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  1.  (10229.1)
    Since I was a wee thing, I always wanted to go traveling. Across the country, overseas, everywhere. I've not been on a plane since I was 19, nor have I left the NYC/NJ area in that entire time (with exceptions of an annual family reunion, and a three day road trip to Chicago).

    For those of you who travel often, how do you wrangle it? How do you fit your work schedule around it? Do you travel for work, and if so, what kind of work do you do? How do you make the finances work? Do you rent out your home while you are away? Do you have a car, and drive everywhere you want to travel? Do you sleep in your van? Do you camp? Are you an international courier? What do you do with all of your STUFF? Do you live elsewhere for long periods of time? How do you get prescriptions if you are going away for months at a time? Is the easiest way to do it by staying in college and getting a student visa? Can a person get an artist visa?
  2.  (10229.2)
    That's a lot of random questions.

    If the question is "How do you travel?" the answer, like in lots of things is, "You figure it out." There's no one-size-fits all approach that's going to work with everyone's lives.

    Most of it just comes from making it a priority, and not letting fear stop you from doing it. I hadn't left my home state in over a decade when I started traveling in my mid-20s, and it was terrifying — until I actually did it, and got somewhere else, and realized that by and large it was fairly easy.

    I don't own a car, but I used to sleep in my car when I had one. I don't go camping. Most of my travel these days is for work — comic-cons. This year I've been to Seattle, San Francisco and San Diego, and I'm going to NYC next month, and maybe San Francisco again the month after that.

    I haven't done much international travel, so I can't help you on that one — I can't imagine student visas are *that* useful to warrant staying in college.

    When I used to travel more, I stayed in a lot of hostels — and I worked at them too, which let me spend six months in Honolulu and nine months in Portland. That was a nice trick, but after a year and a half of it I am SO DONE with shared living.
  3.  (10229.3)
    Do you live elsewhere for long periods of time? How do you get prescriptions if you are going away for months at a time? Is the easiest way to do it by staying in college and getting a student visa? Can a person get an artist visa?


    Yes. If you're going to a first world nation most all of your medical needs will be met. No, because not only do you have to work like in a real university, but you also have to do it in a second language. No-ish. You can get entertainment visas in a lot of countries but they're short term. Some even shorter than tourist visas. But since they're mostly used to bring foreign hookers in under the guise of being "dancers" you won't get one unless you're doing that or are really famous.

    As for getting up and going, you need to be willing to unroot yourself. If you can't say goodbye, then you're just a tourists so save a few thousand and go see Vegas or something on your time off.
    •  
      CommentAuthorD.J.
    • CommentTimeSep 20th 2011
     (10229.4)
    Alright, William George. You've convinced me.

    I am going to become a hooker.
    • CommentAuthorBankara
    • CommentTimeSep 20th 2011
     (10229.5)
    Uprooting is definitely the cost of being a traveler, most folks I have met out there saved up for a damn long time and then left it behind. I have had like 16 different jobs in my life. I dropped everything about 4 years back to go to South America for 7 months, I had reasons that led me to believe I might be moving to Brasil so I thought it might be wise to check it out first. Didn't end up moving there but I did learn Spanish and Portuguese as well as gain a shit-ton of both good and bad experiences. End result was I got bit hard by the bug and have been going back to further and further afield ever since. I had never really left the Tri-State area for any extended period of time either and it was liberating to get out there and see how life may not necessarily be better elsewhere but that it is certainly different. Your curiosity about people and places and about how things are different becomes a reason unto itself to keep going back out.
    Enough philoso-wankery. Practical stuff. Student visas are expensive and a pain in the ass. Most visas are. Yes, it gets you in and if you can find an employer who will sponsor you then you may be able to stay. You have to learn the language otherwise you are useless to them. One nice loophole is that you can have two passports issued to you by the US. If you are visiting two places that don't have friendly relations then having the entry stamp of one country means you won't get into the other. So you get two passports and keep track of the stamps. Most countries will allow a 3 month stay with a maximum of 6 months per year. So, you make a border run every three months and switch out which passport you get stamped and you can stay someplace indefinitely.
    I am a photographer so I regard my traveling as an investment. I self-fund my travels and then try to identify and sell stories as I move or to sell pieces afterwards. Doesn't always work, but sometimes it does. I have been a freelancer for years so I have a stable of employers I have relationships with who know that I move around a lot and I am lucky that I am able to get work when I come back no matter how long it has been. Freelancing means I have to accept a lot of risks and nothing resembles a proper career track. Flexibility costs but for me it is worth it. You meet amazing people and you see some crazy shit out there. There is no such thing as finding yourself but cut free from all that is familiar you have a chance to create yourself.
    I sublet my apartment when I am gone, and that way I don't have to move all my gear.
    What else? Most countries in what is deemed the 3rd world don't have any regulations on pharmacies. You can buy most anything you need by walking into a pharmacy and asking for something.
    Try traveling solo. It is amazing. You never want for company, you meet people everywhere you go and the minute that your interests diverge you are perfectly free to just go your own way. It is great.
    travel light, take everything you think you will need and lay ot out when you pack and then cut that in half. Then take that half and cut as much out of it as you can, ideally at least a third. You won't need as much as you think. Take anything that you cannot afford to lose (camera, passport, etc.) and always keep them with you. I carry a second smaller bag where that stuff goes. My wallet is a dodge filled with a small amount of local currency and all my bank cards and passport live in the back flap of a Moleskine notebook in my pocket. To paraphrase Chris Rock: "If you want to keep you money, hide it in your books." There is fucking wisdom in this. Nobody steals books.
    I will try to think of other things, but this represents a bunch of the best things I have learned. Also, surrender. You can't control a lot of things and freaking out about it helps nothing.
  4.  (10229.6)
    @ DJ Stawes

