And suddenly Bob’s Epic Adventure is only four months away! Can’t believe how fast time flies. Because I’ve been busy with my regular job(s) I haven’t done as much as I would have wanted to do in terms of preparation. Fortunately, I did manage to tick a few preparation boxes…!
For those who missed the tentative itinerary… This is it (sort of): South Africa – Namibia – Botswana – Zimbabwe – Turkey – Iran – Turkmenistan – Uzbekistan – Tajikistan – Kyrgyzstan – China – Indonesia
Backpackers VIP Night
Before we move to the preparation stuff, I would like to tell you about my evening at a ‘Backpackers VIP night’ at the well-known Dutch outdoor shop De Wit Schijndel. During this event I got to meet (mostly) first-time backpackers who were about to leave for adventures in SE Asia, Australia, the Transmongolian Express etc. We discussed their travel plans and shared tips and experiences! It was so much fun and an absolute honor to be invited to this event as the official ‘Backpack Expert’!
‘Backpack Expert’… Wow, not sure if I’m worthy of that impressive title, but with ten years of backpack experience under my belt I’m certainly now longer a rookie. And as a non-rookie, I know backpacking is not always all unicorns and rainbows. It can be quite intense, extremely tiring and sometimes even be dangerous.
On this upcoming trip to Southern Africa and Central Asia, I will do some die-hard backpacking. Obviously, the interpretation of the term die-hard backpacking differs from person to person, but let’s put it this way: it’s no Thailand ;)
During BoB’s Epic Adventure I will visit some of the more remote corners of the world with (sometimes!) extremely bad infrastructure, no official public transportation, no street lights, high (violent) crime rates, no internet, no English-speakers and almost no other tourists. In evening and at night, it’s not always safe to go out. In some places police ‘shakedowns’ of tourists are commonly reported. Some areas (and some parts of the day) may be male-dominated.
These are the facts of my trip:
- Solo. Especially in ‘tricky’ situations it feels way better to have someone with you.
- Independently. Having most of your accommodation and transportation booked, saves you a lot of a hassle. Also, there is always a person or organization you can fall back to in times of distress.
- On a budget. No money for private cars or VIP buses.
Basically, this trip sucks.
No obviously, not true. All of the above make the adventure to what it is. However, it’s clear that being wary (in a healthy way) is important. Therefore, to stay informed, I’m keeping a close eye on the (political) situation in the countries I intend to visit. I follow the news on Turkey (and surrounding countries), read a Central Asia newspaper and check the latest updates on Southern Africa via BBC Africa and This Is Africa (obviously not only for security reasons, but also out of interest ;)). Also, I regularly check our Ministry of Foreign Affairs website. Unfortunately, at the moment a number of destinations are partly orange (some with red), which means the government strongly advises against travel in those areas. I’m not one to worry quickly. However, I’m realistic and will not take unnecessary risks.
A holiday during my holiday
But let’s not jump the gun, so far there is no change in my itinerary. As you may remember I will fly from Harare to Istanbul in April to start the Silk Road adventure. I will arrive in Istanbul on a friday and a few weeks ago, me and my friends realized this would make a perfect Istanbul weekend trip for them. So, I’m quite excited that a few of my girlfriends (unfortunately not all in this photo) plan to come over from Rotterdam for that weekend! It will be great to explore Istanbul together and to see some familiar faces! It’ll be like a little holiday, during my 6-month holiday.
Just some things to look forward to!
Soooo many things to look forward to! Out of the top of my head: Samarkand in Uzbekistan, Okavango Delta in Botswana, horseback riding to the Song-Kol lake in Kyrgyzstan, seeing the Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe, beholding the largest carpet in the world in Turkmenistan, surfing in South Africa and much more!
Practical issues: money cards, immunizations and travel insurance
What else did I do? I visited the Wereldmuseum in my hometown Rotterdam for an exhibition named: Persians – Warriors and Poets. Great to learn a bit more about this fascinating civilization and I can’t wait to see more art works in Iran.
I applied for a second debit card and also decided to take a VISA card with me (next to my Mastercard). I had another round of jabs, this time for rabies and typhoid. It was a bit early, but it was more economical to do some of them now insurance-wise. I also checked the validity of my passport and the number of pages left.
I contacted some housing companies in Rotterdam. After I gave them a bit more information and seeing some photos of the house, they are convinced they’ll find me a tenant in no time. I hope they’re right! Last but definitely not least: I also got a brand new beautiful backpack!
Latest additions to BoB’s Epic Adventure collection
- New backpack!
- Secondhand Lonely Planet China (I already had one, but it was 10 years old)
- Hammam towel (after hearing so many positive stories of other travelers I intend to take this instead of an ultralight towel or normal towel)
Summary of ‘How to prepare for a RTW-trip 5-6 months before take-off’ tips:
- Start the immunization process (some shots are done in series with 6 months in between the first and second)
- Get informed about the possibilities to sublet your apartment and make preparations
- Get your bank cards in order. Apply for an extra debit card and arrange both a VISA card and Mastercard.
- Check the validity of your passport and check if you have enough pages left for all your visas and stamps.
In the next two months I still have many things to arrange including finding a suitable daypack, an easy way to store my photos during the trip (tips anyone?), get visa stuff sorted (e.g. check how to get Letters of Invitation etc.), get a travel insurance etc.
For now, this was it! What do you think of ‘die-hard’ backpacking? Would you enjoy it? Any tips for photo storage (I do not travel with a laptop)?
NL: Hoe denken jullie over het ‘die-hard’ backpacken? Zou je dit leuk vinden? Heb je nog tips voor het opslaan van foto’s tijdens zo’n lange reis (ik neem geen laptop mee)?