We are stuck. We spend our free time reading other travelers blogs, sucking up the nervous energy of those just preparing to embark, the excitement and joy of those on the road, and the reflection of those at the end. We exist in a rather odd place in the middle. We have, in a sense, already “been there, done that”. We’ve previously taken off on our own long-term journey when we backpacked around the world in 2007-2008. We were scared and more excited than we had dreamed possible. I remember, like it was yesterday, the overwhelming sense of adventure, as we prepared to head out into the world for a longer than the typical American holiday.
We have been those travelers on the road, arriving after a night bus into a new city, a new country, a new place in the world after crossing over some line on a map. I can immediately relive the adrenaline of the first days in a new locale, trying not to be scammed, trying to find our way around, trying to see and live it ALL, breathing in the experience as though it was as necessary as air.
We have been those returning home, to absolute reverse culture shock. At home and yet not at home at all. Returning to the life of the LARGE (in nearly every sense) in the United States was far more of a shock to our system than arriving into any one of the 40+ countries we have traveled to. The familiar was not comforting and we no longer felt like we belonged in our previous life.
And now~We are at that Place in the Middle. We are, once again, in prep mode, paying off debt, readying our home for sale, and drinking in stories of those already on the road. But it is different this time. We are older, wiser, than the first time. Oh, the excitement is still there, but comes from a place of experience. This time we know what we did right the first time, just as surely as we know what we did wrong and are doing differently this time around.
We know that, beyond friends, family and a couple boxes of possessions, this time we leave nothing behind. We know that the quest for a life less ordinary, a life in the Happiness of Pursuit (to steal the title of Chris Guillebeau’s excellent new book) is the road we choose to take. We know that creating a life that enables us to live where we want and how we want, on our terms, is worth fighting for.
We know it’s NOT easy. Long term travel, whether with a designated end date, or open-ended, is not the same as a vacation. It’s difficult and confusing and challenging in ways those who don’t take that road will never understand. It is also endlessly awe inspiring, fascinating and, clique as it might be, life changing.. Traveling through different cultures and time zones and latitudes forces you to face the best and worst of humanity and transforms the meaning of “need”.
As we step closer to the departure on our Next Big Adventure, the excitement is building. We look forward to the day when we, once again, are the ones stepping out into the world!