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What Does it Take to Pack Your Bags and Travel?

14/02/18

Paul is our adventurous teacher, who decided to quit his responsibilities for 6 months and go on an exciting journey with his girlfriend Helen.

Today, Tuesday 30th January 2018, me and my girlfriend life team mate partner Helen fly to Kathmandu, Nepal. This marks the start of a six month journey taking in ten countries, fifteen flights, some boats, trains, rickshaws, tuk-tuks, and more; and plenty of walking - it begins with a two week trek to Mt Everest base camp! Then, a cultural tour of Northern India; followed by two months adventure across Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam and Laos; rest and relaxing in Bali, penultimately the Philippines, and finally Japan.

We have quit our jobs, sold our cars and rented out our homes. We’ve spent our savings and put ‘normal’ life on hold. After ten years teaching in a tough school in Yorkshire for me; and six years in fast paced high powered finance management for Helen; this trip is a chance for us to take a break and find out what we want for the next ten years and decide what we want ‘normal’ life to look like. Currently we are burnt out and exhausted, timetabled every minute of the day at work and working all hours at home. We’d like to have a family one day, but where would that fit in? It’s a cliché but we want find ourselves – and have a big rest.
So maybe we’ll be back in three weeks with a bad tummy and tail between our legs or perhaps in five months time I will refuse to ever wear shoes and have opened a meditation retreat in the Ghillie Isles. We might love it or hate but we feel we have to do it, now, or we’ll never know.

Lists

One particular bad habit I am hoping to kick (or at least curb) during our six months away is ‘letting go of my to-do list’. I am terrible for it. It started as a helpful way to sort my day; jotting down jobs in my iPhone notes pages. But it has turned a little obsessive and pretty unhealthy. I began putting things to do in my notes when my ‘reminders’ app froze. Then it was helping for work; setting meetings, creating a marking rota for myself; planning rehearsals. I am now clicking everything down for what seems like each hour of the day and always looking at it and ticking off and editing and adding and thinking what I need to do next before I’ve even finished the first thing... I can’t seem to relax
Short of reminding myself to wake up and go to the toilet I am scheduled for almost everything; ‘Text Gaz’, ‘Gym’, ‘Go to Nans’, ‘Get chicken out of freezer’, ‘write blog article’, ‘watch ‘Inside No. 9’ is a sample of a recent list. This might not seem so bad; but every day? And it strangely got worse when I finished work in preparation for this trip, as though by not having the structure of a daily job would mean I would waste the days if I didn’t diarise as spe-ci-fi-call-y as possible. And then I started adding the times; ‘8.30am – 9.30am breakfast and reading’...

When I signed up to 6 months travelling there was clearly to be a lot of unknowns ahead, and lots of jobs to do and my ‘list’ has gone off the scale in the last few months, but there was a lot of jobs I really wasn’t expecting. Big jobs were obvious; such as finishing work, moving out and renting the house, selling my car etc. But there were things to sort that I thought would be easier and some stuff had never even crossed my mind...

For weeks I spent my days unsubscribing from email mailing lists, redirecting my post, cancelling Netflix, pausing gym membership, using up freezer meals, declaring my car off the road, passing details for the 6-a-side footie team manager responsibility on to my mate Joe, giving back borrowed DVDs, packing up and renting out my house and going to the dentist...

So to humour my love for lists, and as a sort of staggered withdrawal, my blog will finish with a list;

List of unexpected pre-travelling stuff

  • Seeing just how many bloody e-mailing lists I am subscribed to
  • How sentimentally hard it is to e-bay an old CD collection
  • VHS are twice the size of DVDs to store don’t you know
  • Finding out the girlfriend was a Mini-Disc early adopter
  • Realising I would need five trips to the travel clinic and spend £500 on travel vaccinations
  • That I owned copies of 200+ Sidewalk Surfer Skateboarding Magazines, 150 of Viz and 120 of NME
  • The joy and satisfaction of finishing a bottle of shampoo or sweet chilli sauce
  • Cancelling the wheelie bin cleaner man
  • Realising how many lovely friends I have
  • Realising how much I will miss people
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