aboutWe are Akila and Patrick. Ouráminds (and waistlines) expand as we travel, cook, and eat our way around the world with our two dogs.
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the pre-world trip freak out

My dental assistant told me last week, as she poked a pointy object into my back tooth, that I am so lucky.  After letting her release my jaw from its unnatural position, I responded, "I'm sorry - why am I lucky?"  She exclaimed, as if it was obvious, that I am so lucky to be traveling around the world for a year.  I half-heartedly mumbled something positive, but felt confused.  Despite my continued belief that I am someday going to win something by regularly playing scratch-off lottery tickets, luck has had little to do with this trip.

As most long-term travelers will tell you, our world trip is the result of the painstaking planning of our financial, career, and personal goals.  For the last year and a half, every time we went to Target, we would ask ourselves, "Do we really need this item or will it just gather dust in our storage facility?"  We started building our pre-trip checklist about three months ago and have whittled it down from 165 items to just 34 things left to do.  And, now, we are less than a month away from the big trip!
 
Given that we have spent years considering the trip from every possible angle, you wouldn't think that I would be unable to sleep at nights, worried about what we are doing and how we are going to do it.  I remember vividly the last time I was this nervous: it was the night before I took the bar exam when my brain refused to turn off, sorting every concept I learned in my three years of law school.  By no means is world-travel as arduous as the bar exam but it feels just as scary, unknown, and consequential. 

A large part of who we are is related to what we do --- our jobs, our studies, our plans --- and ambition has etched itself into our personalities.  I have always defined myself as a student or a lawyer; Patrick has been continuously employed since he was 16.  We aren't spring chickens, either.  At age 30, married couples are "supposed to" have a secure career and a beautiful home with frolicking children in the backyard.

Instead, we are leaving our puppies who we love dearly, all the people we care about, all the comforts we are used to, for a life containing nothing more than what we can carry on our backs.  Don't get me wrong; my brain and heart know that we will love every moment of this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.  But, my stomach disagrees.  As we keep reminding each other, we are just crazy enough to be quitting our stable, satisfying jobs in the middle of the worst recession since the Great Depression---when 1 in 10 people are unemployed, mind you---to ramble about the world.
 
It helps knowing that developing a dense pit of nerves before embarking on a trip is common amongst long-term travelers.  I feel a bit like I did as a child when I walked to the edge of the high diving board and stared into the yawning space between me and the blue water, while silently praying that I didn't land badly. 

On Friday evening, when I walk out of my office, I will be unemployed.  On Saturday afternoon, we give our keys back to our landlord and will be homeless.  In three weeks, we will take a deep breath and jump.  No belly flops, please. 

* Photo credits Jose Font, Rick Raymond

08/24/2009 23:39
I absolutely hate the "you're lucky!" comment like no other! I used to get it when I traveled all the time on my own (which I still do a good bit), funding my own excursions, and then continued to after I veered into the travel writing profession. It's like, right, because determination, persistence and talent had NOTHING to do with it--sure it must have all just been luck! So I totally hear ya =)

And I always want to respond to those people, "YOU could save enough for a year on the road, YOU could get out of your comfort zone and see the world, YOU could make it happen. No one else, but YOU can make your own destiny!" (Cheesy? perhaps. True? for sure.)
Camels & Chocolate's recent blog post: Who Let the Dogs Out?
08/25/2009 00:10
Chetan Sankar
Akila:
I have been telling about your trip to our relatives at India and they are totally with it. Not one person has questioned me and nobody said you were lucky to be doing that. They are just excited about the idea and wish you the best. May be the Indian psyche takes these things and change more casually compared to me. Who knows.. each time I drive around in Chennai, roads have changed and large IT buildings prop up where there were fields.. therefore, they might be more used to rapid change.

Love, Dad
08/25/2009 01:46
You're about to embark on a major adventure, and leaving everything behind is only the beginning of the journey. Regardless of the little moments of 'freak-out', you sound like an organised person. Enjoy :)
08/25/2009 09:23
Like Camels & Chocolate, we always hear "how lucky" to be traveling around the world. It really does get old after a while. Fortunate, yes. We have our health and our family is healthy. But, it is really hard to leave stability and a good lifestyle behind for backpacks and insecurity almost each and every day. Handing in our resignation letters and giving up our apartment were the hardest things we've had to endure on this trip. Once you're out there, it all falls into place and you meet other people who have done the same or understand.

Good luck with these next few weeks! Once you're on the road the excitement of the present will replace the craziness of this time.
08/25/2009 12:56
I can completely relate to this post. Luck has very little to do with long-term travel (or any type of travel)! Hard work, planning, diligence, sacrifice, and daring to dream are among some of the qualities that come long before luck even enters the picture. Like Camels and Chocolate mentioned, I always want to respond to people who comment how lucky we are by pointing out they too can do the same thing...they just have to be willing to take that first step off the diving board. :)

Congrats on your resignation! And good on you for having the foresight to resign three weeks before your departure. Our last days at work were on a Friday and we were on a plane the following Friday (after a whirlwind week visiting family in Ohio, New York, and Maryland). When we go on our next RTW, we'll definitely be taking off more time before we leave! It will make tackling that To Do List much easier. :)

Good luck in these next few weeks! And as silly as it may sound, savor them as much as possible. There's nothing quite like that moment before a RTW begins. :)
Jessica the hedgehog's recent blog post: Roller Coasters and Traveling
08/25/2009 13:41
Oh I get the lucky comment all the time too!It's basically the premise of why I built my website: to try to show others that travel is more about hard work than luck.

