I have been often asked HOW do I plan where I am going, do I stick to the plan, what do I do a bout accommodation and so forth.
Well let me tell about my 2003 plans. I started off by planning to go first to Tunisia, that country being brought to my attention by another couple who were planning to go, so I started reading about it and it look good so that became No1.
I also had Russia, Poland and the Crimea on this years plans.
I was going from Tunisia to Sicily (70 miles away) was going to tour around there then on to Italy, perhaps Greece then the others.
Well Bush made me rethink going to a Muslim country even if they depended on tourism I did not want to push the luck too much.
So plan one was evolved where I flew to Rome, then I got out a map and started drawing onto a plastic laminated map of Europe a route around the part south of Rome heading towards Istanbul where in would catch a boat to the Crimea. So I drew down to the foot around the heal of Italy and on up to Venice, then down the old Yugoslavia coast to Albania, across above Albania to Greece, all around Greece, then onto Istanbul, and boat to Crimea, back to Istanbul and on towards Poland, thro Bulgaria, Serbia, Hungry to Poland, drive around Poland, then onto St Petersburg, Beetroot bus to Moscow, Tran Siberian to Beijing, train to Hanoi, taxi thro Vietnam, fly to Singapore and on to NZ. Measure off 160Kms and mark them as a days travel, draw up a itinerary based on this allowing three spare days every 20 days as a buffer.
Problems. A Chinese and Mongolian visa was only Valid for 90 days. I was finding it hard to get information about the boat to the Crimea, the English who booked the Beetroot bus and the trans Siberian would only issue a invitation to Russia ONCE you had booked, you could not book till you had a visa for China etc, I could not get a visa till I was 90 days from my exit from China and it kept on going around in circles, I must say the agency doing the booking did not have much imagination and they WERE NOT helpful.
Solution, scan thro Alta Vista for "Boats to Crimea" It lead me to a chat room and someone who was giving advice on this subject. A email to him gave me times, day and price and LENGTH of journey which was 30 plus hours, no part of my plan to be on a Turkish ferry for 30 hours. I also asked him where he lived and what his occupation was, he lived in the Crimea, and the was a guide! Wonderful…. So next email was to ask him if he wanted a job, hi answer was yes!
Russia was proving still to be a problem so I decided to go for Bed & Breakfast with a Russian family in both St Petersburg & Moscow, the agency furnished me with a invitation so that sowed that up, I will do the Tran Siberian next year, on my way north, when I can get visa's that will be fresh.
Now how do I get to the Crimea, I guess I have to fly, two airlines form Istanbul, local and Lufthansa, Lufthansa flies via Frankfurt to Kiev, but I could include them in my Round the world ticket.
Plan two drop Tran Siberian, do Crimea after Poland, cut out Istanbul. Increase Ukraine (Crimea) tour to include all of Ukraine, increase length to do this, redraw the day by day itinerary, talk to my guide who thro my emails and his web site I was getting to know very well and was very comfortable with him, said 22days on this route, ( I copied a map of the Ukraine and drew a map taking me all around this country). He came back with a price, which was higher than I had hoped but then I am of Scottish decent so what can you expect.
Problem My Ukrainian guide came back and said too hot at the time of the year you have planned to be away from the coast.
Solution, shift Ukraine to the start, remove my stop over in USA to Zero, just changing planes, spend 28 days touring the Ukraine. So fly Auck, LA, Frankfurt, Kiev, Tour, then back to Frankfurt and on to Rome, Tour ending up over the border from Poland in Berlin, to Frankfurt, St Petersburg, get to Moscow, back to Frankfurt, to Bangkok, to go to Hanoi, get down to Saigon somehow slowly, Singapore & home
Then it was just a matter of fine tuning and you will see the day by day itinerary
Now will I stick to this tour as I have planned it? Well not knowing what I will encounter on my travel, I do not know, last year I changed my planed tour so much that it looked nothing like what I had planned, I do not think this one will change so much, most of this I have wanted to do for many years, Vietnam may be dropped if the SARS flu is still strong in that region. I may run ahead or behind what I have planned depending on what I find on this route which I have just drawn to get from point A to point B, but it has so much history I am confident that if anything I will run out of time and want to return, which is good.
EACH day will be a new day and I will decide then as to what I do on that day.
I have booked almost NO accommodation (just Frankfurt for overnight & Rome because of late arrival) I will look & find early each day, which is the reason for only 160 Kms per day.
four days before I leave, two problems have shown their ugly heads, the first one is for Italy in that country it is not possible for a foreigner to buy a car it may be possible BUT as a foreigner you can NOT register the car. This means if you want to drive thro this country in your own transport you will need to buy the car outside Italy. I will add to this when I have been thro this exercise.
Next problem is the Ukraine, it is spring there and normally now all of the trees are green and they are starting to get warm weather, not hot, you understand, but warm say 7 to 10d C, it is at the moment sitting around Zero degrees and yesterday they had a light fall of snow. The buds have not yet opened on the trees.