The Art of a Planned Journey

A few months ago I wrote this post about going on unplanned, open-ended, cycle-tours. Voyages of adventure where the destination is not as important as the journey to get there. These tend to be journeys rich in self-discovery and enlightenment. You can do what you want whilst on this type of adventure, stay for weeks on end in a single country away from the time pressures of life and the rest of the world. Although this type of adventure seems ever-increasingly appealing is it truly attainable? More importantly is the experience better than that of a planned journey?

 alex Alexs Alex's Cycle Cycling europe alps

In this day and age the majority of people who can afford to fund and undertake serious expeditions cannot spare years of their lives, put on hold their careers, while they go off to ‘find themselves’. In this sense undertaking an open-ended cycle tour is probably not best advised as your boss may question your attendance when you don’t show up after your summer break. As a student at university, and a hopeful doctor, I have a very guided and secure career path too. So like many other people who strive for these longer expeditions I find myself bound by the rigid holidays that I am served with. However I still think it is possible to quite easily have a lot of fun and adventure whilst fitting it around the commitments of a job you just have to use your time effectively, by planning ahead.

I find planning expeditions a really fun and exhilarating process. It is probably why I read so much adventure/ travel literature because I enjoy the thrill of dreaming new ideas and being inspired. For me it begins by reading blog posts, books, or just watching a video on YouTube. Once I have found my inspiration for a challenge or adventure gradually I pontificate and allow the idea to mature into a dream. Once the dream has taken a hold of me then the planning and logistics can begin. I think it’s really important think for a long while about what you are thinking about doing before you begin to plan it. It allows you to understand why you are doing it? Why do you want to do it? What will you get out of accomplishing it? Once I have this passion it will drive me through to ensuring that I complete what I set out to do.

alex Alexs Alex's Cycle

If you know what you want to achieve I think it is easier to ensure that you succeed. You can plan your adventure to help navigate your success. I think planning is important for mental preparation, which is a key thing to think about for hard endurance challenges lasting a few weeks. Also it means you have targets to meet so you know how far you have to go per day to make a flight or ferry so that you can be back on time. Making a flight/ ferry is an important factor too because if you plan you can book all these logistics far in advance so that you get a cheaper deal, so you can afford to go on more awesome adventures! You can also iron out any problems you might foresee in your plan. Allowing you to have more peace-of-mind that you are well prepared for what you are about to undertake.

If you know what you can handle then you can effectively plan a great adventure. During my trek across the desert we booked our planes to and from Morocco months in advance so we knew we had two weeks to do the trek. We had just under 300 kilometres to walk in ~10 days, with transport taking us from Marrakech airport to the Saharan town of Zagora taking another couple of days. It was tough and an adventure I will never forget, particularly because of the ‘runs’ we got from drinking some bad water. However because our expedition was well structured and planned out we were able to meet our targets; accomplish what we set out to do within a limited timescale.

The allure of packing everything in and just going off on an open-ended cycle, not knowing when you would return, is very great. However I think there is no reason why you can’t have lots of big adventures around work and other life commitments. The key is careful and meticulous planning which will, in turn, prolong the excitement and increase the meaning of your journey. The better you plan the less-likely things will go wrong, however even if you do plan you can always adapt your plan. You could decide to take a different route, to see different places or to leave a city early. Just because you plan doesn’t mean you don’t have to be adaptable, it just means you are better prepared for the journey ahead of you.

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7 responses to “The Art of a Planned Journey

  1. Too right. I work full time and study at university part time and have a partner who isn’t into the outdoors. But I still have loads of adventures because I manage to plany trips and holidays carefully. Sometimes theyare microadventures but somsometimesI get away for wweeks. 🙂

  2. I recently met a guy who was on his way to Patagonia from Portland, OR. I was amazed that he had so much time to do this. Two years. But he had planned every day and stop. But I am wondering if an adventure so long can be planned out to such fine detail.

    • I’m amazed he planned every day for two years! That must have taken him a long time. If I was fortunate to have two years free I don’t think I would/could plan to that extent, that is very extreme.

      • He was really young. About 20. He has a really well used surly long haul trucker with 26″ wheels. He was doing it right.

  3. I’m just beginning to plan for a sort-of open ended tour which I hope to research well but then plan only a few weeks at a time for. I want to take a year split between riding around Europe and riding around East Asia.

    For me it’s about time of life … this is something I’ve longed to do and I’ve reached a place where it’s climbed to the top of the priority list.

    • That sounds really good fun! I wish I had the time to do something similar. When I cycled around Europe we planned it so that we had a pre-calculated route so we knew how far we had to go and roughly where we would end up each day (as we knew we would be cycling ~160km per day) we had to do this because we had to make a ferry crossing back to England so knew we only had a finite amount of days to cover the 3000 kilometres in. In hindsight it would have been much nicer to have had longer to stop off in places and to have more relaxed days but we still had an absolutely amazing time and learnt a lot from it.

      I’m hoping to travel to Thailand this summer! I can’t wait to visit SE Asia. Good luck with your preparation!

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