Recap and Thoughts About the Estonia Trip
So, why did I say "yes!" when Linda asked me to bike to Saarenmaa and Hiiunmaa with her? Well to be honest I've always wanted to travel, and really seen it as the only pursuit in life that's worth it for me, but in practice I have done shamefully little to actually pursue it. While I've made very good money at times I've spent it on much shorter term pleasures which looking back on it really bothers me. So I figured lets take a trip with Linda's "guidance" and see if the next trip comes easier.
We didn't plan this trip well at all, we didn't really have a budget or the right equipment for this, but I knew that no matter what came I was in good company and I have faith in both our ability to problems solve on the fly. We basically gathered what gear we already had, a shitty tent, sleeping bags, back bags etc. In the end it all worked out and it did it's job of giving me more confidence to take trips without worrying about the end result. I'm a bit of a worrier in general, so fighting that tendency has been, and is, a big part of my personal journey.
Before the trip, we planned our route for a total of maybe one hour, this includes checking for free tenting grounds, ferries, etc. We found that the Estonian forest care organization has plenty of free camping grounds which it up keeps and we used those mostly. On top of that since in Estonia (and Finland) there's "everyman's right" which means that you can camp for 24 hours on anybody's land if you aren't too close to their yard and aren't disruptive. In Estonia especially the everyman's right is really quite extensive so finding a spot to camp in isn't a problem at all and we took advantage of it two times, I think, when we couldn't find the tenting ground we were looking for.
Other than that we packed what we had and Linda loaned her bike from her landlord. She hadn't even ridden a bike in many years, so yeah our level or preparedness for this trip was extremely low. The tent we had was a pop-up tent so it goes in a big round bag so we zip tied a board to my bike so it wouldn't hit the back wheel and tied the tent to that and I zip tied a shopping basked to the bike rack. That's our equipment preparedness. We did buy spare inner tubes for our bikes and a tire repair kit, but we didn't need those in the end.
Budget wise my budget, including all the ferries etc. was about 170€/$ for the whole trip. So taking this trip was dirt cheap. I didn't really splurge, but neither was I extremely frugal during this trip. The fact is that if you are biking in the nature there isn't much things to spend your money on. You have very limited capacity to carry food, so I bought calorie dense things like sausage and cheese, because they keep for a couple of days in the heat and provide steady energy. Linda went more for carbs, and I admit I kinda cave in to them a lot too, but Linda's carb diet meant that if she didn't eat very regularly she did get quite cranky and the more protein and fat oriented diet had longer breaks between before I started feeling it.
I kinda complain about Linda's breaks during the trip, and sometimes they were quite aggravating, but I'd like to raise another point, which is that her daily budget for the trip was double mine due to coffee and cigarettes. It's quite amazing to think about, and while there are a few ways to get the coffee cheaper, but still. It's something to keep in mind definitely if you are looking to travel on a budget.
So that's the practical stuff out of the way. Mentally I wanted it to be easier to take the next trip and that most definitely happened. We also agreed to two more trips during this one, one is another bike hike next summer, this time along the eastern side of Estonia towards Tartu. Yeah we didn't do that well keeping the "no more bike hikes" promise we made to ourselves. Then another one, which we are actually starting in two or three days, depending a bit on Linda's schedule, which is taking mopeds to Sweden and Denmark. Seems interesting, but mopeds aren't very reliable so whether they last the trip will be a surprise to you and me both, but rest assured whatever happens you can read about it here, eventually at least. Regardless I have no anxiety or fear over the trip, I know we can handle it so in that regard the trip was a huge success. I'm sure most of us are too quick to say no to new experiences because it might be scary and uncomfortable, but I'm telling you now that it doesn't take anything or anyone special to do this. Just go and when you run into a problem solve it best you can. That's pretty much how life works in general anyway, it isn't really any different, other than the problems you need to solve and how you solve them.
The biggest benefit of this trip was very unexpected, but all the more welcome. Riding for 8 goddamn long hours a day on a bike, with nothing to occupy your thoughts, other than your own mind gives you a lot of time to think. I think I alluded to this already in one of the chapters I wrote for this trip, but I thought through every thought that I have ever had, every incomplete thing, everything that has been bothering me, and without even trying I could see the path to where I want to be crystallize and solidify in front of me. Before the trip I didn't really have much direction in life, I didn't know what I wanted to do and I had been sort of searching for it for a couple of years, but now it's so clear I feel like I can touch it. This is the biggest benefit of the trip and I think all trips like this, where you don't have much distractions will have this benefit.
Couldn't recommend this more
To sum it up, you don't need to prepare that much, pack a bag, strap on some boots and head out of the door. It'll be fine, or maybe it wont, but the experience will be worth it regardless. You can take trips quite cheaply if you plan for it, so don't be like me and use the "I have no money" excuse. If you think about your surroundings, next state of your country, your neighboring country, it might not sound as exotic as Aruba, but is no less amazing when you take your time to take it all in, and is indefinitely cheaper. Lastly for the trip put aside phones and distractions and focus on what is around you, and inside you. It'll leave a bigger impact on you than figuring out which is the best picture for Instagram, that you can figure out when you get home. Happy travels!