After making the decision to resign from my job, sell my house, drive from Virginia to Oregon and have an experience, I needed to actually “plan” my experience. Not day-to-day planning, not set-in-stone planning, but a general sketch of what I wanted to do and where I wanted to go.
Preparing for an “Experience” verses an adventure or one-hell-of-a-great time: an experience has ups and downs, unexpected surprises, sadness, inspiration, ugliness and beauty…it is what it is and nothing more. Expectations Removed!
I pulled up a map of the US and looked at all the states I’ve never visited. A pattern emerged. Most of the states were in the northern region of the map. My focus was set.
How would I travel? Yes, by car, but where would I stay. No magical unlimited wealth pockets and I resigned from my steady paycheck. I started researching ways to travel for free and came across one particularly fantastic method called “WWOOFing”.
Type of Stay #1: WWOOFing is working on organic farms as an exchange – labor and education in exchange knowledge, food and shelter. There are organic farms all over the world that do this type of exchange. I decided to focus on the US at first and would branch out to other countries once I had some experience under my belt. In the US, you can become a member by going to https://wwoofusa.org/ and membership runs about $40 per year. With your membership comes access to all the organic farms in the country and I could reach out to them to see if they have availability. The types of farms include garden, community, dairy, orchard, vineyard, homestead, permaculture, vegetables, market and livestock/ranch.
I reached out to a few farms in the New England states with my “I can help with any type of work you need (digging, carrying, cleaning, picking, preparing meals)” resume and estimated dates of arrival and asked their availability. I chose farms that offered different learning experiences (off the grid, worm composting, holistic healing) to maximize my exposure. All the farms I contacted were welcoming and if they had date restrictions they let me know up front.
Type of Stay #2: I’ve become a great fan of www.airbnb.com for alternative housing within the past couple years. Airbnb is where people can hotel out their entire home or a room within their home for a nightly charge. A majority of the time the cost is much less than a hotel stay, but a little more than staying at a hostel. A hostel give you more opportunity to meet other like-minded travelers, but Airbnb give you access to locals and many Airbnb hosts are also like-minded travelers themselves. I searched for housing in each state I was planning to visit and restricted my cost to max out at $40/night and in addition looking at interesting types of stays (a converted barn, a tree-house). The Airbnb stops would be the most expensive lodging on my trip, so I only used them when it was absolutely necessary.
Type of Stay #3: Camping didn’t really interest me as a kid, but now that I’m older, I’m drawn to it in a curious way….the great outdoors! Of course I haven’t really camped on my own and the times I did camp it was at a festival, not where you are building a fire to keep warm or cooking your own food. Why not! Experience awaits! I went to REI and spent some money on this sweet little 1.5 person super light back-backing tent. A few years ago I watched a video on how to make a small stove from a tin can that uses rubbing alcohol for burning fuel. I tested it out in my kitchen and now am excited to test it out on the road! In preparation for camping I also spent the last month dehydrating fruit for trail mix, spices and even soups that I could easily pack and eat to keep my travel costs low.
Type of Stay #4: Friends! Staying for free with people you love and who love you back! One of the best things for me about travel is all the wonderful amazing people you meet along the way. Those peeps have the potential for turning into fabulous life-long friends! A few places that I’ll be making longer stays (more than a few days) are in Louisville, KY – Chicago, IL – Denver, CO – Butte, MT and Everett, WA
Although one look at my car would make you chuckle the moment I utter the words “traveling minimalist” out of my mouth, but when you take a good look at it…I’ve done pretty well for a first timer in my little Toyota Corolla stick-shift. I have about 10 pairs of clothes (4 sets of farm work clothes with boots and gloves and 6 sets of city sight-seeing clothes with sandals and hat), my camp gear, food, bedding, emergency tools, my good camera, my bike, a box of “sellable” items (handmade jewelry, cards and watercolor paintings) if I need to get some cash mid-trip and a few items I forgot to pack in the 5×8 crate being shipped to Oregon.
One of my goals is to see how LOW I can get my daily expenses and be as self-sustaining as possible. I’ve looked into ways to live free in addition to the stuff I’ve already talked about (self-acceptance, imperfection appreciation, dumpster diving, collaborative living, biking vs driving). More about those when I’m on the road.
The most important aspect of my experience planning is spreading happiness – within myself, among others, and out into the universe.
Positive Vibes for Everyone!!!
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