I'm excited/nervous/terrified/raring to go/trying to come up with ways to get out of it. Nothing particularly out of the ordinary for when pre-travel stress finally starts to sink in.
I always knew I'd be going away on another big trip again (and again and again and again) but it's been two years since I last left the continent and I've changed a lot since then. Undeniably travel is one of the things I live for, I guess I'm just nervous that it won't love it as much as I love being at home in London. I've become so settled where I am, with awesome family and friends both here and back in my home town and the prospect of leaving them all behind is rather sad. I feel like last time I really had something pushing me to leave; I'd just come out of the most important long term relationship I'd ever had (and still have ever had to be honest) and I was on my gap year between college and uni and all my friends were away having fun at their respective unis. Really, I just wanted to get away from it all, to escape the quiet of my home town and head off on my own adventure, that was more exciting than working three jobs in the town centre. This time it's all a little different, seeing as I've finally found somewhere that I feel settled and happy within myself.
There's also the added factor that some of my bestest friends in the whole wide world who I've hardly seen over the past year will be returning home from their years abroad - in Australia, USA, Hungary, Germany... the list goes on - and I won't be around to see them when they get back. I've been pretty shabby at keeping in touch over the year too (I'm so sorry guys), which makes me miss them EVEN more. Plus there's all the summer fun they'll be having without me...
I know right, BOO HOO to me going off travelling, it's a hard life. Believe me, don't for one second think that I don't feel super lucky to be in the position I am in, but our highlight orientated society dictates that I should focus on all the awesome stuff I am missing out on and sometimes that mentality is difficult not to sink into. It's when I think about that, that I realise exactly why I am so in love with travelling.
I mean, there are no expectations or constraints on you as an individual. Yes, you may be in the expectant mindset of 'THIS IS GOING TO BE THE BEST TRIP EVERRRRR', which isn't a bad one to be in, but there are literally 0 expectations on you as a person, and you learn how to be a much more open-minded and well-rounded person because of this. You can get up when you like, eat when you like, eat what you like, talk to whoever you like (travellers are friendly folk). There are no deadlines, essays, time constraints, meetings, classes, events, nothing that you HAVE to do or anywhere you HAVE to be. Whilst society back home is telling me I should be sad about missing out on the guaranteed fun I could be having there, travel beckons and whispers, 'Who knows what will happen, let's go and explore'. How could I ever say no to offer like that? As cliché as it might sound, there is nothing that can read or buy and no prediction that you can make to 100% prepare you for travelling.
'Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry and narrow-mindedness' - Mark Twain
I was reminiscing with a couple of friends last night about previous trips I've been on, as two of them had come up to stay the night before jetting off this morning on a trip around South America (they'll be in Brazil by tomorrow night!). Of course you remember all the big highlights of your trip: the big mountains climbed and oceans you swam in, but what about all the little things that make the journey so worthwhile? The people you meet, the foods you try, the music you listen to; all the things you would never and could never experienced from the comfort of your own home.
This was taken in San Pedro de Atacama, just before a three day 4x4 trip towards the Salt Flats. We met Steve and Georgia a day and a half earlier when getting off a bus, when I dropped a bag on my foot and swore rather loudly in strong northern accent, to which Steve responded, 'Are you English?'. We then travelled together for a month and a half.
I met Mani in Cusco, when he had tagged along with our crew for a while on his year long world trip. Since then, we've visited each other in our home countries of Germany and England, and no doubt we will do again.
My favourite story to tell is that of an unlikely couple. When Evie and I travelled to Peru, we met a guy called Sam (far right on the cover photo!), who quickly became a close friend of ours. One thing lead to another, we travelled together and then he came to visit us in the UK on the European stretch of his world trip. Which is when he met our friend Niamh, who I'd gone to high school and was living in Edinburgh for uni. The two met, fell in love pretty much instantly and he has now permanently moved to Scotland to be with her and they are making plans to move to Aus after her degree has finished... Sometimes I forget just how crazy-romantic that story is until I say it out loud. I'd like to think that story alone made our trip worthwhile, but we got that and more, along with life-long friends all over the world and some of the craziest stories that you just cannot make up.
These are the things I try to focus on when I get scared about going away, that uncertainty is not necessarily always a bad thing; it can be terrifying and fun and absolutely bewildering all at the same time. Over my travelling years I have done some of the craziest things and met the coolest people, including zip-lining over the Inca Jungle, surviving drugs raids on Peruvian buses, epic car chases and becoming the best of friends with the male version of myself just one afternoon together in a Croatian hostel. Who knows what this next trip is going to entail.