Thanks to everyone who gave advice about where we should start our trip! Whether you commented based on gut feelings or personal experience, everything you said helped us make our decision about where to start our big adventure. We spent several sleepless nights agonizing over this decision, recognizing the entire time that there was no “wrong” or “bad” choice to be had. In the end, I made a list of all the countries we have been thinking of visiting on this trip (in total, there were 40!) and then Tony and I each independently gave each country a value out of 5, indicating how much we wanted to visit that country. As I am the queen of data manipulation and graphs in Excel (a dissertation will do that to you), I then plotted average scores for the major regions of our trip: Asia, Central Asia, Eastern Europe, Western Europe, and the UK. When plotted, the values looked like this:

Proof that my geekiness knows no bounds!

Looking at it this way, it’s pretty clear that we were most excited about the Asia portion of our trip. While I am a frequent proponent of the whole “save the best for last” approach to life, that’s actually the complete antithesis of what our trip is about. This trip is about reaching out and grasping happiness with both hands. It’s about transforming our life into one that we want to live RIGHT NOW. We can only plan so much for the future, and this chart made it pretty clear to us that if we had to stop our trip halfway through for whatever reason, we’d be really disappointed if we lost out on Asia.

Obviously, there was no bad choice in this situation; there were pros and cons to traveling in either direction, and in the end all we could do is pick the option we thought had slightly more pros and run with that. Obviously the title of this post gave away our decision, but we did ultimately decide that we will start our trip in Japan. This little exercise really allowed us to hone in on the countries and experiences we want to focus on when we do reach the Europe leg of our trip. Rest assured, Iceland will still happen!

Of course, we needed to make our decision not just in word, but in deed as well. So we hopped online, and first bought two one-way tickets from Austin to L.A., and then two more one-way tickets from L.A. to Tokyo. Our credit card rewards have been zeroed out and we had to pay out $550 to make this happen, but now we can finally say:

We are going to Japan!

Look for us here in August!

After what has literally been years of planning, the enormity of what we’ve done hasn’t fully hit me just yet. When it does, I am a study in contrasts. I vacillate between giddiness and panic; the three months between now and our departure date seem both an eternity and no time at all. For months we’ve been holding our breaths, paralyzed with indecision about whether this was really going to happen, and now we know that it is. We’ve been jolted free from the stasis that has defined us; the life we are living now has an expiration date: August 8, 2012. There’s much to do between now and then, but now we have a clear deadline in sight. The countdown has finally begun.

Written by: Stephenie Harrison


In another life, I moved from Toronto, Canada to Nashville, TN to pursue my doctoral degree in Psychology. That chapter of my life is now finished, but I did earn the right to demand you call me Dr. Steph (though I respond just as well to plain old Steph). I am an avid reader whose book collection is rivaled only by my many pairs of cute shoes. I also like to knit, hold impromptu karaoke parties, and try new and unusual foods. Generally not all at the same time. I also really love to learn languages, which may explain why I took 3 years of Latin in highschool. I'm turning over a new leaf, so instead of looking forward, I'm going to work on enjoying the present, so the country I'm most looking forward to is whichever one we're in right now!

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Read comments (18)

  1. May 6, 2012 at 6:41 pm
    May. 6, '12

    Woohoo! I’m so excited for you guys! I can’t wait to start seeing the travel posts rolling in – just a few months!
    Amanda recently posted..My feet hurt! (H&F, Week 2)

    • May 8, 2012 at 6:42 pm
      May. 8, '12

      Yeah, it will be nice to have some legit travel content (not just trip prep) up on the site! I think we’ll do a few posts about Nashville before we leave, and maybe also do some posts on Toronto and Austin leading up to the big departure! But then it will be all travel all the time! 😉

  2. May 7, 2012 at 6:34 am
    May. 7, '12

    Cool! So excited that you’re going to Japan as it’s a one of the destinations at the top of my bucket list! What are u going to visit in Japan ? You’ll have a road trip w0n’t you? Look forward to your posts.
    Francy R recently posted..Cheap Accommodations to Enjoy Aurora Borealis

    • May 8, 2012 at 6:45 pm
      May. 8, '12

      We’re still hammering out an itinerary but right now, I think we’re planning on the following: Tokyo > Kyoto > (Nara & Kibune as day trips from Kyoto) > Osaka > Okayama > Hiroshima > Matsuyama > Osaka (catch ferry to Shanghai)

  3. May 7, 2012 at 2:37 pm
    May. 7, '12

    Sugoi!! [= “Wonderful” in Japanese 🙂 ] I’m so glad you guys are going there – you will love it. I can’t wait to get back to Japan eventually. Very excited to see where you end up there!
    EM recently posted..Today I don’t feel like doing anything.

