Friday, 23 September 2011

Ok, We Admit It: We’re Scared.

Seriously, we are.

Not sure why it just started; maybe because now we have both quit our jobs or because we are actively planning our move out of Switzerland, but it seems like just in the past week, it has really hit both of us what we are planning to do and what it is going to mean for us.

Maybe fear isn’t the correct emotion- it’s more like apprehension. We are just now realizing that we are giving up our amazing quality of life, our comfortable apartment, our good jobs, our great friends- all of that, and in return, we are choosing to put ourselves through significant discomfort for a year. OF COURSE there are massive benefits to what we are going to do and I’m sure we will appreciate those so much that we will forget the feelings we have right now. It’s just that at this point, we are only seeing what we are giving up and haven’t started seeing what we are giving it all up for, and that is what is so scary.

We were talking the other day about how we were feeling and admitted to each other for the first time that the nervous, borderline-negative feelings were creeping into our consciousnesses, almost to the point of being equal to the excitement we have about the trip.  Just saying it out loud and realizing that we both felt the same way was a relief. It is normal to be a little scared; we are making a huge life change and taking big risks.

We also might have been a little naïve in our excitement before. We were just so thrilled to be doing this and were so caught up in the planning that we didn’t give a lot of thought to the reality of traveling for a full year. Also, before the last few weeks, the trip was far enough away that it wasn’t yet real. Now, we have two more months in Switzerland and three more months before the start of our trip and time just seems to be flying. It’s overwhelming, and frankly, terrifying.

All of that said, I think the fear is a good thing because it is making us look at the trip more realistically. For example, we are starting to talk about and plan for what we will do if things don’t go as well as expected or if we find ourselves in a dodgy position. We don’t want to psych ourselves out, but it is important to mentally prepare for discomfort, confusion, aggression, sickness, and all of the million other negative things that we could, and probably will, face during the trip.

In terms of where we are in our planning: we are in full ‘leaving Switzerland’ mode. We have the moving out plan set (special thanks to Christian and Michelle, who will help us move all of our shit out of our apartment and into the Bertots’ place in Burgundy), we have our cars and apartment ads up, we have all of our doctor’s visits out of the way, we are getting vaccinations in the next few weeks, we have cancelled all of our contracts. Basically, all of our energy is focused on the inconvenient leaving stuff, and not at all on the exciting travelling stuff, which can probably explain the emotional funk we are in.

Next steps are to do more research about volunteering in South America and get that finalized, get our travelers insurance, and buy any gear that we won’t get in the States. Once we get back into trip planning instead of leaving preparation, our apprehension will probably dissipate and our excitement will return. At least, let’s hope so…

Saturday, 10 September 2011

Resignation and Rabies

So now it's official- I gave my notice to my job this week. This was the last step to take before we start screaming our plans from the rooftops (although we have been mostly doing that for months- hence this blog...). My two supervisors reacted very well, with emotions ranging from relief that I was leaving for personal, not professional, reasons, to disappointment that I had only been with the company for a little over a year, to excitement and support for what we are planning to do. I really couldn't have asked for a better response.

Next on our to-do list: vaccines. We went for a consultation at the vaccination center this week and sat through a two hour monologue by a young doctor about all of the different exotic diseases we are going to die from during the trip. She gave us her recommendations, some of which we will ignore, and we'll start getting the shots in October. She recommended measles, mumps, diphtheria and tetanus, which we will get; rabies, which we won't; yellow fever, hepatitis A and B, which we will get; Japanese encephalitis and typhoid, which we probably won't; and emergency malaria pills. She also explained that we need to prepare ourselves to basically have diarrhea the entire trip. Awesome. Honestly, we aren't all that worried about the big diseases. We of course want to protect ourselves with vaccinations and knowledge about the risks, but we do not want to load up on vaccinations that are only 50% effective, like typhoid. Where I personally am concerned is my stomach during the trip. I have a super-sensitive stomach and no self control when it comes to what I eat, so I'm expecting to suffer considerably as a result of my eating choices (like the time I had a fish sandwich from a street vendor in Morocco in 90 degree heat. Terrible decision.)

Beyond confirming our departure with our companies and worrying about diarrhea, we are now working to figure out volunteering for South America, planning our moving out plan of attack and finalizing our equipment. Vincent is nearly finished with his equipment and is ready for a test-pack. I'm still lagging behind, but once I have everything, we will do an equipment post to show what we are bringing. We plan to try to carry less than 12 kilos on our backs and I would really like to shoot for 10, so packing will be a challenge. I will document that adventure when we come to it. In the meantime, this is our current packing list, which I am religiously following and Vincent is pointedly ignoring: RTW 2012 Packing list

So, as we are finally getting serious about our planning, I will be posting more often with updates on our progress. It's coming up so quickly!!