It is approximately 2 months now that I have committed to a year of Interactive Travelling around the world. I am still as excited as day one and I am trying to plan the first part of it. I wanted it to be as unplanned as possible. I knew this choice was romantic more than realistic, but I am now completely aware that it is just a mythical goal and the path to it is paved of procrastination, sleepless nights and commiseration. As a result, enough with this romanticism and let’s make my walk on that path so far, a positive part of my journey.
Being a scientist I am good at analysing and deconstructing problems to more manageable ones, so why not start doing precisely that? Well, here lay the mind trick, is easy to say but difficult to do when you keep stressing about the results and details. I already started my adventure by relocating in a farm and working here but I will consider myself on the road only when I will have broke free from Finland. Realizing today that despite all the pointless details I was stressing about I fully overlooked the need for visas for some countries I want to visit, tipped the balance on my favour. So here my list of problems that I feel kept me from committing to my final step so far.
1) Say goodbye to friends and the old style
You have probably like me dreamt and waited for something like this a long time, you finally leave your job, box your stuff and notify friends and family of your plan. But after that the time start to slow down in your mind and only every now and then you realize that it has actually flew by and not slowed down at all. In my case I put this down mainly to the fact that I am quite unease to say bye to my friends. I have great people around me and despite I am use to move from country to country I am the ultimate sentimental when it comes down to friendship. The only thing I can say about this is to embrace the fact that it is not a goodbye, you will be seeing them again, no matter where or for how long, the good ones will stick around and your relationship will just evolve in a different direction; but that is how things go in life anyway.
For the old life style, well yes I already kind of kissed goodbye to that with no regrets but some of the old me is still trying to resurface at times and the only thing is to keep looking forward and probably start to speak to myself into the mirror repeating “Mirror mirror on the wall…” oh no wait this is the wrong quote, but you get what I am aiming at. I will start from tonight, let me know if you get any results yourself in case you try.
2) Reading blogs to plan carefully and find the answers to all your questions
Now, this can sound contentious but actually it is true. Because I found out that there are many people that have experienced a similar journey and they wrote about it, I convinced myself that all their knowledge would have provided me with all the answers I need. I am actually sure that would be the case, there are very good ones around and I got some great tips but I also spent hours if not days on checking them, studying them and ping-pong myself from one link to the other. All good stuff, and I am happy I did it and I will keep doing it but first and foremost this is a PERSONAL journey and I have to find my way not patch together other people ones.
So stop reading to plan, just plan your own things and read others’ stories to enjoy, be inspired and share. But just in case, Rob from Stop having a boring life (SHABL) has a very good list of travel blogs that you can see here if you want a taste of them.
There has to be a reason if my brain ignored the visas issue so successfully. I like bureaucracy as the next person and I am trying to avoid it and postpone it as long as I can. This is the wrong approach. I luckily never got in trouble and I am trying to straight things up, but a healthy relationship with bureaucracy is critical, especially when you will have to deal with it on foreign and unknown soil.
Prepare yourself, take copies and PDFs of all the documents you need and send them to you by email for online access to it as well, just in case your hard-drive will give the ghost on you when you most need it (and we all know they have the tendencies to do that sort of thing). By the way, Jodi at Legal Nomad has a very good resources page from which I quote here about the visa issue so I suggest you to go down there and have a look for more info.
For American Citizens, entry requirements are here; for Canadian Citizens, entry requirements are here. IATA’s global visa database is also a great resource for anyone – plug in the country you’re from, your resident country and where you are headed.
I am not an American citizen, but go figure you probably are.
4) Looking for the needle in the haystack
I found myself researching the most trivial things. I am postponing the open travelling because I am not sure which portable hard-drive is the best, which online backup service to use or which kind of bag to buy for a year long travelling in unknown conditions…really?! I mean come on stop fidgeting START booking flights! That’s what I would suggest to anybody telling me something like this so I will take the lead myself and drop now all this researching. If a bag is no good I am sure I will find a better one if needed in a new place.
By the way, do you have any practical advice on any of the above issues? I can do with some help.
5) What about the end?
We all have jobs, we are all experiencing the economical crisis, we are all preoccupied for the future. Well I am, and there is a part of me that keep screaming that I am crazy and that a year of travelling will be a black hole in my CV. I will not find a job. I will find myself having thrown away years of studying and a safe future. Mmm, not sure about the last point, safe future in Postoc-land is an euphemism.
The point is, if you have the opportunities and you find yourself in a situation in which a crazy but dreamt about experience is at reach, reach for it. Will I regret the choice? I don’t know. Will I regret having splashed around money instead that having focused on ways to keep them? I don’t know. Will I think forever that with my knowledge I should have found better ways to change my life? I don’t know. The list of I don’t know may well go on endlessly, and I think there is no solution to this circle of thoughts. What I know is that sitting here and procrastinating is not helping in anyway, so better go on with the plan and invest in things I will certainly enjoy and myself.
I don’t believe in future telling glass orbs nor I actually believe in the power of the 8 ball answers, despite I would trust the latter more. Thus the way out is a no-brainer, stop stressing about what will be because you will know it only when you get there so you better sit and enjoy the ride and scenery as long as you can. At least you will know you are the one who sat on the driver sit of your life and this thought is soothing and empowering me.
I will end with a quote from Maria Robertson that I think sums it all up:
‘Nobody can go back and start a new beginning, but anyone can start today and make a new ending.’