You can always have another chance
To leave that extra stuff at home
Whether it’s a business trip, weekend getaway, or trip home for the holidays, every time you travel is a new opportunity to pack light and pack small. Ultralight travel doesn’t have to be with a backpack (although that’s still my favorite kind.) Travel with a suitcase works, too.
A lot of us are used to just throwing a bunch of things into a suitcase and dashing off to the airport – but these days, with checked baggage fees piling on, taking less makes more sense than ever. (more…)
A Longwalking Packing List
My 2011 Pro Forma 30-Day List – Gear, Clothing, Supplies
Creating a gear and clothing list is one of the principal ways of planning a long-distance, and crucial if you want to start off with everything essential, no extra payload, and with the minimum possible weight for your needs.
This is a detailed list of everything – all clothing, gear, equipment, and supplies – that I’m planning to use for a walk across France in 2011. Although it continues to evolve, this is the current, latest, up-to-date list. It’s grouped by what I will have, which is not necessarily how I will carry it. It includes clothing to be worn.
This is an updated list of what I used during a 12-week walk across France, the Pyrenées, and Spain, from late April to early July, 2009. For my experience and purposes, this is adequate to walk the Camino de Santiago de Compostela, for example. (No camping gear was used, or is included.)
Getting Ready ~ Pre-Walk Checklist
One year timeline to the trail
If you’ve decided to leave your footprints on the sentiers de grande randonnée in France, make your own camino in Spain, or trek somewhere else, here’s a one-year timeline to keep your planning on track and your getaway gone. If you have less time before departure, do what it takes to catch up on the earlier checkpoints.
It’s time to start getting ready. There are a lot of tasks to accomplish and decisions to make in order to realize a fantastic, engaging, life-changing, healthy, robust journey over the land on foot.
: : Note >>> This is the general scheme we’ll be using for our 2011 longwalks. As we move through the year, we’ll update the list, and report on our progress and decisions.
Checklist ~ 12 Months
Commit. Tell your family and friends. Expressing a dream with words is the first step to making it come true. (more…)
Where to Sleep in France ~ Hostels
Not just for kids anymore
Hostels are a good way to stretch your travel dollars, as well as hang out a bit with fellow travelers, some of whom you may have passed on the trail this afternoon (no doubt because their pack, unlike yours, was so HEAVY!). Hostels are not as common in France as in some other countries, but there are a fair number. Like anything else, there are better ones and a few “not so good”, but for the most part, I’ve had good experiences at the hostels I’ve stayed at in France.
The basic hostel has several small dormitory-style rooms, each with two to eight beds. The idea is that they are shared as needed, but depending on the size of the crowd, it’s not uncommon to end up with your own room. I have, more than once! A growing number of hostels have some private rooms available, although not necessarily with en suite facilities. Some make a special effort to accommodate families and larger groups, but even in those, there’s often a spare bed for a solo walker. (more…)
Longwalk 2011 ~ Chemin d’Arles, part 1
Books & Trail Guides
In 2011, we plan to return to Europe for several weeks of walking in France on the long-distance GR hiking trails, called les sentiers de grande randonnée. The exact route(s) are still being considered, as is the departure date, but we are currently planning to walk along the ancient series of trails known as the Chemin d’Arles (the road from Arles), starting in early Spring. This article covers the FFRP topo-guides, trail guides, and books about the various sections of the GR 653 route. (more…)
French Trails and the FFRP
FFRandonnée Leads the Way
The FFRP®, now re-branded as FFRandonnée®, is the administrative heart of the vast web of French long-distance hiking trails. If you’re planning to take a walk in France, this is prime resource dedicated to providing information to all randonneurs (hikers). The FFRandonnée Centre d’Information is in a nondescript office building not far from the Paris Métro station Bibliothèque François Mitterrand, on Line 14. (more…)
French Trail Maps ~ the IGN
The Espace IGN in Paris
The Institut Géographique National (French National Geographic Institute), or IGN, as it is commonly known, is the principal government mapping agency of France. The IGN creates, updates and publishes a wide range of map products that are available to the public. There are several of particular interest to long-distance walkers who are planning a hike through France. These are described below, but first a few facts: (more…)
Getting Ready ~ Learning French
If you’re planning to go to France, especially for the extended adventure of a good long walk, there is no better way to enhance the experience than to speak French as well as possible. Not only does it make travel easier and less stressful, it makes it more fun. You can really get to talk to ordinary people and exchange stories and ideas.
But don’t let a lack of language prowess deter you from hiking the sentiers de grande randonnée. On my first walk, I knew only the bare rudiments of basic French, but just trying to speak their native tongue seemed to bring out the friendly best in people. (more…)
Getting Ready ~ Video Finder
Preparing for your next long-distance hike
Here are some videos to get you in gear for the long trail ahead. As we find and review interesting and fun videos, we’ll compile them here. (more…)
Tips on Planning a Route
When I was planning my six-week 2007 walk, I began looking for information about the various places along the route. Sometimes I came upon information like this, outlining a trail in paragraph form: Orléans, La Chapelle-Saint-Mesmin, Saint-Ay, Meung-sur-Loire, Beaugency, Tavers (hors), Lestiou, Avaray, Muides-sur-Loire, Seuvres, Saint-Dye-sur-Loire, Chambord, La Chaussee-le-Compte, Cellettes, Saint-Gervais-la-Fôret, Blois, Chailles, Candé-sur-Beuvron, Chaumont-sur-Loire, Rilly-sur-Loire, Souvigny-de-Touraine, Amboise, Lussault-sur-Loire, Montlouis-sur-Loire, Vouvray, Roche-Corbon, Tours.
That may be a tasty mouthful of French, but it soon becomes a bewildering mess if you try to find information about any of these waypoints. (more…)