What equipment do you use?
I shoot with the Sony Alpha a7s and use predominantly 3 lenses: FE/4 24-70 lens, f/4 10-18 lens, and the FE/4 70-200 lens. I also use a GoPro for shooting on the motorcycle or in the water.
How do you make money while you travel?
When I was younger, I would work for a year or so, then take a year off, but now I work full-time remotely. I’m a freelance art director with clients in the US, as well as a freelance writer— for my own brand Lone Rucksack as well as other companies, including HelloGiggles. (You can read more about that here, in my bio section.) If that isn’t enough, I also work as a photographer. I love digital storytelling, so at any moment of the day if I’m not asleep, I’ll be working on something, whether it’s a story or photo or design project. Ultimately, I have a lot of years logged in my field, working with many different companies, and I work very hard at what I do.
But, I also spend very little. I’m a minimalist, I don’t agree with consumer culture, and only have a small closet-sized storage unit in the US for anything I can’t take while I’m traveling (my bicycle, books, important papers, extra gear, etc.). I stop there every now and again to swap out gear. I don’t buy clothes or jewelry or entertainment— I bike everywhere and don’t replace anything until it breaks and can’t be fixed. When I was younger, I was horrified to see how much of my money was going to insurance and car payments, house payments, cable and heat, entertainment and cocktails and impulse purchases. I found by traveling full-time and minimizing my expenses, I had a much more fulfilling life.
There’s not a set formula for working remotely— save finding happiness in less, being driven by experiences not things, and working really hard for these goals. Find the joy in what makes you wildly happy, even if that means taking a risk, even if it means venturing out with a pocketful of money and learning how to make it work.
Aren’t you afraid of traveling alone?
No. Fear of being alone, as well as the fear of traveling alone as a woman, are things culturally taught— they’re not inherent. There’s no point in being afraid of the world, of things that may happen— so head to the mountains my friend, and spend the night alone. It may seem strange and a little scary at first, but I promise if you do it again and again and again, soon you’ll feel nothing but peace, and the fear will be gone.
How do you plan for these trips?
Depending on the type of trip, planning is definitely a lot of work. To have a successful trip takes some thought about what you’re going to need on the road— especially on a motorcycle trip. Replacement parts, maintenance, camera equipment, route planning, maps, timeframe, budget— all these things need to be taken into consideration when planning. I have multiple spreadsheets for travel, and am constantly making notes and doing research before, during, and after a trip. Here are a few posts on what to pack for a long backpacking trip, and what kinds of gear to pack for cold weather.
Sites like the ones below can be very helpful in determining what type of gear to bring and what kinds of situations may be faced in country.
- CIA Factbook
Checking in-country info like water quality, political climate, and border issues. (Keep in mind the travel warnings aren’t always accurate.)
Map app that has detailed notes on where to find wild camping spots, wifi access, and more.
Offline maps app, great for walking around towns or using for directions on a motorcycle tour. Be sure to download the maps of the areas/countries you need before hopping off wifi!
How do you plan your budget?
Planning a budget can be hard on a big trip, it took me a long time to be disciplined and spent a set amount of money per day. I plan roughly how much a trip will cost or how much money I’ll have to spend, and divide it by the number of days be traveling to find my daily budget. $7,000 on a 5 month trip is roughly $46 a day (but from that amount, you might have to subtract airfare or any gear purchases you’ll need before the trip). You can then take your daily budget and see how realistic it is for where you’re traveling— $10 a day probably isn’t realistic for France, unless you’re wild camping and making every meal for yourself. Check the cost of hostels, transportation, the price of restaurants and food, to get a realistic idea on what you’d be spending every day. Add in padding for transportation, health insurance, activities or additional expenses, like mechanical issues or parts if you’re on a bicycle or motorcycle trip, or even a trip to the doctor.
For my cycling trip across Europe, my budget was $20 a day. Some areas and countries were more expensive, so I ended up Couchsurfing all of France to make up for the expense, and wild camping a lot in Eastern Europe. If this lifestyle is what you want, you need to be willing to do whatever it takes to make it happen, and be flexible.
Do you use health insurance?
When I travel, I like to use World Nomads, who have plans to cover extreme sport activities like white water rafting or climbing. Sometimes, depending on the nature of the trip, I go without coverage. Many, many places in the world have access to affordable health care, and sometimes insurance is an unnecessary expense. Last year I became very sick in Ecuador, and had to visit the hospital down the street. The blood work, several hour stay in the hospital, medication, and IV drip only cost around $10 USD— significantly less than health insurance. It’s a choice everyone has to make for themselves— so do your research!
Where do you find all your quotes?
I read A LOT, and never have any less than 3 notebooks on me at one time, filled with quotes and notes.
What are you afraid of?
Wearing high heels down a cobblestone street— I saw this a lot in Europe and the thought terrifies me.
When you’re traveling, is it a problem if you don’t speak the language?
Not at all, communication involves a lot more than just words. I speak Spanish and English, and between these two and my expressive nature, I get around just fine. If this is something you’re worried about, there are tons of travel picture books you can bring and apps on your phone to help communicate.
Do you carry a weapon with you?
There’s no point in being afraid of the world— fear is a negative emotion, and should have no part in planning. However, many times I do carry bear mace on me when I travel. I go to some sketchy places, and though I’ve never once had to use it, it’s nice sometimes to have a giant can of mace close by. I once had someone ask, “Wow, you must see a lot of bears when you travel!”. *ahem. Yes. Yes I do.