Our present life, a life of waking up and riding bicycles and seeing new places, is not without its challenges. But it is a life of our choosing, and for that we are tremendously grateful. We're thankful to be in a position, physically and financially and politically and practically, to be able to travel the world in this fashion. We're privileged to enjoy a freedom of movement some do not have. We're privileged to enjoy it together. These past five months cycling across Africa have been a mostly lovely, mostly joyous adventure, and we're thankful to be here living it. To be here at all.
We've had almost a year to plan for this trip, and time is finally up. Our flight to South Africa leaves in a week, and we'll be on it, ready or not. Are we ready? No. Are we approaching ready? Maybe. Here's what we've been up to the past month.
I've spent almost seven years—seven years!—going to the same place at the same time on the same days of the week. Those seven years have been pretty lovely, and I feel so fortunate to have had what was really a pretty great job. But getting too cozy is dangerous. Inertia is a stealthy predator. I quit my job today. I'm terrified. I'm thrilled. Here we go.
Last month, this little trip of ours was still a fanciful notion. It was happening, sure, but we didn't know exactly when and we didn't know exactly where, and we still lacked the requisite paperwork and inoculations to get us across the African continent, let alone the world. This month, things are a bit more real. Here's the latest.
Really, really soon, we'll be waking up somewhere on the edge of the Kalahari Desert, probably in a dew-soaked tent, probably with a pair of really dusty bicycles sprawled on the red dirt by the tent door, probably getting ready for another long day of flat riding through the Botswana bush. That's all approaching at an almost-alarming pace, but we still have a lot to do before we get there.
Last month, the departure date for our big bike trip was just five months away. The plan has been to leave in mid-June, and that's still roughly the plan. But it's more likely we'll take a little time States-side between leaving our jobs and leaving the country, so I suppose we won't really be arriving in Botswana, panniers in hand, until the first few days of July. With that said, here's what we managed over the past six weeks, and the plenty we still have to do.
Setting off on a multi-year trip can be terribly methodical at times: months of orderly planning and strict budgeting and practical decisions to make. And before we set off, we want to do our best to capture as many of those matters as possible. Beneath the long list of what needs to be decided and what needs to be done, however, there's a whole stew of emotions that are just as important to acknowledge.
2017 was once an abstract notion: that's the year we quit our jobs, that's the year we leave our homes, that's the year we start biking our way around the world. In the comfort of 2016, it was something far-off, a whole calendar away. But now it's 2017, and so now this is the year we quit our jobs, the year we leave our homes, the year we start biking our way around the world. Things are getting close, anxiety is mounting (excitement too!), and planning is getting serious. Here's what we've gotten done this past month, and what we still have to do.
Once per month until we depart on our 'round-the-world bike trip, we'll be sharing an update on what we've been doing and the lots we still have to do before we take off. Here's how we're doing on bikes, gear, visas, paperwork, vaccinations, flights, telling people, internet stuff, route planning, research, finances, moving out, test rides, and the feels.
I haven’t eaten meat in six years and haven’t consumed eggs or dairy or things like that in five, and that’s been pretty easy to do in a place like Washington, DC. Biking around the world will be a very different story.
Cycling is slow, arduous business. When loaded up with gear and food and water and bodies that need frequent breaks, a bike traveler isn't moving very quickly, and as climate-controlled cars zip by with speed and comfort and ease, bicycles may seem like an inferior vehicle for travel. Here are eight reasons why Lauren and I are going for it anyway.
Traveling the world can be pretty cheap. With a few key items—a bike, a tent, a stove, a water filter—expenses can be reduced to little more than a sack of groceries each week. But what about the opportunity costs of not doing something else?
An introduction to the who, what, when, where, why, and how of our upcoming adventure.