Two weeks ago, I moved home from Guatemala. The actual leaving was tough; there was a lot of fear involved. (And maybe that doesn’t make sense…fear? When you’re moving home? But yes, fear. I could write a whole post about it, and maybe someday I will).
Thankfully though, when I arrived back in Wisconsin, my sister and I immediately threw ourselves into the work of planning a month long trip in Asia. We’d booked our flights a couple months ago, but not much else. Where would we stay? How would we get from place to place? What did we want to see and do in each city/country?
The planning, coupled with the typical summer gatherings with old friends, kept me busy and excited for the past two weeks—and being home hasn’t been a struggle so far at all! The opposite, quite honestly.
And now, suddenly, it’s the night before we leave.
I look at the way I plan an overseas trip now versus the way I planned one three years ago. My travel styles have changed, as has my budget.
Three years ago, my sister Liz and I went on a backpacking trip through Europe. Everything was budgeted. We got a great deal on airfare, then purchased a Rail Pass and used it exclusively for our transportation. We stayed in dorms in the cheaper hostels, and couch surfed or stayed with friends when we could. We were on a strict budget per day, and we didn’t go over it.
This year, we are going to Asia. We’ve already spent double on transportation. (Partly because the initial flight was so much longer and more expensive…and partly because we’re flying between each major destination. When it comes to the decision between $30 for an 18 hour bus ride or $150 for a 5 hour plane ride, we choose flight. We have the money—why not be comfortable?) When it comes to booking lodging, we don’t even consider the hostel if a private room is not available. (We do still lean towards hostels versus hotels, though). We’ve become high-class travelers. …Sort of.
The way I packed was different this trip, too. When we went to Europe, I looked through my closet and picked out a few pieces I already owned that I thought would help me “fit in with locals.” I brought skirts, a couple of dresses, a pair of flats, and “city tennis shoes.” And what I realized in Europe was that there’s nothing wrong with looking like a backpacker, and tons of people just dressed comfortably. After all, I wasn’t a local, and I found no particular advantage to looking like one. So for Asia, I kept in mind what will keep me comfortable in extreme heat, and I went out and bought pretty much an entire new wardrobe for the trip. Loose fitting, patterned shirts, the first true jean shorts I’ve owned in probably close to 10 years, and dry-fit workout tops that could pass as casual tops in normal company. I'm also bringing real shoes, and Keens... this trip will hopefully involve a lot more hiking and a lot fewer cathedrals (more temples, though, I'm sure) than our European trip included. Not having left yet, I can’t say whether I did an ace packing job or not…but I’ll weigh in after we return.
For now…my backpack is packed, I’ve got podcasts and books downloaded for the plane ride, my headphones are ready, and it’s time for bed before tomorrow’s long flights.