    Get Chester Brown to sign a copy of Paying For It when he visits you.
    •  
      CommentAuthornelzbub
    • CommentTimeSep 21st 2011
     (10229.7)
    Hello, I´m kind of new to making contributions here but i feel I´ve got tuppence to contribute on the subject.
    i agree with many of the above comments especially that about travelling solo, while sometimes challenging, it can be the most rewarding. All decisions are yours to make, you can move at your own pace and it really does make you meet people and have to present yourself as a reasonable human to total strangers on a regular basis. This can teach you a lot about yourself and others or possibly allow to to lie outrageously as the mood takes you.
    Don´t be afraid to stop moving. My most rewarding travel experiences have come when i have found a nice place and stopped for long enough to get to know the locals and get a sense of what is real for the people in that neck of the woods. Reality is mutable, the further you go from home the more incidences will occur that seem absurd and unreal to you but which are perfectly normal to the folk around you. Culture shock is good for you. By way of example my teenage visits to Japanese night clubs and , years later, my first forty eight hours in Delhi were both vastly different experiences that changed my outlook on life and just two of many reasons why i have always loved to travel for the strange and new things that a broadened horizon can reveal to you.
    Is it shallow to point out that your money can go a lot further in some places. It´s nearly fifteen years ago, but i once spent six months in the indian himalayas and came home with change from a thousand pounds. I lived basic and lost quite a lot of weight but the experience stays with me to the extent that i would guess that about ninety percent of my dreams take place in a dream version of some of the valleys and mountains that i stayed in. which i still find pretty cool.
    If you´re going to be visiting third world countries it would be worth finding a friend who is wise in these things to tell you how to properly use a squat and drop toilet without making a mess of yourself as well as how to clean up with a bottle of water when you are many miles from a toilet roll! I don´t feel i know you folks well enough for the detailed version, but i was very pleased to have the basics explained to me in advance!
    I always used to travel with loads of books, a pain in terms of space and weight, but for me worth it when i could get somewhere to hook up the hammock and do little but read for a month. There were always fellow travellers to trade books with and shops that would trade in your old books as well. I guess with modern e-readers this will be less of a thing as time goes by. my back certainly won´t miss the six kilos of books i used to go away with!
    I could go on but i feel i´ve rambled enough, cheers.
  5.  (10229.8)
    FABULOUS! Oh, Bankara and Nelzbub, you've been giving me exactly the sort of information I've been looking for (especially Bankara).

    I have the desire, I have the lack of situational fear, I have the want to plunge myself into the unknown, it's the mechanics of things that I don't understand. I am actually going to look at a place to live right outside NYC, where it MIGHT be the sort of place that travelers stay, and it MIGHT be the sort of place that you only need pay rent while actually THERE, and I might be able to go off on adventures. I feel this might free up my life for more travel possibilities. I'm looking to get a diesel car, if I can afford to insure such a thing, so that I could at least start off with a road trip of sorts. It's frustrating, since i'm not exactly a sturdy and hearty person (my spine is a mess, and my body falls apart if I push it), so my lifelong dreams of backpacking about and living very rough aren't feasible, even though I'm psychologically willing. I keep trying to train myself, but I think that's pie in the sky until I get something drastic done. I'm not even sure that driving long distances wouldn't wreck me in many ways.

