On one hand you’ve got a comfortable life – a decent job, a nice flat and an amazing group of friends and family that you can always rely on and like spending time with; on the other, you have a desire to see certain parts of the world and, like it or not, you’re not getting any younger. It seems a lot to walk away from, but if you don’t do it now when will you?
Anyone can talk a good game
For years I’ve talked about throwing it all in and taking the plunge, but talking about something is very different to actually doing it. If you’re as indecisive at making big decisions as me, there are a few sure ways to make things easier.
- Get someone else to make the decision for you. In my case, I am lucky to have an amazing girlfriend who shares my wanderlust but has not shared my tentativeness on this particular question. If I’m being honest, she’s really taken the reigns on this and despite my profession as a travel consultant she has definitely done the lion’s share of the planning!
- If you talk about achieving a particular goal enough then it eventually becomes self-fulfilling. Realistically by the time that you’ve told all of your friends and family that you are going to do something – be it running a marathon, doing a sky-dive, starting a business, sculpting a six-pack (sadly I’m still someway away from achieving this one), or going travelling – it becomes far too late to back out and you have to go through with it.
- Mitigate your risks. Before going away it’s important to tie up any loose ends (see below), but it’s also a good idea to make sure that you leave as many career opportunities, options and doors open as possible. This means that when you eventually get home it will be much less daunting to readjust. I am trying to be proactive so that this is not just another ‘gap year’; by writing blogs, taking pictures (which I am then selling), making notes and visiting interesting places and hotels that will help me in the long run – if I end up selling trips to South America in the future.
Pack your bags and get out of here
So you’ve made your mind up to go away (or in my case willingly had it made up for you), what next? Surely you just book your tickets and jump on the next flight, right? That’s what I naively thought about two months ago; and, in fairness that was the case when I last did a trip like this at the age of 18, but back then I had very few ties. As boring as it sounds, going travelling as a ‘grownup’ is an entirely different proposition.
As much as I’d like to have just hopped on the first flight to Rio I, like most people, have all of the factors mentioned at the beginning of this post to consider first: a career; loved ones; a mortgage; a certain amount of planning to do – not to mention the fact that I didn’t speak a word of Portuguese or Spanish.
First things first I had to leave my job. This was harder than I had anticipated because I was not quitting because I had fallen out of love with the work or the people, I was leaving because it was the right time for
my girlfriend and I to take on a new challenge and a new adventure. Because of this I felt a certain amount of guilt leaving, what was a tightknit group, at a busy time to pursue my own selfish desires. Hopefully no bridges have been burned though – after all you never know when I might need them, or them me, in the future.
Sorting the flat was next. Without being able to find suitable tenants who could cover my mortgage payments, this trip would never have been possible. Fortunately, websites like spareroom exist which made this process much easier than I imagine it used to be. All you need to do is: over embellish an advert online by using promotional images from a time when your flat looked very different to how it does now; tidy the flat to the best of your ability and set aside a couple of
evenings to show potential tenants around, while you pretend that the flat is always that clean; finally, choose the least crazy candidate.
With that all in place I needed to sort the legal side. For anyone that’s interested, I found a website called Lawdepot really useful for drawing up tenancy agreements; Openrent for sorting out an inventory; and you can find deposit protection schemes on the Gov.uk website – all free of charge.
Having vacated the flat and moved back home it was time to say my goodbyes. This mainly consisted of going for countless drinks and dinners with mates which can’t have helped my budget for this trip and certainly didn’t help my goal of getting fit before going away. In usual fashion I left packing until the last-minute which means that I have no doubt forgotten something vital.
In short, there was loads more to do than I had anticipated and it was incredibly stressful!
Is the juice worth the squeeze?
I’ll only be able to answer this question in a few months’ time; but as I am sitting on the white sands of Copacabana Beach, sipping an ice-cold Caiprinha, eating freshly caught, barbecued prawns, it certainly seems to be right now…