    • May 8, 2012 at 6:45 pm
      May. 8, '12

      I think Japan is Tony’s most anticipated destination, so there was no way we were going to miss it. I am looking forward to it too, but I admit that the prices have me fretting!

      • May 9, 2012 at 10:31 am
        May. 9, '12

        Yay! Japan sounds wonderful, and that’s the one I vote for, so I feel very content now. Good choice.
        zibilee recently posted..Ten Beach Road Giveaway

        • May 10, 2012 at 11:34 am
          May. 10, '12

          Glad you approve! Less than three months to go!

  4. May 10, 2012 at 11:10 am
    May. 10, '12

    Not to sound too much like a mother hen, but have you consulted a travel medicine clinic yet to make sure you have the necessary shots and pills before you hit certain parts of Asia? I could tell you a story about traveller’s tummy in Bangkok, but I will spare you the details. Suffice it to say I was overly cautious and took my emergency antibiotics when Imodium and patience would have sufficed.
    Thomas at My Porch recently posted..Awwww

    • May 10, 2012 at 11:33 am
      May. 10, '12

      We haven’t been yet, but rest assured that a visit to a travel doctor is in our near future! I am hoping to make use of Vanderbilt’s travel clinic while I still have access to the student health plan so that we can stay healthy on this trip. I hate needles, but I will brave them so that we can have the best possible adventure!

  5. May 10, 2012 at 10:29 pm
    May. 10, '12

    Very jealous! I so want to go to Japan but for some reason, possibly the price, I always seem to choose somewhere else. I’ll definitely get there one day.
    Spencer recently posted..Ten Top Hotels in Vilnius

    • May 16, 2012 at 4:06 pm
      May. 16, '12

      I’m lucky enough to have been to Japan before, but I think I was too young (12) to really appreciate it. I wish it weren’t so pricey, though!

  6. May 16, 2012 at 1:10 pm
    May. 16, '12

    Hehe, I love the bar graph. Hilarious but it sounds like it really helped to point you in the right direction. Japan sounds like a wonderful place to begin a trip! Looking forward to it!
    Jill recently posted..Wat Sensoukarahm

    • May 16, 2012 at 4:07 pm
      May. 16, '12

      You can bet that whenever there are numbers to graph, I will find a way to do so! 😉 I think we knew all along that we wanted to start in Japan, but this exercise definitely helped hammer that home. I am so excited to see Asia!

  7. May 19, 2012 at 5:01 pm
    May. 19, '12

    Ohhh…I’ll be watching for all your Japan posts as we land there on 31Aug. We’ll miss you as we start in Tokyo but will be looking to you for advice. Also…excellent place to start your RTW!! While you still have $$ (we cut it from our RTW itinerary 2 years ago due to budget – this time we are blowing it out!). I am definitely following you now!
    Gillian @OneGiantStep recently posted..Five Ways To Use Pinterest When Trip Planning

    • May 19, 2012 at 5:33 pm
      May. 19, '12

      Hopefully before we head out we’ll have a good itinerary fixed for Japan since it is so expensive (and now our plans of buying a ferry ticket and heading to China are probably kaput) and we’ll be able to post that. Still undecided about whether we’ll book accommodation in advance or just do it as we go, but there’s still plenty of time to decide! I think it is definitely going to be an adventure and we are glad to have you along for the ride!

  8. May 24, 2012 at 11:38 am
    May. 24, '12

    So exciting! You guys are about a month ahead of us! We’re planning on leaving for Japan in mid September so I can’t wait to see your itinerary and read about your time there!
    Vicky recently posted..Cool Programs For Making Travel Maps

  9. July 23, 2012 at 8:11 pm
    Jul. 23, '12

    Lucky you! I would love to go to Japan. I hear it is amazing!
    Spencer recently posted..Ten Top Hotels in Tampa

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