|That's a simple question apparently, isn't it? I thought so and better than that, I thought I knew the answer. I might have known the answer... or the answer might have changed with time. The fact is that I realized lately my answer to that simple question wasn't evident anymore. So, I took some time and did some soul searching to find the answer.|
When I decided to tour the world and picked up my UNESCO World Heritage Site theme and doing it in a way I found very interesting, I thought it was clear and simple. As a programmer, I should have remember the devil is in the details and most of the time things aren't as simple as they might appear.
For months and months I had pushed by the development of my itinerary. Why? Because I thought that once I got started on that, I just wouldn't be able to wait to hit the road. A few weeks ago, I began to document the entry requirements for each country and see how long I could be in the various countries. Having a Canadian passport opens me lots of countries without the need of a visa, but that doesn't mean I can stay in a foreign country indefinitely. So, I began to lay down my route to evaluate the time I'd spend in each country, etc. Simple enough... many people did walk across the globe before.
However, none of them had a shopping list of things to do while walking. It's relatively easy to plot a walking course through a country and optimize the route to that specific need. In my case however, I want to visit as many UNESCO sites as possible. That forces me to do many turns and zig-zags all over the place. Doing so, I'm getting away from the optimal route designed for walking. That has a major consequence I didn't anticipate. Having lived in a fairly densely populated area all my life and also in most of my previous travels, I had a vision of the world in my mind that all cities and towns were sparkled all over the place, like on a grid. That's not the case. I discovered it while planning the route.
I had planned to walk some 40 km a day. I knew I could do some stretches of up to 60 occasionally to reach distant cities. While I planned the route linking first sites and cities I wanted to visit in the USA, I discovered that, especially in New Mexico, had more than 100 km between towns and villages. I could envision camping for one night then hit the road again in the morning, but with the 100 km gap that could mean spending 2 nights along the side of the road. I could deal on occasions with the sleep and tiredness consequences. But that also suppose I have to carry food and water for 3 or more days. As I plotted the route in Mexico, I encountered more of those long stretches. But I also ran into another complication... time in the country. Walking left and right to visit the different sites I wanted... I plotted a line that would have taken me more time than I'm allowed in the country. Worst, I hadn't booked any 'vacation' weeks in there to rest. So, I was really in trouble.
I first began saying myself I could fix that if I take bus/train in some sections of the country... but it quickly became evident that wasn't what I had anticipated.
So, I sat down and read again some pages I had written about this whole adventure when I wanted to explain this crazy project to friends. I had written there what my goal was to visit the world, especially the UNESCO sites... because they represent great achievements. I wanted to do it while staying on the ground. Then I wanted to do it safely... and as much as possible by foot. I knew the foot part was dependant of the security requirement.
In the process, I had let myself get into the illusion that walking was the main priority. It wasn't. So, I changed my plans. I knew that would happen... and I'm sure it will happen again down the road... just as I'm opened to the possibility I will arrive somewhere and decide to spend more time there.
I then decided to do my travels between cities and sites by bus and train. Because transportation is faster, I could afford the time to go to many more places or spend more time at each location. So, that changed the context dramatically too. I then had to verify if it could fit in my budget. After planning all the 83 steps from home to crossing the Canada, US and Mexico, I made it almost within my budget. Canada and US legs are a bit more expensive than anticipated... but that's because of the transport costs in some areas. Those budget forecasts however are "worst-case" scenarios in terms of expenses. I considered private rooms lodging all the way. On some stops, I could easily go down to hostel dorms for a few nights... or do Couchsurfing, or do some car pooling for expensive bus segments, etc. There are many ways to save money compared to my current plans... and I'm very confident I'll make it within budget. For Mexico, it's already within budget.
So, what do I want to do? View as much possible from the world. Once that goal is clear, the rest are just details. We just have to be aware of the priorities and don't let details block us from the long-term goal. I'm sure it happened to you at some time too.