Since announcing our fundraising hike to the world this is a question that has come up again and again.
So let’s pretend for a second that I’m not doing this as a fundraiser but just because I wanted to do a long distance hike, a solo canoe journey or any other kind of adventure, like most people I’ve spoken to do. Where would I start preparing??
I’m going to keep this blog short and only cover the prep you can do at home, not the fitness or kit side of things, I’ll cover that later.
The first thing you should try to figure out is what is motivating you? Why do you want to walk across a continent? What would you like to get out of this trip? Obviously our trip is motivated by me wanting to help out the people of Mbabala and to raise awareness of the Luyando Support Group. But, even though this is my main motivation and enough in itself to get me out and on the road again, it’s not the only reason I have chose to do this - I love to challenge myself outdoors and to travel too! Because of this I find it pretty hard to stay in one place for any more than a few months and so a mix of these things is pretty much how I manage to stay nomadic.
I’ve been lucky enough to have lived most of my life in or near wilderness areas and to be surrounded by people who appreciate these places as much as me. And I have been even luckier with my jobs! I’ve done a little bit of everything all over the place, from living off grid in rural Kentucky, to soldiering, to teaching English in Ukraine... but easily my most satisfying and enjoyable job is the one I’m in now. I’m a seasonal Outdoor Activities Instructor in the UK. So not only do I get to spend every day outside doing something I love but I get to meet loads of new people from all over the world and hopefully inspire the next generation of explorers! But that’s a story for another day. All of these odd jobs have turned me into a bit of a jack of all trades and given me contacts all over the world so if I was motivated to go and work away, or just experience a new culture, it wouldn’t be too difficult.
I know that most people don’t have that kind of luck but there are opportunities everywhere for everyone if you look hard enough! If you just want to travel and meet new people I've had a lot of luck in the past with websites like 'Couchsurfer' and am planning to use it as much as possible on the hike. 'War showers' is supposed to be a good one to use too but I haven’t used that site yet.
If you want to volunteer in a area for a little longer to get more skills and to be a little more immersed in the local culture then ' Workaway' or 'Wwoofing' can be a great way for you to do that - it can also be great for building contacts and getting paid work in the future.
Or you might be more like me and Cris and just want to get out in the wilds and explore while doing the fundraiser. If that’s the case you could always do like I have in the past and just wing it - go somewhere new and make it up as you go along... but that’s not always the safest option and sometimes you can miss what an area has to offer so think carefully before you choose this option!!
I’d recommend you do like we are this time, set yourself an overall goal like hiking from France to Spain, cycling London to Paris or anything else you could possibly want to do, break that down into more manageable chunks by finding big cities or sights you want to see and break that down even further into villages, towns and other resupply points along the way. Once you have done that you can always use a few of the sites I mention above or get in contact with friends along the way and see if you can crash with them. If you get all that sorted then you have your route! If you can’t get something for every step don’t worry you can always wild camp too!
I always find it easiest to break everything down this far to keep me focused on the small picture. If you try to focus on the big picture the everyday things can get even harder than they already are and then everyday turns into a slog and at times it feels like you're not getting any closer to the finish. But if you can get in the mindset of focusing on daily goals and achieve them things can seem a lot better - for example -so what if you’ve been walking in the rain all day? That evening you're going to get to your next 'Couchsurfer', have a warm bed and a tumble dryer...or you could walk all day in the driving rain and still have 900 miles to go - see what I mean? 90% of these expeditions are in the prep and the mindset.
That doesn’t mean that there isn’t a physical side and that you can do it with no kit...but I’ll keep this short and do another blog on that. For now just try and get your goals in your head and plan how you're going to do it!
Goodnight guys I hope this was helpful to you!