Please click here for Part I.
Well! Now that the budget and the place have been decided, it’s time to pack! Ha! If only… At this stage, there is still the same five/six months left to go! Maybe it’s just time to kick back, relax and wait for the trip to come! For most, that’s what happens, but not if you are me! To me, what comes naturally from now on is the travel planning! Time needs to be optimized! I don’t particularly like to just “parachute” down into a city, grab a map and explore, I end up missing a lot of the jewels the place has to offer, off the touristic track. Does that explain my OCTP behaviour? Maybe not… ah well! Let’s see the next stage of my pre-travel routine.
- Familiarising myself with the city/country
It’s time to get the travel books and google out! I really enjoy looking at maps! May they be old, new, in paper, online… I just love maps! In the case of an entire country, becoming familiar with the geography, where the cities are located, public transport connecting them, what’s interesting in each place and, in the case of a city, pretty much the same! Placing the hostel in the city, seeing how to get to and from the train/bus station or airport, becoming familiar with the streets and streets names, location of the places of interests, what the places of interests are… Exhausting, but don’t forget! Five months to do it!
As thing start to become too much, is time to get the old travel book out and take down some notes.
- Print out maps of the city and its public transport network
Why? At this stage, I know the city very well! I know the places I want to see, why I want to see them and I know where they are… roughly! At this stage, I start to consolidate all places into my paper map (Don’t rely on technology while travelling!) and glue them to my book. I like seeing the places all laid out and a map of public transport beside it, should I need it (I hardly do! Love walking!). Now I can divide the city into daily/half daily sectors, so that once I have visited that particular sector, I don’t need to return to that region.
Geographically speaking, I theoretically know the city well now! All maps are glued to my book, the days are all planned out, entry times and prices all have been worked within the budget etc etc etc… Time for the next stage!
- Learning the history of the city and country
This is a great stage! Learning where the cities and the country went through! I tend to focus on the local history and end up learning the country’s history as a consequence. Local history is so rich, one can take months reading about it! This way, I can put the geography into context: Why is the city the way it is? Who made it that way? Who built this and that? Of course I can’t learn it all, but I read as much as I possibly can. Only bullet points summarizing the main points go into my book. This works as a reminder of the big picture. (There is an anecdote related to that! But for a later post)
What else is there to do?
- Getting the travelling companion
Now the tickets are bought, trains booked, days planned, the budget is sound, maps are only needed in case of emergency, the history is just as fluent as my own. Is there something else to do? Get my good old loyal travelling companion: Samppras Carrot! My friend and I bought him in 2009 and he has been to several countries, mostly with me.
Travelling alone can be a very lonely business. Sometimes we all need a break and something to cheer us up. Well, my way to do it is by taking photos os Samppras in different places. Everywhere I go, he goes. Some people may think it is crazy, but he became part of my trips as much as my backpack and my camera.
He is great! Ah well, now it is time to take a break! Part III (and final) will be posted soon! Thank you for the audience!