I am getting a lot of emails recently, asking questions about how to fund a dream trip, how to get to Antarctica, or even more generic, 'I want to ride around the world. Where do I start?'!
In some cases I have been asked to put a spreadsheet together with all visa requirements, costings and exactly how I am funding myself!!
Whilst I am very happy to help where I can (I asked lots of questions too when I started), some of these questions are not easy to answer and some of it you are just going to have to learn as you go. We all have our own set of circumstances, drivers, and styles. I am only an expert in MY WAY, but lets look at some basics for a moment......
Even if you have decided you don't actually WANT to know where your final destination will be, you still need to know which way to point your bike. The romantic idea is to ride off into the sunset. In reality the sun will be in your eyes, and within half an hour, you'll be riding in the dark!
‘So where do I you start?’ I hear you cry! ‘What bike do I choose? ‘Where do I get route information’ and ‘Who the hell is Ted Simon?’
The hardest part is starting - The most important thing to do is SET A DATE!
Once you have a date then you are going to need to consider your style! Are you the sponsored Round The World rider who gives up everything to follow your dreams? Perhaps you are the one-country-at-a-time rider, who fits in trips between jobs. Maybe you are the guy/gal who throws caution to the wind and heads out into the great unknown with little more than a pair of flip-flops, some cable ties, and bin bags full of optimism strapped firmly to your front rack! What kind of rider are you? Only you can answer that question.
Few people really ride off without SOME research though. Those that do, often fail to tell you the downsides, choosing instead to maintain the romantic image of the great unwashed. You are about to invest a lot of time and money into chasing your dreams, albeit to live like a travelling hobo! You want to see the best of each country, ride the best roads, and make sure you get the right visas in the first place, right? With so much information at your fingertips - why wouldn't you use at least SOME of it?
I read so much before I left to try and alleviate some of my fears, reduce the unknowns. Nowadays, and for a long time, I don't tend to look at forums etc, simply because I like to feel like I am on a journey of discovery, even if thousands have been there before me. They are just opinions after all. I want to form my own unadulterated opinion. I have found on many occasions, to have a totally conflicting one to those I have read before. I don't like to over research but I do have my points of reference to ensure I don't miss too much. Usually those points of reference are locals, often local riders. I tend to plan one country at a time!
Once you are on the road, life gets a whole lot less complicated - trust me on that one. It’s easy to find a happy medium between romantic and practical over-landing and perhaps that is when you really find your own personal style. Perhaps the reason you chose to hit the road was to find some kind of freedom from the monotony of everyday life? In that case - be flexible. Be prepared to change your plans, route, and timing at any given moment. Change your style if you want! It’s YOUR trip! Roll with the dice and ignore what others might tell you is the wrong way. That is your freedom. Enjoy it!
First though, you just need to get started and get on the road. I set a date and then told EVERYONE! That way I couldn’t turn back!
So you’ve got step one and two. Now all you need is an oversized map pinned to your office wall and a marker pen (non-permanent).
Seriously? There are many things to consider when taking on a long journey. It’s not surprising that you might feel a little anxious. Particularly these days, with changing border requirements and what seems to be eternal political or civil unrest in one place or another - but in the end, most bikes will get most places and often it's not where you go that makes it, it’s your attitude towards it and the people you meet. Have fun with it AND IGNORE THE NAYSAYERS!
Finally - Remember - you can have an adventure in just a few days. It's not length that counts, it's what you do with it!