Thursday, October 27, 2011

Travel Thursdays: (2) Pre-production

So before I get into the juicy details of the trip, I have to take you back to where it all began.

Let's RECAP...

May 2009: I get hired to work for Executive Producer on Oliver Stone movie, Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps.

August: Seeing as I was making more cash working 4 shifts a week as a waitress than I was working 6 days a week (and 14 hrs a day) as an assistant, I decided to sublet my Upper West Side 1bdrm and move in with a college friend in her Upper West Side 2bdrm just sixteen itty bitty blocks away.

Dec: My roomie announces she needs to move out asap. My first thought before panic sets in...IT'S TIME TO TRAVEL!

5 minutes later: Panic sets in. I decide to move home, cry profusely to a friend about the state of my life and grasp tightly to the one thing holding me together...the thought of traveling.

5 or so min after that: I cry again thinking about how much it will cost to take the trip I really want and realize there's no way I can manage it. I take a deep breath and reconsider...there HAS to be some way to make it work!

30 seconds later:  I remember a conversation with a friend a while back...
ME: Travel should be a birth right for every human being, not just something exchange students and ridiculously wealthy people get to enjoy. 
HIM: You should try WWOOF-ing
ME: WTF is WWOOF-fing?

It's an extreme travel experience where people work on farms all over the world in exchange for room and board. A little extreme but right up my alley. After all, I do LOVE nature. 

I look it up, think it's amazing but ultimately decide waking up at 430AM to milk cows and shovel shit is not quite the experience I was looking for. Wouldn't put it past me for the future though. (And in all seriousness, not all experiences are the same.)  

Instead I discover links to similar sites and stumble onto Help-X, a work-your-way-through-your-stay site that connects travelers with hosts around the world. Unlike WWOOF, the work ranges depending on the need of the host...anything from nannying to construction to web development. Locations are all over and most are amazing. It's like Craigslist for travelers. 

PERFECT! This is it! I found a way to do it without having to sell a kidney...or anything else for that matter.

Endless joy and excitement ensues. 

Jan 2010: I finish up my stint working on Wall Street II at the end of January 2010. Like a circus leaving town, we close up shop after 8 grueling months and move every last thing out of the office. The very next day...rinse and repeat, except with my life. I pack up my existence and prepare to leave town. I'm also eyeball deep in a 10-day commercial shoot I'm producing and directing down in Florida. 

Feb: MOVE 2nd move in 6 months...home to Staten Island after 6 years in the city. I fly to Florida for the shoot, get bronchitis, fly back. By then I'm exhausted beyond all belief and know it's time to get the hell out of dodge.

March: Fly to LA to spend my 31st birthday with my sister. I sit by the pool editing 3 versions of the commercial, teach myself garage band (apple's music software) and compose the music from scratch. Somewhere between sunblock applications and editing applications, I research flights to Europe. Fly back to NYC. 

April: I wrap the commercial and with less than six weeks to plan, I bite the bullet and decide to go for it. I'm tempted to put it off but know if I don't do it in that moment, I probably never will. 

I don't want to travel during the high tourist season in June, so I have to make decisions fast and book them even faster. The only problem...I don't typically make decisions quickly, especially ones that involve traveling alone for 6 weeks on the other side of the planet. The pressure is on.

The research consumes my life and is seriously anxiety ridden at times. This isn't like booking a resort where I'd take one flight to one place, lay on one beach and make big decisions like which flavor margarita to drink pool-side, or whether to eat at the Asian fusion restaurant off the lobby or the Italian one near the casino for dinner.

This is 3 countries, countless cities, various flights, trains, buses, hostels, budget hotels and everything in between. It took me weeks just to pull the trigger on the initial flight. Hours are spent staring at the screen, going back and forth between different travel and airline sites, contemplating endless variations of arrival and departure patterns. 

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There are so many things to consider and every consideration influences the next. Where will I go? How will I get there? Where will I stay? How much will it cost? What if I want to stay more or less time once there? Each city within each country is it's own destination, with it's own language that I don't speak.

It's overwhelming. And there's a moment or two I consider shutting down the entire operation, crawling into bed and taking a reeeeeaaalllly long siesta instead.

Despite all the fear and uncertainty, I know deep down it'll all come together. And it does.

I use all the miles I accrued from "city living" on my AMEX card, along with a generous wrap gift (aka a wad of cash) from my producer-fairy-godmother-former boss, and finally book my flight! 

May: Endless preparation and a little thing called "packing" for my flight to Barcelona, departing Newark Airport on Tuesday the 10th at 7:20PM. 


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