Lists · Uncategorized

Summer is Coming

There it is, plain and simple. The winter months are a distant memory, Spring has sprung and is falling, all of which means that Summer is on its way.

This, for me at least, means adventure. I don’t know quite what I intend to do, but I intend to do it. The co-owner of this blog, Nicolai Davis, would make an ideal traveling companion, as we could further develop this blog. Not only that, Nicolai is a pretty kick-ass guy, so I would probably travel with him anyways. But I digress.

The question is, how will we travel? By what means will we get from place to place?

Below are some ideas I have had that I’m sure have already occurred to my fellow travelers. Whether this is the case or not, what is your favorite means of transportation? Here is a list of my ideal transports, starting with the most desirable and ending with the least. Enjoy!

1. An All Wheel Drive vehicle with some tents and whatnot in the back.

This wouldn’t be too difficult, as long as we each got our own tent and had our own separate routines. Of course, gas mileage might be a problem, but if we can somehow work on the road, well, then it’s problem solved.

2. A small car and hotels.

I don’t know how effective any of these methods would be first hand, but if I were to hazard a guess, this would be more expensive than the truck and tents. We may pay less for gas, but we won’t be able to go to hard to reach places, and we’ll be paying to sleep somewhere every night (unless we sleep by the side of the road. I’m not sure if that is a good idea, but experience is the best teacher!)

3. Airplane, rent a car, walk

The pros of this are very obvious, those being that for one, we wouldn’t have to stay in the USA, and for two, even if we did, we could make it much farther in less time. We would have more time to explore, and have less time spent on the road.

However, the cons are just as obvious, if not more so. On this side, the first problem is that we may have to spend more on a plane ticket than we would on the gas to get to where we’re going by car (we’re comparing this idea with the first, so assume there are no hotels involved.) The second would be the abruptness of the change in location. We would have no choice but to be thrown in, rather than taking our time at the outskirts and working slowly towards the center, enjoying all aspects of perspectives of the location. Third and final of the cons is that you miss so much by spending all that time and energy to get to one location in such a short time, rather than enjoying the journey and learning all you can along the way.

 

And those are the ways I would choose to travel! I know there are more ways, and different combinations (e.g. pull an RV, walk, public transport, etc.), but these are the ones I would prefer. How would you like to travel, if you could choose any one way? Tell me in the comments, and I’ll see you next post.

-Thomas

Essays · Uncategorized

Top Gear Style

Jeremy Clarkson. James May. Richard Hammond.

When I say these names, what images come to mind? Flashy cars? Knowledgeable reviews of flashy cars? Ridiculous challenges?

When I hear the names of the former Top Gear hosts, I think of all of this above, of course. However, on a greater level, I think of the trio that inspired me to travel in anyway I could, with my best friends.

Obviously their trips were funded to a greater extent than mine ever could be, what with extras such as car modifications, not paying for their transportation to the start point, and many more besides.

But how they start when they get there, that’s the most important part. In the Africa Special, they are told to find the source of the river Nile in cars that could be bought for less than $2,000. In the Vietnam Special, they cross the entirety of Vietnam on (almost) solely motorcycles and scooters bought for under $1,000. And by god they have fun doing it. After watching them cross Vietnam for the umpteenth time, it hit me that if they could do it, I could do it.

All in all, the orangutan, the hamster, and Captain Slow gave me the inspiration necessary to kick start my recent job search, kick start my employment and, if I’m honest, restart my life.

They showed me the value of pursuing what you love in the name of your career, and showed me the importance of friendship. I intend to pour what they showed me into this blog, and maybe, one day, travel like them.

I’ve been rambling all over the place with this post, so to finish I would just like to say thank you. Say thank you for helping to restart my life.

One more time, thank you. Thank you to Jeremy Clarkson. To James May. And to Richard Hammond.

