Organizing a long journey
It takes some method to organize a long journey; a little bit of patience in order to fix your things before leaving. Once started, you have to forget about the plans you made and let yourself be carried away by coincidences, encounters, unforeseen events that regularly occur on the road. Don’t worry: they are the best part of this experience and, once you get used to welcoming them with a smile, you will often find yourself busy thinking: I can’t wait for the next one to arrive!
Before leaving you need to ask yourself a few questions, while remembering how important is what you decide to put in your backpack and what, inevitably, leave at home. I am, for example, an avid reader, so I would always take an e-book with me; for someone else it can be a music player or a guitar (excellent choice: a phenomenal icebreaker in all the hostels in the world).
Still others bring with them everything they need to play cards or chess, in order to pass the time while they are waiting for a bus a few days late, or in the evening while making friends and end the day with a chat.
What do I think is important to bring? All that is essential: because you will soon discover, once you start traveling, how few things you will need to be happy.
The backpack is the first thing to choose: it will be your home for the time spent traveling and, slowly, you will know how to organize it in the best way; but how should have been? A little more space can always be used, especially on a long journey. When you start wanting to buy some exceptional artifact, encountered on a dusty shelf, in a shop on the edge of the world, you will find yourself smiling thinking: yes, I still have some space in my backpack (otherwise, if you have already reached the maximum capacity, send it home with a few kisses for your mom as well).
All this considered, in my opinion, a 70 liter backpack (+10 removable) is a good travel companion.
Now we have to fill it though: a pair of jeans can’t miss; indestructible, not too hot when it’s hot, hot enough, when it’s cold: you’ll be back after months, having torn them, but you’ll be proud to wear them, knowing you haven’t already bought them that way.
What else is essential? Trekking shoes, for the paths on which you will walk in search of freedom and uncontaminated landscapes, a rain-and-wind jacket, for the days when the envious gods will try to put sticks in your wheels: they won’t succeed! And then how many t-shirts you can cram into your backpack, better: you won’t always have time and opportunity to wash them and, at certain latitudes, with a t-shirt and jeans you are impeccable for any type of occasion.
Not only do you live with clothes: in my backpack there is always a cup, a couple of portable cutlery and a folding plate, because eating and drinking is sacrosanct and, sometimes, you have to adapt and survive. And then a knife will peel you – or open – all the juicy fruits encountered on the way (and I assure you: there are many!).
These tools, coupled with a tent, a sleeping bag, a mattress and a head pile will allow you to have unforgettable experiences and, in some cases, lower your daily costs (and on a long journey like this the economic side has to be taken into great consideration).
This may be enough, but paternal advice is still lacking: bring with you a kit of medicines, you will not always find your favorite drugs as easily, even if, by now, you can find a pharmacy in every remote corner: the only difference, compared to home, is that sometimes they look more like barns. For me, antibiotics, cortisone and some pills against stomach pain are good allies against viruses and alien bacteria.
Ah, of course: don’t forget the wet wipes: I won’t explain it to you here, but you’ll thank me.
Staying on the medical counseling, book in advance a visit to an international vaccine center; for a few days you will feel guinea pigs, but nobody wouldn’t like to tell his best friends that they have just been immunized by yellow fever: I already see them while they imagine you, caught with some exotic animal, while you make your way through the jungle with a half-length machete (well, they are yours the friends with the Salgari fantasies`).
And then don’t underestimate the visa application procedure: some countries demand it and the time to get a visa is not always so short: once I happened to stay in Istanbul (Constantinople, Byzantium?) for two weeks, waiting for an Iranian visa that no one seemed to have news. It matters little: as I said above, they were among the most enjoyable weeks of my life, without aim or objectives.
Here, I can tell you these few things about my experience in organizing a long journey: spend as much time as you can before starting the adventure by reading about the countries you will visit and bring with you some tools to record memories, feelings or moods . It can be a camera or a travel diary, a computer or a mobile phone: the first ones are better than the second ones, they are less visible and they let you get the chance to live in a different way.
Please, one last thing: if you forget your passport on the day of departure, this article will have no meaning.
P.S. for more feminine advice … don’t worry: Mary is already writing something!