I am so out of breath every gulp of oxygen feels like it could be my last.
It is 6:39 a.m. Tuesday, Limerick, Ireland. I’m not 5 minutes from my apartment. I’m Irish and this is home. It doesn’t feel like home any more however, it feels like some strange backpacker bootcamp. I’m in training for the greatest years of my life. That’s profound so let me repeat that, “The greatest years of my life”. This is not hyperbola or delusion, this is the challenge of a life time and I’m still 3 months away from using my passport.
I am male, 27, average. I have recently come to terms with the inevitable truth that I must experience as much of this planet as it will allow me. It would be incorrect to call this realisation a decision because that would imply that I had some choice in the matter. I didnt. The gravity of such an undertaking is not slight and must be approached intelligently and with militarily precise preparation. So before setting foot on so much as a bicycle I have already set metaphorical sail on my maiden voyage with the destination of “travel readiness”, or “TED”, on the horizon.
Apart from an acronym i just made-up, “TED” is the foundation upon which engaging, fulfilling and ultimately more satisfying travel experiences are built. It is the earth from which sprouts the grass of freedom which feeds the goat of adventure…or something. In any metaphor it is that which I must achieve in order to gain as much as possible from my traveling odyssey. Every great traveller had their own form of “TED”. Dervla Murphy used to put her feet in hot water to develop her endurance before she cycled to India. Neil Armstrong trained for years in all sorts of “out of this world” ways before he travelled to the moon. Now I must design and complete my preparation ahead of my unique and personal journey.
“TED” is essentially the ultimate quest for self-improvement with not only enlightenment as its end but literally a world of experiential pleasure. The experience of people, culture and the beauty which lives and breathes right here with us on this planet but which very, very few of us ever seek out and discover for ourselves. The critical element of “TED” and of travel is the self. If you and I set out at precisely the same time from precisely the same spot going to the same destination, using the same transport we will likely have profoundly different journeys. The world and its inhabitants will carry on indefinitely and as they have always done since the beginning of life. But it is from within me and within you that a “journey” is truly made. My 27 years’ worth of knowledge and experience will shape and determine the nature of my journey as the culmination of your lifetime will determine yours. I play as equally an important role in meaningful travel as the destination itself. In order to achieve the travelling of my dreams I must develop my “TED” while working full-time and saving for that first foreign step.
My “TED” is composed of the following core elements and competencies:
- My designer bucket list of countries, attractions, dishes, cultures and whatever my pleasures which guide my route around the globe;
- My finely tuned and overly researched plan of action which will get me from here to there while making time for those here’s and there’s that are really important to me;
- My technology, equipment and accoutrements, researched, purchased and practiced including blogging etc.;
- My ability to financially fund the achievement of the bucket list, for me, a TEFL qualification which I hope to use in Hanoi;
- My fitness and stamina to meet and overcome the rigors and hardships of life on the move in some of the most diverse and often under-developed countries (hence my 6.49 a.m. exercise routine);
- My language skills so that at least for some of my journey I can interact with a culture on their terms and glimpse at a little more insight into what’s on offer. At the moment Vietnamese and Malay (wish me luck!);
- Finally my ancillary competencies including acquiring a driving licence, swimming lessons, map reading and chopstick practice.
“TED” is personal. It should be tailored to your specific travel hopes. I am conquering my “TED” today for that first foreign step tomorrow.