Tom’s World Walk
The route through America is set and underway, but the rest of the journey, though investigated, still hinges on ever shifting political climates and visa rules in various places.
A huge bonus of this trip is that my daughter, Eliza, hopes to join for short stretches and might even bring her boyfriend – lucky chap, I’m sure hiking across the wilds of Romania with his girlfriend’s vagabond dad will be No 1 on his romantic To Do Lists.
Visas can be tricky. The fact my passport and CV are still ripe with mentions of the Tex-Mex border, Lebanon, the Calais Jungle, Beijing and Serbia, and a few other teaching destinations, raised eyebrows when trying to secure my American visa.
My fingers and thumbs were scanned twice and I received a long grilling from a no-nonsense, Jeremy Paxman-type, a master of well-timed harrumphs and withering glares (‘Walk around the world, Sir, yees, hmm, aaaand you’ve just been to Chinaaaa…’) – but he proved treacle-hearted underneath and I got a multi-entry, six-monther. You tease, Paxo!
The route will at times be remote and challenging but all going well, doable. As explained, the plan is to walk at least 16,300 miles in total. Occasional flights/boats will have to be taken to cross oceans and to start new continents but the lion’s share will be walked unsupported, though friends and family will join for short stretches. I will have a GPS to monitor my position and supply updates via my website and social media, FB and Instagram (but not bloody Twitter).
This is all very different to my bike ride between England and Australia over 20 years ago when I would have to track down pay phones en route. I used no mobile or GPS then, not even email; different, perhaps more innocent times. Back in the mid-1990s I was able to easily cycle through Syria (the loveliest of people, constantly offering tea), Lebanon, Pakistan and Iran. Alas, now much trickier, but as one route closes, others always open up…
The rest of the route, which may well need to be tweaked or altered radically, is through Europe (depending on Brexit), Turkey (depending on Erdogan), east to west through Africa and India (depending on visas and monsoons), then on to China by any means possible (depending on visas and border crossings), South East Asia (visas easy-ish), Australia (easier), New Zealand (easiest) and Mexico and America (back to being Paxo-ed again). Russia is also a possibility but year-long visas (the country is truly vast for a walker) can be tricky.