-Thomas

Essays · Poems · Uncategorized

In Reality, a Passenger

A poem I wrote recently starts like this:

 

Through a rainy night I’m steering…

 

This is just the first line, and it goes on for some time after this line is ended. However, the gist of the poem is that a person, presumably me, is driving through a rainy night to meet the dawn, and not getting any sleep. I don’t mind not getting any sleep, for “night will come another day,” and I meet the dawn.

This situation could be perfectly plausible, except for one fact: It’s from the wrong perspective. I wouldn’t be driving, because I can’t drive, but that wouldn’t matter. Because someone would be driving for me.

I have yet to find someone with which to act out this poem. And I need to.

Whether it be a good friend, many good friends, or even a significant other, I need a travel partner. Someone to drive around while I pay for fuel. Someone to distract me on the long plane ride to Germany when I start to become erratic with my depression. I need a travel companion.

Where did you guys find a companion? Do you travel with your family? Do you road trip with all your friends? Are you and your lover on a cross-country excursion? Where and how did you find your traveling companion? How do you know that they’d be a good fit? I need some help with more experienced travelers, and would not only love the advice, but I’m a sucker for a story.

If anyone shares with me, I thank you in advance, and wish you the best.

Help me find my travel buddy.

-Thomas

 

Here is the full poem, for anyone interested:

 

Through a rainy night I’m steering

Waiting, dreaming, wondering, listening,

For what is past the next sharp bend

What do the signs above portend?

 

My feet go down

To meet the ground

That is the brake and gas

My tires meet

Black concrete street

Exit after exit passed

 

Headlights highlight the white lined highway

The road is straight; The road is my way

A homeless man, but I chose it

And my front door never closes

 

Headlights on until the dawn

I stop to eat, and stretch, and yawn

I should have slept this night away

But night will come another day

So I get back into the car

And drive, I’ll say, drive very far

 

The rain has stopped

The sun is up

On the gas I will let up

For what is the point of traveling

If you’re going too fast to see or be seen?

Essays · free travel · Uncategorized

Meta Analysis: Free Travel

Free travel is the dream of, well, it’s the dream. To go where you want, when you want, for no cost whatsoever. Before attempting this seemingly impossible (but entirely the opposite) feat, you would want to do some research on just how to go about traveling for free.

I’m here today to save you a little time with something that is, in social sciences, called a “meta analysis.” I have taken information from several well known blogs and compiled it for you below. Summarizing summaries. Researching research.

What I hope to give you is  condensed information, letting you know what you need to know in half the time.


How to travel for free (or cheap)

According to Great Big Scary World, you need five things for basic survival:

  • Air
  • Water
  • Food
  • Sleep
  • Health

While the final one is pretty vague (though will be explained), you do need all of these to basically function. Let’s begin with:

  1. Air

Air is free. Air is everywhere except for underwater and in space. If you need air, breathe. If that doesn’t work, you’re probably dead.

2. Water

In an emergency, almost all water is better than no water. However, clean water is desirable. Accessing clean water is easy enough. You can always simply go inside a building and find some water fountains, should they have them. These are also found at parks. As a last resort, you can drink from rivers or lakes. However, not mentioned by Great Big Scary World is this tip: Drink from moving water sources, like a stream or river. Bacteria doesn’t congregate as easily in moving water vs. still water.

Tip: Carry water bottles to contain what fresh water you can find

3. Food

Matador NetworkEarth Porm, and Great Big Scary World, among many, many others, suggest dumpster diving for food. Each one says that once you get out of the United States, it is easy to attain food using this method. Many smaller shops and gas stations take the perfectly edible food that has not sold that day, and throw it away. That’s basically a giant sign saying “free food” to anyone willing to search a little bit.

Other tips from the above blogs and Nomadic Matt include hoping (but never asking for or expecting) that eating opportunities come along as you hitchhike; If you are offered food, always be gracious and grateful, whether you decline or accept (both are perfectly valid).

Another idea would be to work for your food. This can range anywhere between volunteering in exchange for room and board, to learning a skill useful in a worldly sense in order to busk (street perform) or work, as maybe a bartender or waiter/waitress.

