t wait to quit my job.”, “I can’t wait to be rid of excess stuff.”, “I know for a fact I want to go on this trip.”
Fast forward to December and January, my brain looked like this: “Can I seriously handle the potential burn out I will likely experience on my trip?”, “I don’t think I can travel with just a carry-on sized backpack.”, “I don’t know if I should quit my job.” and the worst one: “I don’t think I can do this.”
I experienced too many sleepless nights to count and many panic and anxiety attacks in the middle of the night. Combine the stress of this trip and how indecisive I tend to be with the fact that I was in the last stages of weaning off a major anxiety drug I had been taking for years and you get a ticking time bomb ridden with anxiety to spare.
I will admit that it took me WAY too long to make my final decision whether or not I was going to quit my job and go on this trip. It’s one thing to decide you’re going to do something this big a year and even months in advance, it’s another when the deadline to decide is practically staring you in the face. It was not easy. Not even close. Even once I made my (first) final decision (no I was not going to go on the trip), I thought maybe the anxiety would go away. It got worse. I took this as a sign that I made the wrong decision, so a couple weeks later, I changed my decision to yes. The anxiety didn’t go away or even lessen (but it didn’t get worse!) so you can imagine how confused I was at this point. I then changed my decision to no once again and back to yes for the last time (though I did almost change it back to no twice after that). Typing this out, I am realizing how pitiful I am. Everyone around me said “Chel, it’s a decision. Make it and stick with it”. But I couldn’t JUST “make a decision”. I wasn’t happy with it either way. If I decided “yes”, it was an irresponsible decision and constantly begged the question “is this the right decision??”. The decision of “yes” would also leave me with hardly any money when I move back to Ireland later this year. If I decided “no”, I didn’t think I could live with that decision. I already regret not doing this trip at this point in my life. Realizing this is how I made my decision.
This is a perfect window of opportunity for a trip like this. I won’t exactly be able to take off months at a time in the future when I (hopefully) have a career that I enjoy. I know, without a doubt, that this won’t be the last time that I travel – but, even at age 25, I can’t do (or can’t imagine doing) many of the things I did at age 22. I can feel my body aging greatly now and over the past 3 years. It may sound ridiculous, but it’s the absolute truth.
So I am doing this trip. My journey begins on March 1st, and I plan to visit: Peru, Australia, Thailand, Sumatra, Bali, India and maybe New Zealand. New Zealand is in my top 3 of countries I want to visit, but the reason it is a maybe is because when I do go to NZ, I want to do it big and proper. Since NZ is expensive, I am not sure I will be able to see NZ the way I want to see it on my very tight budget. I realize Australia is very expensive as well, but I have many friends in Australia and am looking forward to visiting them. My biggest concern for expense in NZ is transportation. I know the best way to see NZ is by hiring a car, but this is something I definitely don’t want to do. I really cannot afford any tours in NZ – so that leaves me with public transportation and I do want to see remote areas of NZ. If anyone has any suggestions for me, please feel free to weigh in!
I am mentally ready, but certainly not even close to being physically ready for this trip! There is so much to do to prepare for a trip like this. I didn’t have ANY necessary backpacking gear – so I’ve had to partake in months of research and have purchased (almost) all of my gear. I have chosen to travel carry-on only and I’ve chosen the incredible Tortuga backpack. I can’t wait to review it. The thought of traveling with only a carry-on backpack for four months is the most terrifying thing to me. I’m not necessarily a materialistic person but I DO find comfort in having “things” with me and also having a choice of outfits to wear. I am a perpetual overpacker so this is new for me!! I feel like I have spent every waking moment planning this trip in one way or another (and even moments when I am sleeping, I find myself planning my trip in my dreams). I know the countries I want to visit and the order I am going to visit them, but I don’t have a specific itinerary planned out. I am going to plan this as I go.
I hope you will enjoy following my blog while I follow my dreams of traveling the world, followed by becoming an expat in my favorite country for the second time.