“I must be more nervous about this trip than I thought.”
That’s what’s going through my mind at 3am this morning. I’m wide awake, random thoughts churning through my head. I only do this when I’m worried about something. Normally me and sleep are very happy bedtime buddies.
Tomorrow I travel to Miami, the start of a two-month journey that will also see me take in the Florida Keys (albeit briefly, as I’m on a budget), Nicaragua, and Colombia.
I should be super-excited.
But I’m also a little bit freaked out. I must be. I resorted to checking my phone for text messages. At 3am. Cos obviously someone’s gonna be texting me at that time!
On the grand scheme of things my fears are pretty minor. I know this, as I couldn’t pin point any one of them in my sleep-deprived state.
My fears for long-term travel
I won’t be able to find (enough) work when I return in early March. This one’s probably at the core, no matter how many times I myself have sat opposite friends over a coffee/glass of wine and reassured them about their own job/work searches. For all the usual reasons – they’ve got the right attitude, connections, willingness to work, skills, experience. Ditto for me. I need to have a word with myself on this one. I have a plan, but that’s one for a blog post in a couple of months’ time!
It’ll be weird travelling alone for so long. The last multi-month trip I did was with my ex, back in 2007. No matter that since I’ve travelled alone to places like Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Nepal, Guatemala and had a month-long trip in South-Eastern Europe too. Something inside me is saying “eeeeeeeeeeek”. That little mouse needs to be quiet. Or to be eaten by a cat. Sometimes it would just be nice to have a familiar friendly face around, that’s all I’m saying. I’m gonna miss my friends!
That every worse case scenario detailed on the travel advisory of the UK foreign office website is going to happen to me, and I’ll get expressed kidnapped in Colombia. Maybe I shouldn’t have read the travel advisories two days before travelling? The Colombia advisory was – how can I put it – gritty. Then I took a deep breath and reminded myself to get a grip, as I have no intention of going to any of the “gritty” places mentioned. I did, however, find myself reading a story about the latest FARC peace negotiations on the BBC website at 2am. In Spanish. I was – as we say in Yorkshire – “well chuffed” I got the gist of most of it, so every cloud has a silver lining!
This reminds me of the core of who I am – an eternal optimist. The girl who sees the glass half full rather than half empty. And if it’s not half full, godamn it, I’ll go and buy myself another one so it is!
My hopes for long-term travel
Finally improving my Spanish. Yay! This has been a biiiiig objective of mine over the last 6 months or so. I’m biting the bullet and moving from practice (which I’ve been doing in recent months) to improvement. Two weeks in Spanish language school in Nicaragua are booked, and I can’t wait.
Interacting with local people. Hopefully more easily with my improved Spanish. I find this a major advantage of travelling alone; it makes for far more opportunities to interact with local people. Even if it’s only ‘cos there’s no-one else to ask about your chicken bus connection for you!
I like to take postcards of my home city of York with me when I travel, so I can show local people where I live. Talking with local people and their hopes and dreams makes me feel very humble. I’ve met drivers / farmers who are studying English at night school, and tuk tuk riders who are studying accountancy. People seem to seek out and grasp opportunity at every turn. It makes me sad that so many in our home (far wealthier) countries don’t have the same incredible attitude.
Good coffee. I was in java heaven in Guatemala when I visited in November 2013, and I’m sure I will be in Nicaragua and Colombia too. A trip to a coffee plantation or two will definitely be in order.
Volcanoes. I’m going to climb a volcano. Technically I climbed one in Guatemala last year, but it was so cloudy I could barely see my hand in front of my face, so quite frankly I could’ve been anywhere. Nicaragua’s volcanoes are out there, and I’ll be conquering (at least) one of ‘em.
Sun, sun, sun. As anyone who knows me knows, I am not a fan of cold weather. And the UK at the moment? It’s cold (not in an Arctic sense, in a Julie sense). I like to feel the warmth. Me and my factor 30 sunscreen say, “bring it on!”
Overcoming my long-term travel fears
Those around me may see me as confident, but we all have fears. I know that by facing some of mine, I’ll gain far more: in memories, moments, the people I meet, the things I’ll learn, the places I’ll experience, the journeys I’ll take. Knowing this helps me cast off those niggling doubts and strap on my backpack.
Miami, Nicaragua, Colombia? I’m coming at ya!