Written by: Jason Roberts
Whether you want to trace Holden Caulfield’s coming-of-age journey through Manhattan or follow Jack Kerouac on his iconic travels through the country, traveling is a reward in itself. You’ve now decided on forging your own travel story, but how does one prepare for a trip that’s worthy of a story?
Whether you’ve just bought your first car or have outfitted your old bicycle with saddle bags for a cross-country odyssey, the first step on your trip may be the hardest. You simply have to pack your bag and go. Once on the road, you will find a community of travelers that will embrace you and a life full of adventure.
Paying for It All
While considering a long trip, many people balk at the cost, but real travelers don’t need to be trustafarians. They do, however, need low standards and healthy dose of gumption. If you’re traveling through the United States, Megabus offers ticket prices as low as $1, and even Greyhound frequently has deals. Many travelers opt to hit the road in a bus or van, which can double as sleeping accommodation, or they camp on BLM (Bureau of Land Management) land for free. Yet other travelers reach out to the world using a site like couchsurfing.org which matches travelers to hosts who are willing to share their couch for the night.
If you’re headed abroad, you have the option of buying a plane ticket to Southeast Asia or South America, which has cheap food and accommodation. A working trip is also an incredible way to travel on the cheap while really getting to know another culture. With a TEFL certification, you can teach English almost anywhere in the world, and companies like BUNAC can help college students or recent graduates to get work permits in various countries.
What to Bring
For ultimate freedom while on the road, pack as lightly as possible. An easy-to-tote backpack is essential. Fill it with a couple of shirts, a couple pairs of shorts, a pair of pants and a skirt. If you plan to visit churches or mosques, see live theater or indulge in a fancy meal, you may want to pack an outfit that is reasonably smart. However, you can be flexible about this.
image credit: ilya_ktsn
To ensure that you can wash and wear your small wardrobe, a small bottle of laundry soap, a portable clothes line, and a sink plug should be stowed in the bottom of your bag. Finally, you may want to carry copies of your passport and other important documentation as well as insurance to take care of any illness or injury you may face while on the road.
Even if you don’t want to diminish your journey in cheesy phrasing, it is almost impossible not to find yourself while on the road. You may learn to amuse yourself while bored on an overnight layover at a seedy bus depot or find out how you fare under hunger and adversity. Regardless of the form your journey takes, you will get to know yourself better and watch your self-esteem grow.
About the author: Jason is a teacher who spends his summers backpacking, camping and biking across through America’s national parks.