When I decided to travel, I had only a vague idea of where I’d like to visit.
I’d initially planned to spend 3 months exploring Europe, followed by 3 months volunteering in Hawaii and hadn’t planned much else. As soon as I threw myself into the travel community and started to read blogs and research locations, my route changed entirely. The length of the trip quadrupled in size, and my dreams grew bigger than ever.
I realised that spending in three months in Europe would likely evaporate a lot of my savings, and after looking at the prices, especially in Western Europe, I knew that I would have to cut this out of my plan. There were areas of Eastern Europe that fascinated me, with the added bonus of being a lot cheaper! I took these countries one at a time, and studied them, learnt about things to do, read about other peoples’ experiences there, and either added them to my list, or crossed them off.
Eventually I had a list of places I wanted to visit, and could start to connect the dots. I don’t want to spend a huge amount of time in Europe, and at times I thought about cutting it out completely, but I’ve decided it will be the perfect start to my trip. At present, the plan is to fly into Prague, and probably travel by train and bus through Slovakia to Hungary, onto Slovenia and Croatia. From there I would like to visit Greece and maybe Turkey. From Turkey, I will travel up to Ukraine. I have a new addition to my trip which I only added within the last few days: Chernobyl! I’ve had mixed reactions about my decision to visit there (Either: WHY?! Are you insane? Or: Wow! That is SO cool!), but after checking that it is perfectly safe, I have decided to take a tour there, and it’s possibly the part I’m most excited about for the first segment of the trip.
I had originally planned on doing some volunteer work in Hawaii at this point, but after reading about so many amazing adventures, North America just didn’t appeal to me at that point. I wanted to see Asia, and experience cultures that were different to my way of life in the UK.
I decided on spending some time in China, and at first I was going to book a flight there, but one night, just before I was going to sleep, the idea of taking the Trans-Siberian Railway popped into my head. I have no idea how or why it did, but I immediately got back out of bed, fired up my laptop and started researching the route and possible stops. My stomach filled with butterflies, and I felt exhilarated just thinking about it. How could I possibly take a flight and miss all of that adventure? So it was settled. I would take the Trans-Siberian Railway through Russia, stopping off in Mongolia and then heading off to China. I haven’t been able to research the specific stops I’d like to take when in Russia yet, but I plan on doing so over the next few weeks.
I spent ages agonising over where to go after finishing the Trans-Siberian Railway. Even now I am not certain about where I want to go. Thoughts of China, Japan, Thailand, Indonesia, Australia. I’m an incredibly indecisive person and always have the fear that if I cross somewhere off, I could have had the best time ever. It’s scary! My tentative plan at the moment is to spend a brief amount of time in China, travelling down to Hong Kong and I’ll fly to Malaysia.
I’m planning on flying into Sydney just in time for Christmas, where the fourth segment of my journey begins. I am going to get a Working Holiday Visa for Australia, so I plan on settling down for quite some time.
When I look at my original route and look at mine now, I laugh at how completely different they are. At times, I wonder if I should scrap my route and form a completely different one.
I have to accept I can’t visit every country in the world, and I especially can’t on this trip. I want this trip to be the best experience of my life. Even though I’ll have to miss out on some amazing places I’d love to visit, I’ll find even more amazing places on the way, and the places I’ve missed out on will still be there for my next adventure after this one.
Sometimes you have to go with your gut feeling. My initial plans never felt right with me. I was excited about it, but it never really clicked. Once I started making small adjustments, I started to get a good feeling about my plans. When I cut out places like Sweden and Germany from my original plan, I didn’t feel sad about it. Why waste your trip of a lifetime in a place you don’t care if you do or don’t visit? Now, after having made new plans, the thought of flying to China instead of taking the Trans-Siberian Railway fills me with sadness and regret – I know I have to do it.
You have to be ruthless, but you also have to accept that you will change your mind. And that’s okay. I expect to change my mind again before leaving, and I’ll probably change it even more once I’m on the road. Choosing to travel without fixed plans and travel dates allows me a lot of flexibility to change my plans if I so wish so I don’t have the added burden of knowing everything is set in stone and I can’t back out of it!
Are you as fickle as me? How do you force yourself to sit down and commit to a plan?