A week from today I’ll be landing in Johannesburg, South Africa. A trip I booked back in May when I saw a great fare pop up. At the time, my life was very different. I was consulting at a startup, had a solid income, was living in New York City, and everything seemed to be going according to plan.
Then it wasn’t. I made the decision to leave it all in search of something. I still don’t know what that something is, really, but I know I needed to get out into the world. Re-evaluate.
So I did. That’s how I ended up selling all of my stuff and backpacking around Southeast Asia.
But I had to come back. Partly because my passport was expiring, but also because I needed to make sure I had enough money in the bank to go on the trip I booked on a whim a lifetime ago.
That trip is less than a week away and all I know at this point is that I’ll be landing in Johannesburg, I’ll make my way down to Cape Town somehow, and I’ll be leaving from Johannesburg again about 2 weeks later.
If I had known that I wouldn’t have a 9-5 job to get back to, I would have booked a much longer trip, but that’s the way it goes.
Friends and family have asked if I’m ready for the trip. My answer is obviously yes. They ask what I’m going to do there. My answer is “I have no idea.”
How did I get to the point that I feel comfortable just hopping on a plane, flying to the other side of the world, and figuring it out when I get there?
I trust the process.
I’ve traveled enough at this point to know what I like and don’t like. I’ve traveled solo for years now and I’ve managed to come back in one piece after having a great time. I don’t know what I want to do when I get there, so why force plan? The best stuff comes from the mouths of people who have done it. Those mouths are in Johannesburg, Cape Town, and the towns in between.
I don’t need to know what I’m doing every day of the trip. Maybe I’ll do absolutely nothing besides hang out at a café or play with some penguins. But I know that I can go there without a plan and figure it out on the fly. It may not always be the most efficient route, but I don’t believe that travel needs to be efficient. It’s a process. A journey.
Did travelers a hundred years ago plan each day of their trip before they arrived? No. Because they didn’t have the internet to tell them what to do. They went and figured it out when they got there and wrote home with the tales of their adventures.
That’s how I prefer to travel.
So am I ready for the trip? Yep! What am I going to do there? I’ll let you know when I get back.