Now the hardest thing was actually to chose my destinations.
And then again, it was not hard at all, it evolved.
I just had a one condition, that one being: eternal summer. I’m a summer person. I don’t ski. I can deal with heat.
On top, it limits the weight of your bags if you only stack t-shirts and shorts. So whatever I was planning, checking the median temperature and rainfall of my destination was vital.
I also knew I would not be backpacking from place to place and stay in a different hostel every other night.
While this must be an amazing experience, and one gets to see so much of the country one visits, I knew that I would not sustain this for a year. I’d get tired of moving that much, at one point.
I knew I’d have to chose a couple of places, and stay there. Get a room. Explore. Find my favorite breakfast place. My favorite wine bar.
Get to know the city, its places and urban spaces, its map… making it a short term home, a place that I’d ‘know’ in a different way, as if I’d just have rushed through in two, three days.
I like to take time. Sit. Observe. Take the amazing luxury to travel, but waste a whole day, as if I’d live there.
So my first list of cities was a random list of names, six or seven on each continent, that somehow I thought might be fun.
Some of them I knew from a previous visit, and thought: I’d like to see more of you! Some I had strictly no idea about.
There was the ‘obvious’ list – the world’s finest, coolest, hippest.
Then I had the ‘awkward’ list, smaller cities I’d barely heard of: Anchorage & St. John’s, Mendoza & Punta del Este, Darwin & Macau, Casablanca & Reykjavik, to name a few….
I trusted that there were no ‘wrong’ choices. Even if I might like some places more than others, each would have its own charm.
The final list was admittedly closer to the first. It’s pretty ‘western’, ‘developed’, easy to get around….
Political stability and the human rights situation also played a role… Sorry Russia, but with that anti-LGBTQ legislation, St. Petersburg fell off the list….
All European cities (I was contemplating Madrid, Stockholm or Copenhagen) fell off the list, too. I felt it would be ‘too close’ to home, and there was so much more out there.
Then, there is simply too much to see in one trip. You can’t do everything.
You have to cut it down. You have to make choices.
Keep it for your next trip, in five years.
I shortened the trip from my initial over-the-top 18 months to 15 (only to add three months again, at the end, when I realized my money would suffice).
When I left, I was not sure if it was not too much. I feared running out of money. I feared getting tired of moving.
It was an experiment.
That’s why I’m glad I split up the trip in different legs. That allowed me to book the second round with a bit of experience from the first moths. And add the last round later on.
It also made the whole trip easier to handle, plan and process, by chopping it up, and adjusting along the way.
If I had set out to plan everything in advance, I swear to God I probably would not have left yet, or ever, being overwhelmed by the enormity of the task.
Leave things open. Leave things to life.
Plan the big structure, and fill in the blanks as you go.