Thinking things through

14,000 Kilometers, 14,000 Questions

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Aquí teniu el post en Català. 

Whenever we look at our Bangkok-to-Barcelona map, we inevitably scratch our heads, turning over all the things that have to happen to make this walk possible.

Lluís has started saying, “14,000 kilometers, 14,000 questions. We have as many questions as we have kilometers in front of us.” He is referring to the estimated distance we intend to cover by foot, and the dizzying number of “how, what, when, where, which and why” questions we’re piecing together.

Each query causes a snowball of other considerations needing answers, or, at least, forethought. There are things we can anticipate and plan for, and there are things we simply can’t or won’t know until we’re walking. Even our best plans will have to factor in contingencies for unforeseen events, and we will have to be flexible and adaptable enough to change on the fly as situations change.

In the next few months, we will highlight the big questions we’re tackling and how we’re thinking them through. We’ll also be asking for input, ideas and perspective as well as seeking out advice from people who have experience with trips like this or have traveled through the places on our route.

Right now, our five main concerns are:

  • Water: How will we find and carry enough potable water every day and on the long stretches when we will be far from towns or people?
  • Health: How can we prevent or avoid accidents, disease, infection or a serious illness  that could put our health (and our lives) in jeopardy? How will our bodies cope with this physical and mental challenge, and the extreme weather, temperature and humidity fluctuations we’ll encounter?
  • Safety and security: How can we stay open to the wonderful people we expect to encounter while steering away from potential harm and wrongdoing? How will we assess risk and respond to danger?
  • The path: We say this without joking: Where the hell are we going? Where exactly will we walk, and how can we avoid the chaos of congested roads? Will we find and use smaller, secondary roads, follow rivers, go along train tracks or be lucky enough to discover walker-friendly trails?
  • Visas: In addition to securing visas for each country, which in some places could be a challenge, how can we ensure that we will have enough time to cross each country? How will we manage through policies and regulations that could delay, interrupt, limit or restrict how, where and when we walk?
Finding our way forward
Finding our way forward
Next Steps

To organize our racing thoughts, we’re taking a practical approach, one that resembles a startup business plan. We have divided up our to-dos and labeled them under the categories of health, safety, logistics, finances, gear, operations, moving out/renting our flat, mapping our route, communications and sponsors.

This give us a sense of control over the things we think we can control, at least from our living room. It put questions into certain buckets and helps us plot next-steps actions we have to take to get closer to an answer that feels right.

A partial list of action items include:

  • Research pushcart options to carry water
  • Compare water purifiers
  • Find out how much voluntary appendectomies cost
  • Sign up for self-defense and emergency/survival first-aid courses
  • Research visa requirements and ready a request for consular approval to extend our stay in certain countries
  • Schedule doctors’ appointments to update vaccinations
  • Study print and digital maps to see what runs parallel to main roads
  • Meet with people we know who are from countries on our route or have visited there or have contacts there
  • Calculate average weekly costs in each country
  • etc, etc, etc…

But, even as we meticulously go through these planning steps, we know there will be gaps. Like the walk itself, we’ll keeping trudging ahead and see where we end up. With a fair dose of patience, hard word, persistence and resiliency, we’ll plow through the seemingly never-ending list of questions and come up with as many answers as we can.

Do you have any suggestions about or first-hand experience with planning a long trip like this? Please share them in the comments below. Thanks!

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