So what’s the plan?
I always have a plan. I love routine, medications structure, page and productivity. I think I would have thrived in the army (if only not for that “don’t ask don’t tell” thing, but thanks to Obama, that’s actually not an issue anymore.) My routine starts early in the morning. At 6am everyday I rotate through a regimen of muscle groups and cardio workouts calculated on a fitness calendar. I then work from exactly 8:00AM to 5:01PM. After work I have six ongoing activities throughout the week that I rarely miss. That leaves me with two open nights a week. Usually, I try to squeeze in a date night with Jenni into one of those night. The other floating night, I catch up with a friend who often has to book the “hang out” 2-3 weeks in advance.
Jenni calls me the “cruise captain” of our relationship. I tend to be the one who does the majority of the social planning. If we are going away on a weekend trip, I will start packing the car at least three days in advance, have the route mapped out, and have chosen the restaurants where we will eat. I enjoy the anticipation of the journey and the execution of the plan.
So I felt up for the challenge of planning a year long trip. I first consulted Star Alliance to try to buy a ticket around the world. I wanted a plan to feel the security of knowing where we were going. I stressed myself out for three months feeling like I had to figure out numerous variables: seasons to travel, LGBT contacts in each country, tourist sites, land travel options, and domestic flight schedules. My enthusiasm for the trip actually deflated as I stressed over questions such as “Which island in the Philippines do we go to? What city are we most likely to find Supergays in Cambodia? Does a Star Alliance airline fly into Bali? (These are high class problems. Nobody should really feel bad for me).
Finally, I decided to throw it all to the wind. I told Jenni that the new plan was no plan. I had concluded that it was better to maximize flexibility and buy our tickets as we traveled. I imagined that this way, we could follow recommendations of other travelers we meet, follow leads to new Supergay interviews, and possibly come home if we needed to take care of my dad.
When the cruise captain decided to take a vacation, the first mate got nervous. Jenni created the mother of all Excel spread sheets that charted average precipitation and ideal times to travel for each country. We priced it out on a Star Alliance round the world ticket and it came to $7800 each. When we then priced tickets through each country on kayak.com, we actually were able to beat the price to $5500 each. So, we’re going with the flow and now buying one ticket at a time. We have an itinerary, but not set tickets. We’ve recently decided to add Bali and New Zealand to our itinerary so we’re loving the flexibility.
Part of what is most appealing about this trip for me is enjoying the freedom that comes with long term travel. We have the gift of time on this trip. If we over-plan and place restrictions, we take away the relaxed sense of time. The last thing I want is to feel behind on our itinerary or pressured on our trip. While my instinct is to predict all the variables and make plans, the learning for me is to give up control and live in the moment.
I know having no tickets sounds crazy, but I am actually enjoying people looking at me like I am crazy these days. That makes me think it is a good idea. And, I already feel less stressed.