Most people, if you asked, would probably say that traveling around the world is on their bucket list. There’s something about exploring each corner of our globe that is almost universally appealing. Most people also, if you asked, would probably insist on having some comfort during their journey. Hotels, foreign restaurants and traveler’s checks come to mind. But that’s not my idea of what it really means to travel. When I finally get my time to make that long journey across the Earth, I want it to be guided by my feet and my thumbs.
There’s something more when a journey is taken with only a vague notion of where you plan to end up at the end of the day. The stress you experience is not the same as trying to make a time limit, seeking to reach a specific location by a predetermined day or hour or attempting to see all the hot tourist attractions within a limited time frame. When you’re on the road and at least mostly self-sufficient, you have the freedom to be where you want, when you want.
If you need to get someplace quicker, you can always stick your thumb out and catch a ride with someone. Sure, this may not work in every country you travel to, but there’s always modes of transportation such as cheap buses or trains for crossing the bits of land that may be life-threatening, such as vast deserts or inhospitable mountains. The rest of it, especially the areas where you can camp, can simply be walked.
Some may think that it would get too tiring to try to walk so far and for so long. For most, that’s probably true. I’ve done my own share of walking and hitchhiking to recognize at least some of my limits and to know that I’d be willing to push them even further if it meant being able to see some truly remarkable places - the kind of places that don’t make the popular tourist guides. There’s also the increased opportunity to meet people that you normally wouldn’t, visiting small villages in remote areas and experiencing a part of a country that few ever witness. A year spent circling the globe, if you were willing to leave familiar comforts behind and had the time to do it, would be an experience that would change you forever.