TIPS FOR THE OUTER WAY
- It's better to under-pack than over-pack - if you truly need an item, you can buy it along the way.
- Buy maps as you need them, so you don't have to carry the extra weight.
- Drink at least two liters of water a day so your muscles don't stiffen up.
- Try to carry 500 milliliters of water, but no more than 1 liter. Remember it's all extra weight. Buy water along the way, or ask people to fill your bottle. With the exception of Albania and Turkey, we drank water directly from the taps. We had no problems but we recommend either bottled water or water treatment tablets to purify your water.
- Carry chocolate, dried fruit, seeds or nuts for a snack. Keep food away from the heat and in plastic bags (especially chocolate!). Don't carry a lot of food. Buy it and eat it when you arrive. Even the smallest village will usually have a grocery store with bread and cheese.
- A good shampoo or gel can be used to clean your body and your clothes. Bring a small quantity, about 500ml maximum. Keep it, and all liquids, in plastic bags.
- Plan to finish walking before nightfall, which in the winter is usually around 5:00 p.m. In the dark, people are usually more cautious and may be less willing to help. In the summer, try to start walking as early as possible, preferably at dawn, to avoid the heat.
- A walking stick will help you walk in mountainous or uneven, rocky terrain. It will also give you rhythm as you walk. We found our sticks in fields along the way, but you can buy yours before you begin your journey.
- For Mony especially, blisters and skin irritations and infections were a problem. Items made of light-weight natural materials helped alleviate, but not eliminate, the problem. They allowed her skin to breathe and the sweat to dissipate rather than remain trapped against her body. She wore cotton shirts, wool socks and leather boots. Alberto wore cotton socks and shirts, and preferred Gore-Tex boots.
- Iodine, needle and thread are a great remedy for blisters. Thread the needle and soak it in iodine. With the iodine-soaked needle, puncture one end of the blister and pull it out at another end, leaving the iodine-soaked thread inside. This allows the liquid to drain out of the blister while keeping it disinfected. It sounds painful, but it's only mildly uncomfortable. A good overnight rest should have you back on your feet the next day. You can pull the threads out, but they will usually fall off when the blisters have healed. Mony demonstrates this procedure in the documentary Las Peregrinas.
- Baby powder on your feet will keep them dry and relatively blister-free. There are many blister remedies including rubbing your feet with Vaseline and Vicks VapoRub. Mony has tried them all, but the baby powder, combined with wool socks, worked best for her. As with all remedies, you have to try various ones to see which works best for you.
- Mony carried her Canadian passport for identification while Alberto carried his Spanish passport. They were sufficient at all borders.
- Any visitor visas that we needed to purchase were easily acquired at the border, with the exception of Syria. We recommend getting your Syrian visa before you leave your country.
- For now, once you get an Israeli stamp in your passport, you cannot enter any Arab country. The exceptions are Egypt and Jordan because these countries have peace treaties with Israel. If you afterwards plan to travel in the Middle East, we recommend asking the Israeli authorities to stamp a piece of paper that you then insert into your passport.
- Mony only carried a Visa credit card and her Canadian bank's debit card. The debit card supported the "Plus" system, and with it, she was able to withdraw money from most automated bank machines in every country. Keep in mind that most people (outside of international business chains) prefer to deal in cash and if you do use a credit card, you will most likely be charged a premium. Walking in Europe, most countries will accept the Euro, so it's always good to have some on hand. We never carried more than 100 Euros in cash. In the Middle East, the US Dollar is more readily accepted.
- If you're walking with a spiritual purpose, you are a pilgrim, and so can try asking for help at churches, monasteries, mosques and spiritual centers. We found the Franciscan monasteries especially helpful. Many offer accommodations, and in the spirit of Franciscan brotherhood, will often share their meal. When asking a priest for help, keep in mind they have no obligation to help you. If they decide to do so, they will typically not invite you into their private residence. If they have accommodations, it will be in the church hall or some building affiliated with the church. In the winter, it's usually unheated and without hot water. In those situations, we usually slept on the floors, on tables, and even chairs lined-up to form a bed.
- We found the Muslim countries most welcoming and hospitable. It is an in-bred part of their tradition. In Syria especially, we had daily invitations to stay and eat in peoples' homes, and most restaurants offered at least our drinks for free - all for being guests in their country.