So here I am sitting on the plane, 3 hours into the flight. I love long haul flights. Often they coincide with major points in your life, and I love that they give you that time to yourself, to sit in one place, look out of the window and think about just what it is you are about to do or reflect on what you’ve just done. So this is the first of 2 blogs about feelings and emotions. I wanted to put into words just how it feels to be starting a big adventure and explore some of the specific things about this trip which bring these about.
Last week, some of you may have read a blog I wrote for escape the city. It was about feeling ‘scexy’ – a word I invented in the middle of the night to describe predominantly how I was feeling about starting a new business. The word is a rather awkward marriage between the words ‘scared’ and ‘excited’. Sadly only after writing and submitting the blog did I find that ‘scexy’ had already been defined in the urban dictionary…..
‘So sexy it’s scary’ was not what I was trying to convey. However, I still want to stick with the theme as I can’t get away from repeating the words ‘excited’ and ‘scared’ every time someone asks me how I’m feeling about the trip.
In last week’s blog I said that my main reasons for feeling ‘scexy’ were all about the Dromomaniacs business. In hindsight, I think it was wrong to dismiss that I’m feeling exactly the same way about the trip too. And it’s the latter that’s really begun to play on my mind this last week as I’ve had my leaving do and actually boarded the plane to start Bangkok2Birmingham. So what is it specifically about the trip that makes the butterflies flutter in my stomach – which draws me in with excitement, yet cautions me with fear?
I’m going to pick 3 things for each. The rest of this blog will concentrate on why I’m excited. Tomorrows will be about why I’m scared. I thought it would be interesting to revisit these at the end of the trip and see what in the end did really turn out to be exciting or scary.
I’m excited about…..
The unknown – I think what really excites me about travel in general, and this trip in particular, is that I really don’t know what experiences the next few months are going to bring my way. True, you could argue this about anything in life, but I think its fairly safe to say that you have more of an idea of things when you are in a structured job, see a similar set of friends & family, have a home to go back to each night or even have a carefully planned holiday for that matter. I’m not saying that any of those are in any way bad, and at certain points I’ll almost certainly crave all of them. But for this trip I have virtually nothing planned – I have no accommodation booked, I have no transport booked and I only have a vague idea of the route. I think there’s an exciting freedom to that – I’ll have no idea where I’ll be the next week or who I’ll be with. I have the freedom to go wherever I see something which might interest me or with whomever I like.
I’ve come across the word ‘serendipity’ a lot over the last few months. I’ve got to admit that I didn’t actually know what it properly meant before. I like its simple meaning ‘happy accidents’. I think that through travelling in the manner that I’m proposing that these ‘happy accidents’ are more likely to come my way. Not knowing what they’ll be is part of the excitement!
The return – Although I’ve just highlighted the unknown as probably the main source of excitement, contrastingly one of the things which is also making me incredibly excited is a return to some places I do know. Specifically Bangkok, where I spent 7 incredibly happy months of my life when I was 18. I think there’s a certain magic in returning to a place you once knew well but haven’t been to for a long time. I’m excited to see how the city has changed. I’m excited to see old friends there. I’m excited to see how much of my memories from when I was 18 come flooding back to me.
I’d liken it to when I watch a film set in the future. They make me want to experience the future now – if only for a short time. Well effectively that’s what I’ll be doing to Bangkok. My lasting (and very vivid) impressions of it were a number of years ago now, so stepping back in there will be like stepping into a film of the future (maybe).
Learning – Obviously it would be wrong to pretend that you only learn when you travel. Of course you don’t. But for me, the contrast between academic or work learning and travel learning is the scale. With the former you learn more and more about less and less. For the latter, it’s more and more about more and more. And whereas you might only learn superficial things about the history or politics of a country through travel, I’m excited about learning more about some of the more fundamental things in life. I’ll learn more about other people from all over the world, and specifically I’ll learn how they gradually change and evolve in outlooks and beliefs as I return slowly to Europe. I’m excited about the opportunity that couchsurfing is going to give me to really gain first hand experience of learning more about people.
I also think it will help me learn more about myself. Sounds cheesy to say ‘I’m going to travel and find myself’ and it’s a phrase I usually hate. But I don’t think it’s become a catchphrase for no reason, especially as its often difficult to step back and take stock of everything when you’re flat out at work. Throwing myself into new situations and being away from those I love, by myself, for such a long period of time really is going to force me to react in a way and ask questions of myself I never have before. And that’s exciting.
And finally, I’m really excited about learning about the sustainability issues as I go along. I’ve been in 2 minds as to whether I should include this as part of my trip. The main reason for has been that I want to explore sustainability issues in the real world rather than via a desk. Read this blog for more about my motivations. The main reason against being that I’ve just got so much else to think about too. But having had a very productive week with sustainability contacts in both Thailand and Cambodia I’m now really excited about it.
I’m particularly excited not just to understand more about the issues, but also by where their investigation will physically take me and whom I’ll meet along the way. I’ll hopefully see bits of countries and talk to people I never would have done had I just followed the main tourist attractions. I’ve already had some great responses from people within the sustainability field saying they’ll show me this or that, they’ll introduce me to xyz, or that I can even stay with them. I think it’s going to add a real unusual element to the trip.
Apologies for re-use of old pictures here (except the plane one) – upload speed is utter crap and couldn’t wait for more appropriate images to load…
Click here for part 2 of this blog on feeling scared.