Four days into our trip, and I’m finally getting a chance to sit down and write. The last three weeks have been an intense amount of work, anticipation and finally, relaxation. It is a lot for a little family to get through, and it wouldn’t have been possible if both Mark and I were still working.
I’ve personally been through crushing anxiety about the amount of work to be done, physical and mental exhaustion of simply just getting through the list, and finally through to slowly relaxing into the fact that we were only a few days away from departure.
I’ve had stress-murder dreams, and am still waking up in the middle of the night with every muscle in my body fully tensed, fists clenched by my side, and lying supine, straight and stiff as a board. For the record, I normally toss and turn in variations of the foetal position, so this is an entirely new thing for me.
The amount of work it takes to plan a year abroad is as much as you make it to be. I am a lister. I live and die by lists. If it’s written on a list, then it doesn’t have to be a part of the 6 million other things scrolling through my head, and my people out there know just how incredibly satisfying it can be to cross something off!
Planning for a trip is one thing. Getting everything prepared to go on a trip is something else entirely. There is storage to arrange, travel insurance policies to research and buy, life insurance policies to check, loose ends to tie, a home to pack up, and endless decisions about what packs, stores or goes to the charity shop.
Partly to demonstrate that I was doing a shed load of work, and partly because there was a shed load of work to be done, I created a job board for the family with little strips of Post-It notes. Everyone had their job list, and when something was done, we moved it to the done board. It was a constant reminder of all we needed to do! Not all of it got done, but the important things did, and I’m officially someone who has now said that’s good enough. (I appear to be going through a severe chilling out about things phase).
As the list dwindled down, and the major tasks reduced to one or two things per day, I began to relax, but it still did not seem even remotely real that we were taking off for a year long journey around the world. The act of moving house really unsettled Austin, and my highly spirited, but generally lovely child turned into a moody pubescent teenager spawned from satan himself. He still hasn’t totally come out of it, but at least last night he told me that he wants to have a good day today!
Our friends the Holliday’s (so appropriate), generously opened their home to us for the last week in London while Mark finished up his last days at work. It was nice to spend time with friends before we spend an inordinate amount of time with just ourselves. Sure we’ll meet people along the way, but day four, and it’s been a lot of family togetherness.
Our first travel experience wasn’t without its challenges. Mark still has not bought his backpack (GROWL), and being the obsessive planner that I am, I over-prepared and definitely over-packed. I planned and packed for a year abroad. What I needed to plan and pack was for a week away. We’re hitting drastically different climates and altitudes pretty quickly into our trip, and seem to be rotating between mountains and beach for the duration of the year. That means we do have to bring a variety of clothing, but probably didn’t need 5 kg of snacks/food, and a three year supply of bandaids.
When we checked in to our flight at Gatwick, we were over our baggage limit by 20kg. TWENTY KILOGRAMS! (That’s 44lbs for the Americans reading this). Yes, we had to pay for that. Our £35 per person flight from London to Antalya doubled in price by the time we paid for the luggage. By the time we finished redistributing all that weight, our flight was boarding, and we hadn’t been through security yet. We grabbed some sandwiches from the WH Smith (magazine shop) in the Gatwick lounge and raced to our gate, only to sit waiting until our take off time to board, and then spend another hour on the tarmac before finally taking off.
We flew with Thompson (now TUI) for the first time ever. Oh. My. God. Thompson is a family package holiday company, much like Sun Jet in the US and Mexico. The plane was a sparkling new Dreamliner, which I didn’t expect, but holy shisties, the noise, the old men in hot pants, the old women in wrinkled cleavage baring sundresses, and the feral children running and screaming everywhere.
We have a kid, and have no problem flying with other families. Parents work harder than anyone else on a flight just trying to keep their kids from losing their shit in a hermetically sealed aluminium tube hurling itself through the air. Not on Thompson. The screams from toddlers, babies and even pre-schoolers was louder than any Ibiza nightclub.
I was still pretty uptight heading into this flight, and the fabulous flight attendant only raised her eyes ever so very slightly at my third bottle of prosecco and my request for some ice to bring the temperature down from room temp in order to make it drinkable. That bubbly goodness relaxed me so much I descended into hysterical laughter at the whole situation.
That was the first I had relaxed in actual weeks. I felt it coming off in layers. It was definitive proof that prosecco really does solve everything.
Once we landed in Antalya, things got a whole lot easier. The city is just gorgeous, and we were left wondering why we spent nearly 10 years in London and never holidayed in Turkey. Well, we have 9 days to make up for it, and I’ll tell you all about it in the next post.