But I needed a break first. At the time I was sharing an inexpensive apartment, with no car payment and very little overhead. I could depend on my brothers to run the business in the short term. I had seen most of the United States and parts of Europe traveling on the company dime, and I lead our restaurant customers on weeklong Pub Crawls to Europe a couple times a year. I was pretty burned out trying to juggle two full time jobs for so many years and I needed to do something big, something life changing, something epic.
A two month backpacking journey through Bulgaria, Turkey and Greece would do the trick. It’s a part of the world I had always wanted to see. Through all my traveling I had become quite a history buff, and that part of the world is littered with Greek, Roman and Byzantine ruins. Istanbul was the center of the universe for centuries. I was so excited. I purchased a couple books on solo travel and studied up my destination on the internet. I worked out a very rough itinerary figuring about three weeks in each country and bought a ticket to Sofia, Bulgaria returning from Athens, Greece two months later. I would work my way around the Mediterranean by foot, bus and ferry. I was ready.
About three days before departing I was having serious second thoughts. I had never traveled alone before in countries where I couldn’t understand the language, never lived out of a backpack for that length of time, never even seen a hostel, let alone stay in one. What was I doing? Am I crazy? Would I be homesick? Two months is a long time to be away. I was worrying myself sick, could hardly eat. This is insane. I just can’t do it. I have to call the trip off.
Kelly-Jo is my love, my significant other, spouse in all but name. I couldn’t have even contemplated this trip without her understanding and support. She also speaks her mind. “Don’t even think about backing out now! You’ve been planning this trip for months. Suck it up.” She was absolutely right. This was a defining moment in my life. Was I going to let fear keep me from realizing my dream? No way. I needed to face my fear and stick to the plan. I was determined to go, but still had butterflies in my stomach all the way to the airport. Boarding that plane was one of the hardest things I have ever done in my life. It was also one of the best things I have ever done in my life. The trip was spectacular in every way. Better than I could have ever imagined. Epic. If it wasn’t for Kelly-Jo’s support and encouragement I’m not sure I ever would have gone. But she understood, perhaps more than me, that this was something I needed to do, and for that I am forever grateful.