Long term travel is like a marathon. Now I haven’t actually run any sort of race in my life (not even a 5K) so you know, take it at face value. But from what I’ve learned about exercise and how to push yourself, my take on it is that it is a mental challenge as much as it is a physical one.
I am reflecting on what it means to be traveling for a whole year (when it already feels like it’s been half a year) thanks to a video I first watched several years ago. Christophe Rehage, a German, documented a year of walking through China from Beijing to Urumqi on his camera, and stitched the scenes together with two lovely songs (“L’Aventurier” and “橄榄树/ The Olive Tree”) in French and Chinese.
As crazy as a year around the world sounds, I feel like our plan is a lot more tame than Christophe’s, because we’re not actually sleeping under the stars or trekking 30 km a day on foot. But the mental journey is similar. On his blog, he wrote about what pushed him to do this journey and why he stopped. He originally planned to trek from Beijing all the way to Bad Nenndorf, where he grew up in Germany, but he called it off a year in for personal reasons. He talked about how he looks so free and unfettered on the road, in the desert and under the sky, but how he was also just living by a set of rules that he had constructed about his trip. Occasionally, he felt like even taking a short bike ride and not walking every single step was cheating. Sometimes living under a different set of rules is freeing, and sometimes, you just have to put yourself into a really different environment or frame of mind to discover that there are elements of yourself or elements of life that you can’t escape.