One of the questions
With a map on the wall!
That’s where preparations for all my months-long cycle touring or hitchhiking journeys so far have started — a map on the wall.
It’s no different this time around — my partner Nastia and i are planning a tour de Ukraine for this coming Spring/Summer, and we started by pasting a map of the country on our living room wall. Now every time one of us hears about or remembers a place we’d like to see, we pin it on the map, then take a few moments to stare and point at it, fantasizing — we have made no commitments whatsoever yet — just gradually installing a qualitative map of Ukraine and its immediate surroundings in our imagination!
There’s this saying that goes something like, “if you want to make your dreams come true, then you must first wake up.” Subsumed in this saying is the fact that the zeroth thing you have to do is to dream — what would you wake up to otherwise!? And “maps are fail-proof fuel for wanderlust,” as self-unemployed creative explorer Tom Allen notes in #4 of his 15 Unorthodox Ways to Train for Cycle Touring & Bikepacking (Bicycle Optional) — if my memory serves me well, that’s where i got the inspiration for this practice.
I don’t mean to neglect or oversimplify other aspects of the preparation — although the same Tom has another great piece on why you should probably disregard most of it. There’s a lot more we need to do until we’re ready for our departure, including the crucial (even by Tom’s standards) bit of getting a bicycle for Nastia! I just see the rest of the preparation as quite circumstantial, and it would be pointless for me to tell you what else to do other than ask yourself some questions and factor in your own constrains.
For instance, i want to be able to have deeper conversations with locals than i’ve had in my travels before, so i’ve been studying Ukrainian for a couple of hours every day — you might not have to do that — i’ve traveled myself in places where i didn’t even know how to say hi in their language upon my arrival, and that constituted at the time its own, duly contextualized and valuable experience.
There’s one other thing i would personally like to try this time around — what would you ask somebody who just came back from a few months traveling by bicycle around Ukraine? Where would you go? What would you pay attention to?
Comment below or send me a message. I promise to pin all your cues on our map — learning what may have value to you will be of great value to me 🙂
Featured photo: map of Ukraine on our living room wall (February ’19)
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