Not addressed in any of the blogs is whether or not you can simply wander into a restaurant and ask for food. I will do a poll of the restaurants in my immediate area to see how the idea is generally accepted, and report back to you.

The final extreme, suggested by Great Big Scary World, is to live on pure carbohydrates, including bread and instant noodles. This is not desirable, and most likely not enjoyable, but will get you through a journey with plenty of energy. just make sure you add in some fiber and whatnot here and there.

4. Sleep

Of the six blogs that I researched (Earth PormHuffington PostThis American GirlGreat Big Scary WorldNomadic Matt, & Matador Network), not a single one failed to mention, in some capacity, Couchsurfing. Couchsurfing is a website that matches users with other users, all in the name of finding a place to stay. You simply create an account, search for the area you intend to travel to or the area you live in, and find people to host or to stay with. Completely for free! Of course, it would show gratitude and be polite to at least help around the house a little bit, but in the end, is not necessary. If you’re a dick.

All of the above blogs also mentioned free-camping, the simple act of camping…for free. Anywhere where the ground is flat. Away from the side of the road, preferably, just to sleep better and not look suspicious. Check the laws of the land that you are in, make sure that free-camping is legal. If it is, you’re in. If it isn’t, sleep under the stars! Just hope it doesn’t rain.

Of course, there are hostels, which aren’t necessarily free, but are in every way cheaper than a hotel. And truth be told, hostels can be free, if you, like mentioned above in the “food” section, work for it.

5. Health

Great Big Scary World is one of the few that mentions anything about maintaining your health. This is through one indispensable investment called “travel insurance.” This spending will kind of ruin the fun of your “no money trip” for a while, until you break your leg falling down a hill, or get pneumonia, and you won’t have to pay your thousands of dollars worth of hospital bills in full; All thanks to your travel insurance. In the end, it’s going to save you money and give you peace of mind.

The article on Matador Network, found here, is all about mental health. If you were to read one article of the ones I have read (Earth PormHuffington PostThis American GirlGreat Big Scary WorldNomadic MattMatador Network), I would suggest This American Girl and Matador Network the highest. The final tip of the latter is,quite beautifully, to simply “embrace serendipity.” I just love that.


 

Other miscellaneous tips from the above blogs are to work over seas, work as an au pair, bartender, hostel worker, tour guide, waiter/waitress, cruise ship worker, yacht worker, ski instructor, yoga instructor, and ESL (English as a second language) teacher.

Or, if you have the money to get there and back again, but not so much to stay, volunteer with WWOOF, for room and board in exchange for farm labor. The Peace Corps, Volunteer HQGVI, and many, many more (just google volunteer opportunities abroad).


 

I hope you find this article insightful and helpful, and hopefully it saved you the time you could be using to plan your next trip. Did the information given leave any questions you might have had unanswered? Leave them in the comments below, and thank you for reading. I hope to see you back here soon!

-Thomas

Essays · Uncategorized

Practice & Patience

The sum total of my first paycheck was 178.95$, meaning I am less than 100$ short of a plane ticket to London. I’d have to leave in the fall, as Norwegian Air must often (always) be booked several months in advance due to their low prices, but the only meaningful conclusion to draw from that is that I can save more money and plan my trip better. Maybe even go to several places, who knows?

But my point is this: Patience, used in earnest and where needed, will always pay off. It has for me, at least.

Up until recently, I was under the impression that I would travel the world with no experience and no money. I was told this was everything from “Unrealistic” to “Stupid.” Hindsight is 20-20, and looking back shows me how foolish it was to think I could live such a minimalist lifestyle.

I am not and never will be saying that travelling without money is stupid or foolish. However, with no experience? That’s like preparing food made by a master chef after only watching her once. You can read about her techniques, you can watch tutorials on how to prepare the dish, but until you have completed it to perfection as many times as necessary, something is going to fail, and you’re going to fall.

