My #1 Travel Fear: Life Unstructured

No must-dos, nothing prescribed, zero predictability.

Taking a year off to travel is the most exciting thing I’ve done in my life – and the scariest. Just ask our friends and family. “What if you run out of money?” “Why travel in such dangerous times?” “What if you can’t find a job later?” “How will you travel for so long with so little stuff?” “What if you get ill?” “What if… what if…what if…?”

The truth is that none of these things scare me as much as the freedom from structure does – no must-dos, nothing prescribed, zero predictability.

I’ve lived a pretty structured life. Growing up, it was about doing well in school to get into a good college. Check. And I had to study abroad in France. Check. Then I needed a job. Check. Next it was all about advancing my career and climbing the salary ladder. Check and check. There was also getting married, buying a house and having kids. Check, check…divorce.

Cue a new path in my 30s, kicking off with a paid work sabbatical during which I traveled a bit and declared I needed a change. I was going to move to another city and start a new life, but at the end of that sabbatical I just happened to meet the love of my life in a Boston bar. I did start a new life then, just not in a new city.

Having just spent a year solo-traveling through South America, Phil had only just arrived in Boston when we met. He was getting acclimated to a new job in a new city in a new country (with a bothersome language barrier – American vs. English). Phil was, to me, the ultimate free spirit because he was serious about life but didn’t take life too seriously. And while he enjoyed his tech career, he didn’t want work to be the center of his life – a philosophy that elicited shock and envy from She-Who-Was-Addicted-to-Career-Success-and-Dreamed-of-Breaking-Free.

In our 12 years together, Phil has patiently indoctrinated me into the world of risk-taking, like when he encouraged me to quit my job to try consulting (which I insisted was OK because it was calculated risk-taking). Many conversations over wine, spirits or a pint helped me get in touch with my inner free spirit, until it finally had the courage to say, “Shut up already!” to my rational, worrywart mind.

Now, it’s go time. I’m ready for a life chapter that will be, well, predictably unpredictable, to say the least. Yes, I’m a bit scared, but I’m also excited, giddy and chomping at the bit to get going. I’ll do well to remember all this when I have my first structure relapse. “What the hell am I doing?” But I won’t let it – or any subsequent relapse – stop me from having the adventure of a lifetime with my best-est friend in the whole wide world.

What travel fears have you had?  Share them with us here, or on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.

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