Why does it feel like the twenties are a series of trial and errors and perpetual anxiety of the future and whether or not “I will make it in life” instead of just enjoying life and being carefree, all while conquering our goals?
I will be 25 in about 9 months and it feels like I’m only getting started and beginning to figure out life and what I want. I thought by this age I would have my life sorted (LOL); I would be fully financially independent, buying my first property, have several key investments and well into my career path. Yes I know it sounds somewhat idealistic because who actually has their life together at 25 (okay don’t answer that).
Anyway, after completing an internship in 2018 at a global news agency and returning home from a great 3 week holiday in the US during December/January, I found myself in panic mode. What the f*** am I going to do with my life now!? (screaming internally).
My good friend and business partner Simbongile and I have been running our side hustle media company for 3 years already and decided that 2019 was the year to take the leap of faith and make our side hustle the main hustle and become full-time entrepreneurs. But for some reason, I felt like I needed something more. Like something was missing?
After some much-needed introspection, I decided to take another leap of faith and backpack around the world for the year. My “pilgrimage” is more a journey of self-discovery and to challenge myself by being out of my comfort zone, all while doing what I love: MELENIAL. I have never really travelled alone before except when I went to an ashram in India for almost 3 weeks, so I am a little nervous but very excited at the opportunity.
Organising a trip of this magnitude takes a lot of time and planning. Being organised is not my strength but with the help of my mother and different apps (Thank God for technology!), it has made the planning process a little easier.
I decided to choose countries that I have always wanted to visit, some that are cost-effective and safe for women to travel solo. That is how I ended up choosing Vietnam, Japan, South Korea, China, Switzerland, the U.S., Brazil and Peru. In order to get flights at a cost-effective price for all these places, I bought a round-the-world ticket on AirTreks (which specialises in booking flights to multiple destinations around the world) for just over R50 000 (all dependent on where you’re travelling to and the exchange rate because you get charged in U.S. dollars).
Once I had decided on the countries, it was time to sort out the nitty-gritty details like visas and accommodation. As a South African citizen, I need visas for Japan, Vietnam, Switzerland, China and the U.S, which is quite an administrative process (agh, not my fav).
Vietnam’s visa process was fairly simple and easy, it’s an online application for $25 and you receive the visa upon arrival. Japan’s visa process was also easy and gets processed within 2-3 working days for R355 (cash only accepted), although you have to submit your documents in person at the Embassy in Pretoria. Thank God I have already had my U.S. visa for the last 5 years, so that is sorted. The Schengen visa takes a little longer to get processed than the others, so make sure to submit it in time and triple check that you have all your documents so that you can minimise the chances of getting rejected because the R1350 payment is no joke. The Europeans want to see your whole itinerary, I mean the whole thing, whether you are travelling somewhere else after or before.
Remember when submitting your documents for your visa applications to include your travel insurance which you can purchase at any travel agency, especially for the Schengen and American visa. If you find the process intimidating you can hire someone to do your visas on your behalf, but that comes at a price.
Accommodation is always one of the most expensive parts of a trip. Because I am working with a very tight budget, I have decided to let go of all my bourgeoisie and apprehensions about hostels. Hostels are much cheaper than a hotel. AirBnB is also reasonable, however, since I will be spending 2 weeks to a month in each country the best way to make friends and meet people is to stay in hostels. I found most of my accommodation on Booking.com because you can book without committing until you are sure (most of the places allow cancellations at least a month before the check-in date).
Another way to cut costs on accommodation is to join couch surfer, where you can stay at other couch surfers home. This is a good way to meet other travellers and live like a local. Another effective way to meet people and cut accommodation costs is to join workaway for about $40, and you can work and stay anywhere in the world at other workaway hosts – this can look good on your CV too.
So, you may be wondering how am I affording to do this whole trip? My parents have so generously agreed to pay for half of the trip and I have to come up with the other half of the money. So, I have decided to sell my car in order to come up with the balance of the money for the trip, which I will be using for spending money on the trip and money for my accommodation. There are many sites that allow you to sell your car, so do your homework. I chose to go with We Buy Cars as they are very efficient and it was quite a seamless process. Some things I did learn during the process of selling my car was that you need to take your time finding the buyer. Ask around especially people who have sold their car’s previously. Try to get your car in the best shape so that you can get the best price.
It has been quite the process and it has taught me a lot. I am still learning as I finalise everything because I leave on April 1st. I will keep you guys updated every step of the way on my travels. Leave your comments on what kind of content you would like me to share while I am on my trips or if you have any recommendations and advice. I am excited and praying for the best.