“Flight booked! 11th April 2017 to Goa! Eekkk!”
I sent this text to my family and friends last night, with a flood of one word responses coming back – Wow! Amazing! Exciting! Jealous!
My original plan was to travel round the world with my boyfriend, starting in Thailand and making our way round SE Asia for 12 months.
However, this plan was shattered when we split up in February.
Heartbroken and fragile, I told my parents and friends that I was still going to go away. “Alone?!” was their shocked question over and over again. Deep down, I was terrified – what do I know about travelling alone, all my plans had been what the 2 of us would do together, I had never imagined being alone on the other side of the world. Could I do this? Should I do this? I responded “Yes, alone” to everyone that asked – the more I said it, the more confident I became. I needed to heal, to get my sparkle back and find Sazzle again, instead of this fragile Sarah that I had become.
I had an amazing map, with the route marked out with pins, string and labels (not practical in anyway to take with us). However, I couldn’t continue with the plan we had made, the thought of going to the places we had researched together was too difficult. I needed a new plan and fast!
The thought of just landing in a country with nothing planned was too scary on my own. I started looking at gap year websites, Sri Lanka looking after orphaned and rescued elephants caught my interest. Sri Lanka was one of the only places in SE Asia that we had not planned to go together, so it weirdly felt fitting. I also love elephants!
The volunteer house with airport transfers and meals, plus the reassurance there would be other travellers was appealing (especially to Mum). There was also a 3 month experience, staying in Vietnam, Cambodia and Bali, volunteering with pre-school children. So I decided, Sri Lanka in May, then the 3 month experience which would take me to August. Sorted.
At work, I spoke with my manger to explain I wasn’t coping and felt my sparkle had gone. He was amazing and offered me a sabbatical for 6-12 months! I am now working my 4 week notice, with my last working day is 5th April. A month earlier than my plan…
I enquired with Plan My Gap Year (PMGY) about going to Sri Lanka in April instead but there are a few things to sort out (CRB checks, visas etc) which will take a few weeks. I knew I couldn’t just wait around until May and so a new plan was forming in my head…I wanted a holiday.
I haven’t been on holiday since July 2015, all spare money has been going into the travel fund (which was in minus for quite a while). What if I had just a week of lying on a beach with a book, time to relax and switch off after the trauma of the past couple of months, before I start washing elephants and sleeping in hostels?
The flights to Sri Lanka all seemed to stop in India on the way, Goa has beautiful beaches, new plan made! 3 weeks in Goa (first of which was to be slightly luxurious), then fly onto Sri Lanka for the elephants for 4 weeks.
The after that, I’m yet to decide. I remembered I’m not actually very keen on children, so signing up to 3 months was quite a commitment! Plus, although the volunteer house etc was appealing, it feels a bit like cheating. A bit too planned and fixed, and expensive if I did want to change plan halfway through.
With less than 4 weeks until I fly, there is lots to do, but now that the flight is booked I have a focus – and I always work better under pressure. I gave up my flat in September, and sold most of my furniture over the past few months, so at least I don’t have that to deal with. I have a lot of clothes, shoes, kitchen stuff and about 20 cushions that all need to go. Ebay is great, but quite time consuming – and I’m just rubbish at going to the post office, so doing a car boot next weekend in the hope someone will need 20 grey cushions (they are beautiful!) and a whole new wardrobe of clothes!
Priorities for the next couple of days:
- Visa for India
- CRB check for volunteering
- Book Goa to Sri Lanka flight
- Book elephant encounter (currently in progress, Philip from PMGY has been amazing with all my questions and change of plans)
- Figure out where I’m going after Sri Lanka
- Find Sazzle