For those of you who don’t know me in person, you have no idea about the depth of planning I can get to. Mostly proactive planning, because I like my trips to roll pretty smoothly. Who doesn’t, right? See, I’m a pretty tense person in my daily life, but I’m generally (barring one or two epic meltdowns in an average month away) a very chill traveler. I think it’s because I surrender myself to the knowledge that I can’t control anything other than my attitude. I don’t know the language, I can’t control the things that just pop up, and really, part of the joy of traveling is just going with it.

You know what I’ve learned over 7 years of third world travel? Hydration is my friend. I need to drink large quantities of fluid when it’s hot, dry, or when I’m working out. Judging by the ongoing similarities in the weather from Ottawa to northern Spain, I’m not fussed about hot or dry, but walking 20-30kms a day is really working out.

However, my core instinct on a public trail that often runs near or on a road is to limit my fluid intake. Why? Where the heck are you going to pee? Where? I have lots of funny peeing on the side of the road stories, mostly about Namibia, where I wouldn’t see another car all day until I had my pants down and my white butt flapping in the breeze, which let’s face it, scarred me for life. This happened to me in Utah as well, but on a trail. Also, a snake. I don’t want to go there, but it’s enough for you to know that I really am not fond of snakes and it’s true that something can scare the piss right out of you.

No worries, you say, just drink less and chew more gum. Except! (There’s always an except with me. It’s much nicer as a word than “but”.) When I was in Jordan, it was hot and dry and I limited my fluid intake because there was nowhere to pee in Petra or Wadi Rum and you know what happened? Raging kidney infection. So bad I had to get an injection of antibiotics. (Side note: a doc came to the hotel, did an exam, took some urine, brought it back to the lab, and came back with drugs and the whole thing only cost me $70. Nice.)

So, hydration. I have to drink. Drinking isn’t negotiable. There should be a village about every 90-150 minutes, and I have a 1.5 litre Camelback water pouch with me, and it’ll be my goal to fill it every time I stop. I love the Camelback – I’ve been them since the Grand Canyon in 2002, and they’re awesome. If you don’t hike or bike, you may have no clue what I’m talking about. Essentially, it’s a water reservoir/pouch with a long tube/straw coming out of it. The pouch goes in your pack and there’s a hole for the tube, which attaches to your backpack strap (if you look really closely at the picture at the top of the page, you can see something blue hanging off my pack onto my jacket – that’s the tube). You bite down on the tube and suck and voila! Water.

Or…

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Rehydration fluids. Those three colourful tubes each have 12 rehydration tabs in them (I believe the brand is NUUN). Just like gatorade, they flavour your water. Unlike gatorade, they have very little sugar (and only 8 calories). Perhaps most importantly for me, they’re a little salty. (My mother’s face just twisted into sucking on a lemon proportions.)

Why is a little salty critical for me? Because it means I’ll drink more. And drinking more is the end objective, even if it means I’m peeing in places I really really shouldn’t. So, my plan is to start my day with a Nuun and refill with water twice. With any luck, I’ll be drinking about 6l a day and won’t have to worry about the joy of the Spanish medical system. Cause I have a sneaking suspicion it’s going to be a LOT more expensive than Jordan.

Water! Salt! Sweat! Bring it on. (I know, you’re dying to see the sweat/salt tshirt photos. Stay tuned.)

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