Wednesday, November 24, 2010

5 things I've learned before traveling

Lost & Happy - Post secret

Traveling, besides completely changing everything you ever thought you knew and being more awesome than you ever thought possible, is stressful. More than that, preparing to go traveling can be even more so. This is something I've learnt in the long and terrible experience of applying for a student visa and preparing all the necessary paperwork to live in Spain. I'm not a stress head by any means and the last thing I do when there's an exam or an upcoming assignment is stress, I'm the last-minute type, the she'll-be-right type, the type who goes to the beach the day before the assignment is due, comes home, takes a nap and then starts writing after dinner. But travelling is a different story. Every trip I've taken, be it overseas or within Australia, I've never had to organise things for myself. Our last year of high school our ancient history class went on a 3 week trip to Italy and Greece, itinerary already made, accommodation booked - all we had to do was show up. Likewise for family trips to the Philippines or Fiji and university sports trips have all had everything arranged, no questions asked. The difference with all of this is that now I have to get my shit together. Pardon my french. Here are 5 things I've learned about preparing to travel.

1. Paperwork is a special kind of hell and a necessary evil when traveling. I have this mental image of people in suits with devils horns sitting in a meeting room concocting ineffectual and repetitive forms to fill out and processes that go in circles and at the end they call it 'bureacracy'. I am not a fan, never have been and never will. Still, a part of life and too often a big part of preparing to travel.

2. I am not as cool a cucumber as I initially thought. Despite my apparent status as a laissez-faire all-nighter student, this attitude doesn't translate when I have to re-apply for my citizenship certificate because I can't find the old one, or go back to the police station for the third fourth fifth time to get them to give me a fingerprint and clearance check, or applying for centrelink payments. I may or may not have cried about three times in the last couple of months on account of not being able to deal.

3. I need to let go of the idea that things are meant to go as planned. This has been my biggest learning curve when it comes to preparing to live by myself for a year. When things start to fall apart, when everything that can go wrong does, I can't (as I may have done in the last couple of  months..) become irrationally angry, inconsolably distressed or cry like the big fat twenty year old baby that I am. I need to learn to let things go, to let everything take its course and to believe people when they tell me 'It's going to be OK'. I'm wasting my time, tears, sweat and energy into being upset when I could just suck it up and let it go, or put my resources into doing something about it. There's no rule in the universe that says things should go as planned, they rarely do and it's not in my best interests or mental health to assume so. In fact, Murphy's law is probably a better idea.

4. I am in for a rude awakening. It comes as no surprise that next year, as I have been warned many times, I will have a mental break down at some point. Through the haze of tapas, paella, sangria and drunken spanish I will at some point be paying bills, doing laundry, planning my own meals etc. (things normal people living out of home do on a day to day basis but come as a shock to myself). In short, I'm going to have to look out for myself. If I break an arm, get arrested or find myself drunk and without my wallet (none of which I'm planning but let's face it all possibilities) I'm going to have to deal with everything on my own, more or less.

5. It is going to be EPIC. Despite all the paperwork, hair-pulling, teeth-grinding and tantrums I've had this year there's been so much excitement and anticipation of what lies ahead. The bottom line with traveling is that no matter how tired, hungry, stressed, annoyed or home-sick you might be at any given moment - the places you see, experiences you have and people you meet aren't things you'll forget any time soon and are worth all the preparation, stress and shock. So, I need to keep the big picture in mind that the excruciating paper work, processes and hair-pulling preparation for traveling will be given back ten fold in pure elation, experience and world-rocking adventures. TRUST.

Overall, my advice to everybody is to heed the spanish words que será, será (whatever will be, will be). Relajate, mi amigo, está bien - no está nada mal! 

5 comments:

  1. Just stumbled upon your blog and I really love your articles! Keep 'em coming :)

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  2. Oh grace! I know exactly what you mean. I've never realized how shabby it was cause my family then my sister always did all that. But this year, my sister decided that I would be planning our itinery. Crazy experience, but so worth every last minute of it.

    Spain is going to be such a blast I'm sure. I've heard so many good things, and i'm looking to make a trip down to Barcelona sometime next. year. When, where and why are you going? Hope I'm not being to inquisitive. heheehe

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  3. @Pinay Travel Junkie - salamat! ahah thanks heaps it means a lot I will definitely keep up with the travel articles :)

    @Abi - I never realised how much effort it all took... I want to fast forward to cold drinks on the beach somewhere in the mediterranean! I will be in Spain from January next year till January 2012 on exchange! I'll be living in Malaga (south of Spain) but will definitely be traveling to Barca and places around Spain - we should go for sangria and tapas in Barca that would be amazing!

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  4. You've travelled so far from your homecountry!
    That's great, I don't usually travel but I love it! I hope you are having great times here :D
    I didn't understand all the text but it's interesting anyway :)
    thanks for you comment!
    we keep on reading!^^

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  5. I enjoyed reading this, but didn't you suggest NOT talking to other parents?
    meanwhile very nice article , Thanks for sharing this Sports Trips

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