Yesterday I realised that I’d been a little hasty in my travel plans. I may like to believe I’m a complete expert, but in reality I’m a bit of an idiot. I happened upon a book in Waterstones called “The Rough Guide to First-Time Around the World” – a trip planner for the ultimate journey. Boom.
What sold the book to me were the three small sections highlighted on the back; couchsurfing, packing and blogging. Three things I am willing to confess I know hardly anything about. I read the majority of the book after buying it and two things occurred to me.
- I knew a lot of the information already, kudos to me
- The stuff I didn’t know was worth knowing and worth paying for!
There are countless things to consider when doing a trip like this and I think I can be forgiven for forgetting a few of them. I’m not leaving for a while anyway so it’s not like I did forget them. Because I’m still considering them before I leave. Such pedantry aside, this book was a good investment. Now I know NOT to hitchhike in the States and to leave my jeans at home (although the unbelievable advice to take just one outfit with you and only one pair of shoes – sandals – I may decide to ignore!).
The book was written by an American so all the prices referred to are in dollars as well as pounds which I find a little confusing. But aside from that it’s an extremely comprehensive guide that is very simply written. Best of all, the overall tone of it really made me feel confident that I can do this! It’s sometimes easy to forget that thousands of people do what I’m hoping to do every year. Occasionally I feel hesitant, but that’s only because no one I know is doing it. But it can’t be that hard, sheesh.
A bit of inspiration
The best part of the book in my eyes was actually the beginning. It tackled the question of creating an itinerary, not in a dissimilar fashion to the way I was trying to do before. It however communicates the task much more eloquently;
“How you decide to travel (your mindset) and what you decide to do is far more important than where you decide to go and what you intend to see. Thinking in terms of “doing” rather than “seeing” will enhance that most vital, often elusive, dimension to your travels: depth.”
It then goes on to suggest 24 ways in which you can “enrich” your travels. It made me think of things in a new light. For example I’m dying to visit New York. But what do I want to actually achieve once I’m there? What do I want to get out of it? I’ve been pondering that. I’d like to try couchsurfing for one thing. I want to meet New Yorkers, get to know them, and attain just the slightest feeling of what it might be like to actually live in this great city. Beyond that, I’m not sure. But I’ll keep you posted if I come up with any ideas.
Maybe learn a lesson?
The other main theme to the book that I enjoyed considering was using the journey as a means to learn new things. I may have touched upon this already, hinting that I feel utterly skill-less (useless). There are a few things that I fancy the idea of learning… for example the possibility of not only getting cheap passage around the south pacific islands but also learning some things about sailing sounds absolutely amazing! Apparently asking around the mariners whether an extra pair of hands on deck are required could yield such an opportunity. On the other hand, signing up to classes or courses – martial arts in Asia or foreign languages in South America. It’ll give you the opportunity to get to know a community better and feel less like a tourist! Great ideas I hadn’t even considered!
So thanks to this book my inspiration has been renewed to think of some things I really want to experience on my trip, not just see. I’m beginning to see this trip less and less as a series of things to tick off a checklist. Instead I’m going to get to work on a different type of checklist! Haha. One that contains skills I hope to learn, challenge to overcome, milestones to achieve, sensations to feel, people to meet and relationships to cultivate. Maybe I’ll be extra cheesy and call it my List of Checkpoints 😉
On a side note, finally booked my first flight! I’m heading to Santiago de Compostela on the 29th of August. Now I just need to figure out where I’m going afterwards…