As Jake and I researched the ins and outs of a Round the World (RTW) trip, we also learned about the difficulties of long term travel- not just travel burnout, adjusting to the many kinds of toilets around the world, and the potential of getting a nasty stomach bug, but what we would be missing out on back home. It's this feeling that almost made me turn back on my gut feeling to go on this trip. In the words of Aerosmith, I don't want to miss a thing. I have always prided myself on being the friend/family member that is there for everything. I am loyal, dependable, reliable. I try to always there when you need me. I thought I could still be that person. I thought we could travel the world and fly back to the US any time a big life event happens. Why not? It can't be that expensive, it can't be that time consuming, it can't have that much of an impact on our trip… right? Wrong.
I realized that, to do this trip, I would have to miss things. I'm going to miss my friend's wedding in which I am supposed to be a bridesmaid. I'm going to miss the birth of my matron of honor's first baby. I'm going to miss birthdays and anniversary celebrations. I'm going to miss Thanksgiving with my family. The thought of missing all of these things still makes me feel awful. I feel like I'm letting people down, that because I am doing something for me and my husband (isn't this the definition of selfish?), I am doing something wrong, and I need to be there because people expect me to be. I feel like I am disappointing people.
And then the other side of me says that I can't live my life waiting for other people's life events. I have to have my own. This trip is a once in a lifetime opportunity. If I compromise it in order to make others happy, I fear I will come to regret my decisions, or worse, resent the people I compromised it for.
What's the big problem? Can't you just come back?
Sure I can, but the flights are remarkably expensive. To give context, one round-trip flight from Rome to Los Angeles for would likely cost between $1500 and $2000. This is the same expense to live for a whole month in Thailand.
But more importantly, in order to come back to the states for events, we would be scheduling our itinerary around each event, each trip back to the US. We would buy a one way flight to the US city, and then another one way to a different region of the world. In doing so, we would not be able to travel at the speed we want to, and we would not have the freedom or flexibility that we want for this trip. The trip would no longer be our trip, it would be our trip that others get to control. Jake and I are adamant about slow travel - we will be taking our time through each city/country so that we may truly learn about how the locals live, so we can really understand the culture, and so we can avoid travel burnout as much as possible. We plan to get apartments in various cities to hunker down in for awhile and really see what it's like to live there. If we are coming back to the US every 6-8 weeks, we won't be able to travel this way.
Of course, there are exceptions to every rule. Jake and I have agreed that we will return if there is a death in the family. This phrase looks weird and insensitive as I type it- it looks like I'm either being sarcastic or overly serious. Honestly, though, this was a major discussion item (especially since my grandpa is 89), and I'm glad we both were on the same page. If either of our families have an emergency or terrible medical situation, we'll get home as soon as we can.
While most of my friends and family understand why I will miss things and they forgive me for it, I know that others aren't quite there yet. It's my fear that making the decision to go on this trip and to truly commit to it and to ourselves, I may lose some relationships. I'm not happy about it, I certainly don't feel good about it, and I hope they come around. For now, all I can do is tell them how much I love and appreciate them. Perhaps someday they, too, will see this trip as the once in a lifetime opportunity that we see it as, and be happy for us that we decided to make this decision. We're taking this adventure by the hand and running with it.