Live adventurously. When choices arise, do you take the way that offers the fullest opportunity for the use of your gifts in the service of God and the community? Let your life speak.
It’s been a long, grim past couple of years and I’ve been yearning for a major life change, new challenges and an adventure. At the start of 2022, then, as I was setting up my first set of annual goals I had no doubts about what my top priority for the year would be: leave the UK.
With a vaguely-planned family visit to the US due sometime in Q4 as my rough deadline, I worked back to identify when I would have to get rid of my flat, hand in my notice at work and pace out visits to friends and family to ensure I was fully untethered and ready to leave when it was time to go. With the exception of getting rid of my flat a couple months earlier than planned (after realising I would be spending much of those months away and would be better off not paying the rent), everything went pretty much exactly to plan.
So what is that plan? In short: fly to the US with my mum and sister to visit family in the US, then go to Central America and explore until the whole family come back to the US some point in summer 2023, at which point I will link back up with them and fly back to the UK.
This will be, by a large margin, the longest stint of travelling I have ever done, it will be only the second time I have travelled solo (the first having been a couple months earlier) and it will be my first time visiting both Central and Latin America.
During this time, I have several goals I want to achieve:
Develop a sustainable travel rhythm that I can continue indefinitely
The Europespedition linked above was really my first experience of travelling for longer than I could reasonably pack enough pants for. As a result, I had to get into a sustainable travel rhythm that could last for several weeks and deal with somewhat new challenges, like finding places to do laundry. On the assumption that I will probably want to live a travelling life far beyond this one trip, I need to develop a super-long-term version of this rhythm; on the bright side, if I’ve done my job correctly at the smaller scale, it shouldn’t be too different regardless of how long I extend it for.
Develop sustainable travel financing so that I can continue indefinitely
Related to that sustainable travel rhythm, though this time entirely new to me, is the fact that I will probably need to earn some money at some point during this trip. Whilst I have some savings and plan to be as frugal as possible, I just don’t think I have enough to comfortably take me all the way to next August. This is good though; part of that desire to continue travelling afterwards involves figuring out how to earn money whilst travelling, be that through local work in hospitality and suchlike or remote work.
I do not speak Spanish. I did a few (largely forgotten) years of it at school and I’ve been doing the Duolingo course for a few months, but I would currently struggle to order food in a restaurant.
Everywhere I plan to go, minus the US, is Spanish-speaking, and even the areas I plan to visit in the US have sizeable Spanish-speaking communities. One of the organisations I plan to apply for later in the trip include
fluent Spanish in their list of requirements, but I’m reasonably confident that through immersion, that might be just about possible in the timeframe.
Learn to surf
I have no idea where to start with surfing, but with so many world-famous breaks near where I’ll be I would be a fool not to try and pick it up.
Learn to dive
I’ve been trying to get some BSAC diving quals for years in the UK, to no avail. With both the Caribbean and Pacific coastlines to choose from, this seems an ideal time to get the ball rolling.
Learn to dance salsa
I am not much of a dancer (not that I let it stop me), but I think given several months of intensive tuition and practice, even I should be trainable.
Use Workaway to find volunteer stays
Part of my strategy to minimise costs, as well as my preference for slow travel, is to try and find volunteer stays wherever possible that will provide me with free accommodation and food, thereby eliminating my two major expenses (amongst other benefits, like meeting locals and doing something worthwhile). I am all signed up with Workaway and hope to try a number of opportunities.
Use BeWelcome to find hospitality exchanges
Despite several attempts, I’ve never had any luck on hospitality exchanges like CouchSurfing (RIP) and BeWelcome. Whilst on this trip, I would like to finally use the latter in some way, whether that’s to find a place to stay or just a local to show me around.
Specifically, visit Costa Rica, Cuba and Chiapas
For a variety of reasons that I’ll get into closer to the time, I specifically want to visit Costa Rica, Cuba and Chiapas (in southern Mexico). I already have my first Workaway tentatively scheduled in Costa Rica, so that’s one down…
Spend time in the US
Despite having been a US citizen since I was born, my time in the country has been limited to roughly one fortnight-long trip every other year, usually to see family in either New Jersey or (more recently) Arizona. I never asked for this citizenship and it was never more to me than a fun novelty, until I started working full-time and learnt that it also comes with a bunch of bullshit obligations.
I don’t really feel like an American (and I certainly don’t sound like one), but, ultimately, we all unavoidably hold a stake in the state of our current global hegemon (in the
when America sneezes, the world catches a cold sense); the not-insignificant difference is that I have a bit of paper that grants me easier access to and passage within the imperial centre.
So, as part of this trip I want to spend a decent amount of time—more than I ever have before—really exploring my other motherland, seeing the stunning natural sites I’ve heard so much about, learning how the chaos I’ve been observing from across the Atlantic actually manifests and getting to know the American side of my family better.
All of this is ironically wrapped, with a knowing wink and tongue firmly in cheek, in the name I’ve chosen for this trip: Benifest Destiny.