As I promised some months ago, I'm going to share with you some aspects of the logistics and planning of our trip. These are many and diverse, but since I don't want to go on endlessly, any curiosity, doubt or suggestion you may have, please send it to us via the comments below. It would have been awesome to have a list like this beforehand, and would have saved us so much googling! So we hope it will be useful to you if you ever plan on doing something similar.
Planning the trip and contacting schools
Diana and I have worked on this as if we were office clerks. Gloogle searches, phone calls, task lists, datelines, goals... We still do it that way. It's just the two of us and there's a lot to do. We use resources such as Redbooth to get the work organized, or Trello, a Kanban board. Selecting and contacting the schools is Diana's job, she's good at googling! As well as carrying out a thorough research on education, by reading books and websites, we needed to find projects and people who would have the empathy to open the doors to us, total strangers wielding a camera. In the books section –now a little forgotten but to be gradually replenished in the near future– you will find all the good reads that have inspired us. For everything else there's Google.
New technologies have allowed us to do, in very little time, things which were unthinkable only yesterday. Starting with the website you are now reading, hosted by Squarespace (the only really 'green' server we found), and followed by apps such as TrackMytour, which enable you to create and share travel logs, with pictures and details such as the weather at every waypoint. To make life easier for us, we automated outreach tasks through IFTTT, a site that literally works for you. Cycling in complex places (Manhattan, San Francisco Bay, Holland, Devon in England, etc) we used a smartphone where we downloaded OpenStreetMaps (the open source version of Google Maps), so we could navigate through a powerful app, MotionX-GPS, without a data connection. We traced routes with our laptop, when Wifi was available, using Google Earth's bike route planner, and then exported them in KLM format onto the hard disk, which we then converted, through GPSBabel, to GPX format, the one used by MotionX-GPS.
We haven't yet reckoned the total number of kilometres we've travelled, but it must be more than 30,000 in a little over three months. We have not, obviously, done all this on our bikes. In fact, probably less than 10% of it. We've used train and planes to cover the longest distances. In Europe we purchased a multizone Interrail monthly pass, with the advantage that under-fours travel free. The Interrail journey planner for smartphone is really good, works without internet connection and has all the schedules for trains in Europe, including local trains in Spain. In the US we took the train on very few occasions, and there's only one company: Amtrak. Although at first we thought of covering the distance between Boston to LA by train, we later changed our minds. It would have taken us more than a week travelling 12 hours every day. We couldn't do that to our daughter! And it was also more expensive than a plane. Last but not least, in case anyone finds it useful, we chose Norwegian to cross the Atlantic, since the price of a one-way ticket was not higher on its own than when purchased alongside a return ticket, something which was vital for us!
We use folding city bikes. Handmade in England by Brompton craftsmen, they are not built for long journeys. Still, you can travel with them, as you can see on their website and we can confirm. Jara sits at the front, close to the handlebar, with her back to me. As well as being more fun for her (she can see everything, we can talk, sing, and I can hold her head when she falls asleep) we just can't set up a back seat on the Bromptons, and trailers for kids –you see trillions of them in Holland and Germany– are forbidden in Spain. The child seat and Yepp windshield, made by GNG, are the most comfy, safe and practical we have seen. A wise choice! We carried a basic tool set in order to do small repairs, as well as an extra lamp set and inner tubes for the tyres.
The trailers, built in Holland by an interesting company called Radical Design, are simply wonderful. As well as stabilizing the bikes, they give you added visibility on the road thanks to the reflective covers and the banners. Plus they are just the right size to hold the bikes inside, together with the tyres, as you can see here. Perfect for checking on a plane! Lastly, in order to charge our mobile phone on the go, we installed a Busch and Muller dynamo-powered USB charger. We always got to our destination with a 100% charged battery, after using the GPS for hours.
Filming and audio equipment
The fact that our fully packed trailers weighed over 30kg each is due to the technical stuff they carried. An HD video recording reflex camera and three lenses, a GoPro, an Atomos Ninja hard-disk recorder, several hard disks, tripods, a light diffuser, an audio recorder, microphones, video and audio cables, shoulder rig and Steady-cam, laptop, and accesories for erverything. I don't even dare put all this on the scale!
Accommodation and living expenses
This journey would have been utterly impossible without Warmshowers. Had it been possible, it would have been completely different. Warmshowers is a network of cyclists connected via the internet. It's a simple thing: members offer whatever they can, and ask for whatever they need. There are members in all five continents and they are always, always, without exception, incredible people. As well as the people we've met at the schools, our Warmshowers hosts have made this journey an unforgettable, moving and unique experience. Although I won't say much more, I do want to thank again all those people who have hosted us. From those who have offered us a couch to the ones who have opened their doors to us even without being at home, not forgetting those who have cooked delicious meals for us. To all of you, thank you.
There are other accommodation networks based on altruism, such as Couchsurfing or Hospitality Club. At some points we tried to get assistance from their communities, but for whatever reasons, the replies never made it on time. Lastly, Airbnb, another way of finding accommodation (though through payment) within a network of trust. Individuals who rent rooms or houses and who make your stay much different from staying at a hotel.
We did shopping wherever we could. We normally cooked in the houses where we stayed. It should be said that it's so easy to find organic food in Germany, Holland, England, Denmark, Sweden... it's available at any supermarket. In the US "organic" is slightly different from Europe. Still, you can find good options such as Trader Joe's or Wholefoods. In San Francisco (and California in general) it's easy to fall into the burrito mono diet. Be warned, they're delicious!
Clothing and accesories
Actually our clothes took up the tiniest space. We did not take our finery with us, it would have been torn to shreds. Outdoor gear, water-proof trousers, thermal t-shirts, shorts. The essentials. Jara's nappies –an important part of our logistics– were just three disposable ones (that we never used) and ten muslin squares that we had to wash by hand every single night when we got to our destination. We also carried camping gear in case we found ourselves having to spend the night in the middle of nowhere: tent, sleeping bags, inflatable matresses, camp stove, cooking utensils and lots of water.
Having our bikes stolen, running over an old man or banging our camera against the floor were all real possibilities. We've travelled with an AXA international bike insurance and another specific one for filming equipment from Sastre & Asociados.
You think we can improve our logistics? Can't wait to hear how!