No matter what the road may bring, it’ll be important to have the right gear. Salopek will be a solo traveler for most of the journey, so he’ll need to pull off the one-man band routine many journalists are now familiar with. But given the breadth of his journey, Salopek told me he wanted to have a kit that would open up new kinds of storytelling possibilities. “I’m looking at the walk as a journalist’s laboratory,” he told me.
In his backpack, Salopek will carry a MacBook Air, a satellite phone, a Sony HXR-NX7OU for video and stills, a GoPro camera, an audio recorder, and a personal GPS tracking device. The GPS will obviously play a role in keeping him on track, but Salopek said he’s also interested in trying to geocode stories along his path. Location-based information could play a role in the online component of the project, allowing Salopek and his media partners to give a deeper sense of place. A story about climate change, for instance, could be enhanced with temperature and geological data. Another idea would be to pull in tweets or updates from other social networks to sample the online conversation in a particular region, Salopek said. “The reason why it excites me is that this project by definition is a global project,” he said. “It goes across borders and languages and cultures. I want people to be able to follow along.”