Back in 2007, I was preparing to move to the UK for a 2-year working holiday. I’d been saving for months, sold off my belongings, quit my job.

And then my nana died unexpectedly. We were very close. It sent me into a shock. I became absolutely terrified I would lose someone else while I was away. Until then, I had only left my hometown once – on a school trip to Queenstown, and during that trip my cat died. So I already had a niggling paranoia about leaving town again. I was so terrified of losing someone else that I cancelled my work visa and turned my 2 year OE into a 2 week holiday.

My biggest fear is losing a loved one while I’m away.

Is this a rational fear? No, I don’t think so. Everyone has irrational fears, whether they be spiders, clowns, public speaking. Mine was losing loved ones while travelling. I even developed a sinking paranoia that I would somehow cause someone to pass away simply by leaving. Obviously that is ridiculous, but it was how I felt at the time.

I didn’t go away again for 3 years – a 10-day trip to Egypt with my best friend in 2010. That trip rekindled the fire of wanderlust and in 2012 I headed off on a 6-week trip to Europe. When I got home I was itching to head away on a RTW trip or again try to move to the UK. However, my best friend had fallen ill and was soon diagnosed with cancer.

The next 18 months contained some of the hardest moments I’ve ever been through. It wasn’t fair. She was so young. We had talked endlessly about all the trips we were going to take together. We had even planned an epic adventure shortly before she fell sick. I felt guilty. For being healthy while she was so ill. For being able to travel to the places we dreamed about while she would never have the chance.

She passed away this year. Shortly afterwards, cancer took a second friend away, after only a few months of treatment. Amongst all that, my cat died as well.

All I wanted to do was run away. To clear my head and start fresh. But that old irrational fear keeps creeping back, and bringing along new ones.

My travel plans don’t kick off until April 2016. Why so late? My parents are retiring soon and will be heading off on their own adventure next year. I have a pet cat who has been by my side the last 8 years. I don’t want to give her away. Especially after losing so many loved ones. They’ve agreed to look after her when they get back, but that won’t be until early 2016. If I leave beforehand, then there’s no-one to look after her and I’d have to give her away. There’s also the money side of the equation – more time means more savings.

I’m worried about returning as well. Will I find as good a job as I have now? With skyrocketing rent prices, will I be able to afford to live here when I return? Will I even want to? If I move to Australia or the UK, what do I do with my cat?

With so many turbulent thoughts running around in my head, it’s a wonder I’m even still planning to go at all! But the wanderlust won’t die. I’m determined to see the world. To see all those places we dreamed about. To have endless time to explore without having to think about work or money or fixing things around the house. Time to clear my head, to find out what I really want to do in this life. To be free.