You would think I would need a break from travel after my last expedition, but, it isn’t long before I find my feet itching and the desire to fly away calling me.
However, planning an expedition is not a simple case of sticking a pin in the map and away you go.
No, it takes time. In my case, planning an expedition takes up to two years of research.
Firstly, you have to be drawn to a particular location. For me, there is always a reason behind why I want to go to a certain country.
It could be an animal I would love to see in its natural habitat, or simply the culture of the location that draws me in, making me want to experience it for myself.
And, no, the horror stories from other travellers or the news reports detailing the ‘bad’ of the country don’t put me off.
Nor for that matter does the language barrier. I have travelled to over 20 countries more than once and language has never been an issue. I see it as something anyone can overcome, within three months in a particular country you can easily command a basic level of the language.
Once I have decided where I want to go, the research begins. Don’t be fooled into thinking that I Google the country or head to the library.
My research is to start with other travel blogs, travellerspoint.com in particular. Then I look to connect with people from Airbnb or CouchSurfing as I know for a fact the local people who live and work in the location I plan to go to are the best source of knowledge.
Part of my planning also involves taking regular trips to the country I have chosen and trying to connect with the locals in any way I can.
There will always be other travellers or people who live there who will advise you to steer clear of the country or a particular location, but reaching out to the locals I get nothing but encouragement to visit and more often than not they go out of their way to help where they can.
And remember, the local people are always the gateway to lesser-known spots and places off the tourist tracks.
Although I did say ‘you can’t just stick a pin in the map’, I do genuinely study a map of my chosen location.
Chances are I will see a small town or village and look for a way to get there to explore.
Always with the hope that I will be the only tourist, so to speak, that has been there in the last 15 years!
But, at the end of the day, I want to come back accomplished, given that the regions I chose are often complex areas to travel in most of the time. The number of governing bodies, state, non-state and often indigenous, to name just a few of the complexities!
I travel to gain new experiences and to share my stories.