To Tell The Truth

by Brenna Holeman

Jodhpur, India


Udaipur, India


Jaisalmer, India


Varanasi, India


Jodhpur, India


Jaisalmer, India


Pushkar, India


The Thar Desert, India


Jodhpur, India


Jaisalmer, India


Jaisalmer, India


Amritsar, India

The days are counting down toward my upcoming adventure, the to-do list seems to grow ever longer and the realization that I’ll be living out of a backpack once again looms overhead. Whenever I tell anybody of my plans for Central and South America, they inevitably ask, “Are you excited?” And I, of course, say yes.

But I have a confession to make.

I have not been excited. I have been stressed, and scared, and overwhelmed. I am a fairly seasoned traveller and I have many long trips under my belt, but I am once again embarking on a huge journey for which I have done little to prepare. I am heading to at least ten new countries, ones in which people are telling me are dangerous, full of thieves and diseases and terrible food (though people tend to say these things about every single country I visit). I lie in bed at night and instead of counting sheep I count worries: will I have enough money for eight months? how will I pack up my house in only a week? where on earth is my travel health booklet? should I bring my brown flip-flops or my turquoise ones? and so on, and so on. I think about the reasons I shouldn’t be going at all. I think about the fact that I just arrived in my hometown five months ago after a fourteen-month adventure, and shouldn’t that have satiated my wanderlust?

It was without warning, then, that I realized a few days ago that none of these things mattered anymore. What mattered was that I was going to be travelling again, doing what I loved above all else, meeting new people and trying new foods and experiencing new things every single day. It’s easy to forget just how incredible life on the road is when you become settled or fall into a routine. Instead of focusing on my worries, I’ll remember what it feels like to step off a bus in a new city, what it feels like to share beers (and secrets) with people you just met, what it feels like to wake up in the morning and look forward to a cup of hot coffee and a day filled with adventure. I’ve started dreaming of strange fruits and colourful marketplaces and laughing with locals and other travellers alike. I look back at these photos I took in India around this time last year, the people in them so vibrant and full of intrigue, and I’m embarrassed to say that I ever even doubted I was doing the right thing.

“Are you excited?” the girl at a shop asked me today, after telling her where I was going and why exactly I was purchasing so many memory cards. “Yes,” I answered truthfully. “More than anything, yes.”

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Andi of My Beautiful Adventures April 20, 2012 - 1:16 pm

I love how honest you are in this post. Even brave people like yourself have moments of worry and stress, doesn’t make you any less brave, rather human. HAVE THE MOST AMAZING TRIP EVER! Now you’re about to enter my favorite part of the world. 🙂

Francy R April 20, 2012 - 1:57 pm

I loved your post. It made me remind when I was about to go to St Petersburg when I was 18! From one hand I was so excited as I’d been waitng for that journey for longtime, but on the other hand I was so scared as it was my first trip alone a country so far away. I finally had a great time!
Wish you a unforgettable experience!

Chinye April 20, 2012 - 3:30 pm

This post really resonated with me. I am getting ready to spend a few months in Uganda working and traveling through East Africa, and even though my trip is only 7 weeks away, I still feel like I have done nothing to prepare for it. My to-do list is a mile long of shots I need to get, things I need to buy, finding someone to rent my apartment all inundates me with worry. Everyone asks me if I am excited and ready, and I always answer that getting on the plane and enjoying my time traveling will be the easy part….the preparation is what is killing me. Thanks for letting me know I am not the only one.

Lindsey April 20, 2012 - 6:31 pm

I can completely empathize with these thoughts! I feel like there is this strange, pervasive need to always be positive about travel, but travel is not stepping out of the normal stressors of life. Rather, it is stepping into a different version of life with different stressors, and what I consider more unique rewards (not necessarily greater, but sometimes it seems so!). I am getting ready to move to Jordan for 14 months and even though I have lived there before, I too have a million “to dos” in my head as I also pack up the material aspects of my life and tie up some loose ends. No matter how many times I have set off abroad to travel for a few months, the transition always seems a bit daunting. I attribute some of it to no longer having the rosy-colored travel glasses and being aware that there will be some inevitable challenges along the way for which you can’t prepare in advance. As my dad told me while packing for my first lengthy trip abroad, “Dont forget your sense of humor because things will go wrong!” So remember to pack your humor as well as your smile, and in the meantime, continue to do what you described–remember the rewards on the other side of the transition! And thanks for the refreshing post!

This Battered Suitcase April 20, 2012 - 7:42 pm

Thank you so much for all of your amazing words and stories. It’s so nice to hear that I’m not alone!

Andi – I can’t wait to share stories with you about South America!!

Francy – Thank you so much! You must have had an incredible time in Russia…

Chinye – What an exciting adventure you’re about to have! I totally agree with you that the preparation is the most stressful thing. As for all the things you have to do before you go, don’t worry…you’ll get it all done! It always falls into place in the end…

Lindsey – I found myself nodding along while reading your comment; I especially like the point you make about a different version of life with different stressors! Very well-said. I always try to have a sense of humour while on the road…I think travel would be impossible without it!

renee April 20, 2012 - 8:59 pm

What a lovely post Brenna. I’m so glad you found your excitement and didn’t allow yourself to be buried by worry. Have a fantastic time. I cannot WAIT to hear stories and see your pictures. If you ever get bogged down in that worry, remember we’re all excited for you.

Oneika April 21, 2012 - 1:12 pm

Lovely post. Sometimes I feel jaded about travel… And then I step off the plane! You are going to have a fabulous time. I spent 6 weeks in Latin America last year and lived in Mexico for a year in 2008 and can assure you that you will be fine- just keep your wits about you!

This Battered Suitcase April 22, 2012 - 12:22 am

Renee – Thank you so much for your lovely words! They are really encouraging.

Oneika – I have already read a lot about your Latin American travels; I must have read your articles about studying in Antigua a thousand times! I really can’t wait to do the same myself…


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