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Starting your adventure
Starting your adventure
"I envy you. You have done so much with your life, but I have just lived the same boring life." Climbing the ranks from local newspaper to CBC web reporter, now getting training for radio. That's plenty of doing. "You have traveled so many places." But that's easy, you know. You just have to start...

Basically, anything you do comes down to making a decision. When I rode my bicycle from Montreal to Toronto in 1997, I had a one week opportunity, and I took it. Not very well planned, and on a very low budget.

But Paris-Amsterdam looked like a huge deal. It took me eight years of waiting for the perfect timing to realize that it would not happen unless I set a date and decided that on that date, I would go! No excuses. If I can book a meeting, I can book a bicycle trip.

Of course, planning to spend two weeks on the road means I should plan on spending money, and therein lies the problem most struggle with. When you don't see the funds, how can you set a date? Well, there is a solution for that. It's called S.M.A.R.T. criteria. That's Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Time-bound.

Specific

Now, if you think of your specific wish for an adventure, first find out what it costs and add some extra padding on it. For Paris-Amsterdam, I resorted to Norwegian hotel prices for my estimates, fully aware that continental Europe would be cheaper. It looked like this:

ItemCost
Flight to Paris€300
Buy bicycle€200
14 hotel nights€1600
14 dinners€250
Flight from Amsterdam€300
Total€2650

Measurable

It is an overly estimated cost, but a specific goal. I set up a separate bank account for the project. I could measure my progress by looking at the account balance.

I have tried to keep funds like this in a common account together with other goals - it doesn't work. It is too easy to shift funds on paper or overspend and forget to update the papers on it - a separate bank account is the way to go. It makes for stricter rules on your spending. I needed it to be attainable and not random.

Attainable and Timebound

So my next question was - how much am I able to put off every month for this adventure? My answer at the time was about €100, and from this I calculated that if I put off €111 every month to the project, it would take me two years.

From this I made a commitment and fulfilled that commitment by setting up an automated funds transfer from my incoming bank account to my project account every month. As soon as my salary came in, €111 went to the project.

This also allowed me to say "The date is May 2011".

Relevant

To say I overestimated is an understatement. A long trip requires some research. Doing so, my estimate went down to €1600, or €66/month - making saving easier.

There are ways to make trips even cheaper. Many bicycling tourists I meet usually make extensive use of camping and/or social networks like Couchsurfing.org and Warmshowers.org.

In conclusion

"See, it's just a matter of making a decision. This is what I'm going to do, this is when I'm going to do it, and this is what I have to do to be able to do it. And this is how I will be able to ride from Milan to Taranto in 2017."

"You know what? I'm going to take you up on that. I'm going to ride with you from Milan to Taranto in 2017."

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