Some of you who have stumbled upon my blog have asked me how it is I am able to do what I am doing. Living on the road for months at a time is not simple, but with a little planning, you can do it too!
I have posted some tips previously on how I did it, but I will also mention some other tid bits that might help get you started...or at least thinking if it's the right thing for you.
For any solo journey that takes you away from your current comfortable environment, here are a few things to prepare for:
It's a big step to leave the comforts of home to go out on the open road or to a foreign land. Be aware that your journey isn't "home." You will have to adjust to doing things differently...fast. You might have to miss a shower, eat food you are not used to, learn a new language, new customs, etc.
In order to enjoy yourself, you will have to be flexible to all situations that come your way. It's easy to think..."ah, I am flexible!"...but until you find yourself in a situation you didn't plan for, that is when you will know. Things won't always go your way.
Remember to eat and sleep. These two things will be a huge factor in doing this for the long haul, for me at least. I know my brain starts to go a bit crazy if I skip meals or don't get enough sleep. Keep exploring and stay curious. That will keep your mind working and not focused on the negative.
Forget what things look like or who makes them. Pay more attention to the function. Does it work? Perfect. That's all. If you are unsure of what to pack...lay all of your things out at once and take half of what you think you will need.
I took two bags of clothes. One for cool weather and one for hot weather. I wore one pair of shorts most of the time, 2 pairs of Capri's and about 3 pairs of jeans. Daily shoes were sandals. I mixed up tshirts and as you can see, wore the same black puffy vest the entire way. It held my camera in a small pocket so it came in handy when I didn't want to lug a bag around.
Nobody cares how you look. They will never see you again so as far as they are concerned, you look great. Also, if you are a woman...ditch the makeup. Pack like a guy. Soap, shampoo, sunscreen, lip balm, done. You think you will need a dress? You won't. If you are packing heels, this might not be the trip for you. If you miss looking through your newest pottery barn catalog to see the newest table top settings, it's best to stay home.
As much as you move to stay busy and the brain active, there will be some down time. Before your trip, write down some things that you want to get out of the experience. Is is learning more about yourself? Visit a place you dreamed of ever since you can remember? Climb the highest peak? Write this down so you can remember why you are doing what it is you are doing. There will be times of question, but referring to your personal guide will keep you on track.
Remember, this is YOUR time. Don't do something because it's something that others think is cool...this is a commitment to what you want to do. If your goal is to explore and see where that takes you, then that is your goal. It doesn't have to be big, it just has to make sense to you.
How long do you want to be on your journey? Forever sounds nice but it's not realistic. You will see in the last paragraph that the time you allow yourself has a lot to do with financial limitations, or life limitations. If you have children or a partner, your time may be limited. It's a good idea to map out how much time you have so you can choose a journey that best suits you for how long you have to explore.
I've said it before but if you have a hard time being alone, this is not the trip for you. You will be alone. Everyday. You will be alone with your thoughts. This can be a good thing or a bad thing. Remember, nobody knows you so you can be whoever you want to be. It's a good idea to be around people sometimes to get human contact. Once I didn't talk for 3 days and when someone finally said hello to me I was like, "mahoowh." Don't lose your voice.
Keep your lifeline alive. Call friends once in a while. See how the world you left behind is doing while you are away exploring a new world. It might be just the thing to energize you and help you continue on your journey. Also, it's ok to feel lonely, tired, drained, and exhausted. You will feel all of this during the course of your trip. It's good to feel. Let it happen. You are human.
It takes strength mentally and physically. You will not be on your usual diet so being open to eating different things is a plus. Remember, the comforts of home do not apply anymore. I don't eat mammals so sometimes it's difficult to find something that I can eat. I know there is always something to snack on. Keep a first aid kit with all of the stomach things you will need.
Remember to move around. If you are in the car all day, be sure to stop on a trail to walk some. Not being active will take a toll. Be sure to make it part of your day, everyday.
Ah...what everyone wants to know. How much will it cost? Of course it depends on the length and what you plan to do. At the beginning, I camped so that was around $20 a day (give or take), you factor about $30 a day for food and factor in how much gas is and where you want to go. I would say that you might spend $100 a day. Of course, it will go up if you stay at a motel, or go down if you live in a van and park it on a residential street.
On really cold nights, I stayed at Motel 6 because Max couldn't stand the cold (yes, I will blame it on him). They are pet friendly and cost about $35 dollars on average a night. That is about the same for a fancy hook up site if you had a big rig. Some nights, it was worth every penny. You will see what I mean when you haven't taken a shower in several days and the warmth of a sleeping bag on the floor isn't as thrilling as it once was.
So, add up your expenses for traveling as well as the costs you have if you decide to keep your home base. For me, I rented my home while I traveled, which was a lifesaver, financially. I have all of my bills paid online which I would recommend.
Are you going to make the leap? Remember, nothing is permanent so you could always go back to what you were doing before. I have a feeling you won't. Go for it! I look forward to hearing about your journey. Thank you for being a part of mine.
A bigger THANK YOU if you become a fan of my photographs on facebook. This was my little personal goal on my trip...taking pictures. I hope to be able to sell images of the USA through my eyes soon. I will keep you posted on the fan page.