All my bags are packed for my round the world trip.

All my bags are packed I’m ready to go…

Leaving for a 'round the world trip.

All my bags are packed I’m ready to go… I had meant to write up a packing list post about everything I packed for my around the world travels. But it took way too much effort to somehow finagle things into the backpack that by the time I pared down and squished and squeezed I didn’t want to take everything out again.

So let’s just say this: everything I packed for my ’round the world trip fits in a big backpack (don’t ask me how many liters it is, I have no idea, I got it a long time ago), a messenger bag, and a purse. Plus a sweatshirt that both didn’t fit and will keep me warm on the plane anyways.

All my bags are packed for my round the world trip.

I’ll tell you that I packed jeans because I live in jeans. And full sized toiletries that were the death of my packing because they took up so much room (but really, I saw no point in bringing small sizes I’d have to replace every few days).

And I’m not bringing a zoom lens for my camera. In fact, I’m only bringing my 35mm lens. And you can’t talk me out of that one because by the time you read this I’ll already be at the airport. I decided that for me the comfort of not over packing on camera equipment trumped all. Besides, in 95% of my life I only use that lens anyways.

And there are too many guidebooks I had to fit in there. I had intended to bring none but since I never really got around to planning anything I brought a couple for reference.

So I’m all packed. And now I just have to shower and get to the airport.

When I started this blog I didn’t have a passport. I’d never been outside of the country, not even to Canada. I’d only been on an airplane a handful of times.

And now my backpack is stuffed to the edges and I have two one-way tickets booked for the next week. Today I fly to New York and then on Wednesday I fly to Berlin. There I have a hostel booked for five days. And that is it. I have nothing beyond that planned.

It’s scary. I’m scared. This is completely not like me. I’m never one for an itinerary but I usually make printouts of everything I would possibly want to see and find them on a map. I’m usually more prepared.

I just ran out of time for that. You’d think a year (or, three years) would have been enough time to get ready.

I feel like I’m going to waste this opportunity. As if if I don’t hit every important museum that somehow my trip will be worthless. If I don’t do something monumental my trip will be worthless.

And I have to step back and remind myself that just forcing myself onto that plane will be worth more than anything I’ve ever done.

Even if I never leave my hostel I’ll be doing something most people will never do.

And the number of people who have said to me over the last six months “I’ve always wanted to do that” or who have called me their hero, makes me believe that even if this is the worst mistake I’ve ever made it won’t be a mistake. Because I at least tried.

I’ve been telling people that this trip will last somewhere between three weeks and five years. Maybe I’ll give up after three weeks, maybe I’ll never come home.

I am terrified of what will happen when I get to Berlin. I am even more terrified for what happens five days after that.

I’m worried that I won’t be able to communicate. I’m worried that I’ll get robbed of my ATM card and not be able to get money. Or my camera and not be able to take photos. I’m worried that I won’t be able to figure out how to buy a train ticket onward from Berlin.

I’m worried that I will come back just as confused as ever but with no job prospects and have to live with my mom forever. I’m worried that he will find someone he loves while I’m gone. I’m worried that I won’t.

Everyone’s told me that I’m so brave. But I’m not. I’m a chicken. I’m scared to death of this whole thing. I hate being out of my comfort zone. But I just think I want to be a braver person. A different person.

So I’m about to get on a plane to New York City. And in a few days I’ll fly from there to Europe.

So here goes nothing…

Hi, I'm Val. I spent most of my 20s in a standstill, unable to pick which path in life I wanted to take. I wanted the nomadic life of a traveler but also wanted the husband, the condo, and the kitten. Unable to decide which life I wanted more, I did nothing. When I turned 30 I’d had enough of putting my life on hold and decided to start “choosing my figs.” So, I quit my job, bought a one-way ticket to Europe, and traveled for three years. Now I'm back in Chicago, decorating my apartment in all the teal, petting my cats, and planning my next adventure.

  • Toni
    July 3, 2011at10:39 am

    Val, this may sound really corny but I had tears in my eyes reading this because I felt exactly the same before I headed off last year for my trip. I can’t tell you everything’s going to be okay because, it’s life and who knows? But I can tell you that this trip will help you figure out and define the person you really are. You’ll be stronger for the pitfalls, become braver than you realise and will learn to settle into life on the road. Who cares if you don’t visit every museum the country has going? It’s your journey; make of it what you will =) Take care of yourself x

  • Jen
    July 3, 2011at10:58 am

    Val, good luck, stay safe! You’re my hero and if you get back, can’t find a job and don’t want to live with your mom, we can find room for you at our place!

  • Tammy
    July 3, 2011at1:11 pm

    You ARE brave! I don’t even like to ride the train by myself at night 🙂 I hope that you have a wonderful trip and that you’re able to update so I can live vicariously 🙂

    Just be safe. You’re a smart girl and I hope all your wishes come true.

  • Magda
    July 3, 2011at2:16 pm

    Hope your eventual departure went well…it’s OK and understandable to be scared as you stand on the brink of this big exciting unknown…now that you’re actually Doing It the fears will be pushed aside by the adventure and exploration. Go Val!!!

  • Ali
    July 3, 2011at6:46 pm

    I couldn’t comment on the other posts of yours I read last night because I was crying too much to formulate comments. I think it’s completely understandable to be scared. What you’re doing is a HUGE thing, it would almost be crazy if you weren’t at least a little scared. But you’re going to be fine. You’ll figure out how to get past Berlin. Starting in Europe is probably good because there are enough people who speak English to help you out and enough other travelers, especially during the summer, that you’ll be fine. I think part of being brave is doing something even though you’re scared of it. Also, about the boy….I think after traveling for awhile, the confidence boost that you’ll get from the traveling will make you realize you’re just fine without him. Being away traveling all over the world for a year? You’ll realize any guy who hurt you isn’t worth a thought in your mind and you’ll move on. At least, traveling has always done that for me. Just taking this trip is amazing and it will change you for the better. I can’t wait to read about it! See you on the road!

  • Sadie
    July 4, 2011at7:46 am

    you can do it Val! Can’t wait to read all about it. I am so so so so sad that I’m not in NYC with you right now 🙁

      • Sadie
        July 6, 2011at9:44 am

        OH YES. I’ll be there next year. 4th of July was just not the same after being in NYC the past two years!

  • Kieron
    July 4, 2011at11:07 pm

    Good luck Val! Enjoy your adventures. 🙂

  • Michelle
    July 15, 2011at2:00 pm

    Val – A friend from high school told me about your blog ages ago. I just recently started reading it, and I adore it, and your trip is really inspiring. Doing that with that insurance money is even more inspiring. I can’t pretend to know what your dad would think, but my hope is he’d be pretty damn impressed that you got your scared self on a plane to Berlin and beyond. I look forward to your posts, and wish you safe and exciting travels!

    As for “him”….everyone has one, and most are able to move on to even greater things. I’m confident you will 🙂

  • Michelle
    July 15, 2011at2:16 pm

    P.S….since you’ll have no clue who I am based on that last post, Michelle M. from grammar school-high school 🙂

  • Divas Prerogative
    March 19, 2024at6:33 am

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