At the time of writing this post, we have exactly 53 days to go (we have a cool counter on the main page, check it out 😉). So we can write a bit how the preparations for such an adventure look like. Is it possible to plan and organize a 3-year hitchhiking trip around the world? Not really. You can prepare a bit, but you have to be aware, that reality can be radically different from the plans, and the real route may be distant from the planned one by thousands kilometers.
To go on a trip around the world, you have to come up with such an idea. You can also have it somewhere back in your mind for a long time and not be aware of it. Then, in order for such an unconscious idea to become a shy plan, a trigger is needed. For us, it was meeting the guys (Maciek and Olek) from Autostopem Dookoła Świata during our Erasmus on Gran Canaria Island. Then you have to stick to this plan and do everything to make it happen. Small steps as well as serious decisions are equally important. For the last two years, to a certain extent, all our actions were bringing us closer to what would happen on 4th of February 2018.
The first stage of preparations was to set the route, quite indicative of course. As we have already mentioned, such a trip can’t be planned exactly, nor does it make sense. One novemberish weekend a year ago, we went to the store, bought a 4-pack and started thinking where we want to go. We didn’t even know if we wanted to round the world going east or west. As the well-known folk saying goes: “The further you go in the four-pack, the fantasy richer”, so the decision on the western direction was made, and the route became more and more curvy, new countries, cities, small islands were coming. For a more accurate recon, the time came a little later. In this way, we have set a makeshift route that you can see below. And the possibility that the actual route will deviate from the initial assumptions is more than certain. It is always like that 🙂
It is worth setting a date of departure, so that you don’t postpone it indefinitely. We didn’t know from the very beginning that it would be February 4th, 2018, but then we decided that after returning to Poland, we would like to work about 1.5 – 2 years to get some professional experience and, of course, save some money. The specific date crystalized over time and was influenced by many factors: planning the general direction, seasons, professional-financial-personal situation, prices and availability of airline tickets, for which we hunted for a month and many more. The date was settled by buying one-way tickets to Rio de Janeiro in August 2017.
A key issue in which there are always questions. Even though gentlemen and ladies don’t talk about money, we’ll try to say a little bit about it. Unfortunately, because our parents are currently investing in cryptocurrencies, plots on Mars and importing sand into the Sahara desert, we fund the journey with our own savings. As we wrote earlier, we decided to do this trip being on Erasmus, so as soon as we started working – we started to save. It wasn’t easy, because we still had to live “the student way”, not switching to the “I earn – I spend” mode. Well, maybe almost like a student, sometimes you have to afford a pleasure. However, each such “letting yourself” caused a slight itching in the back of the head. It must have been Ola and Michal from the future trying to warn us that we should let this delicious pad thai go this time, because thanks to that we will save for a 5-day supply of ketchup for pasta. Well, time will tell if they were from ours or maybe from a parallel universe. Wise financial management and writing down expenses allowed us to save a large part of the salary. We could, of course, save more, but it will be more than two years since the decision to go for the trip. We didn’t want to live in complete asceticism, deny ourselves holidays or don’t go out occasionally for a beer with friends. We wouldn’t have liked this trip if it required so much sacrifice 😉 Just everything with consideration. We spent the holidays cheaply (cheap flights, hitchhiking, couchsurfing, cheap countries, sleeping on the construction site), beer or pizza rather at home than in pubs, returning from the party with a night bus instead of Uber. Well, unless Uber or Taxify had coupons. We have mastered the promotions to the perfection. We are currently at the stage of selling everything we can. Check out our auctions on Allegro here and here. We still have a few ideas for increasing the budget, but we will write about it soon.
Of course, we tried to look for sponsors, making a prior diagnosis of how it is done (eg. here). Unfortunately, the guys from Busem Przez Świat were right that you have to set your mind on financing the first trip from your own funds. With a great deal of spare time, we began to apply for honorary and media patrons. Unfortunately, being completely new in the net, without developed campaign promoting the trip, we were unable to obtain any patronage. Some of them excused with formal issues, some already patronized a similar project, and some didn’t even write back. Without any patronage, we had no illusions that we could find a sponsor. Of course, we wrote to several companies from whom we buy equipment or clothes for the trip, but the surprisingly we dind’t get any answers. A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush. We have focused on certain sources of income, such as extra work or selling out our stuff on Allegro, not on writing thousands of emails to potential sponsors.
We went for consultation in the travel medicine clinic in July, and in November we started the vaccination sessions. We took vaccines for: tetanus, diphtheria, polio, hepatitis A A (Ola had to get vaccinated on hepatitis B), rabies, typhoid fever and yellow fever. The last one gave us a shot. From the mentioned vaccines, it is the only one to be alive. We were told that the next day after vaccination we may feel weakness and have a low-grade fever. We felt great the next day. Another one too. Well enough to pull a 2-day party in the summer house in Matały. It wasn’t until the fifth day after vaccination that the first flu-like symptoms appeared (up to 10 days after vaccination according to the leaflet): muscle pain, fatigue, general weakness, headache, stiff neck. Both of us suffered these at the same time. For Michal it was not so bad, he felt bad, but there was no drama. A little flu, let’s say. For Ola it ended with a fever lasting a few days and a headache so strong that one evening she was able to just lie down and cry. Literally. Not a pleasant thing. Would we get vaccinated again? HELL YES. Since we have reacted to a few weakened viruses in such a way, we don’t want to think what would happen if we were caught by this disease, somewhere at the end of the world, far from doctors and civilization.
If our story about the vaccine scared you and you had doubts about whether to vaccinate yourself, remember that the response to the vaccine is very individual. We know people who haven’t experienced any side effects after this vaccination.
We were wondering whether to vaccinate everything, we calculated whether particular vaccines pay off, etc. However, at one point Michal said that if we can spend so much on some GoPros, maybe it’s better not to save on health. We would regret saving a few PLN very much after possible infection with any of the diseases that we could have previously vaccinated… And what about the whole anti-vaccine movement? When Michal asked if he would have autism after these injections, the doctor assured him that it wouldn’t go bigger than now.
So far, we have bought a tent (Naturehike Star River 2), sleeping bags (Fjord Nansen Finmark MID), sleeping mats (one pumped Seatosummit ultralight SI, the other is a regular Quechua 10 mm), a Fujifilm X-T10 mirrorless camera and 18-55mm f/2.8-4.0 and 35mm f/1.4 lenses, a GoPro camera (Hero 4 silver), a small ASUS ZenBook Flip UX360CA laptop. Camera, lenses and GoPro with accessories we bought used, the computer is a new one. We got it with a discount during Cyber Monday. Don’t forget, we are the promotion masters. We also take an e-book reader with us, a bluetooth speaker (if we buy it), and ukulele 🙂 Ola will sing, Michal will play – that’s how we intend to sometimes strenghten our budget. We still have some purchases, such as a backpack for Ola or shoes for Michal, and few other things. For now, we are happy with what we have bought, but in fact we will be able to tell more when we test everything in the field.
We didn’t want this journey to be just a holiday trip, a 3-year vacation. We have many different countries ahead, new cultures and interesting people. We decided to find out how the happiness is described by the people of particular countries and present it in an attractive form. You can read more about the Portraits of Happiness project here.
Well, that’s roughly enough. We still have to buy the rest of the equipment, pack a part of our life in backpacks, the rest in cardboard boxes and go on the road. The countdown continues! 52 …!