Two Days And Counting…

This is all pretty weird

Today is my first day of proper unemployment, ever.  And I’m sitting at the kitchen table with my two young sons, trying to motivate them to describe how they’re feeling at the thought of leaving their home in the UK for a year.  Rather than just give them a hard time about doing it quickly, I thought that I’d write down some of my own thoughts.  Brace yourselves, there’s an unedited stream of what’s going on in my mind about to appear…

In two day’s time, I’m getting on a one way flight from London to Kathmandu with my wife and two kids.  We have a backpack each and vague plan of which countries we want to see.  We’ll be back in about a year, or when the money runs out.

I’m much more relaxed about the whole thing than I was expecting to be at this stage.  We’ve spent the morning ticking off jobs on the never-ending list of stuff we have to sort out.  I don’t think full impact of what we’re about to do hasn’t really occurred to me yet.

Last time Floss and I went travelling, thirteen years ago, I don’t think that either of us properly thought about it until we were in the car, heading to Heathrow.  We were both in tears before we’d got out of the city, and the abject terror of getting on the flight to Kolkata will never leave me – we were both trying to be brave as we sat down, but neither of us were very successful.

This time, it’s going to be a whole lot different.  We’re older, but not much wiser.  We’re fitter, but are bringing more stuff.  We’ve seen a lot of places already, but not through parents’ eyes.

I haven’t really had very much time to give the detail of travelling with the kids a whole lot of thought.  I’ve lost a lot of sleep worrying about it all, but that’s not the same as actually thinking about it.  Guilt isn’t a very good replacement for planning.  And I do have a lot of guilt.  Everyone has said that the trip is going to be amazing, and that the kids are going to learn so much more than they would in school.  A lot of people see this as a no-brainer.  If you’ve got the energy and the cash, then there’s no reason not to do it.  But having had that conversation at least a hundred times over the last two weeks, I haven’t spoken to anyone else who has been inspired enough to quit their job, take their kids out of school and get on the plane with us.  And that’s because what we’re doing isn’t normal.  It’s very abnormal.  It feels selfish.  We know that the kids are going to be the main focus of this, but we’re doing it because it’s our idea, not the kids’.

When I’ve not been lying awake, feeling guilty or unsure or scared (because that’s happened a lot too), I’ve been losing sleep about the practicalities of going away for a year.  Clearing the house.  Saving enough money.  Selling the car.  Changing the mortgage.  Insurance.  Rabies jabs.

I think Floss is much better prepared for all of this stuff.  She’s actually done research about where we’re going.  Making sure that that we’re missing the worst of the monsoon season.  Looking up malaria areas.  Checking out visa requirements. Being typically practical and actually useful.

I don’t know why Floss is better at this stuff than I am.  I seem to have spent all my time bothered about the small stuff, and not given myself a minute to focus on the bigger picture.  To work out what I want to see.  What I want to get out of the trip. To understand my motivations.  I’ve deliberately not spent much time reading the travel books as last time we were away, I remember trying to memorise them so that I’d be properly prepared for the next place that we arrived in.  This inevitably leads to failure and frustration.  They’re guides, not itineraries.  And they’re opinions, not facts.  I think that took me many months to learn last time.

This time, I’m much more relaxed about it being our trip, nobody else’s.  We’re free to go where we want, and see what we want.  If we don’t like somewhere, we’ll move on.  If we find somewhere perfect, we’re going to stay.  We’ve got a one-way ticket, and once we get off the plane, we have nobody to answer to but ourselves.  And that’s the really exciting bit, the thing I’m most looking forward to.  The freedom.  With work and school lives being so manic, I spend such a small amount of time actually talking to the kids, spending time with them, getting to know them.

I’m hoping that I can relax into being a parent.  And having the time to do it properly, I might get better at it.  If we see some cool stuff along the way, then that’s going to make it so much better.  But despite whatever hard time I’ve given myself on the reasons for doing this, it is all about the kids.  And I want to get to know all about the kids.

16 Comments on “Two Days And Counting…

  1. I think for most people, the thought of doing a trip like this is amazing but the reality is far too scary for what ever reasons they may decide. You guys are giving the boys something truly wonderful…time together.

    • Time is the biggest luxury that I think any of us can have. We’re all cash rich, but time poor. Trying to rebalance that is the mission for the next 10 months. My biggest fear is that the kids tell me that they preferred it when they only saw me for 20 minutes each day. That’d be dead awkward…

  2. Loved reading about your travels last time. Clearly you haven’t lost the knack of describing your adventures. Can’t wait to experience them through your parental eyes for those of us who haven’t grown a pair yet! Good luck tomorrow thinking of you and sending big good bye hugs xxx

    • Love you! I’m actually really surprised that anyone managed to get to the bottom of that post. I wrote it, and had a bit of a sob. And then Floss checked it, and then we both had a bit of a sob. And then Sam read it, and he was close to having a sob (but he held back, as he’s 10, and is in control of his emotions). He hadn’t realised that either of us was scared about what we were doing, and I think that it’s helped him to know how we feel. Hmm…. there’s a lesson for me there…. It all seemed a bit self indulgent, and too wordy. I’ve never written something that intimate before. I’ll try to be more entertaining and light-hearted once we get there.

      What do you think… Poo Diary, or no Poo Diary?

      Xxx

  3. You’re right, Dez. Very few people would stop just talking about it and actually do it. I’m sure I’m not the only person who is totally jealous but at the same time seriously doubt if I’d ever be brave enough to do it. I think it’s brilliant that you’re taking it as an opportunity to get to know Sam and Evan better and how wonderful for the boys to have parents who want to share this massive adventure with them. Lots of love to you all xxxx

    • Not brave enough? You’re the bravest person I know… You married Rich! Enough said!

      Seriously though…. Thank you for writing that. It means so much to know that you think that we’re doing a good thing, and for the right reasons. We’ve just checked in for the flight tomorrow, so there’s no going back now. Next stop, Kathmandu.

  4. Zoe and I are in awe of what you’re doing and we will be using you as a template for our future lives when our children are not Age 3! Some of our friends we met when travelling around the world 11 years ago for a year (as 30 somethings) are still travelling! Stepping out of UK PLC seems like a good move at the moment until Britain knows where it’s going to be. Be careful about the photographs you take! You know what I mean! Ben x

    • Crikey! 11 years travelling is pretty bloody extreme! Much respect for that. Not sure that you should use us as a template – give us a few months, and see how we get on. As for photographs, everyone knows that boobs, not arses, cause earthquakes. And anyway, you got the highest personal score on the “That’s a brave shot” scale – scoring 2 “Crikey”s, and a single “Holy Cow!” You were the only winner of the “Holy Cow” award. We would have presented you with the award, but we drank it. Sorry. Love you though. Xxx

  5. Just read your post as didn’t realise you had a website….thought it was a Facebook page only!!! Derrrrr!!!
    I am sobbing!!!! We only get to see you once a year but at least we know you’re only in the tropical South of England and not in a totally different continent. We think you’re all so brave to leave what you know and feel comfortable with. And feeling just a little jealous of the super adventures you’ll get to experience together.
    Stay safe and keep us posted!
    P. S. You have to write a Poo diary!!!!!!

    • Oman Air still has availability to Kathmandu if you fancy joining us…

      We’ll certainly keep you posted on our adventures, but we’ll have to see about the poo diary.

  6. Well done Dez, keep the emotional stuff in as well as the funny. You’ll be glad you did when you read it again in 5-10 years time. X

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