Two years ago I arranged and paid for a trip for myself to go around the world. I had heard about this type of trip through an organization call gapyear.com. It is a company that assists late teenagers/early 20’s to take time after they are done with their early schooling to travel on either themed excursions or just plain ol traveling. By the time I was told about it I was 23(ancient), had already graduated from college, and was two years into forming a tangible career for myself. I was living in Colorado and working for the Colorado Shakespeare Festival (which when no one was calling the box office, there was A LOT of Facebooking going around) So, I there was on Facebook and was talking to a friend of mine in Chicago. I was complaining how restless I was feeling and how desperately I wanted to move to England or ( as a matter of fact) just go somewhere. He insisted that I check out the website, because it seemed like I could really be the type of person to benefit from it. I wasn’t sure that I was “lost” or needed direction per say for a gap year, because I had done theatre for so long and knew for so long that it was what I wanted to do. I was 23 and I felt certain about my career and where it was going. I knew what I was good at and never really had a problem ever getting hired somewhere. (Don’t hate me. The theatre world has outrageous connections all over. It’s just how it is. I am paying for those past fortunes now.) Anyway, so here I was on gapyear.com trying to figure out which trip or destination would suit me best, because I knew I needed the “fix.”
Suddenly, I came across this RTW (Round The World) trip that they suggested. It seemed a little pricey going through the company to do it, so I started to research the airlines. I found that a lot of airlines accommodated “multi-cities” flights. So I plugged in a few transit cities (starting of course with Sydney) where I knew a lot of flights went through. I was coming up with all sorts of prices. When I studied in England, I knew of an organization that was internationally based for students who wanted a good rate to travel. This is when I met my dear friend Peter. I emailed the organization and Peter was the one who emailed me back. We went back and forth figuring out my budget and my interests in certain cities and ended up with a trip from LA to Sydney, flying out of Melbourne to Malaysia to Cairo and ending in London. I had this secret goal in ending with London to just stay forever. I brought all my resumes, recommendation letters, interviewing outfits, and home mementos hoping that I would find a job with a theatre in London. That way I could just live there and accomplish my goal to prosper there.
Note: When traveling all around the world on various flights, trains and buses do NOT take unnecessary items. I know this may seem like a no-brainer, however when you are running down the streets of Singapore to be sure to catch your midnight train back to Malaysia you will thank me for this advice. When I say unnecessary, I MEAN unnecessary. You do not need your fancy heels to go out, or multiple jewelry accessories, or you do NOT need a box of tampons. The rest of the world goes through mensies as well. They sell tampons.
The best part of this trip that I had planned for myself was that I was alone. (Mom, I love you but it made more sense for me to be alone. Don’t take offense) Traveling alone is scary. Traveling alone can be unsafe. Traveling alone is lonely. And traveling alone is exhilarating, it is refreshing, it is educational, and it is brave. Yes, you are allowed to be afraid and nervous to travel alone, but I promise you it is incredibly satisfying to succeed at. While I was preparing for my trip, just about every friend I have told me how brave and lucky I was do this trip alone. FIRST, I am NOT lucky. I have been lucky once in my life for winning a Facebook contest and give all the credit to a photographer named Ron. I was not lucky. I worked really hard for this trip. I saved for a year, I was very frugal with money, I lived in a house with 5 other girls for a year, and I researched every day. Second, I never saw myself as brave. It may take courage to travel alone, but I had already traveled Europe and Africa with two other people extremely close to me. I knew what I was getting into.
Because I traveled ALONE:
-I met really amazing people, who I am not quite sure I would have if I wasn’t by myself
-Got to eat whatever I wanted
-Got to see whatever I wanted
-Scheduled my time and energy without needing to approve it by someone else
-Got to be tired when I wanted to be tired and got to be crazy when I wanted that
I learned so much about myself. I learned about what I didn’t want out of the career I had chosen (even if I do feel more lost now). I found people who are helping guide maybe where I would like to end up. I saw everything I wanted to. I feel so much more confident than when I started. It was healthy (mentally) and it has fed my Wanderlust even more. C’est la vie. It is not meant for everyone. There are some people in this world who need the security of someone else and that is perfectly fine. But for those of us who have always been loners, it is quite the “soul-searching” experience. I’ve told myself another excursion is in store. Every 5 years. Look out 2016!