    Has anyone trained across the US? There's a monthly pass, but it's hundreds of dollars, and i'm not sure how worth it it is, aside from how much I prefer trains to the awful experience of busses.

    What kind of weapons or precautions should I take being a female? What are good ways to make money on the road? I have the benefit of finally getting my Disability, so if I could find the means to GET somewhere cheap, I'd have about $600 a month to keep me afloat. Are there still ways to fly cheap for being a courier? How do you know if you have enough money to go where you want for as long as you want to be there?

    And yes, I just got an E-reader - both for the ability to increase font, but also because EGAD books are heavy. I imagine it'd be invaluable when traveling to quiet places.
    •  
      CommentAuthorallana
    • CommentTimeSep 21st 2011
     (10229.9)
    I haven't done overseas yet, but you may not want to start there, either. Continental North America is plenty interesting for at least a few years.
    The majorest trip I've done was three months, and I bussed North America, then flew from Cancun to Cuba, where I lived in Havana for a month. I actually ended my lease that time, for a number of reasons, and the trip was less a Big Idea than simply something feasible with the cash and time I had. The most prep I did was get a Hep A shot, and put my life's possessions into storage in my mother's basement. (Most of it's still there.) I don't remember packing three months of birth control, but I must've. I'm not on other medication, other than occasional Benadryl, so I'm not much of a help there. I had no visa, didn't work, and blew through, I think, $4000 in three months.

    1) Make friends on the internet.
    I had been Ontario-centric until I had to travel to the west coast for work, at which point I thought "why not?" and hopped a Greyhound from Vancouver to San Francisco and back. (Internet-)Knew a boy in SF who pampered me like a princess, which made it more agreeable to spend money on nights in Portland and Seattle. That was the start of the bug, and every summer I've been back to the west coast has involved a bit more exploration. I've met internet-friends in Portland, Tucson, SF, Chicago, Minneapolis, mid-nowhere-BC, and real friends in Vancouver, Victoria, New Mexico, Texas, Florida, Calgary, Montreal. I did Yellowknife, Mexico and Cuba, Tofino, Detroit, Salt Lake City, Seattle, and Winnipeg totally solo.
    2) Figure the pros and cons of your transportation.
    You can definitely sleep in the backseat of your car. (You'll take a tent anyways but never use it. The trunk is huge; why not?) If you're under 5'8", you can also sleep quite well on buses. Greyhound has a go-anywhere ticket that was $500 for two months when I bought it (2009) - I zig-zagged across Canada, the US, and got to Mexico City before it became useless. Schedule your trips so you spend a day in a city and then climb aboard the bus at 2am and sleep until you arrive at your next destination. I'm biased because I think bus trips are the most serene experiences ever, and I know everyone will be outraged by that statement, but with a notebook and a good pair of headphones even the smelliest American seatmate can't ruin a good vibe. Schedule a hostel every few days or so, so the shower feels extra-luxurious and the bed gets out the major back kinks.
    [2b) Greyhound patrons are 500% smellier in American than in Canada or Mexico. This is a fact.]
    3) Travel alone. Travel alone. Travel alone. Travel alone.
    4) Be more sociable than me.
    I don't really like people, as a rule. I travel for architecture, food, and the feel, the vibe, of cities. I'll chat with bartenders, milk baristas for information, beg record-shop owners to suggest good local albums, and badger city bus drivers with inane questions. That's about the extent of my social interaction when I travel alone. I'm sure most people would rather be taken around by a local, and shown the sights with some personality, than guessing what's good from a corporate guidebook, so, really, push yourself to hang with the natives. The second-best step is finding someone who's been at the hostel for a week already and has loads of wisdom to share.
    5) Pack light like whoa.
    I know everyone says this, but really. Imagine your pack negatively - think about how much space you want for the cool stuff you'll waste money on when you're out there. You'll always start out sweating under 20 pounds, and come back carrying 50 like it's nothing: that's how travelling works. Take one of those cotton dresses that can be folded up to the size of a cassette tape and looks good wrinkled - it will be your sleepwear, your nightwear, and your doing-laundry-wear. Take a secondhand coat and donate it away when you get to warmer climates. Remember that you can buy almost anything you need, other than electronics and meds, almost anywhere you go.

    Also, what this ^ guy says: take books. A hammock is pretty good, too.
    •  
      CommentAuthorallana
    • CommentTimeSep 21st 2011
     (10229.10)
    Weapons no. Precautions, hrmm. Don't get stupid drunk? Don't let that story you told on that video on your Tumblr, about that guy who picked you up and took you to the abandoned military base outside San Francisco, happen again?
    (Though I do always have a pocketknife in my bag, and no Customs search has ever found it.)
    I also have this great leather wrist cuff, very plain and black, that has a little zippered pocket inside that fits cash, a piece of ID, and my keys.

