The art of patience

That’s another day in the office gone. One day closer to another week’s wages in the bank. Which will be one week closer to hitting that financial target, and one week nearer to a departure date.

In many ways this is the most painful part of the build up. It almost feels like wishing time away which is never a good thing.

So I started to think of the positives I can take from this experience because, unless you’re lucky to be simply handed wads of cash, burrowing away pennies is all part of the experience of travelling (namely, the first part) and almost every backpacker out there has to suffer the same torment.

Here are three things to think about that will hopefully give you the juice to keep going on the occasional moments of weakness:

1. Saving teaches you the value of money. Going months on end without splashing on frivolous accessories, not spending every Friday and Saturday in a bar or club is not easy, especially when your friends are out living it up. At this time, it helps to look at the bigger picture. The cost of a beer could be a night in a beach hut on a beautiful Thai island, so a whole night of drinking is one week’s accommodation when you’re away. Totally worth it.

2. Patience is a virtue, as the saying goes. I know from experience it’s a satisfying feeling when you look at your swelled bank balance for the final time before you begin to devour it in some far away land. Knowing you achieved that through sheer determination and discipline is no mean feat and one you should be proud of. It makes it all the more special when you hand over a fistful of notes for your Queenstown bungee jump.

3. Keep your eyes on the prize. Surround yourself by reminders of what the next chapter of your life has in store for you. Set your desktop background to Ayers Rock, make travel websites your homepage, go on forums and social media sites to talk with people also preparing to go.

I’m sure you have some of your own ways of dealing with this difficult time and I’d love to hear them!

Whether it’s days, weeks, months or even years until your trip starts, it’s a rite of passage you have to go through so try to embrace it. What doesn’t kill you…

Looking into the abyss at Nevis Bungy, Queenstown, NZ.

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My first steps

After graduating from university in the Summer of 2006, I made a decision that would shape the next few years of my life in a way I could never have anticipated. I decided to go abroad to undertake voluntary work teaching English in Mexico.

Growing up I was never big on holidays. I didn’t like flights, particularly those of a long-haul variety, and I didn’t like eating strange food that didn’t taste like it did back home. I didn’t like going out, seeing the sights, trying new things and being a general tourist.

Looking back, I used to find the whole experience overwhelming and was always glad to be back on English soil where everything was familiar, comfortable and, importantly, I could sleep in my own bed.

I remember a family jaunts to Italy, Greece and America and feeling pretty certain I would not be much of a mover when I was all grown up.

Anyway, this is why it was a surprise to me when I felt the urge to get out of the UK and do something completely different. Educated up to my eyeballs with my degree, the last thing I wanted to do was continue studying in any kind of post-graduate capacity, while the idea of going straight into a 9-5 didn’t fill me with joy either.

Many of my friends had their career paths in mind while I felt at a little bit of a loose end. I had no partner, no ties, no responsibilities, no dependants and no job which to some people sounds like an absolute nightmare of a scenario. But not me.

That picture is the epitome of freedom and when I realised this, I got such a rush. So after googling all kinds of phrases with the words “gap year” in them, I did some destination research and decided it was to be Mexico and it was to be a purposeful trip to one place for three solid months.

Had I ever been so far from home before? No, well not alone anyway.

Had I ever taught anyone before? Certainly not another language.

Did I speak even a little bit of Spanish? I did not.

But on January 8th 2007, when I took my first steps out of Guadalajara’s Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla International Airport, sweaty, tired, nervous, jet-lagged and hungry, little did I know this would be a state that I would come not only to crave, but actively pursue.

Before I left, I’d had warnings of rabid dogs and malarial mosquitoes but nobody warned about the strange, almost inexplicable, phenomenon that is the travel bug.

That was the day it bit me.