Let me preface this by saying I really do love getting emails, calls, and texts from loved ones showing interest in my life. Keep them coming! It’s just that some of the questions (er, most of them) have overlapped at the very least, and I’ve found myself answering the same questions many times (which can be very time-consuming for someone without a job). I’m hoping this quick Q&A will provide some insight, all in one place.
Where are you going?
In two and a half weeks, I leave for Lima, Peru. I’ll be volunteering there for five weeks with an organization called Cross Cultural Solutions. I don’t know my exact volunteer placement yet (they like to wait as long as possible to make this determination so that the placement is based on current local needs), but it will likely involve care-taking, healthcare, or teaching.
After the volunteer program ends, I will embark on independent travel southward through Cuzco, La Paz and several other parts of Bolivia, northern Chile and Argentina, and then Buenos Aires and its surrounding areas.
As part of my yearlong adventure in volunteering and traveling, I wanted to spend significant time in a Spanish-speaking country to brush up on my language skills. Obviously there are many options for learning Spanish, from Central America to South American to Spain to Miami. Peru will be vastly different than my day-to-day life in New Jersey. Its natural beauty is undeniable, with its beaches, mountains, lakes, rain forests, desert, and incredible biodiversity. The history is deep, sometimes painful, but ultimately the most intriguing to me among the options I considered. More than anything, I am following my intuition. Peru just feels right.
Are you really traveling alone? But you’re female! And so little!
Yes, I am traveling “alone,” in the sense that I have no companions from the onset. But I will be with a reputable volunteer organization for the first part of my trip, and plan to travel with guides to any especially remote or undeveloped areas (for example, the Inca Trail to Macchu Picchu).
For those of you who are concerned, the equally tiny-and-female Jodi Ettenberg of Legal Nomads recently wrote a post inspired by an article in the New York Times about solo female travel that I found fascinating and reassuring. Check it out here (and then please stop worrying about me): “Solo Female Travel, Trust, and the Art of Fitting In”.
How are you preparing? (Or, what the heck have you been doing for the last month since you quit your job?)
Believe it or not, my days have consisted of more than sitting on the couch watching Modern Family reruns (some days, at least). That’s not to say I didn’t catch up on sleep (oh, how well I have slept!), but my hours have filled up with errands, Spanish lessons, reading, doctors appointments and vaccinations, purchasing travel gear, scheduling plane tickets and itineraries, and spending time with my loved ones. As much as I have tried to take on the persona of the spontaneous-vagabond-who-doesn’t-plan-things-more-than-a-few-days-in-advance, I am still me, and that means I plan.
I’ve also been searching for inspiration (it’s not been hard to find), mostly to bolster my nerves against the waves of “ohmygodwhatamIdoing?!” that strike me late at night when I can’t fall asleep. My inspiration comes from books, friends, family, blogs, movies, and all those who embrace positivity.
What comes after South America?
After my journey ends in Buenos Aires, I’ll spend the holidays at home. In January, I depart for the second segment of my travels in Southeast Asia, starting with volunteer work in Bangkok, Thailand. In May, I head to Russia and Eastern Europe. More details on all of this to come later (I’m not that much of a planner, people).
What will you do when your traveling is all done?
That’s a big fat “I don’t know.” But I do have heaps of faith, and right now that’s all I need.
Feel free to comment or email me if you have any other questions!