    I'm not sure if the train is much better than the bus, other than being less crowded. Someone else can probably answer that.

    I've never made money while travelling, though I have flipped through a city's Craigslist looking for weird adventures. You could easily find a one-time photography gig in a foreign city, or catering/bartending, as long as they're cool with paying you cash.

    If you're even thinking about going travelling, you should start by looking around your possessions and trying to get rid of as much as you can. Throw out electronics that no longer work, burn bad art, donate old clothes and books, finish or abandon old craft projects. It's a good psych-up to figure out what sort of crap you really need on a daily basis, and it'll make the putting-stuff-in-storage phase easier later on.
    • CommentAuthorBankara
    • CommentTimeSep 21st 2011
     (10229.11)
    Agreed, purging your life on unneeded possessions is another liberating experience and by the time you get back you can't even remember what you threw out that you thought indispensable.

    The train or bus are good options, I wish that I could bring a bike when I travel by train and bus so that i can cover more ground when I get someplace. Definitely take overnight trains and buses. Wastes no time you could be doing something cool and it saves you having to pay for a night in a hostel.

    If you decide to go by the car route, check the price of gas out in the US right now. Even with diesel being more efficient it is still going to be more costly than you plan for. It is one reason why I usually travel outside the US is that it is cheaper. I am working towards getting a motorcycle so that I can afford an American road trip next summer because I want to get back out there. America is amazing to travel around by car. I am a big fan of Robert Frank so naturally I have the desire to do a photographic trip across the country and back. If you go by bus or train you are bound by arriving in cities and you miss all of the in-between places that make travel interesting. That said, it can be a hell of a lot cheaper.
    The e-reader will be awesome, I was like the traveling library of English lit in South America and it sucked ass to have to carry all that crushing weight but one 8 hour bus breakdown in Brasil and you will be happy to have too much to read. As it was, I read Anna Karenina in one sitting. Not recommended. Also, a Kindle will give you unlimited access to email and web for free.
    Also, don't be afraid to stay someplace you like and want to explore. It can be really rewarding and you kick yourself when you leave someplace you liked early because you felt you had to push on. I got stuck for a month and a half in a place in Thailand because it was basically my own private paradise, cheap as fuck, good food, cool locals, great rock climbing, and the beach right there. No regrets not going anywhere else in Thailand, it was perfect for me.
    My friend who did fashion design turned her sewing skills into a well paying job in Melbourne, Australia fixing Kite-Surfers up. When she moved on she found a gig reupholstering yachts at a Marina in Sydney. Cash jobs can be found if you have some skills that are hard to find. Otherwise, bartend.
  6.  (10229.12)
    When my family does road trips across the US, we have friends and family we can visit and spend a night or two. Granted, most of the time we did it because we were going from point A to point B and that saved a lot of money and gave my parents a chance to catch up. For my sister and I, often it was an introduction to people we had never heard of before. Our home is also open to visiting friends and family, so we do return the favor. So I second Allana's advice of visiting friends during travels. Sometimes the road can get lonely, and having someone you know can be a relief.

    I've never traveled alone, and most of my travel experience is of the long term in one place variety. That said, when I was in Florence for a month with a class, I spent most of my free time alone, and it was very freeing. Lonely, but freeing. I don't know at much of the practical information, but I can tell you about a lot of the psychological stuff, if you are interested.
  7.  (10229.13)
    @DJ Stawes: I don't really recommend it as a career choice, but I did get a couple trips overseas and a Caribbean cruise out of it.
    • CommentAuthorBankara
    • CommentTimeSep 21st 2011
     (10229.14)
    I am thinking doing Couchsurfing for my next trip and camping as well. I figure that couchsurfing would be a fun option, I would meet cool folks in places I would otherwise never get to see from a locals perspective and I would get a hell of a lot more out of it than just staying hotels or sleeping in the car.
  8.  (10229.15)
    Actually, I did think of two things. First, bring a sketchbook/journal. Or blog. Whatever you do, record your experience. Memory is a tricky thing. Second, for overseas travel, pickpocket proof bags/luggage. I bought a messenger bag specifically for Florence that has wire netting in the bottom, wires going through the strap, and a bunch of other handy things like that. Finding ways to appear and be discreet will keep a lot of trouble away. And while I'm thinking of international travel, the importance of research of cultural rules cannot be stated enough.

