Houston, We Have a… Departure Date!


We have been planning our trip around the world for nearly 2 years. After we returned from Chiapas in 2007, we often dreamed of taking such a trip, but the commitment wasn’t actually made until January of 2009. Since Linda had just begun her 2nd Master’s program, we had plenty of time to plan and we committed to departing in January 2011 right after her graduation.

What we had originally planned is nowhere near the reality of that plan 2 years ago, but that is to be expected. However, what wasn’t expected was this wild roller coaster we have been on for the past few months.

This past summer, Linda learned of an opportunity to apply for a stipend program where she commits 1 year of her time, paid or unpaid, to a position within the public mental health system of California. In return, they will pay nearly 20,000 of her student loans. Who could pass up an opportunity like that?

We were going to book our tickets in August or September with OneWorld to guarantee our seat availability. However, this stipend program presented us with an unavoidable obstacle. The application wasn’t due until October and the decision wouldn’t be made until November. So, booking our tickets until we knew the results could have been a $10,000 disaster.

Although our target date of departure had been January 2011 for over a year and a half, in August, we decided to push it back until April. Especially since we knew she had a great chance of being awarded the stipend based upon her lengthy non-profit career history.

We assumed based upon “reliable” information that if Linda was accepted, she would have 6 months from the date she obtains her CA licensing status to begin working in the eligible position. From what we had heard, this could take several months after graduation. In November, we were excited to learn she was granted the stipend and frustrated to discover that she had until June 15th to begin working.

If we left at the beginning of January 2011, we would have had 5.5 months to squeeze in our RTW. However, mind you, that was only 45 days away when we learned this information and we still didn’t have our tickets. Still manageable right?

Well, then came an even bigger curve ball. The stipend program requires that they attend a 2-day training, which was to be announced on an unknown date and could be scheduled anytime between February and April. Ouch.

The little planner in me immediately had a solution… If the training is in February, we will leave mid-january for Mexico and Linda can fly back relatively cheaply to attend this training and then will meet me back in Mexico to continue on with our RTW. If the training was in March or April, well… we could reverse our route and start in South East Asia. Then, we would hop back to the US for two days before continuing on to South America, cutting out Mexico in the process.

In my head, I had all these different scenarios worked out, but was still quite sad that the trip was going to be much shorter and much different from what we had dreamed of. However, we were both determined to make it work.

About 2 weeks ago, Linda received an email advising her that the training was scheduled for the end of January. Sweet! I thought… We could stay in the US for 2 more weeks, get the training out of the way and then travel for about 4 months together.

The day we were ready to book our tickets, she received another email advising her the training date had changed to mid-March. WTF? The worst case scenario I had come up with was now looking to be our only option.

For a few weeks, I was moping around the house, at work, on the phone with my mom. Saying to myself and to everyone that I don’t think it is meant to be. I even pulled out of an awesome opportunity to be interviewed for an #RTWsoon blog post. I couldn’t justify being interviewed if I didn’t even know if the RTW was actually going to happen this year or not.

Then came this wonderful little email… There are two other cities offering the training and one looks like it might work out for us. So, Linda will be attending the training in San Diego on February 3rd and we will be departing the US on the 5th.

Our trip will be a little over two months shorter than planned, but I have been contemplating the idea of traveling solo for a couple of months after Linda flies back in June. How scary and exciting at the same time?

Being the planner that I am, this whole experience has taught me to let go of what I cannot control.

Plus, some positives have come from this roller coaster planning experience. I am actually considering solo travel for the first time in my life which for some reason seemed daunting before. And, Linda is so disappointed that she can only travel for 4 months that we have been discussing doing a full year RTW once her stipend is over. Now, that’s what I am talking about!

Watch out world… “Hello, Meet World” might be doing some extended travel through 2013!

23 thoughts on “Houston, We Have a… Departure Date!

  1. Life has a way of throwing us curve balls that we don’t have much control over. All we can control is the way we handle it and it looks like you’re handling it like a rock star.

    I say go for the solo trip after Linda leaves. By the time she leaves, you’ll be a more experienced traveler and your confidence will be much higher. Besides you’ll probably not want to come home after 4 months anyway.

  2. Wow. A serious rollercoaster! Glad it’s working out, even if not how planned, and that some other possibilities emerged through all of this.

  3. We booked Linda’s flight back to the US, but I haven’t booked mine. So, I think the solo travel is going to happen. The more I think about it, the more excited I get (not that I won’t enjoy traversing the planet with Linda). At this point, I am leaning towards heading to Cambodia for a couple of weeks and then back to Thailand for another month, but I am not ruling anything out at this point.

  4. Wow, that must have been a stressful time. Glad it worked out for you in the end though. There’s no reason why you can’t do a longer trip later on – this can be a taster. Good luck with getting everything ready!

  5. Go with the flow and if you are enjoying yourself travel solo when Linda fliess back. Sounds like so much organising for Linda’s job that it might be cool just to go with the flow when you are traveling.

  6. Unfortunately, with such little time to squeeze this trip in, we had to cut out about 10 countries, but oh well. I know we will enjoy every minute of it regardless. And, I look forward to learning from this trip and keeping our options open for another trip beginning around mid-2012.

  7. Ideally, someday I will be able to travel “endlessly” like you and Simon. Too bad we won’t be able to meet up this go round, but maybe next time…

  8. I am learning that laying the foundation is all that really matters… get the necessary stuff in place (visas, tickets, etc) & let the rest flow as we go.

    We have had such a great experience doing so in the past in Chiapas, I should have known that planning was for “the birds.”

    Although, I am finding myself a bit too lackadaisical at times. Still don’t have our flight out of India & we go to the embassy for our visa in 3 days. lol

  9. I loved Chiapas! Spent about a month there when I was a teen.

    LOL about the flight from India. Yeah, MAY need to do some adjustment there. :)

  10. Wow, what a lesson. I’m also trying to learn the lesson of letting go of things I can’t control. There is a lot you can’t control when you are planning an RTW. How exciting that your departure date is getting close. Safe travels.

  11. Chiapas is where I fell in love with travel… what did you do there as a teen?

    Booked the India to BKK flight tonight so I think I will be ok at our appt. his week for visas… keeping fingers crossed

  12. I have faith it will all work out… Finally letting go of that which I cannot control has been the best experience already :)

  13. Lately I have begun to realize there is very little one can control, especially with an rtw… I must admit I have come along way since last March when I first began really planning this trip.

  14. My friends had family who were missionaries down there, so we stayed with them. Would’ve been more exciting if I could’ve explored more. Lol

  15. Goodness, quite the protracted dilemma. Ah but (as usual), ironically it seems to have produced a glittering gem of an option in the process:

    Yes, YES! Do go solo! Seriously. I can’t recommend it enough. I’ve been winging it solo all over the world for decades now, and it offers pluses that you can’t even yet imagine. You’ll be so much more OPEN to everything when you’re solo, and the locales will likewise be so much more open to interacting w/ you. Not to mention the confidence and self-assurance you’ll glean – utterly priceless!

  16. I am really starting to look forward to a bit of solo travel although it is still disheartening Linda is going to miss out on so much.

  17. Wow, I am sure it was a hard time.

    Mexico, it’s such great country for traveling.

    What other places did you visit?


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