We may be eaten by bears

In response to this week’s Discover Challenge

Gem here, back for another round of this blogging lark. And I suppose now is the perfect time to talk about the issues we’ve faced in getting set up for our tour of Europe. They’re not problems unique to us. In fact, they’re the same ones that most people have, when it comes to just upping and leaving.

And how to overcome them? I suppose it’s just a question of motivation.

One of the most obvious things that stands in the way of getting out there is also one of the most boring, well to me at least, and that’s the idea of financing.
I am a part-time, minimum wage, shop worker. In fact, I’m not even on a ‘living wage’ due to being under 25 (Thanks a lot, Davey C!). And let’s get honest here for a second. I’m just plain bad at money. I never know how much I have in my bank account, I don’t really check my pay as often as I should and when people talk about credit ratings my eyes glaze over.

So how on earth can I expect to have the money to just up and leave the little income that trickles trough my bank account?

The answer is Pete. His income, it ain’t much more than mine, but you should see his lists of numbers, his ideas of how much we should have and where it should be going. So thanks to him, we’ve skimped and we’ve saved whatever money we can skimp and save. Pots full of pennies are littered around the house, my savings account is steadily rising, and our weekly shop is down to £40 a week. £40 for everything, bread, milk, veggies, coffee, wine. No takeaways, no pub visits, no cheeky book shops.

(P: £40 still seems expensive to me need to start recording what we are spending it on!)

But as we keep reminding ourselves, £4 a pint over here (Bristol prices, man!) is €4.80 for two pints there.

So slowly, we’re getting the money. We may not be able to do as much as we may want to. We may have to keep to a small budget over there too. So long as we get there, I guess I can do without my Champagne breakfasts. If I have to.

But after that comes the inevitable, tedious question of security. Well, I mean, what security? Again it bears repeating, I am a part-time, less than living wage, shop worker. Bottom of the food chain, as far as job security goes. I don’t even work in a shop that is considered even vaguely useful, like say a supermarket. I work in the dying industry of selling CDs and DVDs. And when we get back, I’ll still be on the bottom rung. Good thing I don’t mind scrubbing toilets for a living.

As for Pete. I’m sure he has many fingers in many pies, he’ll be fine.

(P: I work at the co-op and I assure you I don’t put my fingers in any of the pies.)

Add to that the fact that we don’t have the means to buy a home in the next fifteen years, it’s not like we have anything to worry about vis a vis mortgages and the like. And when we go, that’s no more rent for us to pay! So then it just becomes a case of unpicking the stitches where we currently live. Throwing away the useless junk we have accumulated and throwing ourselves back to square one. Which to me, feels quite cathartic.

That leaves the big challenge. The real stumbling block. Fear.

All we need to ask ourselves is: What’s scarier, heading to a country where we don’t speak the language and trying to order a cup of coffee or waking up every morning at the same time and stumbling through the motions of brewing the exact same cup of coffee we’ve had every morning?

Okay, this is easy. Clearly the first one is scarier. But which ones more interesting? Maybe you do find your daily routine thrilling and that’s great. Who am I to judge? But I certainly didn’t feel like that. And neither did Pete. That spectre of dull monotony has spurred us on. And hey, maybe the hostels could be lice-ridden dumps and maybe we could get stolen from, lost in the middle of nowhere or eaten by bears. But at least we’d get a story out of it.

We might not have much money, a plan for the future or a can of strong bear repellent. But at least we’re not rolling over and playing dead.


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