What is it like preparing oneself for a
journey of unknown duration, route or difficulty? Even
something as simple as the already booked air flight can
offer unknown challenges. How do you resist becoming
worried about the cost? What about lodging, food and
One way is not to plan very much. Don’t try to predict where you will be on a certain day. Just let each day bring itself to you. After so many years of finding each day, not planning is what I do. Recently when traveling with another person this became an area of difficulty. They expected to know where we were going and what we would encounter when we arrived there. For me that concept is hard to understand.
I know what you are thinking. How is it possible to just strike out and not know the destination? Sometimes I will plan to stay the night in the next city north when I mount up in the morning but will never make it to that city. Something will distract me and my original destination will be completely forgotten. So, what? What does it matter? Many say that it is about the journey and not the destination, but are incapable of living out that philosophy.
I have told you that I am cycling from Athens, Greece to Norkapp, Norway. That however is just to give somewhere to start and an idea of what could happen. The road is far too unknown for me to have any real idea of what I will find as a route or destination. The path will be decided each day. In fact EuroVelo 11 is still in early development. It is not clearly defined, so it fits me perfectly! For many years I would declare a “Wind Day” before I crawled into my tent for the night. When I arose on that next day I would ride out of camp with the wind at my back. The only directional criteria was the wind. I used to say it prevented me from being tied to having to be in Tucson on Tuesday. My interest is not where I am going but rather how I get there.
So, how do I prepare myself for such traveling? A travel list helps. Each and every item packed is on that list. It is a list that has taken many years to develop and provides for the right clothing, bike equipment, camping gear, meal preparation facilities and all needed for a month or a year on the road. The list prepares me for almost any problem. Sunny days, storms, snow, broken bike parts or a broken bike itself. No, hotels, no campground, no store or restaurant, no problem, the list provides for my backup. What about theft? How does the list help with that? On the list and hidden away is $200 dollars. On the internet is a copy of all my credit cards and the main page of my passport. All things that the list tells me to do. How about injury? The list reminds me to have a first aide kit, my medical cards and emergency evacuation insurance. What does the list say about routes? It tells me to have a map.
With the list carefully prepared and following it precisely when gathering and packing my needs a big area of worry is eliminated. It provides self confidence and restful sleeping. Yes, many years of doing this helps but remember there was that first trip and that was when the list began.
As for the unexpected problems. Remember you are on vacation, don’t let happenstance stress you to the point of acting in such a manner as to increase the problem. Yelling at the person causing your problem seldom accomplishes your goal of finding a solution. Many, many times I arrive at the ticket counter and the agent has difficulties checking in my bike. Even though I have spoken with the airline and gotten permission to fly it the agent is the final word. I smile and talk with them as a friend. I explain that I have done this many times, flying around the world to all but the Antarctic continent . After a while they come to my point of view. If I started telling them they were wrong and acting in an aggressive manner. I would only be hurting myself.
To answer the initial question of how does one prepare for such a journey as the one I have before me? Confidence generated by being prepared and knowing a journey is about pleasure reduces worry. Approaching the challenge with the anticipation of learning and meeting new people works well for me.