FAQs

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.

Where do you get 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.

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 run a Design Studio called Hazard House and work from the road full-time, as well as working 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 freelance 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.

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 that are culturally taught— it’s 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.

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.)
https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/

iOverlander
Map app that has detailed notes on where to find wild camping spots, wifi access, and more.
http://ioverlander.com/

Maps.me
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!
http://maps.me/en/home

When you’re traveling, is it a problem if you don’t speak the language?
Not at all, communication is a lot more than words. I speak Spanish and English, and between these two, I get around just fine.

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, 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.

 “If you strike me down, I shall become more powerful than you can possibly imagine.” — Obi-Wan Kenobi⁣ ⁣ I wasn’t going to make note of today, but successes deserve a little note (and Star Wars quotes, obviously). One year ago today I left this wheelchair behind and started toward a new life, built a new business, and moved to Colombia. Life is full of such incredible transformations and sometimes desperate luck. Surviving a 65 mph crash last year in Honduras feels like a lifetime ago now, like it happened to someone else, even though every day I’m reminded of it in some way. I don’t have a lot of photos from that time, and the ones I do have are pretty tame, but here are a few visuals as a cheers and note to the things we overcome, whatever they may be.  “Yes, often, I am reminded of her, and in one of my vast array of pockets, I have kept her story to retell. It is one of the small legion I carry, each one extraordinary in its own right. Each one an attempt— an immense leap of an attempt— to prove to me that you, and your human existence, are worth it.⁣ ⁣ Here it is. One of a handful.⁣ ⁣ If you feel like it, come with me. I will tell you a story.⁣ ⁣ I’ll show you something.”⁣ —Markus Zusak⁣ ⁣ I ran out of gas yesterday in the desert, a stretch of highway so vast, distant oncoming vehicles looked like mirages in the afternoon heat, their headlights shimmering and flickering like flames. So many of the small towns along the way in Peru weren’t marked on my map, so I assumed this 3 hour stretch would be the same. Over an hour and a half from the nearest town in either direction, my gas light came on, and there was nothing but desert. I estimated I had about 30 kilometers to go before stalling out, and scanned the horizon hoping for something. Sparse trees and pale yellow sand stretched in every direction so far it almost looked like I was nearing the sea, the sand blurring to a pale blue as it met the sky in the distance— just another mirage. ⁣20 kilometers to go. 10. ⁣ All of a sudden, a tiny house came into view, almost hidden in the dusty sand. I quickly slowed and pulled onto the flat space in front where a group of five men were just sitting down to lunch. Just a second, they told me in Spanish, yes we have gasoline. I did a little dance while a woman came out of the house with a large funnel and huge plastic jug of yellow gas.  “I'm a seeker too. But my dreams aren't like yours. I can't help thinking that somewhere in the universe there has to be something better... Has to be.” ⁣ —Planet of the Apes⁣  “Trust me, though, the words were on their way, and when they arrived, Liesel would hold them in her hands like the clouds, and she would wring them out like rain.” ⁣―Markus Zusak⁣ ⁣ No matter what’s going on in my life, I know I can always pack a bag the same way with the same things and head out to the woods to sleep under the stars for the wild perspective no matter how big things feel, they’re nothing— and I’m nothing— to the infinite sky. I can lie there and feel small, the kind of small that feels hidden instead of invisible, the darkness like an old sweater.  “Write your story as it needs to be written. Write it honestly and tell it as best you can. I'm not sure that there are any other rules. Not ones that matter.” ―Neil Gaiman  “The freedom to make my own mistakes was all I ever wanted.”⁣ —Mance Rayder⁣ ⁣ If you look closely, that bit of orange and black on the front of the sailboat is my motorcycle.  “You have no idea now what you will become. Don’t try and control it. Let go.” —The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel  “Your opinions about me does not change who I am.” ―Lailah Gifty Akita  Courage is like — it’s a habitus, a habit, a virtue: you get it by courageous acts. It’s like you learn to swim by swimming. You learn courage by couraging. —Marie M. Daly  “Fear kills everything," Mo had once told her. "Your mind, your heart, your imagination.” ―Cornelia Funke
