I often get asked how one can just decide to go hiking and take six months off from regular life. Here is how I did it:

Long term planning:

1. Research
Google, whiteblaze, amazon, google, google, google.

2. Determine expenses and save lots of money
I love mint.com.

3. Arrange for a leave of absence from work (or quit, which is where the money saving comes in)
My company’s LOA website has a surprisingly appropriate graphic of a hiker on a mountain, considering I would assume most leaves are granted for family or medical reasons.

4. Get in shape
Last year I started by signing up for a four mile party run in April and a Tough Mudder in October.

5. Convince family and friends that you will not die or be otherwise grievously injured
Still working on this one. Tips?

Short term planning:

1. Inform work that you do indeed still want to go hiking

2. Pack up apartment and move everything to storage
Also, sell some things on craigslist. I hate to leave my apartment, it’s in a great location and I have a great landlord, but I’m not going to pay for a place I’m not living in.

3. End any other local commitments
I’ve been a Big Sister through BBBS for three years. I can stay in touch with my Little, but not officially through the program. I also have a plot in the community garden in my town. It’s winter so only a few herbs remain. Probably not the best time to transplant them but I want to keep them.

4. Find caretakers for any living things you support
This could be children or pets (although some can be brought with you). In my case, it’s plants. The aforementioned herbs and a few houseplants. My father tried to charge me an herb-tending fee. Denied.

5. Change mailing addresses everywhere
Banks and other financial institutions, insurance, post office, driver’s license, vehicle registrations, etc. I’m sure I’ll still be thinking of places to change my address later.

6. Arrange to lend out vehicles
My parents are taking my car and a friend is taking my motorcycle. Changing the address on my insurance also resulted in a rate change, a decrease in moto and an increase in auto. As I moved them to the same address, that obviously makes perfect sense.

7. Get in shape
I did not do as well on this in the fews months leading up the my hike as I did last year. Oops.

8. Book it
Make arrangements to actually get to the trail. I probably should have done this one already…