ROUND THE WORLD

People usually like to stay where they are safe and tend to seek out either the easiest or the most comfortable way out. A path, that secures a good future with minimal risk. Having laid out everything on the table, we stop exploring.

Our natural inclination as human beings, stronger in childhood, is to turn every rock, to ask unanswerable questions and to discover the very curious world around us. We stop when we are older because in our conception we have the world figured out, at least enough to keep us moving forward every day. Yeah, right! We learned the basic rules of survival, how to speak and build relationships, how to stand straight and to walk, how to make money to afford a meal,  how to drive a road with very few crossings. But what if we were to learn newer, cooler ways? Forming habits can be a good thing as they hold us from deviating from our course. However, the explorers that shaped this world were never content with well-traveled paths or chartered maps. They accepted their curiosity and embraced the beauty of the unknown. Why and how did we become masters at covering up our needs and wants, at hiding our dreams? With this question in mind, I decided to let my dream wash over me one day. Even if I’ll feel like drowning in some months, I decided to come to grips with the wind of uncertainty and to let it take me where it pleases. This was about six months ago, when I bought a round-the-world ticket with my dear partner in crime and in life.

I read in a book that the first thing in finding meaning and purpose is listening to your life, to hear its heartbeat and what it has to say about you. We have so many things under control, and most of your experiences or actions may seem chaotic or unrelated, but if you put down all the major events that happened in your life, the most memorable moments, you will find the golden thread. When I was small, my dad told me the same story, about a boy, who after many failed attempts reaches his dream: the moon. I enjoyed going to the mountains, exploring the hills behind our cottage, the moment of finally reaching the small river stream and cooling our tired but happy feet. I was in awe with everything I was seeing on our travels in my home country, in Istanbul, Croatia, Italy or Hungary. I have so many amazing memories of our parents taking me and my sister to see the world. I saved money for travels whenever I could and I used my savings account to come to Vienna. Since then, I traveled with Sergiu almost every second weekend. If these experiences didn’t prepare me for a bigger purpose, I don’t know what did. 

» I want to give this spark a chance to become a flame «

During the past six months I had a lot to think about – whether I will really enjoy being on the road so much, or whether I will miss home more often than not. What will I do for work when I get back? Or may I ever want to come back again? Will we have enough money? Will we want to visit the same sights or rather argue about insignificant things? The truth is though, I didn’t think too much about these questions, as they will be anyway answered on the road. What I am definitely certain about is the fact that I am incredibly blessed to be given this opportunity. Even though the final decision was mine, I received guidance and support from a loving family and had a good portion of luck and ambition. The dream of traveling the world had accompanied me from the very beginning, like a loyal imaginary friend. I always felt there was more to life than the unstoppable train which passes stations such as education, internship, job, career … marriage, kids, grandkids and death. Not necessarily in that order. Moreover, I was always a dreamer. I love learning about this planet and about all the mysteries of the universe. I adore watching fantasy and sci-fi movies, imagining all the crazy possibilities of the future. Nevertheless, the phrase “Stop dreaming, keep your head on your shoulders and your feet in the ground“ has become like a nagging chorus stuck in my mind. Because, of course, we are grown up now, and real life has to start.

When we shared our decision to leave our jobs and see the world for four months, the people around us reacted very differently. Nothing very dramatic though. Some of our friends and family embraced the idea with enthusiasm and curiosity; others congratulated us for our courage (or foolishness) and said they couldn’t do it. Very many confessed that the idea of traveling the world for a longer period of time actually crossed their minds many times until now. But for most of them, long term travel remained a very exotic dream. And there were others, mostly our parents who asked if two weeks were not enough. Two weeks of holiday per year, like normal, sane people take, so that their lives are not totally disrupted. What they failed to understand at the time was that the journey is not a holiday, but it is indeed a game changer. A „life disrupter“. Two weeks are maybe enough to enjoy the other culture in a superficial way, while also trying to relax and recharge for the next year of work. You expect instant gratification and don’t have time to immerse yourself, understand and learn the way other people live.

AND I CAN’T BELIEVE WE’RE LEAVING TOMORROW!

route_full

The idea of a mini sabbatical hit us when randomly looking through some STA Travel magazines. As some of you may know (or not), they offer very nice round-the-world trip examples and the possibility to create your own trips, all of them at very reasonable prices. „That’s actually not that expensive for the amount of countries you get to visit“, said Sergiu, genuinely surprised about one RTW journey and I had to agree. „If we would really want to do it, we could. I mean, why not?“ and we both smiled, almost telepathically saying „I dare you…“. In the following weeks we really dared each other to take this idea seriously. We started frequenting the travel agency quite often with complex routes or very confusing questions, picking up brochures, drinking free coffee and daydreaming about some months of exclusive traveling. Of course it was crucial to be at the end of April at “Afrika Burn” in Cape Town and at Holi Festival in India at the end of March. Of course we wanted to see both Japan AND Kathmandu. And of course this was all impossible. Or so expensive that we would have to sell a kidney or two. Anyway, after visiting multiple STA travel agencies in Vienna and harassing so may nice employees, we understood that Asia and Africa don’t go well together, at least not in a round-the-world trip. Thus, we had to change our route.

„So, let’s see. Do you like winter, cold weather, your soul frozen?“, asked Sergiu at a nice fancy dinner, some days later. When considering the question, I realized that the possibility of skipping winter would make us extremely thrilled. That’s when we decided to look more into this new “warm trip” idea and masterfully composed a new route, which involved only the southern hemisphere. With high hopes and eager to passionately explain the new plan to the already irritated travel agents, we were once again on our way to the travel agency. Even though the route was theoretically doable, the prices left us demoralized.

Nevertheless, we didn’t give up on our pipe dream and were determined to work it out. Not that much time passed until Sergiu found a great RTW offer from “Emirates”, which got us thinking about all the miles that he has collected while flying with this airline and all the American Express points that could be transferred to Emirates. Without further ado, an email was sent to Amex, explaining our hopes and desires, with the friendly request to send us their best offer for a RTW trip with “Emirates”. After some time of convincing them that this was indeed possible and some arguments about the established route, we finally came to a price tag and it was actually lower than expected.

Some weeks later, we opened a champagne bottle, threw confetti and examined our tickets with a grin from ear to ear and feeling on top of the world. “Why do we have to wait six months, I want to leave now!!“, I yelled, full of excitement. But as for every great thing, you have to wait. And that’s what we did, going about our business, only sometimes staring at the online countdown and partly recognizing that in some months we will travel the world. We will learn not only the most fascinating things this planet has in store for us, but also figure out ourselves better. We will have the time of our lives. We’ll hop from Brazil to Chile and from New Zealand to South Africa like kangaroos, stealing a bit of every culture and bringing it back to our lovely Vienna. After all, we plan on leaving enough room in our backpacks for all the souvenirs that we can get our hands on. But above all, the biggest room is in our hearts, which I’m sure will be full of amazing experiences and wonderful catchy stories.