 “Most of the time, our fight is all about saving us from ourselves.”-Ashkay Vasu  “So many … risk so little, they spend their lives avoiding danger. I’d risk everything to get what I want.”⁣ —Game of Thrones⁣ ⁣ For all the women who’ve had to endure ‘go back to the kitchen and make me a sandwich’ jokes. For all the women who’ve ever had a man crawl into their bed in the middle of the night in a hostel dormitory. For all the women riding motorcycles who’ve had to endure monologues from men with less experience who’ve decided to place themselves in the role of instructor. For all of the women who’ve been told it’s not safe to sleep outside alone— for all the women who’ve been told ‘it’s not safe’ by people who continue to prop up misogynist cultural norms and men that continue to make it so. For all the women who have been followed home, trolled online, and shouted at walking down the street. For all the women who’ve been told ‘he’s harmless’ to invalidate their experiences. For all the girls who have been told to stay silent, and haven’t been protected by older women. For all the women with male family members and male friends who couldn’t be bothered with the Women’s March, or the Kavanaugh hearings, because it doesn’t directly affect them. ⁣ ⁣ For all the women— I stand with you. ⁣ #KavanuaghHearings #YesAllWomen #BelieveWomen #MeToo #TimesUp  “The heart was made to be broken.” ⁣ ―Oscar Wilde⁣ ⁣ (Finally!) link to the latest post in bio— on re-starting #FindingFitzRoy post accident, and hitting the road again from Honduras after to fixing my motorcycle just as the violence began to erupt in Nicaragua.  “It is the same woman, I know, for she is always creeping, and most women do not creep by daylight.” ⁣ ― Charlotte Perkins Gilman⁣ ⁣ Is it really as backpacking trip if you aren’t carrying a campfire on your back miles through the wilderness? Photo by @_mallorybenedict Words by @lonerucksack  “If you start pushing the edge, eventually, you find the edge.” —Free Solo  You must learn one thing.⁣ The world was made to be free in.⁣ ⁣ Give up all the other worlds⁣ except the one to which you belong.⁣ ⁣ Sometimes it takes darkness and the sweet⁣ confinement of your aloneness⁣ to learn⁣ ⁣ anything or anyone⁣ that does not bring you alive⁣ ⁣ is too small for you.⁣ —David Whyte⁣ ⁣ Weeks ago, I was riding from northern Colombia to Medellin— a grueling ten hours on the bike. Five hours in, thunderclouds darkened the sky above on a remote section of the two-lane road. The wind picked up and started to blow my bike around the road, and soon raindrops were pelting my helmet making it hard to see. I quickly turned down a tiny gravel road to my left, and pulled the bike under an enormous tree and ran for what looked like an abandoned hotel with an awning. In a far corner there was a man sitting in a white plastic chair watching a TV mounted on the wall. He casually waved me over, like I wasn’t a gringa who just showed up out of nowhere soaking wet. We sat there together for an hour silently watching TV, and when the rain let up, we nodded to each other, and I continued down the road.⁣  “In the light, we read the inventions of others; in the darkness we invent our own stories.” ―Alberto Manguel ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ I thought about every adventure story I had ever read about the sea— about deserted islands and storms and the sound of creaking ropes in the darkness. I thought about portholes and sharks and coconuts and what it would feel like to glide through the water towards the islands. I thought about my motorcycle strapped to the deck of the ship and what it would feel like to arrive in Colombia, but mostly I watched as the early morning light colored the island.  “Basically, I have been compelled by curiosity.” —Mary Leakey  “We will not die cornered and cowering in the ruins of a dead city.” ― Rachel L. Schade
©2017 Lone Rucksack