I’ve probably seen hundreds of travel blogs. The subjects that permeate are gear, preparation and planning. People love to read about the best portable stoves, tents, bikes, tires, bags, and how to plan your route with GPS on a navigation gadget, like Garmin.
I must confess this process of planning can be quite exciting. Sometimes more exciting than the actual route. Because we overplan and over prepare.
The culture of this industry is driven by selling gear. And the idea that the best gear would buy you the best experience. So we are in the perpetual search for new gadgets, better navigation, super-light tents and stuff like that.
As a result, we are overloaded. The weight is not even the worst part. (Boy, you gonna carry that weight), the worst part is that you must pack and unpack.
If you have lots of stuff it’s a kill joy. (Try rearranging your furniture in your house every day.)
The less you have the better.
For example, why on earth would you need that special water bottle? Are you crossing the Gobi desert? Then maybe. If you are in any part of habitable world any plastic bottle would do.
Over the years of my bike touring I came to the conclusion that most of the stuff they promote on travel blogs is useless to me. (It might be useful to you, I don’t generalize.)
For example, a cup of freshly-brewed coffee is a popular image on travel sites. How romantic. So they sell you gas and spirit stoves, wind covers, portable grinders, filters, etc, etc. And you carry them in your panniers. Trying to maintain some organization, keeping your things in an orderly way – not mixing up your fuel with cereal bars and stuff like that (which is hard if you must do it every day!)
Coffee in the morning might be a priority for you, so your effort and expense may be justified.
For me, when I get up all I want is water and get going. Packing / unpacking is work. I can’t spend an hour getting my coffee gear ready, boiling water, making the brew, drinking it and washing up.
If you want to enjoy a slow cup of coffee, in addition to your stove and fuel you will also need to carry a chair. Perhaps a folding table. You will need extra time to have it all set up and then break down and pack it up. The logistics becomes insane.
The pictures of coffee mugs may look tempting but you won’t have much fun with everything that involves in the process, believe me.
I don’t carry any gas or spirit stoves any more. No kitchens sets. It saves a lot of time (no need to do your dishes either).
You simply buy local fare like bread, tomatoes, olives, etc. etc. If you’re wild camping it’s usually possible to make a little fire to heat up some water for soup or something like that.
Don’t be afraid of simplicity. It’s the fear that you’re not going to make it that drives the sales of unnecessary stuff. You WILL make it. And you will have more fun without it.
My second gripe with travel blogs is how they want to help you plan every little thing. It’s like taking your office culture with you. Every day is supposed to be written down with locations, durations, mealtimes, sightseeings, etc.
The reality is that nothing ever works as you plan, no matter how well you do your research. Hence frustration and disappointment. And you blame yourself for not doing enough research. So you go back to your favorite blogs to be “better prepared.”
If you are a control freak, buy a guided tour. A cruise. With the day to day schedules, menus, and events. For me, it’s just ridiculous.
This fall I lost my phone, GPS and maps due to water exposure. A backpack with some other important stuff was stolen (you never plan for that, do you?)
If you are used to GPS you know how addictive it is. Once it’s gone you feel blind. You have no clue where you are, you lost the skill to get around without the GPS.
As an introvert I always avoided dependency on anybody. But I decided to go ahead anyway.
What happens when you lose your independence is that you start asking for directions. You begin to talk to local people. And it changes everything. Somehow the world is a much better place with other people helping you.
Your bicycle is key. People are always happy to help a cyclist. I had no idea, honestly. It was a discovery for me how much good will is out there.
Once you break the ice of self-isolation, there may be more exciting things to happen to you.
Try losing your GPS maps on purpose and go ahead without a destination or a plan of any kind. Throw away guidebooks, avoid Tourist bureaus. These are your gods, your masters that tell you what to think and what to do.
Get some organic experience. Que será, será
I guess what I am trying to say is “… throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”