A Dangerous Method for Planning Long Term Travel
Not so long ago I journeyed for six months, with Phillipa, through three continents and a bucket-load of countries. It was a test. A fun test to be sure, but a valid method of providing real experience to know that long term travel is for me. It’s not for everyone. Is it for you? Well, just give it a go, you’ll soon find out. As the six months drew to a close, we were both in total agreement that we should “just keep on going”. Travelling felt great. It felt right. Alas, real life awaited. Since our return, we have spent the last 6-12 months preparing ourselves for a longer journey. Fortunately, it’s going to take me years to see all that I want to see.
Less prescriptive, more descriptive. That was the advice I got this week, in my weekly email and twitter round of “pestering people who’s journalistic and photographic work I admire”. It’s good advice. Really good advice. It’s not that I don’t have good, prescriptive, travel advice to give. My travel experience is extensive by some measures (I must be well into a hundred+ visits to other countries), and yet by other measures, I’m inexperienced. Apart from my home country of Australia, I have never spent more than three months straight in any other country. I still have a lot to learn about the world. Top Ten travel lists, I can do. Opening up about myself, and explaining why I’m doing this, and describing what I’m feeling, I’m not so great at.
Here on Yomadic, I’m still searching for that happy medium between providing advice about travel in general – and what parts of me I need to share with you, in order to make this story more complete. I’m searching for that balance every week, until I nail it. You may be planning your own journey, you might be neck-deep in the middle of your own adventure, or maybe you’re daydreaming about that “one day” when you get your turn (hey, we’ve all been there). Either way, Yomadic is for you. If you don’t get anything out of this blog, then there’s really is no point in me continuing. Learning about the world, and about yourself, is Yomadic’s raison d’être.
I know long term travel is for me. Now, I’m in the preparation-for-departure stage. No, this isn’t an article about “this is what’s in my backpack, this is how I booked my ticket, this is…”. I’ll save you the time reading a bunch of other articles about packing, with another Yomadic Two-Step-Program™, on how to pack for long term travel:
1. Put your things in a backpack. If you find you have too much stuff in your backpack, take some stuff out, and donate it to a local charity.
2. If you forgot to pack something, buy it on the road. They have shops all over the world these days.
As for the nuts and bolts of how I prepare for long term travel planning? What happened to me as I slept last night, may help give you an insight to my methods.
Last night, I had a dream.
A travel dream.
There was a crescent-shaped bay, white sand, a shore dense with palm trees, and salty turquoise water. The most fantastic tropical paradise. Without thinking, I just jumped straight into the water. It was deep enough to dive far underwater, and I felt the perfect warmth of the sea. I came up from under, I looked around, and saw Phillipa in the water next to me. She was smiling, a content smile, as if she knew what I was going to say. I knew she didn’t know where she was. And, I had no idea where we were either.
I was confused. I looked up at the sand, and saw a black man, smiling, peaceful. Immediately, I thought, I must be in Africa. I had this overwhelming feeling, that this was the world’s most perfect location. In my dream, I knew I was in a dream. I knew, I was dreaming about this location, because in the awake world I am in the middle of my travel planning. But, I didn’t know where I was. This was paradise. Perfection. I could even smell some seafood being grilled further down the beach.
“Hey. Wassup. Um, where am I?” The man on the sand smiled. He nodded. But, he didn’t answer. I repeated my question, growing more and more desperate each time. I needed to know where this location was. But, he wouldn’t tell me. Finally, he laughed, and said “you don’t know where you are, mon?“. I managed to explain to him that I wasn’t actually “there”, that I was dreaming, and he needed to tell me where I was, before I woke up. It was crucial that he tell me, and fast. I could feel myself waking up.
Finally, he said it. “You’re in Mozambique, mon”. The rest of the dream was a strange mish-mash of reality and google street view, trying to pin-point the precise location of the Mozambique beach. I never found it. But, when I awoke this morning, I looked at Phillipa and said “we’re going to Mozambique”.
And that, is pretty typical of how I plan my travels.
I have the first destination figured out (it will be revealed soon). I’m going to spend about a month there, and then move on. It’s not Mozambique. I have another country decided upon, that I’ll be heading to by the end of the second month. Absurdly, the distance between the two countries, is over 18,000 kilometres (11,000 miles). Obviously, there is a lot in-between. But, by not defining a beginning, an end, or even a “home”, the journey will remain spontaneous and more than likely, more interesting.
These past few weeks, I have a swirl of feelings and emotions. There is guilt. Nervousness. Excitement. At times, it can be close to overwhelming. My guilt, I would need a psychologist to explain to me. I have always had enormous empathy for the “underdogs” in life. I’ve seen what it’s like to live poor. Really poor, as in $1 a day poor. It’s not great. So, I have these feelings of “why should I get to go on this amazing journey, when others have life so rough?”.
I’m really not entertained by money, I have dreams of having nothing but the shirt on my back at some point in my future life. I’m one of those people who wishes he could fix the entire world. I don’t believe war, hunger, or violence, are requirements of the “modern” world, and it’s time we sorted that out. Oh, trust me, I have only begun to rant. I have strong and unwavering opinions about money, government, religion, and I’m not afraid to push a few buttons when I feel the urge. Stick around, I can’t hold this in forever.
The nervousness and excitement sits hand-in-hand. There’s nothing in specific I’m nervous about – it’s just a natural human response to the unknown, and not having answers to even my own questions. Most nights, when I lay down to go to sleep, a few thoughts swirl in my mind, and then I’m out like a light. But, about once or twice a month, for the last few months, it takes me hours to get to sleep. On those nights, I’m thinking about what a great time I’ll have, and where should I go to. I also dwell on financial considerations, much to my annoyance.
But not once, not in the slightest, have I felt anything other than complete commitment to the journey.
Try and be nice to people.
Avoid eating too much fat.
Read a good book every now and then.
Get some walking in.
…and try to live together in peace and harmony with people of all creeds and nations.
PS, I’m very glad I didn’t dream about Somalia, that could have introduced some safety issues. Later this week, I’ll show you exactly what happened last time I ignored safety issues. It’s a little post I call “Guns, people’s uprisings, Phillipa gets sent back to the hotel, and Nate gets run over by a Motorbike”*
*title to be confirmed.
PPS, If you would like to follow along on the journey, here’s the tip: