Back to Planning

spreadsheet.pngWhen we talked last time, which was some time ago (oops!), about our desire to go to Southeast Asia. Steven and I talked in circles for a month or so because of all the other upheaval in our lives (trying to sell a house, deciding where to move, trying to develop a freelance writing career) but then we decided to plan in earnest and worry about finances, time, physical fitness⁠—you know, the little stuff⁠—later.

Instead of getting into trip details, I’m going to focus on the how we plan. We’ve only just started this time, but here’s our process:

  1. Get bug about a certain far-flung location. This time Vietnam for the caves and Cambodia for the oldest known zero.
  2. Tell ourselves it’s completely unrealistic.
  3. Admit to each other that we’re still thinking about it even though it’s completely unrealistic.
  4. Decide that maybe it’s not completely unrealistic.
  5. Do some Internet/print (what? a book???) research.
  6. Use up many sticky notes listing places within the country/region we want to visit.
  7. Steven makes a spreadsheet. (I know it’s weird, but this gives him joy.){Happiness is a good spreadsheet – and if I am lucky – a bit of a macro too!}
  8. Realize that this trip will take two months {a minimum of 2 months}  and start scaling back.
  9. Make some hard choices {I hate making hard choices!}.
  10. Mourn the places we won’t be able to see and convince ourselves we will go back.
  11. Figure out how much this will all cost by checking into flights and other transportation, hotels, food, attractions {Wow! that much!}.
  12. Start booking! or not, if we magically become grounded in reality.

We are about to hit Stage 10. Notice that we already have our hearts set on this trip, which is now Cambodia and Vietnam if we do the cave tour, and Cambodia, Vietnam, and Laos if we don’t. We’re figuring about three weeks plus a few days. That’s a chunk of time not to be working, especially if you’re trying to build a freelance business. On the other hand, we aint getting any younger or richer, so if not now, when?

Dreaming Again

Southeast Asia.jpgIt seems as though we will be stuck in Chicago for another winter. Not our first choice, to be sure, but given that our desire to move is simply a desire and not a necessity, not the end of the world either. However, since I am now a full-time freelancer and Steven’s job is somewhat flexible, we have begun to dream of far-flung destinations once more.

Southeast Asia fills the top spot at the moment. We can go in semi-shoulder season, maybe February, when there aren’t as many school vacations, and it will be warm! We had been thinking in that direction anyway, but this dream was reinvigorated by Travels with My Father, a show about 28-yar-olds comedian Jack Whitehall’s “gap year” travels with his decidedly stuffy 77-year-old British dad. Guess where they went in season 1? You are so smart! Yes, it was Thailand, Cambodia, and Vietnam.

Steven has had this notion about seeing the oldest recorded zero in Cambodia, and I am about to disappoint him because I think the real oldest zero is iImage result for son doong caven India. (Hmmm, maybe that’s a way to get him there!) Then he decided we should go on a four-day Vietnamese trip into Son Doong, the world’s largest cave. Hmm, he hates camping, can barely sleep in a comfy bed, and is afraid of heights. There is a 90-meter rope climb to begin the tour. I give him credit for advance bravery, that’s for sure. Image result for son doong cave

Now that I am looking at these pictures, I am thinking this may be totally worth it!

Reality bites, as we all know, because if we spend five days getting to and being on this tour, that takes a real bite out of the rest of our trip. Our style is to get overly grandiose in our vacation dreams and then scale back as we add up the costs in money and time. How can we go to Thailand and not hit the beach and explore Bangkok? How can we fly all the way to Southeast Asia and not see Angkor Wat or the Silver Palace in Phnom Penh? Or go scuba diving? Then, a friend said, “Oh, you have to go to Laos.” Sure, we’ll add that to the list. Why? I’m not sure yet, but it’s right there.

I am so relieved. A few months have gone by without a crazy, exciting trip to plan and now we have one again! Life is much more fun when you don’t have both feet firmly planted in daily reality.