In this journey towards full-time travel, there have been several “AAAHHHH!” moments. So far, purchasing our one-way tickets stands out but we know that the biggest are still to come. Here are a few nerve-wracking things that have consistently been on our minds since we made our decision:
Homesickness – Although we’ve lived hundreds of miles away from our family and friends for nearly seven years (eight for Ben), we’ve always been close enough to get back for a quick weekend if we were missing someone. Cashing in all our chips and flying to the other side of the globe will make quick trips impossible. While FaceTime and WhatsApp will allow us to stay in touch, we’ll definitely miss face-to-face time with our people – and snuggles with the newest member of our family, our nephew Ayden.
Coupled with the fear of homesickness comes the realization that one of the biggest sacrifices we will make for this trip is missing out on things at home. We’ve made a concerted effort during our time in Chicago to attend big life events of our family and friends so it will be really hard to miss out on them when we’re abroad.
Doing this wrong – We have never traveled like this before. Until now, we’ve had strict timetables for our trips – 15 days maximum if we could catch a holiday during one of the two weeks we were traveling – and a pretty flexible budget.
Long-term travel throws everything that we know and have done for the last several years out the window. While it is incredibly exciting to have fewer time constraints, it is also anxiety inducing. What do you do with all that time? We’ve typically explored one country during those 15 days and traveled at break-neck speeds to accomplish our sight-seeing goals. Traveling slower is daunting.
We are both perfectionists (a quality that we love and hate about ourselves and each other) but along with that personality trait comes the angst that we might do things wrong and feel stupid – something we aren’t good at.
Never wanting to come back – One of the most significant reasons we are going on this trip is because we want to experience more of the world, but where do you draw the line? Will our wanderlust ever be cured? Or are we opening up a fire hose to full blast with no way to turn it off? If that happens, are we going to be okay never living the “typical” midwesterner lifestyle of babies, house, pets, etc.?
Adjusting to life back home – During college, I spent a J-term in Hawaii for a class called Intercultural Communication. We traveled to different islands for just over three weeks, learning about Hawaii, its history, its people, and how much of an impact tourism had on this incredible place.
It stretched me and my classmates in ways we weren’t expecting and it took a long time to get back to “normal” when we returned. Even now, eight years later, my Ohana (family), and the islands still have a special place in my heart because of what we had experienced together and the bonds that were created.
I think this trip will have the same result. Ben and I will be experiencing things that our family and friends back home won’t be able to understand – our two-week vacations have already given us perspectives that are foreign to them. It will likely be those moments that will make it really challenging to come back and reintegrate.
Wanting to come back immediately – On the flip side, what if we hate it? We have this grandiose idea of what this trip could be, what it could mean, what it could do, but until we go, we aren’t going to know. It would also be a bit embarrassing making these declarative statements about this huge trip, just to fly home a couple months in.
Creature comforts – We know that living in America we are privileged to have easy access to clean water (though, apparently not guaranteed,) reliable hot water, electricity, western toilets, and healthcare. Those things won’t necessarily be with us on the road. Up until now, it wasn’t a big deal to go 15 days without these comforts but going without for months or years will be different.
While these fears have been on our minds, they make up a huge part of what we enjoy about travel and what we are seeking with this trip. Leaving our comfort zone is as exhilarating as it is terrifying; and that is part of the fun.