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Planning the Your Big Adventure

istockphotos/peffan

istockphotos/peffan

The Camino de Santiago, or the Way of St. James is a (depending on your route) 800km walk that begins in the French Pyreness and ends at the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostella in Galicia, Spain. Although its origins predate Christianity, the Camino, as it is often called, was popularized by Christian pilgrims in medieval Europe. Today, the Camino is still well-travelled by devout Christians but it has also become an exceedingly popular route for wanderers, hikers, and secular pilgrims as well. This summer I plan on walking its entirety. And while many elite hikers scoff at this route (it winds through towns and villages, not the back country), I am looking at this experience as a way to push myself physically, emotionally, and spiritually. Throughout my research I have come across several websites and books that offer guidance on how to make a long walk a reality. Here we’ve boiled down some that information into concise list of what it takes to prepare for a long and arduous journey whether a trek or not. So that the next time you have a fleeting dream of adventure, you’ll realize it’s more attainable than you thought.

Do Your Research
Alright, so even though I’ve compiled this easy list, you probably shouldn’t just take my word for it. If you are hiking/walking something like the el Camino, find a good guidebook. Online forums are good for random questions but remember that anyone can contribute so check their facts. When I first googled, “Walking the el Camino” the first thing that popped up was titled, “Why the el Camino sucks” not exactly a vote of confidence. Lastly, if your guidebook still refers to the Soviet Union, it’s probably too old. Scrap it for something a little more modern.

Budget
Creating a budget shouldn’t be like renovating a house. Give yourself a little wiggle room but try to give yourself a max price. If you think your trip is going to cost $2,000 and you’re looking down the barrel of $3,500, do some reevaluating. That being said, your credit card statement might give you a small stroke if you told yourself you could go on a cross-country road trip $500. Be realistic, make a list, and if it’s too much, push it off or come up with a payment plan. One method to slowly save travel money is to create a separate savings account in which you put a percentage of each pay checkthink of it as a grown-up piggy bank.

Time Frame
Are you looking for a 6-month globe trotting experience or a 2-week trip to Paris? If you’re hiking or trekking it’s important to know how many miles a day you will need to travel in order to finish. If you think you can walk 25 miles a day for a month straight, unless you’re an Olympic athlete, you’re probably wrong. Take into account you’ll probably need rest days and travel days. It’s also wise to leave a little buffer time at the end of your trip in case you run into any unforeseen hiccups. Just remember, it’s better to be too generous with your time than feel rushed along the way.

Buy the Ticket!
This one is pretty self-explanatory. It’s like putting a down payment on an apartment, if you pay a big chunk up front; you’re less likely to back out. Sure you might get sticker shock, but your budget should account for that right?

Packing List
Are you going in winter or summer? Will you be staying in hostels or camping? Are there plenty of places to stop for food or will you have to be carrying most of your food? If you make a list you’re obviously less likely to forget stuff like, extra batteries for your camera, or a converter for your electronics. If you’re going on a trip where you’re carrying most of your necessities for long periods of time, this will also help you to minimize clutter and weight. And if you’re going somewhere like Europe, forgetting things like extra underwear can start to cost you that exchange right though.

GET PUMPED!
You’re doing it! Congratulations! Planning and committing to a grand adventure is a thrill in and of itself, complete with its ups and downs, twists and turns. The preparations that you make beforehand will just make the actual adventure that much more seamless, leaving you time and energy to explore and enjoy.

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