Insomnia and anticipation as reality sinks in

by Kim on May 2, 2012 · 45 comments

 

RTW Countdown: 2.5 weeks until departure

Status: Anxious, excited, busy

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We leave home in less than twenty days. I have six days of work left, Brian has twelve. The month is flying by in a rush of happy hours and farewell dinners. Each one is sad and sweet.

A new development: I’m usually a good sleeper, but in the past week I’ve begun tossing and turning with insomnia, fighting a restlessness that springs up as soon as we turn the lights off and the room falls quiet.

Lying in bed, my mind loops with anticipatory scenes of the next few years. I see Brian and I, two weeks into the future, driving away from Portland in the early morning. I see our car packed to the brim, the sun rising over the Columbia River Gorge as we move eastbound. I see it. It’s so close now.

Or, I see us at the bottom of the Grand Canyon, cooling off in the Colorado River.  I see us trekking through the Andes on our way to Machu Picchu. I see us hunched over the computer at a coffee shop in Buenos Aires, searching for cheap flights to India.  I see us camping in Iceland, eating street food in Thailand, exploring temples in Cambodia, trekking in Nepal. And I see the dirty beds, the long bus rides, the street dogs, the smog, the litter. I see it like I know it but I don’t know it yet.

For so many years this trip was just a grand idea. But as we pack up our stuff and say our final goodbyes it’s sinking in that this is real.  This is happening. The dream that flickered always in the future, that distant goal we inched imperceptibly closer to day by day, is here. I can reach out and touch it now.

In the past year or so we’ve heard dozens of stories about other people’s travels and we’ve lapped up every one of them. But we know that the experiences we will have will be uniquely our own. The stories and tips and suggestions help us to feel prepared, but you cannot truly prepare for something like this. The guts of the journey, the meat of it, live in the things that you do not plan for. I have found this to be true already.

If you’d asked me six months ago how I would feel today, a little over two weeks until departure, I’d have told you that I’d be jumping up and down with excitement. But the truth is that Brian and I are both a little subdued. I find myself struggling to put words to what I am feeling. This is so unlike anything we’ve done before, I simply can’t place it on my spectrum of prior experiences.

Perhaps the best way to describe it is not as an emotion but as a sense of heightened awareness. I feel alert and alive, like I am seeing things, everyday things, quite vividly. I think this happens when you know you will be leaving something for awhile. It happens at the end.

I’m excited too, of course, sometimes overwhelmingly so.  But, for the most part, being so close to this dream just feels completely surreal.

Once again I’m not sure how to close this post, so I’ll leave you with some images of our preparations over the last few weeks.

A card from dear friends

Creepy lineup of VISA photos

Applying for an International Drivers License

Shredding five years of documents

Errr… how will we fit these in our packs?

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{ 45 comments… read them below or add one }

Jamie May 2, 2012 at 7:21 pm

Kim, i’m so so excited for you!!!!! Of course you are nervous, that is normal!!!!!!

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Kim May 2, 2012 at 9:54 pm

Thanks Jamie :) The nerves/anxiety/excitement grow each day! I can’t believe we are so close!!

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Tracy May 2, 2012 at 7:31 pm

I can’t believe it’s just right around the corner! I know what it means to think about something so much you feel like you’ve already been there. The best part is, when you actually arrive, it’s all so new and different from everything you could have imagined, it’s more alive.

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Kim May 2, 2012 at 9:55 pm

I CAN’T WAIT! Can you believe it? How many years have you heard me blabber about this. It’s just surreal that the time is (almost) here.

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Steph (@ 20 Years Hence) May 2, 2012 at 8:06 pm

We are still months away from our projected departure date and I am already freaking out. I’ve gone back and read your posts and you’ve been so zen about this trip the whole time. I’m already a mess, so I have no idea what I’ll do when the hypothetical becomes reality.

I think it’s only normal to feel like words are beyond you at this point. How do you sum up such a long journey in any real way? It’s crazy to think of years of dreaming and working culminating in a single point, so just remember: this is like standing in line for a rollercoaster. The ride hasn’t even truly begun!

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Kim May 2, 2012 at 9:56 pm

Oh lord, Steph, I have not been zen!!!! I have moments of zen, but I also have moments of TOTALLY! FREAKING! OUT! Trust me.

There is no real way to sum up such a long journey. I love your analogy about the rollercoaster. It’s so true!

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Audrey | That Backpacker May 2, 2012 at 8:34 pm

So exciting! I think once you hit the road it will finally hit you. :D All the best in your upcoming travels!

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Kim May 4, 2012 at 9:52 am

I think that’s exactly when it will hit us too. I dream of that first morning on the road!

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Ayngelina May 2, 2012 at 9:21 pm

Very excited for you, I remember how I felt 2 years ago and believe me there will never be a time like this again with such anticipation so enjoy every moment.

