Those final moments before you leave on your next great adventure

You checked and double checked your luggage, the dreaded goodbyes to family and friends have come and gone. You stepped through baggage check and found your departure gate. Finally you sit and wait before you can board your flight and the adventure you’ve been planning for months can finally begin. It’s in these final moments that you find out what kind of traveler you are.

There are those who will spend their last minutes or hours before the flight asking themselves a million questions like: did I pack everything? where did I put my passport? Did I say the right things when I said goodbye to family and friends? What am I going to do once I arrive at my destination? Despite their months of planning they still fall victim to uncertainty at the last minute.

I can honestly say that I very much used to be this kind of traveler. The first time I went backpacking to Australia I made sure I had planned as much as possible. I knew exactly what I was going to do the first weeks of the trip, I knew where I would sleep, what ativities I would do, which domestic flights I would take etc. But in the days leading up to my departure I still started second guessing every decision I made. I wondered whether I had saved enough money to do everything I wanted to do. Did I have the social skills to make friends on the other side of the world?

I took these uncertainties with me on the trip and they made the first couple of days, and perhaps even weeks very difficult. I didn’t want to leave to much to chance so I decided to book a bunch of tours and hostel stays. This provided me with an itinerary to follow, and I could plan my budget accordingly.

Put I learned very quickly that this is not how travel works, certainly not long term travel. Planning never works out, because you will almost always change your plans. You will get to places you want to stay longer, you meet people you would like to spend more time with, the weather might make traveling to a certain place difficult or impossible. I personally experienced all these things in Australia leading me to change my plans quite significantly. This wouldn’t be such a bad thing had I not spend a pretty decent amount of money on reservations and other plans. So I guess I learned this lesson the hard way: when you travel, plan as little as possible.

And that brings me to second type of traveler. The kind who spends his last hours before the flight getting excited about all the adventures to come. Who actually enjoys the fact that he doesn’t really know where he’s going to end up or what he’s going to do there. This is the kind of traveler who embraces the uncertainty.

Because travel is uncertain. You leave your comfortable and predictable life behind, in its place you get a life full of question marks. You will find yourself standing in front of an abyss so deep you can not see the bottom. You can either keep standing there wondering what’s down at the bottom but never actually taking the plunge. Or you take a leap, embrace the uncertainty and trust that you will land on your feet. Trust that you have made the necessary preparations, did your research and that you are strong enough to face whatever you will find over there.

I would like to think that after my years of traveling experience I belong to the second group of travelers. But here I am sitting at the airport and questions are certainly haunting me. I am waiting for my flight to Vietnam and I only have the first two nights planned. Beyond that I have nothing planned and that both excites and terrifies me. I have taken the leap into the deep, but the bottom is still a long way away.