Thursday, 29 September 2011

Over to you...

The eagle-eyed among you have pointed out that my 30b430 list is currently somewhat lacking, in that I only have 15 things on it so far.

I see that this may cause problems with the whole “30 before 30” concept and I’m trying my best to rectify the situation. But the problem is there’s so much that I want to do that it’s actually been a lot harder than I’d imagined to come up with a definitive list.

So, as much as I feel like I may possibly regret this, here’s where you come in.

My friends have pointed out that if I’m going to be gallivanting off around the world for nine months the least I could do is let them get involved too. And by that they meant helping to chose some of my 30 adventures.

Now a little bit of me is already thinking this may be a bad idea, especially after hearing some of the suggestions my so-called friends are coming up with. But I guess one of the points of this trip is to try things that I’ve never tried before and to get out of my comfort zone.

So I’m opening up the floor to suggestions. Please feel free to add yours. My disclaimer is I’m not definitely going to do everything suggested – especially if it’s dangerous or illegal (I’ve seen Banged Up Abroad and it ain’t pretty) – but I promise I’ll at least consider it. And if it’s something that will help to make my trip more memorable, I’ll give it a go...

Tuesday, 20 September 2011

Leaving on a jet plane...

So...the tickets are booked!

I don’t think the woman in the travel shop, who probably books these kinds of trips every day, shared my excitement, as she looked distinctly underwhelmed as I sat on the edge of my seat virtually shrieking as she confirmed the flights.
My 30b430 adventure will begin on October 23 when I will leave the UK on my first flight to Peru. I’ll then have just over three months travelling overland through Bolivia and Argentina to Chile. From there I’ll fly to New Zealand and then Australia. Then I’ll be heading up to Thailand, where I’ll be a bridesmaid for one of my best friends Kate, before travelling overland to China.
And then to top off what will hopefully be an amazing year, I’ll be home just in time to watch the Olympics in London with my family.
Now that the tickets are booked, there really is no going back and suddenly it’s kick-started me into getting organised.
I have somewhat inexplicably been manically trying to finish things, as though I won’t be allowed to head off around the world unless I finish the jam in my fridge or use up the rest of my hair conditioner.
I’ve also become annoyingly sentimental about everything. I’ve turned into one of those people who keep saying “This is the last time I’ll ever...” The other day I saw a man walking down the street with a white rat on his shoulder and almost cried at how much I’m going to miss Brighton.

Where else am I going to find skateboarding dogs and a beach made of pebbles?

Monday, 12 September 2011

Decision made...

Two things happened last week.
1.       I turned 29.
2.       I handed in my notice.
To be fair I don’t think anyone at work was too surprised. I’ve been talking about this trip for so long (and so loudly) in the office, that I think most people already assumed I’d done it months ago. So the cake I’d baked for my birthday probably received a more enthusiastic response than my news.
But for me it all now feels very, very real. Finally there’s no going back and this crazy adventure really is going to happen.
It also feels very, very scary – for the exact same reason mentioned above.
However, it’s in another way it’s really nice. I feel as though I’m entering the final year of my 20s with a purpose. I had a brilliant birthday, my friends all thoroughly spoiled me and it’s always nice to get through the day without having to have one of those wailing “Where is my life going?” moments. I may not exactly know the answer to that question, but at least I know it’s going somewhere.
And if nothing else, at least this is going to panic me into doing some serious organising. Maybe I just work better to deadlines.

Wednesday, 7 September 2011

The best laid plans...

Since beginning to prepare for this 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 been away 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.