The Anticipation of a RTW Trip
Two Weeks to Go
People keep telling me that Berlin has good currywurst. A fact that would appeal to me if only I enjoyed eating sausage. Besides that, I don’t know anything to do or see or eat in Berlin.
When, in February, I booked a plane ticket there I figured that I had plenty of time to sort such things out. But now it’s June and I’m leaving in two weeks and have hardly picked up a guidebook. Life happened, work happened, extreme procrastination that haunted me throughout 20 years of school happened.
And I now have two more weeks to figure out everything I’m going to be doing for the next year. Berlin is just the first stop of many, each I’m less prepared for than the last.
The idea of taking a round the world trip had been buzzing in my head for years. I’m not sure how, exactly, it got there. In grad school I took a travel writing class and while everyone else was talking about backpacking Europe or living in Mongolia, I wrote about taking a Greyhound from Chicago to Milwaukee. A few years back while on a three-week European vacation a friend mentioned how he’d heard of people traveling for a year on a round the world ticket and was contemplating doing it some day. In both of those instances I thought to myself “I could never do that.” I don’t know what happened that changed my mind, although I’m still not sure anything actually did. I’m still not convinced that indefinite travel is something I am capable of doing. But I suppose I’m going to find out.
Over a year ago I decided that in July of this summer I would leave my job to backpack through Europe. I would see the world and go to all the places I never thought I’d go. I ended up choosing Berlin as my first stop simply because it was the cheapest one-way ticket I could find.
It still doesn’t feel like I’m the one taking this trip. Like I quit my job and in a weeks time will never have to go back to the opera house where I worked for the last four and a half years. Like I booked a one-way ticket to Europe with no itinerary, no exact timeframe, no end date. It doesn’t feel like in two weeks time my whole life will be turned upside down and I’ll be living nomadically with only the things that can fit in my backpack.
Someone with a whole lot more courage than I have is taking this trip. Someone who isn’t shy and socially awkward is taking this trip. Someone who can read a map is taking this trip. I’m just watching it unfold.
I still haven’t gotten to the point I normally do before a vacation where I’m crying and cursing for forcing myself to leave the comforts of my home. I’m not shaking and suffering insomnia and rationalizing reasons for me to cancel.
I suspect that will come in about a week and a half.
I’m still reminding myself that I’ve made no commitment other than to go to Berlin. I can come back home after a week and buy a condo and never leave it. I’m still reminding myself that since I’ve made no plans I don’t have to go to Asia. I don’t have to go to Poland. I can make my way from Berlin to London if I want and spend my days in a place where I can at least mostly understand what people are saying. Though, I do have a fear that I’m going to get to Berlin and never leave. Not because I’ll fall in love with the city but because I’ll never figure out how to buy a train ticket out of there.
I see a few all-nighters in the coming weeks as I desperately try to cram for what to do in Europe. I see many tears and some absolute refusal. I see feigning illness. I see calling my old roommate and telling her “never mind I’m staying.” I see telling my boss “oh you thought I was serious about quitting?”
Every time I prepare to travel I panic and cry and decide that I no longer want to go. But every time I return from travel I feel calm and rejuvenated and just plain happy.
So I’ll have to push back all those tears and all those excuses and force myself on that plane to Germany. Because I also see, in my next year of travel, adventure, art museums, cafes, monuments, new friends, wine, and maybe even some currywurst.
Val is a member of our Basic Training community, an efficient and supportive way to plan your extended travel. Need support to help turn your career break dreams into reality? Check out Career Break Basic Training.