Planning Part 1

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In 2014, I will be traveling across the world. Planning a trip this large can be a very daunting thing. There is so much that is possible and it is very easy to become overwhelmed. In the end it is about being true to who you are and finding out what it is that drives your desire to travel.

Recent years have seen me shift from civil and social activism to more environmental activity. This isn't an abandoning of the social and civil sphere but rather the acknowledgment that without a well resourced and protected biosphere the rest is meaningless.

Conservation became a major direction with regard to where I plan to travel throughout 2014. When we first started planning, it was with searching for the must beautiful places we could find. As you can imagine the list became quite large, expensive and worse very poor value. It would be a year of touristing with a great many photos and passport stamps but very few enriching experiences.

So, with that in mind we began to think of how to enrich the year. Initially came across WWOOFing. WWOOFing (Willing Workers on Organic Farms) is working on small farms across the world for food and board. This sounded great as at home we try our hand at gardening with some success and it world be an excellent way to increase our skills and knowledge in a practical way. As we searched the web for places to wwooff we began to notice on various newsfeeds how the various global crises were affecting the environment. It occurred to us that an excellent way to get a rich and fulfilling experience would be to volunteer in conservation activities, helping preserve green spaces and fragile ecosystems where funding had disappeared and thus giving back to the societies that we were visiting.

Our list once more became large and thoroughly untenable. So we refined our search to the “PIGS' (Portugal, Ireland, Greece, and Spain) as they were foremost on feeds. In these countries there was a great deal of volunteering available in various fields and we soon found that it would be very easy to keep ourselves occupied but we had overwhelmed ourselves with data so had to take a step back.

Taking a breath, I decided that in order to make good choices we needed to have a general overview of what limitations, restrictions and opportunities there are for Australians traveling.

Stage 1: Short list countries that were to be considered

Stage 2: Ascertain Visa costs and restrictions for those countries

Stage 3: Collate weather data for the countries to optimise the time of our visit

Stage 4: Analysis

The short list was relatively easy, it included a lot of Europe, Morocco, Canada and South America. Visa information was easy as well.

Utilising as a start point and refining/adding to that information with the Australian Government website Smart Traveller, we were able to gather most of the information we needed as well as the websites for the specific countries embassies for further information like cost and application processes.

Temperature Chart2Weather was also very easy. There are dozens of sites out there. I chose to focus on the individual countries Bureaus of Meteorology (or equivalent) then going to alternate sources (like to fill information not available. The data I was after was: Average High Temperature, Low Temperature, Humidity, Rainfall, and number of Rainy days/month. Once the data had been collected we had to apply filters to it in order to work out what the optimal time of travel was for our needs and comfort. As such we applied the following for each field:

High – No Higher than 35C

Low – No lower than 5C

Humidity – No Greater that 70% (unless average high below 30C)

Rainfall – No more than 100mm

Number of Rainy days – No more than half the month

These filters may seem odd, or even strict, but when you look at the chart you will see that Adelaide, South Australia (our home) is one of the few places that offers all round comfort and is thus the baseline. The chart is meant to be a guideline for our travel and not completely exclude a location. It all comes down to comfort which is something every traveler should consider, especially when travelling so long from home.

With all this data in hand we were able to begin planning in earnest, finding projects and places to visit based on the average weather profile as well as the VISA requirements. The challenge would now be to balance our desire to contribute as well as enjoy the countries we were visiting.

Our shortlist to visit is: Europe and the Americas.

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