It’s not until you sit down in front of a map and some paper to plan out your journey that it hits you – you realize you’re making the most epic journey of your life so far.

Map of Eurasia and Africa showing trade networks, c. 870
Author: Briangotts, License: CC BY 2.5

In the very beginning it always starts as a simple idea of “let’s take a trip to this place, or let’s go around this place.” First, you figure out what countries you need to go through. Then, the cities and roads you need to take. But then you have to dive a little deeper and study all of the cities along your route and actually figure out what’s really worth taking in for a few days.

As you look at the big cities and capitals, you find the towns and villages along the way that have some history or are located amidst spectacular scenery. They may take you off the fastest route so you have to check the alternative roads and whether they’re drivable. You don’t want to end up driving off a paved road and into the middle of nowhere without cell reception!

Then you need to learn the geography of the country you’re going through. This probably applies more so to bikers because you’re concerned with the climate, elevation, whether you’re in the mountains or in a desert. But even for automotive trips, it’s worth knowing what to expect in a country or land you’re going through for the first time.

Already there’s a host of new things you’ve learned about new places before you’ve even set off!

As you search around online for things to see, reviews of places to stay and stories of trips done thousands of years ago, the various strands start falling into place and you end up with something out of a storybook. Depending on how far and wide you travel, you may have deserts and mosques, metropolitan cities, steppes, ancient ruins, then huge snowy mountains with glacial waterfalls.

I’m finishing up my final itinerary for 9,000 km of Silk and it really has turned out better than I could imagine (and also a bit longer than 9,000 km by about 600). Stay tuned for the trip in detail along with posts of the various places along the way!

Don’t forget to help children along the journey by donating to Unicef. Just a little can go a long way toward keeping children safe, healthy and educated.

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