Here's one new piece of news: I am a total sucker.
I have evidence to back up this statement. Recently, I successfully found a lovely family to rent out my condo during my trip. I got lucky. I hadn't actually started looking for tenants or even figured out the logistics of how to rent the place out. This truly fell onto my lap by way of a friend who had a friend who had a friend that was moving to Chicago with her husband and child, looking for a 3 bedroom place in a kid-friendly neighborhood in which they could live for a year while they figured the city out and bought their own place. It was the perfect match.
Except, of course, for the money. Here's how the "negotiation" went:
Me: I'd like to rent the condo out for X dollars a month.
Tenant: How about X-500 dollars a month?
Me: How about X-300 a month?
Tenant: How about X-500 a month?
Yeah, I went to law school. At some point, I was taught how to "negotiate." Apparently it didn't take.
In all seriousness, I'm thrilled to have tenants. Figuring out what to do with my condo was the last big
hurdle I had to overcome before my hiatus became a reality. Paying a mortgage while unemployed and traveling to some of the more expensive locations in the world simply was not going to be financially feasible. I probably could have shopped my place around, used a realtor or an agency, drove a hard-line, and gotten more. But it could have taken months, and the uncertainty would have caused me a lot of stress. It was worth it to me to just get it taken care of now. Add in the comfort I get from finding my tenants via a connection (albeit a slightly distant one) and I'm perfectly content with the situation.
Except, of course, for the fact that they are moving in in a month. Which means, I have one month to figure out what to do with my worldly belongings, to pick out the things I'm going to need for the next year, shove them in my car and take them....somewhere... where they'll stay until I actually leave the country. I have one month to get my place emptied out and ready for a family to move in, and one month to solidify where I am actually going to live until my global travels start in September now that someone else will be living in my home.
And here's a secret... I've been researching like crazy and sketching out my plans for my trip, but I have yet to book a single flight or make a single reservation. There's just so much to figure out. Like flights. Do I buy one of those round-the-world tickets that the airlines sell? They're all a little different, but generally you pay a flat fee for a ticket that includes 16 or so segments (or an equivalent amount of miles) and you can use those segments whenever you want, so long as it's within a year. Sounds great, but there's a kicker...you can't backtrack. Continent-to-continent forward progress only. So that would mean no returns to the States unless I bought a whole 'nother flight. Am I at that place in my life where I can deal with the idea of no Christmas with my family? I don't think so. Instead, do I buy flights individually, shopping around for the best deals, which is more unpredictable and potentially more pricey? And while we're asking questions: do I take all my belongings with me from the get-go, or do I plan short returns home to re-pack, regroup, replan? Do I need to have my entire trip planned before I leave, or can I try to figure things out as I go? What do I do about health insurance when I'm no longer employed? How can I set up my phone plan so I'm not paying an arm and a leg to stay in touch? The questions just keep on coming.
I'm not going to lie, I am totally overwhelmed right now. There is so much to do, and so little time. I am not ready. This traveling idea has always seemed sexy and exciting. But now that I'm down to the nitty gritty, it's incredibly stressful. Not that I'm looking for sympathy (I remember a friend posting something on Facebook recently along the lines of, "I don't expect anyone to feel sorry for me, but it's really hard to figure out what to pack for a 3 week European vacation." I laughed.), but I can't say that the stress isn't affecting me. I had this vision that the moment that I walked into my boss's office and asked for a leave of absence, the stress would just melt away. And it did...for about 3 days. Until reality hit.
So for now, I guess the best I can do is just plugging away, making lists and checking things off. And searching, of course, for someone who wants to help me haul things out of my third-floor, walk-up condo in the middle of what is proving to be a pretty brutal Chicago summer. Whatdaya say, friends? Anyone? Anyone?