    I'm going to be a bit of a downer here, but these are some not so pleasant realities of some cultures. It sucks, but it's better to be prepared for it. Bribery is sometimes expected. Whenever there are complaints about new regimes being corrupt, chances are corruption and bribery has been in that culture for centuries if not longer. And think twice about visiting a country alone if the culture expects women to be accompanied by male relatives outside the home. You'll be given much more freedoms from the honorable citizens because you are a white foreigner, but the less honorable locals will assume you deserve what bad things might happen to you. Local tourists behave the worst, so if you are in an area that locals go to be tourists, expect the worst behavior.
    • CommentAuthorBankara
    • CommentTimeSep 21st 2011
     (10229.16)
    Yeah, that is true. I dress down, my Australian friends describe this style of travel as "dirtbagging." No one robs dirtbaggers. Nothing about my appearance says $2000 worth of camera gear in this messenger bag. I grew up in New York City in the 80's so I am fairly well inculcated in not making myself a target for theft. Like the old Irish proverb sez: Expect the best but prepare for the worst.
    Also, do write. I do it when I am home too but everyday when I am traveling first thing in the morning I sit down and fill 3 pages in a notebook. Sometimes it is garbage, sometimes not. Point is no one will ever see it but I have material in there I use for the posts that I make while I travel and it provides a written log of my behavior, moods, and mistakes that I might not see as patterns if I did not dutifully record them everyday. It makes you a bit more conscious of your own behavior, your goals take shape from that awareness, and hopefully you become a bit wiser. Sure as fuck takes discipline though, I just finished year one of doing this. Filled up 6 journals with daily writing and taken together they show what a difference a year can make. Not that anyone else will ever read them, or that they could decipher my horrible handwriting, but for me it is invaluable to see that progression.
    One more thing to carry though if you are going long term, lugging a bunch of journals around with you.
  9.  (10229.17)
    This isn't quite the same thing as "traveling," but after a couple of years of putting it on the backburner I've been thinking about going to teach in Japan.

    Backstory: My wife and I had been interested in Japan for years, and when we got married in 2009 we took our honeymoon there and had an AWESOME time. I actually haven't traveled a ton--Japan was the biggest undertaking by far--but I definitely feel that "travel bug" on a regular basis. We stopped applying for teaching jobs, though, because I got the impression that she'd miss her family too much and the whole thing would fall apart 6 months after we got there.

    Fast forward to now: My wife and I are now separated. I turn 27 tomorrow and have been trying to figure out what to do. It'd be one thing if I had some sort of awesome job keeping me here but that's not the case...I have a job but it's not something I'm interested in and I've been getting the impression that a layoff is coming.

    I'm not a fan of material possessions, which is another reason why I like the idea of traveling and don't think I'd have a hard time living in Japan (at least not in that regard). I've already gotten rid of most of my stuff after we separated and I haven't minded it a bit...there's something liberating about only having a handful of possessions. To quote Fight Club: the things you own end up owning you.

    I'm torn about the whole thing, though. Part of me has always wanted to have a "career," you know, something that builds up over years' time. Going to teach in Japan would put that on hold and would make it more difficult to find a job if I decided to go back to the US later.

    There's another part of me that's tired of reading about other people's adventures and would rather experience them firsthand, though. I keep going back to that Vonnegut quote--"Of all the words of mice and men, the saddest are 'It might have been.'"

    The only practical advice I'd have about traveling is to travel extremely light, don't try to plan things out or do too much each day, and just take it easy and let things happen. Be open to new things and don't worry if things don't go according to plan. Remember: you're never lost. You're just not where you expected to be. It's not so bad when you think about it that way.
    • CommentAuthorBankara
    • CommentTimeSep 21st 2011
     (10229.18)
    Sounds like you know what you're talking about right there ^

    My advice is never sought because my friends all know that I will say "Do It!" about 90% of the time but if you want my advice?

    DO IT!
  10.  (10229.19)
    Just a thought, but if you're going to be doing a road trip, then a van of some kind might be the way to go. Take out the back seats and throw in an air mattress, and you've got a halfway decent bed wherever you end up. It's a lot more comfortable than trying to sleep on the back seat of a standard car.
  11.  (10229.20)
    Something that tcatsninfan mentioned is worth repeating I feel: if you're going on a long-ish journey (I'd say about a month or more) don't overplan your trip too much. You'll find yourself staying in places longer than expected, going to places you hadn't planned to, and generally having much more fun than if you religiously plan out your travels. Certainly have places to be at certain times, just make sure there's enough time between those places to get chased by buffalo. :)

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