A Nervous State of Affairs

In two weeks, I will be asleep in a hostel in Singapore. After two or so years of “what do I do next,” one year of saving for that next thing, and 3.5 months of planning for this specific trip, I cannot believe that this is actually a reality. I’m excited, but the nerves are also hitting me hard.

The current state of affairs:

  • Packing: My room is a disaster area. There are clothes and travel bottles and compression sacks strewn everywhere. There are lists galore — general packing, shopping, which items go in which order in which bag. I’ve had fun collecting all the necessities, though I’m about ready to stop spending money on stuff and start spending it on experiences. Backpacking in Asia might be cheap, but preparing to backpack in Asia is not.
  • Budgeting: I finally paid down the balance I racked up from buying plane tickets and computers and clothes, and I’m working with a loose budget based on how much I have in the bank (minus a few thousand for the car that I can’t sell yet because my airbags spontaneously exploded, long story). I decided early on not to create a strict day-by-day spending cap because I don’t want to miss out on anything great. I know about what things cost in each country as far as long-term averages and how long I’ll be there, and I’m confident that I’ll come back with cash left to spare.
  • Last-minute logistics: Passport photos, unlocking cellphones, calling credit card companies, the usual international travel hassles.
  • Mental health: Not so great. I have a weird anxiety-related stomachache that won’t go away, and though I can’t pinpoint exactly what’s causing it, I’m sure that it’s just the overall stress of big changes that continue to happen (and maybe partly coming down from the high of my trip to Utah). It’s a bit like my fear of needles — I can watch a nurse stick one in my arm, but subconsciously my mind and body rebel and I end up passed out on the floor. True story, many times over. Similarly, I can look at my trip on the surface and say with genuine honesty that I’m not scared, but there’s more to it than that, and my body is letting me know.

I felt like this with Ironman — I was in a zen state of calm in the days leading up to the race, and it wasn’t until I was in my wetsuit, wading into the water, that I freaked out. The anxiety was brief, and it only took a few strokes for it to disappear completely, but those interim five minutes were suffocating, and suddenly I wasn’t sure I could do what I’d spent nine months training for.

I am certain that my Southeast Asia adventure will be the same. There will be hard moments all along the way, but when I land in Singapore, and maybe even when I get on the plane in New York, I’ll be fired up and ready to go. Until then, I’ll have to fight back nervous stomachaches and a few tears. But I can, and I will, and the next three months will be 100 percent worth it.


  1. If you need a travel companion take one of my kids

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