About three months after I wrote my first list, I started to freak out a little. I had been looking into flights and timelines, and realized that I was committing to an outline through June of 2015. Doubts started coming to mind about whether I should lock myself into a whole year on the road. I’ve never traveled alone for that long before, can I really make it a year?
Also as I was looking at RTW tickets I was being locked into starting and stopping in the same country. So on the reverse side, what if I didn’t want to come back at the end of a year? I’ve always wanted to live in Europe again, but these tickets weren’t letting me have that option, I had to come back to the U.S. Will I want to?
And as I told people about the last leg of my trip – Middle East and Africa – the general response was concern for my safety. I realize that traveling alone as an American girl is going to have its challenges. I do think that I’m a very aware traveler and I will keep updated on where I should and should not go. But this feeling of uncertainty started to sink it. How could I know what the world will be like in 2015?
So I thought a lot about what I’m doing and had some key conversations, and I was reminded that this trip is entirely my choice. Sure I started out thinking it was a year and I’d hit all my original pillars, but if I’m feeling unsettled about it I can change it so that I feel better. I thought more about how I could make this is a trip that was more on the exciting side than the terrifying side (although it will still always have both elements) and eventually came around to a compromise that made me feel worlds better.
9 months up front. No return flight.
I came to the 9 month mark because of three points in the trip: 1) starting in June, I could start at the World Cup, somewhere I’ve always dreamed of going, and somewhere I knew I had friends to help me kick this journey off; 2) my family agreed to Christmas in Thailand, giving me visitors to look forward to and a little taste of home 6 months in; 3) a friend decided to come to India with me in February 2015, so I would again have a friendly face and wouldn’t be alone in India. This gave me a structure that I felt good about and the timing worked out to hit pillars 1, 2, 4, and 6. This is how I ended up with the route that is on my Itinerary page.
Not having a return flight gives me freedom, and that freedom was relieving. Now in March of 2015, if I want to keep going and make it to 3, 5, and 7, I can. Or if I want to go live in Europe I can. Or if I’m exhausted and need to come home, also possible. Or maybe I just did not have enough time somewhere and I can go back. I’ll be halfway around the world with endless possibilities and that became the most exciting part of this plan.
The most important thing I learned from all of this: this trip will evolve. No matter how I set out, anything could happen along the way, and I have to be open to it and ready to just go with it. If necessary, I can and should change whatever I need to to make this experience the best that it can be for me.
Which includes not totally freaking out when I think about leaving. I’m happy I’m past that point.