This was going to be a post about packing… it’s not.
In case you haven’t noticed, it’s February already! Which means it’s almost ‘go’ time. I am… not ready. Despite counting down for this trip for the past… 271 days (thank you, Countdown app!), it’s still somehow managed to blindside me completely. It’s always been some vague date in the future. As Christmas came and went, it continued to be a vague date in the near future. Then I handed in my notice at work and suddenly it all became real. Two weeks yesterday, I will have just boarded the plane. Who knows when I’ll be coming back.
Up until recently, I’ve never really given much thought to the fact that I don’t have a return ticket. After all, I’ll only ever be the price of a plane ticket away from home, so what is there to think about? I can’t say that it worries me, I know that if I ever absolutely needed to come home, I would be able to. It’s just only occured to me in the past few weeks that I don’t have a plan. Not a “real” plan, at least.
I am, at the best of times and as my teachers/university lecturers would agree, the most half-assed of planners. Throughout school and the first two years of university, a plan was just a series of bullet points you put at the start of your essay and then cross out to make it look like you’ve actually thought about what you’re going to write. Then came final year, when I had to write a plan for my dissertation and, uh-oh, I was actually going to get judged on it. I kid you not, it took me longer to write the plan of my dissertation than it did to write the entire dissertation itself (note: this may be a slight exaggeration). That isn’t to say I’ve never thought about what I was going to write, it’s just usually in my head and not on paper. I’m fortunate enough to have always had a very good memory, so it’s never been that difficult to just write things as you go along, or to go with the flow in a presentation. That skill has followed me into the world of work.
I don’t do much essay-writing as a credit controller, surprisingly, but I’ve somehow managed to get a reputation of being organised. Allow me to let you in on a little secret: I am not now, nor have I ever been, organised. Knowledgable? Yes. A quick learner? Yes. Generally have my shit together? Yes. Efficient? … sometimes. Capable of keeping track of where all the emails are, keeping good notes and filing things away in an easy-to-use system? Not so much (sorry, new-me!). It’s all in my head, though, so you can ask me and I’ll probably know the answer. I should work on that over my final 6 days at work… Oh, who am I kidding?!
Despite my general lack of good planning skills, I’ve managed to fool people into thinking that I’m well prepared for this trip. To be honest, saying I don’t have a plan is a lie. I have a plan for 4 days… then no plan for 3 weeks… then a plan for the 3 weeks after that… then nada. That’s not to say I haven’t done any research. I have (So. Much. Research). I have everything I need sorted – insurance, bank account, flights, hostels for Sydney and the first week in Christchurch, a helpX lined up for 3 weeks from mid-March (more on that in my next post). Even the little things like a travel towel, walking shoes, this handy little bluetooth keyboard for my tablet so I don’t need my laptop. All things considered, I give off the air of someone well-prepared. And I am well-prepared. I just need to convince myself of that, now.
This is not, after all, the first time I’ve gone off to a foreign land without much of an idea what’s waiting for me on the other side. 5 and a half years ago, I was prepping for my year abroad. Well, I say prepping. I only found out I was going to Canada around 10 weeks before I actually flew out there, and all of the actual preparation is a bit of a blur. I know there was a medical in there somewhere, and a LOT of paperwork; but I didn’t really have that much time to think about it. This time, I’ve had that long to prepare that it doesn’t really feel like I’ve prepared at all. It was just spread out over 9 months, doing things bit by bit as and when I thought about it. I booked the flight and Sydney hostel in May, bought my luggage at the end of September, applied for my New Zealand visa in October, eventually decided on the date I would fly to New Zealand and booked that flight in November, opened my bank account in December, and finally bought my travel insurance last week. It’s cool, guys. I’ve got this.
Everyone I know who’s ever been to New Zealand has told me not to make a plan, to go with the flow, pick up friends along the way and see where they’re going. If you like somewhere, stay longer. If not, move on. Many people I know who have not been to New Zealand or undertaken a working holiday… well, they keep asking me what my plans are. Where will I live? Do I have job lined up? How long will I stay? The answer to all of these questions: I don’t know. And that’s ok. That’s the whole point, in fact. Getting away from my routine and actually exporing a bit of the world at my own pace. No schedule to follow. Not having to get up for work everyday, or work set hours – although I will find a job eventually – is all part of the experience. We can all learn to accept this fact together. When I post that really confused sounding blog entry in about a month’s time wherein I realise that I’m not going back to trusty old Calverton, remind me why I chose to do this. Credit people, no need to go even that far – you need only use three letters to remind me. I’m sure you know which letters I mean.
If I go back to the first paragraph of this post (way, way, way back. This turned out much longer than I was expecting. Maybe I should start to plan my posts…), I’ll realise that actually, I’m wrong. I am ready. I couldn’t get more ready without giving myself a solid itinerary, which would totally defeat the point. I’ve just discovered I have nerves, that’s all… Oh yeah, and I’m definitely procrastinating on the packing front. But hey, I have boxes now for all the stuff that’s going to charity!
Up next: The actual packing post. Coming soon to a screen near you.