I’m going around the world in March (and parts of February and April) and I’m trying to detail the whole ordeal. Here’s what I’ve got thus far:
Traveling is a lot like a hurricane. There’s a flurry of activity in the beginning when you’re trying to plan the thing. Then there’s a flurry of activity in the end when you actually take the trip. But in the middle, there’s this calm of anticipation. You’re riding high from booking the trip, but there’s not much you can do at the moment. Nothing, in fact. Only waiting.
That’s where I am right now. I’ve got the major flights booked, I’ve got hotels in Seoul (at least the second of three times we’re there) and Paris secured, but besides those things, there’s not much to be done. Except wait.
This trip is decidedly different due to its scale. Because of the many moving pieces, I’m trying to avoid locking myself into things that don’t have to be locked in (i.e. everything but the Bhutan and Iran swings). There’s just too much that can change; an outbound flight delay from Seoul could change the train departure in Iguazu Falls, Brazil. There will come a point where I will have to make semi-permanent decisions, but this far out the old Yiddish proverb comes to mind: “man plans, God laughs”; and I’m doing my best to not get laughed at by God.
That means I’m stuck planning in generalities. Honestly, it’s kind of an interesting way to go about things. Take New Zealand for example. The general plan is to rent a car in Auckland, road trip to Wellington, and then catch a flight to Sydney from there. Normally I would work from the outside inwards: I’d book the Wellington to Sydney flight, figure out how many days I can spend on the road, reserve the rental car in Auckland and then plan the in between parts. But because I’m getting to Auckland a day before Mike and because we’re actively trying to get on the same flight, we can’t book the flights to Sydney because we don’t know how long both of us will be in New Zealand and thus can’t estimate the drive time between Auckland and Wellington.
Instead, I’m finding interesting things I want to do between the two places, regardless of how long it takes or where it’s located. I don’t know what day I’ll be where, so I can literally look at everything New Zealand has to offer and pick my favorites. It’s fun to do that now– much more fun than picking things to do based on what day you’re at a particular place– but I also imagine it’ll be a lot more disappointing when we do solidify the schedule and I can’t do everything I want to do.
I don’t consider myself inflexible, but I do like a solid plan to be in place. I’ve always known that the best plan is one that can fit to circumstance, but I’m quickly learning that sometimes the only plan is to be flexible. A couple of years ago when I was visiting my friend Jeff in Dublin, we missed our flight to Edinburgh due to a calendar mix up. At the airport, we made the decision to hop on a bus to Galway, a cross country drive to the west coast. It ended up being my favorite thing about the trip.
With so many moving pieces to this round-the-world trip, the goal shouldn’t be to prevent missed flights to Scotland, the goal should be to find the Galways in the mistakes.