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:
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!
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.