Plans

It's 01.12am on a cold Sunday morning in Edinburgh. I often claim to have writers block but I think it's more a case of trying to wait for something concrete before wanting to commit to anything. But I think if you wait for that then you will struggle to write anything at all. So I've decided to try and write more often even if it feels a bit more scattered and unrefined.

I'm quite good at spending hours reading various travelling blogs, going through the 8,000 odd photos from my gap year and checking out the crazy things that all the people I met on my travels are doing. No doubt it's a form of escapism but it helps to sharpen my focus in terms of what I want to do both now and in the coming years.

When people go travelling it is easy to get in the habit of doing 'little and often'. Most people spend only a couple of days in Edinburgh, but 6 months on I'm still discovering strange and interesting places to this incredible city. I'm enjoying getting to know it properly and there are still so many places that I have yet to explore. The idea of focusing in depth on one place is something that I'm looking forward to do in practice when I travel to Italy this summer. Current plans are to spend 5 weeks in the country, starting in Venice and ending in Sicily. There are 5 of us going from my Italian class at university and I'll update on this when we have sorted out more of the details.

Despite this, there is obvious intrigue with how wide and far people have gone. By trawling through various articles, I came across the 'Traveler's Century Club' which have their own definition of 321 countries, territories and islands  and accept membership to their club when you have reached 100 of these. I worked out that I've only been to 28 of the 321 they list which seems like a fairly weak effort. You can check your score here. The club is, unsurprisingly, populated by wealthy Americans in their 40s and not 19 year old students studying philosophy. This got me thinking about how realistic it would be for a broke student to reach 100 before they graduate in 3 years and 3 months?

There's obvious dangers and dilemmas in setting such a outlandish target:

  1. It sounds expensive
  2. 72 countries is a lot of countries
  3. You're meant to be doing a degree
  4. You're possibly reducing travelling to just a number
  5. You're only 19, chill out
  6. Are there better things to do with your time and money?
Each point is probably valid but not enough to totally dissuade me. That said, it is still currently merely a hypothetical suggestion. Sometimes in life, the crazy ideas are the ones most valuable in pursuing. In the meantime I'm going to focus on depth. Visits last week to Calton Hill, parliament and Holyrood Palace were long overdue and I'm looking forward to doing a week of volunteering in April on the Isle of Skye. That is with the charity Trees For Life which work to regenerate Scotland's forests.

So, only 72 countries to go...

Victoria Street, Edinburgh