There is a point where all travellers will eventually cross continents looking for that next adventure, the new job, the opportunity to see and do more. Anyone travelling overseas will have this transition—the flight that takes you 15 hours from the world you knew so well and drops you in a world that immediately tests your senses. This is what most travellers live for: the challenge of a new culture, exploring an area unknown, learning the basics of a foreign language, tasting the food, tasting the beers, meeting the people—the list goes on and on. These are just some of the examples of what you’re in for upon arrival. However, I want to talk about the transition period between one continent and the next; the continental drift.
Last month I was in Australia planning my next travel move. Where to go, what to do when I got there, how much time will I need, how much money, etc. These were all the questions circulating through my head at the time. I knew I wanted to return to South America and had a pretty good idea of the itinerary I wanted to follow, but what of the transition, that big move? You know, making the decision to go for it, to pack up shop, switch continents, and embark on that next ambitious backpacking adventure. This was the decision that needed to be made, and I made it like any other I have done in the past. I bought the flight ticket. Done. Now time to focus on what’s ahead of me. Let the fun begin.
Research: It doesn’t hurt to get “The Bible” (Lonely Planet) for your intended destination, seeing as LP covers most of the world, you should be able to find one for the area you’re going. If there is only this giant 900-page book (Africa on a Shoestring *cough*) and you don’t want to buy the whole thing, you can go onto the LP website and buy digital copies of the individual chapters, which is really handy.
Read up on the places you want to see. You’ll surprised how much more starts to reveal itself. With a bit of pre-trip research you can get a much better idea of how much time you’ll need in each spot and how much the whole thing is going to cost. (It almost always costs more than you think it will.) Research makes the transition from one continent to other incredibly easier. It’s like preparing your mind for the probable certain degree of culture shock.
Packing: It is always a good idea to minimize what you think you need when travelling to another continent. A good trick is to take out everything you want to bring then have a friend or family member look over it and get their opinion on what they actually think you’ll need. Guaranteed you’ll be able to leave some of it behind. Worst case scenario, you can just buy it again when you arrive.
Packing the right stuff for your trip is key and having some familiar things from home makes the transition to a foreign land that much easier. I travel with a frisbee, a harmonica and a Thermos, all gifts from friends and family back home.
Keeping in touch: The continental drift will always put you far from friends and family back home. Luckily in our digital age it is incredibly easy to keep in contact with the people who are closest to you.. Most people do this through Facebook and Skype, however more and more people are turning towards personal blogs, Wordpress, Tumblr, etc.
It is really handy to concentrate all of your travel updates to one social medium. It may be a good idea to choose that medium before leaving home and informing your people what it will be. Moms and Dads especially appreciate this—whether they’re on FB or not, they’ll find you. I use a blog and concentrate all traffic to those updates instead of writing in-depth statuses for all of my so-called FB friends to read. (I figure those willing to read my blog are the ones I’m writing for and I’m still not sure if they even make halfway through the posts. Ha!)
One of the best parts of travelling is the transition. Flying that 15 hours from home is a trip, and one not to be taken lightly. It will always change your life—whether you know it at the time or not.
From Olinda, Pernambuco, Brazil. Boa viagem!