Last January, Rachel and I quit our jobs and ran off to Europe to travel and work on farms for three months.
Rachel hurt her hip on the farm, and we had to come back early in late-February. Despite the circumstances, we were surprised by how much we enjoyed being home. Before our trip, we bought into the romantic idea that traveling is inherently better than putting down roots. After two months, we learned that it’s not better, it’s not worse… it’s just different.
We appreciated our bed more after sleeping under twelve roofs in eight weeks, and our jobs were easier when we knew we weren’t stuck in them. We met amazing people on our trip, and we saw amazing places. We also learned that there is tremendous value in investing in longterm relationships and building community. There is value in saying “This is my home, and I am committed to it, for better or worse.”
But our trip feels unfinished, and we want to make travel a greater part of our lives rather than something we did “that one time.” We didn’t feel the need for another three month “drop everything” getaway, but it needed to be more than a two week vacation. We didn’t want to retrace our steps, but there is still much of Western Europe we wanted to see.
In August we found $530 round-trip tickets to Istanbul. We had a little interest in Istanbul, but it mostly seemed like a cheap way to get back onto our destination continent. We bought them, committing ourselves to spend the month of January abroad. We figured we would spend a few days in Istanbul - we’re there anyway, right? - and then head to Italy and Germany.
Perhaps we’ve grown too comfortable with laissez faire travel, because we sat on those tickets for three months without giving them much thought. A couple weeks ago it finally dawned on us: we’re leaving the country in two weeks, and we have nothing planned.
By then, flights from Istanbul to Italy cost almost as much as our flight from Chicago. When I finally got around to looking at a map, I realized that Turkey isn’t nearly as close to Western Europe as I thought. You can’t just hop an overnight train from Istanbul to Rome.
So we asked ourselves, “What if we just stay in Turkey?” And the more we read about it, the more we excited we got.
This is the plan, conceived almost entirely in the last two weeks:
On Friday, fly to Istanbul and stay with friends for a week. Then spend two weeks working on a farm two hours outside of Istanbul. Then stay in a cave hotel, and fly a hot-air balloon at dawn in Cappadocia. Then visit Ephesus - the city for which the book of Ephesians is named. Fly back Chicago on January 29th.
James 4 says:
Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.” Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.”
If we’ve ever had plans needing a big “Lord willing” prepended, these are them.
We’ll be updating the blog like last time. Stay tuned.