Practice.

Patience.

Apply these to your travel plans, or life plans, or life in general, and you will succeed. I’m not saying you won’t fail. Even masters fail sometimes. But, when it counts, you’ll fail far fewer times if you apply practice and patience.

-Thomas

Essays · Uncategorized

My Front Door Never Closes

To be a man of the road is to host the entire world in your house; For the world is your house.

To be a man of the road is to pay rent to the entire world; For you are in the world’s house.

And so on it goes, until we reach a universe level. With this level comes a saying. Many sayings, actually, but this quote from Winston Churchill sums them up pretty well:

“We make a living by what we get, we make a life by what we give.”

I’ve been contemplating lately what it would mean to travel with as much frugality as I would like. Without the necessary funds or resources of my own, I would have to trade with someone along the way for these resources. This already happens literally every second in the modern world: It’s called working.

I have a job, and have had a job, so I have no problem with this. What I have a problem with is that no line of work pays well enough (except for travel journalism/blogging) to let you work and travel. You can volunteer, yes, and that’s wonderful. But it’s not sustainable for a single person, not without a job or intricate pay cycle-scheme-thing. Or so one thinks.

I know pretty much everyone in my life doesn’t believe that you can travel sustainably without money. Well, I have one answer for them: Be a volunteer for the world. You don’t have to go on websites or get official approval to work for another person. To help others in need, or those who just need a little help.

Pay rent to the world, and the world will provide a home: Itself.

 

Essays · Uncategorized

When You Were Young…

I felt it when I was four, I felt it when I was six, I felt it all throughout my life. Until I turned twelve or so, and I stopped feeling this feeling. Why? What did I feel? I felt wonder at traveling without known plans. Of course, there were plans, I just didn’t know about them, and assumed we (my family) were just going to wing it.

I no longer felt it when I knew where I was going.

Not in the sense that I had a definite destination, but that I knew exactly what I was going to do when I got there, who I was going to meet, when and where I was going to meet them, etc. There was no longer a sense of mystery about my trip.

I still had fun. I had a blast, and did all kinds of different things. But my days were still divvied up into itineraries.

I have yet to experience this feeling in my older years, but I intend to. By god I intend to.

I’ve been doing research on traveling without money. You can read some of the articles I have read herehere, and here (this one is a video).

Of course, there is no way to travel without money exchanging hands at some point. Someone has paid for something somewhere along the way, even if that someone isn’t you. This is better explained in the first article above.

But from that same article, I learned that little to no money can touch your hands, and you can still travel the world. That’s right. The world. All of it (disclaimer: most. You know, war and whatnot).

I love the concept of travelling without money. The thing that makes the world go ’round, and you need none of it.

Some/most people will scoff at the idea and be alarmed at the methods. Such as methods of transportation; Well, you hitchhike. You can also bike, or even walk if you prefer. If, by using these latter methods, you can manage to avoid human interaction at this phase, good on you.

However, what about a sleeping arrangement, or shelter? Unless you have a tent, you’re going to have to ask and/or work in order to stay in someone’s house, a hostel, a shelter, or similar place. But if you do have a tent, anti-sociality for the win again!

Now we come to food and water. You can dumpster dive in the back of grocery stores, of course. That is a very popular way to obtain sustenance while on the road without any money, as most of the food is still edible. You can work for your food, or you can even ask for it outright (this isn’t a preferred method in the traveler’s community, especially if the person you ask has to pay for it).

It’s a hard life, and what with the constant interaction with others, the hitchhiking, the dumpster diving (maybe), it can turn away many, many people. For me, I see it as a grand adventure. I want to struggle. I want to meet new friends in unexpected places.

Some people may say that you might as well be homeless. I say to them, that’s the point.

I hope I can travel like this soon. And I know that, eventually, I will. I know it. And you can too.

Would you travel without money? Comment below, and thanks for reading!

 

-Thomas