I don't really know whether this is the right thread for this post, but my intention is to make so kind of list of useful things for people how attempt to walk (part of) the silk road. I guess most of it will be of use for cyclists as well since in my opinion the only real difference between cycling and walking is the speed. Furthermore most travel issues will be similar I guess.
For an introduction I'd like to say I did my trip in 2015/2016, about 17 months in total. I walked through Turkey, Georgia, Azerbaijan, Iran, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan. (I crossed Turkmenistan by car) After that I tried to get to China but didn't get a visa and as an alternative continued my trip walking through South Korea and Taiwan.
First and most important thing for me was planning. A 45 day visa for Tajikistan might seem like a long time, but when you're trying to cross on foot following the Pamir Highway it is really short. Those visa periods are a given however. You know beforehand how much time you're going to have you planning accordingly is possible. With those visa periods in mind I tried to plan my trip in such a way that I would be in the heart of Central Asia, i.e. Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan in the middle of summer. In my opinion this was the only possible time for crossing those countries on foot. I know of some die hard cyclists doing the Pamir Highway in the middle of winter but this just wasn't an option. Basically I now had two conditions and started moving around with dates in an excel file trying to match the weather with the visa requirements. This took some time, but ultimately proved very worthwhile when I was on the road.
All this doesn't mean I didn't have any flexibility left in my trip. The only real thing I planned was the days I wanted to enter and leave all the countries on my trip (and even this changed when I was on the road, but only marginally). Then there was of course the problem of obtaining visa. Since I traveled for such a long time I needed to get most of them on the road. Also this was part of the planning I made beforehand. That is, I knew where I wanted to get my visa, and where I hoped to get the necessary extensions. This site was of great help for this and I have to say that except for the Chinese visa which I never got everything else went incredibly smoothly.
The general advise on luggage is of course to travel light and this is even more the case when you are walking. Anyone who is thinking about attempting something similar I can strongly recommend buying a walking trailer. I don't know if I'm allowed to say this but I got mine at a small Dutch company (https://www.radicaldesign.com/walking-trailers/wheelie-walking-trailers.html
) and I was really happy with it. Carrying luggage on two wheels instead of on my back was very comfortable. Never had any back problems and just could take a little bit more luggage.
Camping is of course "allowed" everywhere, but I made it a best practice to always ask permission if I was anywhere near a house. This made for load of great encounters with friendly locals as well. Since I didn't make that many kilometers I day I often ended up in all kinds of small villages and usually the best way of finding a place to sleep turned out heading for the local shop. They would point me at a tiny "hotel", a place at a mosque, a fire station, in Iran a red crescent building or just some spot to pitch a tent. Just as often someone would offer a place in his house. People all along the way turned out to be incredibly hospitable.
Since on foot you get to areas where not very many tourists go and most people just don't happen to speak Dutch (or English) I found it very useful to learn some (very) basic Turkish in Istanbul where I started my trip. Just some basics is enough. Most people you meet want to know where you're from, how old you are, where you're going and whether you have a family. As soon as you start understanding those questions and know how to answer them you can have at least some basic conversation over the countless cups of tea you probably get offered. The good thing about learning Turkish is that it is useful in a lot of other countries on the silk road as well. Later on it also pays of to learn the same expressions in Russian but it is always nice if you can surprise some Kyrgyz people by answering in (something resembling) their own language instead of Russian.
I probably forgot quite a few things now so if I come up with something else I will post more.