Planning & Itinerary
I scrupulously hoarded my money for a year prior to my journey, coveting $5 bills the way Gollum lusts after his “Precious.” I also researched independent traveling to the point where I found myself perspiring over the REI backpack selection, trying to find the recommended, “breathable 60-liter pack with an alternative opening and swiveling base.” Whatever that means.
However, I did not set a route. I agreed with the words of travel writer Paul Theroux, who suggested, “Tourists don’t know where they’ve been; travelers don’t know where they’re going.”
Planning certainly helps, but no plans are perfect. Many items on my heavily advised packing list proved useless on my particular path and I discarding them as dead weight along the way. I’d also cashed out for vaccinations before I left that proved unnecessary. Overall, however, planning is important. Sarah and I learned the hard way that checking hostel recommendations prior to arrival can save you from bunking with bedbugs and gypsies who eat in their sleep. I’m not kidding. (See our “Rome in the Fast Lane” post.)
Regarding the unplanned aspects of my trip: Venturing without a restricted round-the-world air ticket – or any other booking made months in advance – proved ideal. This freedom-friendly route required more planning and legwork while I was on the road, but it allowed me to choose my path. You never know what opportunities and travel companions you’ll meet.
In my 25th year, I travelled through 25 countries.