It’s almost here. Every day that thought echoes even louder through my subconscious. The day we get on a plane and leave the country for unknown adventures. There have been many days when it seemed like it would never get here, but now with a month left, I find myself constantly remembering some small detail that I either forgot or suddenly decided was vitally important to take care of before it’s too late. Inevitably, there will be some things that I will forget. Whatever they are, once we’re out there I doubt they will seem to matter as much.
When we got engaged in June 2011, we laid out a simple plan that we would get married in December, and within a year, quit our jobs and travel. At the time some people questioned our sanity, while most questioned our resolve to see it through. We had good jobs and lived downtown in a great city, why would we give that up? We had no real answer beyond the belief that there has to be more to life than earning money and getting saddled with car and house payments.
While we initially focused on budgeting for our pending nuptials (which we managed to pay for completely on our own), there was always the concern in the back of our minds about saving enough money to make this trip work. In the fall we began selling off our possessions: the extra car, the motorcycle, almost all of our recreational equipment such as skis, etc. To save on gas, we rarely drove anywhere unless it was absolutely necessary (and still do; its good practice for our upcoming travels).
After the wedding we started focusing on owning as little as possible. Every weekend there were trips to goodwill to donate sacks full of clothes we really didn’t use anyway. It took a surprising amount of time, and we were amazed at how much “junk” we had managed to squeeze into our small apartment and still make it look like it had a lot of space.
In January we found a great price on round trip airfare. As soon as we purchased it, the entire trip instantly became very real. Sure we purchased travel insurance, and that gave us an option to back out. But we wouldn’t. We couldn’t. Not when we’d come this far. Hell, the hard part was over. Now it was just minor details. Except some aren’t so minor. There was still plenty of gear to get. Trips to the army surplus store became a regular occurrence. There’s always something more that seems to scream its usefulness when you see it, but later seems worthless as you struggle to cram it in your bag.
Then there’s the matter of vaccinations. After all, this is a foreign continent, full of diseases we don’t even think about here. We visit a travel clinic, where they hand us giant binders full of information on every country, and every disease they are almost certain we will get. After a bit of research, we decide on protecting ourselves against the most dangerous and likely ones, and pay a hefty fee for a massive amount of pills we will need to take daily. There are also a number of shots, which we manage to get elsewhere. Luckily we both have good health insurance through our employers, so most of our vaccinations are covered (saying goodbye to this can be disconcerting to say the least).
And now here we are, with a month left before we leave. We’ve taken care of everything we could think of. Our apartment now resembles a skeleton nearly picked clean, with only bare white walls staring back at us. We have all but moved out, save for a few pieces of furniture. Each work day seems to drag on forever, but only because of the overwhelming anticipation of that fateful day when we leave. It can’t get here soon enough.