Most of the time when I plan a trip, I rarely book out more then a month or so in advance. As a result, in the days leading up to a trip I’m mostly concerned with making sure I’ve packed the right things and figuring out what I’m going to do once I get somewhere. Of course I’m excited about heading out for the next adventure, but I don’t have much time to build up any anticipation for it.
My trip next week is not like any other that I’ve done so far. I’m going with a team to a remote village called Parkishon in northern Kenya. We’ll be renovating some rundown classrooms there and teaching classes on issues like HIV/AIDS, gender issues and sanitation.
I committed to this trip more then six months ago. And it’s been a trip that I’ve had on my mind for nearly two years. Having such a long lead time for this trip was needed so I could do things like fundraising and getting five shots at once for various tropical diseases.
The long lead time has given me a lot of time to get both excited and nervous about the trip. I’m looking forward to being immersed in a culture far different from what I’m used to and visiting a whole new continent. I’m excited about experincing things like “Africa Time” where people don’t follow a rigid schedule or the ticking of a clock but have a more relaxed and go with the flow attitude.
I’m also nervous. A lot of diseases are prevalent there, and I can’t say I’m thrilled about the prospect of dealing with no electricity or plumbing for a week. I’m also nervous about committing some cultural faux pas or not really connecting with the people there.
But that’s the fun in an adventure. If I can handle the challenges of this trip, then I would feel much more confident in handling other difficult situations. Besides, what’s the fun in travelling to places that are just like home?
The best part about the anticipation of this trip is that it’s not just my own. So many friends and family have been asking about my trip and how they can help with it. Others just have a lot of questions about the trip or want me to bring back something from there. And in the last week, many friends want to get together “one last time” before I go. I’ve never gotten that kind of reaction before with any other trip I’ve taken recently. It probably just has to do with the length of the trip or the fact that I won’t be able to call or tweet while I’m gone or maybe just the fact that if it’s me vs. an African lion, the lion’s going to win.
Or maybe it’s because I’ve finally had the time to talk with others and let them know what I’m doing before I go. Whatever the reason, it’s been fun to share the excitement of a trip with others. I’ve realized now that the enjoyment of a trip can start before I ever head to the airport. Whether it’s through studying Swahili, meeting with fellow team members or enjoying a meal at an African restaurant the night before we leave, I’m realizing that preparing for a trip can be more then just tossing some clothes into a suitcase. It can be an experience that’s shared with others.