By Pam Johnson
Editor’s Note: Pam Johnson and her husband Woody are preparing to embark on a yearlong trip abroad, visiting 12 countries in 12 months. Pam will file monthly stories along the way.
Do They Sell Depends in Morocco?
That was the first question I asked myself when my husband and I first contemplated a yearlong trip around the world. I’m not saying that I need incontinence products (it’s more of a hypothetical question), but when deciding what to pack, I wondered if we’d find everything we need everywhere we’re going: Dairy-free creamer in Europe? Curly shampoo in Nepal? Decaf coffee in Ecuador?You know, those important necessities of life. I guess we’ll find out soon enough what we can and can’t live without, since we’re about to step out the door of Jonesborough into the big wide world. We leave June 2 for a year abroad.
I invite our community along via my travel articles as we explore the sights and sounds and cultures of 12 countries over the next 12 months. This is not a whirlwind trip to see as much as we can of as many countries as we can—it’s a strategic journey to immerse ourselves into the culture of a single community in each country. Our goal is to experience life in each place more as a “local” than as a tourist. We plan to get to know its people, customs, churches, pubs, cafes, hiking trails, community events, public transportation, and markets (where we hope to find those necessities of life, as mentioned above).
Our routing takes us first to Europe for six months: the highlands of Scotland; the fjords of Norway; a monastery in Estonia; a mountain village in Romania; a “party town” in Montenegro; and the coast of Spain. After Europe, we’ll head south to Morocco and then east as we travel around the rest of the world: Morocco, Israel, Nepal, Thailand, Australia, and Ecuador.
Getting ready for such an adventure has been both exciting and tedious, but I thrive on planning this type of journey. Since Woody and I have traveled extensively, an outing like this isn’t too far out of our comfort zone. However, there are certainly more challenges now than even 4 years ago when my mom and I visited Budapest, Krakow, Prague, and Dubrovnik.
The most sobering challenge is the Ukraine/Russia conflict. It could possibly redirect us to other countries, but we fully understand that our challenges are very small and insignificant compared to what people are experiencing who are affected or displaced by the horrors of the war.
The other current challenge is COVID. We know it’s still a threat, and we don’t take that lightly. Fortunately, many of the restrictions have been lifted, but we know at any time, they can be reinstated. We’ll just have to remain flexible and go with the flow.
Part of our international experience will include volunteer opportunities, not only for cultural immersion, but to give back to these communities in our short time visiting them. Woody will especially be looking for volunteer work since he’ll have some time available. I, on the other hand, am a digital nomad (just love saying that) taking my publicity work for the Jonesborough Repertory Theatre and my freelance editing with me. I will also keep busy writing this travel article, blogging, and (if my youngest daughter gets her way) Tik-Toking my way around the world.
My purpose for this article and my blog isn’t just to let you know about our adventures, but to hopefully pave a path for you to follow on your own journey abroad. We are open and available for questions, concerns, feedback, and just to chat. Please follow my blog at https://pamtheeditor.wixsite.com/amimionthemove. And you can contact me through my email email@example.com.
Before signing off, here’s a lighthearted glimpse into what it’s been like to prepare for a year abroad. Planning for this trip has been half the adventure.
That Nagging Feeling
We’ve got tickets and passports and I’ve done research galore.
We need visas and vaccines and oh so much more.
Then just when I think I’ve got it all sorted out,
I’m plagued with that nagging feeling of doubt.
Because luggage can only be one certain size.
And, oh yeah, there’s more rules that Europe comprised.
And this form and that form, oh when will it end?
No wonder that nagging has become my new friend.
Some countries demand to know just where we’ll be.
And some won’t let us leave without paying a fee.
Okay, yay, I think it’s all figured out,
But, no, that nagging continues to shout.
Because, the bank, we still need to let know,
And our mailman and pastor, that we’re ready to go.
Airbnbs are booked, now can we flee?
But that nagging feeling just won’t let me be.
Oh, yeah, we need to say our goodbyes.
And update our will just in case we both (never mind).
Yes! I’ve insurance in case there’s a delay.
Oh, nagging feeling, please go away.
Okay, take a deep breath and brighten the mood,
Because really that nagging feeling is good.
It helps us remember what we must do…
Before we take off for adventures anew.
Check back early next month to learn more about the Johnsons’ time in the highlands of Scotland.