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.
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.
I have a camera—a digital single-lens reflex (DSLR) camera—that takes really crisp, high-resolution photographs. Camera folks regularly name it camera of the year. It's a pleasure to work with: full-frame, articulating display, quick shutter speed. Paired with my lens of choice, a 28-300mm NIKKOR, it takes some really lovely photographs. But, despite all the really gorgeous places our bike trip around the world is sure to take us, it won't be coming with me. Here's why.
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.
A few years ago, I bought a bike. Outfitted with shiny chrome Campagnolo components and strong, lightweight Reynolds steel and a hidden superpower in which, with just a few loosened bolts, the frame actually separates in half and tucks away neatly into a checkable bag, it was a do-it-all bike that I hoped would be my one and only for decades to come. Except, it wasn't. Here's why I'll be switching to the Salsa Marrakesh for our ride: the things I like about it, and the things I really don't.
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.
A whole lot can go wrong when biking tens of thousands of kilometers across dozens of countries. Bones can break, tendons can tear, and microscopic bacteria can do some pretty hefty damage to one's innards. And so when planning for a 'round-the-world bike tour, insurance seems a responsible, reasonable, risk-averse purchase. But a third of long-haul bike tourers travel with no insurance, and we're leaning toward becoming a part of that third. Here's why.
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.