This seemed the perfect date for our first blog, 9th August 2017, a month until our wedding day; an event which doubles as our farewell party, or masalama to those familiar with the Kingdom. No one knows where this blog is yet, because we haven’t told them, so we hope that some people have chosen to go back to the beginning and read this, because there is nowhere better to start than at the beginning:
We were on holiday in Lisbon, playing canasta in an Irish bar to escape the rain, and we talked about all of the places around the world that we wanted to see and all of the things that we wanted to do. It quickly became apparent that we wouldn’t be able to do it all on a two-week holiday each year, not if we wanted to do it properly. And so, the trip was born, and a huge amount of it was agreed to some degree in that Irish bar in Lisbon (not least the ‘trip rule’ that we have to find the Irish bar wherever we go, more about trip rules later.) We have been planning for about 4 years, armed with second hand guidebooks that are 10 years out of date, spreadsheets detailing visa costs, vaccinations and rainy seasons and an enormous map on the wall with pins and post its. We are definitely still underprepared; it turns out it’s impossible to plan 18 months of travelling in advance.
All of the planning has been exciting though, and our enthusiasm for this trip continued to grow until the day we booked our first flights and proceeded to simultaneously hyperventilate: no jobs for 18 months sounds awesome, no money coming in, not so much. The panic didn’t last long and was soon replaced by overwhelming excitement and many messages to friends and family: “we’re actually going!” After 4 years of talking about it, you could be forgiven for thinking it wasn’t going to happen.
We will write again about the planning aspect because it is important and has been both hugely enjoyable and heartbreakingly tedious at times. What struck us most was the sheer quantity of it. Please don’t misunderstand this, we weren’t entirely naïve, we thought there would be a lot of work involved, but it’s a MASSIVE undertaking. If you get an opportunity to look at the Lonely Planet for the Trans-Siberian railway bear in mind that this will take up two weeks of an 18-month trip and you will get the gist. There are things that just don’t occur to you either from a planning perspective or simply the implications of the decision that you have made. Here is a quick list of some of the things that we thought of, and some of the things that occurred to us much later down the line:
What we thought of:
- Applying for visas
- Getting vaccinations
- Having the address of the British Consulate wherever we are
- Sorting out how to pay for things (although debit card expiry dates came as a bit of a surprise)
- Renting our flat
- Ensuring our parents know that we are still alive
- Caro really needs to be able to wash her hair
- Quitting our jobs
Dawning comprehension that we are crazy people:
- Vaccinations are horrible and painful and damn expensive
- Renting our flat means that we have to move out of our home and that’s kind of sad
- Travelling for 18 months means postponing getting a dog for 18 months
- Literally everyone turns 30 whilst we are away and we are going to miss some awesome parties
- Our niece will be able to walk and talk by the time that we are back
- A solar shower (for “solar shower” read “bag of water”) on the top of a 4×4 is not sufficient for Caro to wash her hair
- We like our jobs and Caro is liable to cry in stressful situations. Also, and most importantly, you need to write your CV again, now, because if you wait 18 months you are going to have forgotten what you did
As we’ve said, there will be more on planning, the one thing that we will expand on here is how we decided to keep in contact with everyone. Skype is nice, and will definitely be used, but we would be on calls constantly if we wanted to speak to everyone. Emails are fine but you can end up tailoring them to specific individuals, forget to include someone or fail to reply. Facebook is for posting pictures of you with a kangaroo and presents an unrealistic, idealistic view of the trip. We are going to bicker, we are going to get in to some truly horrible situations and we want you to know all about it. A blog came up as a happy medium; there will be pictures, there will be stories and you can pick and choose what you read. No, we won’t be addressing individual people directly so you are just going to have to take our word for it that we love you all. Once the decision was made “The Rolling Stones” was the obvious title choice, you may be rolling (aha!) your eyes but you are smiling too.
This post is written in first person plural but we anticipate the most of the time it will be “I” from one or the other of us. Partly because we don’t want to spend time figuring out what “our” voice sounds like, but mostly because some of you only like one of us so won’t be interested in what the other has to say.
This has been a lengthy one but we wanted to introduce the blog properly, thank you for persevering! If you just skipped to the end, that’s also fair enough, we all have jobs to do (except for us of course, we don’t have jobs anymore, we are living the dream).
Lots of love
The Rolling Stones