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Kim May 2, 2012 at 9:57 pm

Thanks Ayngelina. Your travels and adventures have been an inspiration for me.

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Maddie May 3, 2012 at 1:28 am

So thrilled for you both, I can’t believe how quickly the weeks are going by. Six days left at work is crazy exciting!! It will all come together in the next couple of weeks, just focus on that image of you heading out with the car packed full :-)

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Kim May 4, 2012 at 9:35 am

Hi Maddie :) I am definitely focused on that image of the car packed full. These next two weeks are going to be insane, I’m just trying to embrace it all.

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Celine May 3, 2012 at 6:12 am

I’ve just come across your blog, clearly at an exceptionally exciting time.

My husband and I are planning a similar trip in a year’s time and your back catalogue of posts is proving invaluable.

Thank you so much and have the most fantastic time (please post a little whilst you’re away too!)

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Kim May 4, 2012 at 9:37 am

Hi Celine,

I will definitely post as we are traveling- it’s the whole reason I started the blog, it’s just taken us a little while to get started (understatement). Enjoy your year of planning and prepping for your trip. As I look back I can really see that the journey started as soon as we made the decision to go. The world shifted for us at that moment, in the most wonderful way. I’m excited for you!

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Martin Pietrzak May 3, 2012 at 6:13 am

No worries, you will have a great time! Just ditch the guides:) not worth the weight and if you plan to stay in hostels for instance, you will have access to most of these. If you have a laptop or pad take the electronic copy of these.
You will have an amazing time guaranteed.
We are a bit tripped out, as we need to return home without jobs in 2 months. Reality is sinking in but we would have not given this dream up for anything! Enjoy and safe travels!

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Kim May 4, 2012 at 9:42 am

Brian and I watched the movie “A Map for Saturday” the other day. It’s a documentary of a guy who quits his job and travels around the world. Brian looked really sad at the end and I asked what was wrong and he said “I’m just sad that we’ll have to come back some day.” And I said, “We haven’t even left yet!!!” I’m not going to lie and say I haven’t already thought about what life will be like when we return. This has been our focus for so long. But life moves on and there will be other big blessings to celebrate. Good luck in your transition home and in the job search.

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Liz | Traveling Liz May 3, 2012 at 6:14 am

This is so exciting! When will you be in India? Do you have a “set plan?”

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Kim May 4, 2012 at 9:43 am

Hi Liz. We will be in India at the beginning of January through ? I’m thinking three months but have no idea. We have one BIG thing planned while in India, but are still working out the details and I haven’t written much on the blog about it yet. I hate to be elusive but I will talk more about it soon. I’m so excited and intimidated by India.

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Kieron May 3, 2012 at 6:27 am

Can’t believe your time has finally come! Soak it all in and enjoy your last moments at home.

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Kim May 4, 2012 at 9:44 am

Thanks guys. It’s amazing that you planned, left and came back the whole time I’ve just been writing about leaving.

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Carmel May 3, 2012 at 7:03 am

Welcome to my world. Insomnia stinks.

At least you’re losing sleep with excitement! If you actually want to get some sleep though, I challenge myself to take 3 long, deep breaths and let them out slowly. Usually by the 3rd one, my brain starts to calm down. I also have to convince myself that I can’t do anything while I’m laying in bed and I might as well sleep so I have the energy to tackle things the next day. Doesn’t always work, but sometimes reasoning with myself helps.

But it’s just so exciting!!

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Kim May 4, 2012 at 9:45 am

I will try your breathing technique! I’ve also found having a notebook and pen by my bed helps. I can write down whatever is on my mind and then move on with my night.

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Amy May 3, 2012 at 7:19 am

Wow. Seems like just yesterday we were attempting to coach each other through house sales. We were out in Oregon just about a year ago and now you will be leaving at about that same time! I am so looking forward to following you two on this amazing journey. I love your writing and cannot wait to read all of your reflections.

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Kim May 4, 2012 at 9:45 am

Thanks Amy. I can’t wait to see you in NYC. Seeing you in Oregon last years feels both close and a lifetime ago.

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Tash May 3, 2012 at 8:04 am

Ohhh, these butterflies you are talking about are the best! The anticipation, and possibilities ahead!

You must set off at the same time I head to Toronto from Australia, for 3 months, so I have similar feelings…..so exciting though!

I look forward to reading up on your adventures!

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Kim May 4, 2012 at 9:46 am

I’m trying to embrace the butterflies because they *are* fun. Standing at the beginning: life is so wide open.

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Rhonda May 3, 2012 at 8:45 am

What an exciting time! Embrace every emotion because they’ll all be come part of the whole of your amazing experience!

