Wednesday, January 18, 2012

How Much is Too Much?

Naturally one of the most exciting, yet most intimidating aspects of planning this trip is deciding where we are going.  We are not planning every stop or every detail, we really want to leave room for following whim, or visiting a place at the recommendation of a new friend discovered halfway around the world.  For me, that is a huge part of what this trip is about...having this time in our lives where we aren't dictated by schedules and deadlines and "have-to's".

We are starting out conservatively, planning on six months.  Though we want to go everywhere, we know that not only would that be extremely expensive, but we wouldn't get much out of it and we would have to be on a strict schedule to make it to every continent. 

If you asked us a month ago, I believe we both would have said we are going to go to Africa, up to Eastern Europe, take the Trans-Siberian and Trans-Mongolian Railways to Beijing, and then explore Asia.  A few days ago I started to think about scaling back.  So many things that I've read confirm what I know - I would like to truly "get to know" some of the places we are visiting.  I want to stay somewhere until I don't want to anymore.  Will six months be enough time to go to all these places and get that experience?  Will we end up feeling rushed or like we aren't really getting the most out of our journey? 

Not to mention...we could probably save a decent amount of money by taking this stop out of the trip.  Therefore, I started to think about taking Africa off of the list (for THIS trip). 

I genuinely want to go to Africa, specifically Madagascar, Victoria Falls, Mount Kilimanjaro, and most importantly, go on a true safari and see some animals!  I'm a huge animal-lover, I even volunteer at my local zoo.  To see elephants, lions, zebras, giraffes and more out in the wild would be an absolute dream come true.

But it's time to really think about this trip, our budget, and our future.  When it comes down to it, the things that are most important to me (as far as sightseeing goes) in Africa are things that we could essentially do in a two or three week trip in the future.  Although we can do more research and see what kind of costs we would be looking at, I decided I needed to talk to my husband about my thoughts.

I was somewhat hesitant to approach my partner in crime on this matter, even though he's extremely practical and understanding.  Luckily, when I brought it up he was quite easygoing about the whole thing.  His main focus at the moment is getting to Russia.  Cool!  So...I think we have our decision made and destinations more narrowed down.

However...the other day I was thinking about Australia (I've been there twice now - once for Study Abroad, and once with my husband this past year for 3 weeks).  We both love the country, but it was there that my real passion for international travel surfaced.  It was there that I stayed in my first hostel, lived with my first non-American roommates (a Thai man and a Japanese woman), and took my first solo trip - to the Whitsundays where I earned my Open Water SCUBA certification.  It was there that I first dreamt of stuffing a backpack and disappearing for a while. 

And then my thoughts drifted to Aussie's neighbor, New Zealand.  I've been to the South Island during my time studying abroad, and absolutely loved it.  My husband has only dreamt of going.  It would be the perfect place to rent an RV and drive around for a month or two! 

And now you can get an idea of how my mind works...I'm such a dreamer, and I LOVE that the possibilities are endless, however, I'm also a terrible decision maker, so it only complicates things.

As I ponder the options, it seems clear that the two of us really need to sit down, take a look at our budget and timeline, and start doing more research.  We can begin by pricing out flights.  We can sit with a map and talk about our "must-sees" for this trip, and "would be nice to sees", as well as those things that we are ok with pushing to another adventure in the future. 

It's quite an overwhelming journey we are planning, and there are times where I feel like we haven't made any progress and we need to come up with an actual list.  I guess part of me really likes having a plan (I mean, we have to have something for a trip this big!) and I like to be able to cross things off my to-do list, put pieces of the puzzle together, and see that I am making progress towards my dream.

Otherwise, it remains a dream.

And hopefully by next year at this time (or not too long after), the trip will be a reality and I will be across the world with my best friend, experiencing the life I've been wanting to live.  The life of a wanderer, a vagabond, a explorer.


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