Nonetheless, I try to take it as a compliment when I get those comments. Not everyone has the personality, perseverance or strength to do these things. In that sense you are lucky that you are able to look at the big picture and make these travels happen, things that some other people just can't fathom. Does that make sense?
08/25/2009 15:21
Ahhh, the liberation of being purposefully unemployed and dedicated to traveling the world - does life get any better than these moments?! Enjoy them!!
08/26/2009 08:20
How freeing!!! But obviously I totally understand the freaking out - I cried a little right before I got on the plane :-) Can't wait to start reading about your adventure - it's gonna be grand!
08/26/2009 13:50
Agreed with all the sentiments above - it's not luck but the result of effort...and lots of it!

I think everyone has a bit of 'the freak out' at some point. Right before the flight, a day or two after, but it usually breezes over once you get busy traveling :)
08/27/2009 10:10
These are all such great comments - I am sad that I have been so busy this week that I didn't have a chance to read through them earlier. These comments remind me of an article a while back on Get Rich Slowly about Making Your Own Luck (http://www.getrichslowly.org/blog/2009/01/29/how-to-make-your-own-luck/).

The premise of the article is based on a psychological study by Professor Richard Wiseman relating to why and how people classify themselves as "lucky." His theory is that there are four attributes that make people "lucky" and they are all within the control of the individual: (1) lucky people notice and find opportunities; (2) they listen to their hunches; (3) they persevere in the face of failure; and (4) they can turn bad fortune into good fortune by focusing on the positives. As Wiseman puts it, "[luck] is a state of mind --- a way of thinking and behaving."

Stephanie, I never thought of our "mission" as bloggers --- but perhaps you're right. By demistifying travel, in essence, we spread some "luck" around to others who think that they can't travel because it requires too much money or time or effort. As Kristen put it, long-term travel can be for everyone if they are interested in dreaming and working toward that goal.

And, thanks everyone for the encouragement. As we've gotten closer to moving day, the freak-out is subsiding a bit. :)
Akila's recent blog post: the pre-world trip freak out
08/27/2009 10:29
I think the adventure sounds fantastic. I think people are just trying to say they envy you having the wherewithal to plan such a thing and execute it. I can't wait to follow your travels.
08/27/2009 11:19
I've decided that one of the best things about the blog world is the ability to be incredibly excited for a complete stranger. :) Reading your post I'm filled with joy for the both of you, nervous worries and all. It's gonna be awesome!

I can only repeat what has been said before. The 'luck' comment is used far too often by others. It as if they think someone dropped a large bag of money on our heads and said go travel. As you described so well, there is so much involved. It is hard work and requires financial sacrifice. We aren't longterm travelers, but with making the decision to live abroad, our frequent travel and a month long trip coming up I can relate to those comments. The one I dislike the most though is "must be nice". That one makes me really angry as if I'm a spoiled child. I'm so glad there are people out there who know and understand otherwise. :)
Lori's recent blog post: Simple Coconut Chicken
08/30/2009 23:29
Akila - you totally captured everything we are going through right now :)
We are 5 days away - getting butterflies BIG time, but are so excited and ready!!
08/31/2009 11:20
Thanks so much MarthaandMe and Lori! I agree, Lori, I love getting excited for people I only know virtually. :) Lori, I can't wait to read about your next trip - I am sure it will involve lots of delicious food.

Manali and Terry, good luck! Hopefully we'll see you on the road.
09/01/2009 10:39
Oh, AkilaŚwe understand so much. My wife and I have the exact same thoughts and concerns Ś and we're still over 18 months away. In fact, I'm printing this post off for her right now. Thanks for sharing. These kinds of posts are really very helpful!
09/03/2009 19:45
Thanks Daniel! The good news is that the fears and freak out are subsiding as we get closer to the trip as are to-do list becomes smaller. I am sure you will have the same experience.
Akila's recent blog post: hana: this is hawaii
09/05/2009 07:34
What a great post. I feel tremendous guilt for having left a fantastic job at a time when so many people are struggling to find one. I have spent the last 5 years working like a maniac to save for retirement and be mortgage free and now I'm just letting that mentality go for awhile - liberating but scary! Good luck with everything!
mina's recent blog post: a few from before...
09/11/2009 10:15
Thanks Mina. I have that same guilt. Patrick acutely feels it because he is working in a great job with a company he loves, so taking off for a year seems incredibly selfish and foolish. But, I know that both of us are going to have an amazing time.
09/22/2009 10:09
Vinay Gangoli
It's only after we've lost everything that we're free to do anything. - Tyler Durden (Fight Club)

That quote is probably a little extreme but its the first thing that came to my mind when I read your post. I don't know about the lucky part, but you are definitely courageous and adventurous.
09/22/2009 21:11
Thanks so much Vinay. It is a strange form of courage that we have --- and now that we are doing it, we both feel a little silly that we were so freaked out.

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