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Kim May 4, 2012 at 9:46 am

We are trying to embrace it all :)

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Steve Whitty May 3, 2012 at 9:32 am

You are almost there. I would imagine the nerves are kicking but soon you will be on the road and you will wonder why you felt this way.

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Kim May 4, 2012 at 9:47 am

I imagine one day I may be embarrassed to go back and read all of these posts I’ve written about freaking out of this and that. It’s all part of the journey, I guess.

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Allison May 3, 2012 at 12:56 pm

I totally know what you mean about feeling kind of subdued. The same thing happened to me each of the times I’ve made a big oh-so-exciting change or gone on an oh-so-big trip. I don’t know what it is about psychology that makes us internalize it in those weeks leading up to departure, but it’s kind of nice. (Also saves relationships with friends who aren’t leaving and aren’t so excited!)

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Kim May 4, 2012 at 9:48 am

Allison, you are so right! Even our friends and others who love us don’t want to hear about it all the time. It’s good and bad that it has to be compartmentalized on some level, you know? Otherwise no one would relate to you or want to hang out with you!

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Alexandra May 3, 2012 at 2:42 pm

Gosh, I LOVE your blog. And I cannot WAIT for your trip to begin!

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Kim May 4, 2012 at 9:48 am

Ah, THANK YOU! It just makes my day to hear that.

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Patricia GW May 4, 2012 at 5:47 am

I’m so thrilled for you two! You’re absolutely right – the experiences and adventures you and Brian go on will be uniquely your own, and other people will lap them up and find inspiration for their own travel dreams. I hope you’re able to get some rest again xx

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Kim May 4, 2012 at 9:49 am

Thanks Patricia. If our experience can inspire just one other person to take the leap than this whole blog will feel like a major success :)

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Dustin May 4, 2012 at 8:45 am

How did come to decide on 5 sets of passport photos and did you find a deal to print them?

With me being the cheap one of EmSue and I we got our two photos for the International Drivers license and I scanned those to hopefully reprint them myself to save a few bucks here and there. Though I know there are all sorts of regulations on how passport photos need to be professionally done.

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Kim May 4, 2012 at 9:51 am

Hi Dustin,

We just randomly selected 5 (we actually got six sets and had to use one set each for our international drivers license).

We took our own photos and wanted to print them ourselves to save money. When we took them to the shop to get them printed they said they didn’t print photos in 2×2 like we needed. It cost us $3 to get one set of photos (2 in a set). So we just said “what the hell” and had them taken in the shop. Then, when we went to pick them up, they only charged us $3 TOTAL. So, we did get a major deal, but we weren’t expecting it.

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Ali May 4, 2012 at 3:42 pm

It will probably help ease you in by starting with a road trip through the US. Leaving is so surreal. At first it’s exciting and just feels like any other vacation. But after a few weeks you start to realize you’ll be doing this for awhile. It’s insane really. The last few days before I left for my RTW I barely slept. I would get in bed and then 10 minutes later jump up because I wanted to do something else before I forgot. I panicked, I felt excited, I cried, I had mini meltdowns…. But really you can never really tell someone what to expect because reading about it or listening to someone tell you about it is never ever the same as experiencing it yourself. And I knew I had a well-defined period of time to travel and I was never embarking on a potentially indeterminate period of time of travel like you guys are. Just breathe and realize that no matter what, you’re following your dreams and you can change your path whenever you choose to.

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Kim May 12, 2012 at 9:43 am

Hi Ali. Yep, I think that the U.S. part of traveling will just feel like vacation. Especially the part where we visit friends and family, because that sort of normal. The un-normal part is that we have no home to go back to and that we just keep moving on! I’m just breathing in and out and taking it day by day. This is so scary and EXCITING!!

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Manda May 4, 2012 at 5:18 pm

So excited for you!! the last few days will fly by before you know it!! trust me ull be up at 3am the day your ready to leave – because you forgot to pack something or you need to double check this or that… lol – just whatever you do – dont leave ya passports behind… :)

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Kim May 12, 2012 at 9:43 am

Haha. If there is only one thing I remember it will be our passports!

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Jill May 11, 2012 at 8:59 am

This post touched home, as I am going through the motions of preparing for my solo move to Thailand, for one year (at least) as a teacher. Things that have always excited me are now freaking me out…but alas, I keep reminding myself that these changes are GOOD and that being scared ****less is healthy! Thanks for the extra reassurance and best of luck for your future endeavors!

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Kim May 12, 2012 at 10:04 am

Best of luck to you as well! As hard as it is to be scared, I love that fear is a part of my life now. I think it means I’m really pushing myself and that I’m living the way I dreamed of living back when I had whole years of security and no fear. Fear happens. Just. keep. moving. forward.

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Jeff G May 11, 2012 at 3:15 pm

“And no matter where you, there you are!”

Buackaroo Banzai

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