Since beginning to prepare for this solo trip I have come to realise that as well as being terrible at decision making, I’m also pretty rubbish at planning. So brilliant qualities for organising a world trip then…
I’ve always taken a fairly slap-dash approach to organising my trips in the past. Which explains how I managed to arrive at Tokyo airport without even a Japanese guidebook (meaning I had to ask the man in the queue in front of me which hotel he was staying in so I had something to write on my customs form – yes, he was very scared.)
The longest time I’ve travelled solo before has been six months and I just kind of winged it, so having to sit down and actually plan things is something of a new experience for me.
I definitely look the part. I’ve got everything I need and I often sit down determinately, surrounded by guidebooks and calendars and bits of paper and pens. But the problem is, I don’t actually know where to start. Should I be planning the route and coming up with my actual 30b430 list? Or should I just start by figuring out whether I’ve actually got the cash to carry out this mad plan?
The most difficult thing to start off with has been actually planning a route. Ten months sounds like a long time, but when you start breaking it down country by country, it suddenly starts to seem much less. Is it really possible to only spend three months in the whole of South America and what can you see in Australia in a month?
Added to which is the list. 30 before 30 sounds so easy when you say it and some of the things I want to do have been really easy to come up with. I want to go on an adventure with my sister; I want to watch one of my best friends get married on a Thai beach; I want to dance a Tango in Argentina and see a performance at the Sydney Opera House. But then suddenly there are times when it’s overwhelming. There’s so much I want to do, how can I possibly narrow it down to just 30 things?
My more organised friends are beginning to despair, especially my long-suffering landlady Harri, who is the Queen of Organisation and lives by the rule of the list.
Conversations with her are beginning to go something like this:
H: Em, you’re really starting to stress me out. Have you even starting making any lists for your trip yet?
Me: Hmm…I’m just kind of planning it in my head at the moment.
H: What? Why aren’t you making any lists? You need to make one of where you want to go, one for what you need to pack, one for all of the stuff you need to do before you go away…
The problem is there is so much to do that it’s starting to scare me so rather than just getting on with it and at least doing something, I’m taking the opposite approach by burying my head in the sand and doing nothing.
The other night the Queen of Organisation was so exasperated that she took matters into her own hands and stuck a huge map of the world onto the living room wall. We both sat staring at it for a while, making insightful comments like ‘look how big Russia is’ and ‘I always wondered where Kazakhstan was’, until – as though it was a sign – the map slowly unstuck itself corner by corner and fell down.