The stresses of planning a round the world trip

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.

The grass is always greener on the other side… except where it’s actually greenest

If you need to know one thing about me, it’s this: I was born in the wrong country. My entire life growing up in the U.S., I never felt like I belonged. It is a feeling I have a hard time explaining. I’ve been fascinated with world travel since I can remember, but didn’t leave the country until age 22. During my last year in university, I made the decision that I was going to spend the summer after graduation backpacking around Europe. This never happened because I couldn’t find anyone to go with me and my parents didn’t like the idea of me traveling abroad alone. It was late March and I was graduating in early May when I realized this Euro trip would not be happening. I decided I was not going to let anything stop me. I started Googling ways to get a leisurely job in Ireland and came across a fairly new working holiday visa. “Great”, I thought to myself. I knew this was exactly what I was going to apply for. I stumbled across an au pair website and knew I was qualified to be an au pair. My mother did child care in my home for over twelve years and I literally grew up taking care of young children. I was feeding infants and helping change diapers at the age of four. I signed up for a membership on the website and started searching for a host family in Ireland in early April. Three weeks later, I found my host family and committed to being their au pair and I was to start in early September. I signed a contract where I would stay a minimum of six months and a maximum of twelve months. I committed without even thinking – I knew this was exactly what I needed and wanted to do.

the first time I laid eyes on Ireland

Why Ireland? This is another thing I have a very tough time explaining. Since I was a very young girl, I have always had a major fascination with Ireland. I always wanted to travel elsewhere, too, but Ireland was always my number one destination. I knew I couldn’t go anywhere else abroad without going to Ireland first. I had a gut feeling I would fall head over heels in love with this mysterious, green country.

In 2010, I created a couchsurfing profile with the username “findingherplace” and shortly after, created a private blog titled the same. Many people wondered why that was my username and this was simple for me to explain. I knew in my heart that I did not, never did and probably never will belong in the country I was born in, and I was setting out to find the place that I do belong on my first trip abroad. Never in my wildest dreams did I ever imagine it would be in the very first foreign country I ever visited.

I mean, come on, I’ve heard stories of other people similar to myself – people who didn’t feel like they belonged in their home country and they either never found “home” or it took them a very long time to find “home”. Leave it to shy, timid, never-been-on-a-plane-alone me to figure it out right away.

I often get this from strangers and friends alike: “You know, the grass is always greener on the other side…” as in, Ireland is only so great because you can’t live there and blah, blah. No, that’s truly not my situation. How do I know? 1) I know it for an absolute fact in my heart. 2) I knew it every single second I was living in Ireland. 3) I knew it on my return trip to Ireland when I visited for three weeks, one year and three months after moving back to Florida. Everyone told me “It won’t be as amazing as it was when you lived there – it never is.” It’s true that it was different, but it was just as amazing. I took that trip as a test to see if Ireland was truly my place. 4) I knew it when I traveled around Europe. I was in Italy and Greece for 2 ½ weeks having the absolute most amazing holiday of my entire life, yet I could not wait to get back to Ireland. 5) I’ve known it every second of every single day since I had my heart set on going to Ireland. I left Ireland 2 ½ years ago and I have never had any doubt that I am indeed meant to settle there. Clearly, the grass may be greener on the other side, except where the grass is actually greenest.

So… since I found my place, why is “Finding Her Place” still the title of my blog? Quite simply, because I like the title and always imagined if I had a blog or wrote a book (still hoping to!), it would be the title. Welcome to my adventure blog, where I plan to blog about everything from travel to food to daily adventures and my journey moving back to Ireland later this year.