The United States of America: I didn’t think I would be back again so soon, and yet, I found myself on a plane out of Albania to just the same place.
It was my younger sisters idea, to visit for Christmas and surprise my parents- a nice gesture, I thought. And I had been missing home since I had left over 2 years ago. We planned it all out together. Each of my siblings pitched in some $$$$ to bring me home on a flight which was helpful since I hadn’t any money to fly back. It was wonderful, in respect to some things. Seeing my family again brought me a lot of joy, while also reminding me how differently I see or understand things. How much I have grown and changed as a person. I wonder if they saw this. Regardless, this curiosity hasn’t been quenched just yet, and I wanted to see more places, met more people, and do more things; there’s just so much!
A series of things happened during my revisit home- I almost got into a gang fight in Philadelphia, I Hitchhiked many miles to Mardi Gras in New Orleans, I volunteered on a campsite in Alabama, and I met my family back in Orlando to return home, home where I plan my leave again.
All of these things you can see in my youtube video here: Hitchhiking the US
What can I say? I find myself more and more drawn away from speaking. My desire to share my travels dims as a countless rain of experiences floods me every day- I journal less. I am less enthusiastic about telling others what has happened to me these past years. I thought I would grow into a man, at least that was the plan. But I’m not much brighter, wiser, a guru, or a sage. I am inclined to believe we are all like that, lost and without any real understanding. Maybe we don’t need to understand?
In any case, despite this gloomy realization, I can say without a doubt that Travel, for me, has infinitely changed my life for the better! Even when times are a bit tricky, as my experiences here in the USA, I have always come out of it with a good story, and as I get older, I am understanding that storytelling is a most honorable skill. The hitchhiking started slow and difficult out of Baltimore. People are afraid here in the United States, and by far it is the most difficult country I have hitchhiked in. Americans are terrified, like little children. Absolutely frightened out of their minds. When hitchhiking, we would be scoffed at, yelled at, sometimes have things thrown at us, and even the Police would come and try to intimidate us. right away on the outskirts of Baltimore, a Police officer confronted us while we stood of a side walk leading to the Highway onramp:
Him: You can’t hitchhike!
Me: Why not sir?
Him: *Rolls eyes* Because it is illegal.
Me, knowing that it is, in fact, completely legal in the state of Maryland to hitchhike: Actually officer it is legal, so long as we stay on the shoulder or the sidewalk.
Him: Do you see the clothes I’m wearing?
And so on until we walked one block away and stuck our thumbs up again, getting a ride to D.C. Surprisingly, a high number of police men either do not know the laws regarding hitchhiking in their state, or they know them but pretend they don’t either way- Bad Police Men. We tried to be respectful most of the time, but we stood our grounds with further encounters.
We stayed with couchsurfing hosts, ate with them, listened to their stories and more. a large variety of people hosted us: strippers, swingers, christians, atheists, veterans, the homeless, immigrants, young, old, the well traveled, and the homebodies, Liberals, and trump supporters. But an even greater sphere of persons picked us up while we stuck up our thumbs on the road. Swinger Tom, a man who met his wife at “an Adult Party” he said as he winked at me. honestly he was one of our favorite rides. other than that, he gave us other gems of wisdom such as, “Adolf Hitler was an evil son of a bitch,” and “This is my pimp hand!” There were other amazing rides- Crystal, an older woman with the spirit of love who gave us more food than we could eat. Gunny ‘Bandanawitz’ a reckless dead head who thought it was a good idea to show us a video of his wife’s farting asshole. Yes, you read that correctly, and we were shocked to say the least. Three young juvenile southern girls, the most southern girls you could possibly imagine, breaking down in the middle of the road at night at the stop light, cars flying past us, pulling a homemade gravity bong out of the compartment offering us to smoke.
You see, good people are good no matter what their beliefs are. While hundreds of cars passed us everyday, we always got to our destination… Except once outside of Florence SC (Thanks again, Connie, for rescuing us!!). Most of the time, we were picked up by people who had hitchhiked in the past, or by foreigners. Mexican workers, Brazilian tourists. Rarely were we picked up by an American who did not travel. The reason for this is because many citizens here believe it to be dangerous. They don’t know us, so they decided not to give us a lift, even though according to studies and research, hitchhiking is incredibly safe, or at least no where near as dangerous as people believe.
We made our way from Baltimore to Jacksonville to New Orleans to Talladega to Orlando. We stopped in Talladega to do some volunteer work on a semi-sustainable campground where we learned to build structures, create campsites, plant gardens, and a whole lot more. There was some drama with one of the authorities there, but even her insecurities and fears were able to teach us somethings. Patience is a virtue not easily given, especially when one is attacked unfairly. And yet, it didn’t bother us so much, only that we were sad for her own sake, and despite this we had such a wonderful experience. I have brand new ideas for my own home someday, and we met lovely people with lovely stories, some of whom we influenced to travel there own way, some we stayed with later, and some we loved.
As for Mardi Gras well, let’s just say that Mardi Gras is its own bubbled world. I don’t think I can describe it.
Financially we had some troubles, as is expected when one only works three months out of the year. There were times we wondered if we would be alright- something I already knew to be true since my time in Spain. And now that we are heading back home, has been proven. If anyone is reading this: whatever you are experiencing in life, do not worry. Everything will be alright as long as you breath and remember who you are and where you are. The Universe will take care of you, and you will be alright. as Jesus said, What will worrying do for any of you, add a single day to your life? No, even the sparrows and the birds of the air do not worry and their needs are met daily.
Life goes on. It always goes on whether we want it to or not. And now it goes on further for us to Ukraine, Canada, maybe the Pacific Crest Trail, maybe South America, I don’t ever really know, do I? I don’t think any of us really do. I often ask myself, do I even want to know, or is the purpose of life precisely to not know, and therefore be surprised by a beautiful sunrise somewhere?
Who the hell really knows? I’m off to drink some chocolate milk and see friends and family again before we fly away for the second time.
Everything I needed to know before traveling! This list is specific for citizens of the United States in relation to other countries.
- A list of Visa free countries, or Visa upon arrival.
- Staying in an area for more than a month? Try Workaway! Lodging and Food in exchange for honest work!
- Just passing through? Use Couch surfing to avoid hotel and hostel costs!
- Use Gmap Pedometer to track distance and mileage.
- If you’re just going to one country, VisaHQ is an excellent website that helps explain what you need to visit. They also offer services to get you there.
Any article of clothing that you have not put on yourself in person. This includes:
- Shoes (VERY Important)
- Socks (With Shoes)
DO NOT buy these items online, it will save you a lot of money. For example, I had bought some shoes for 109.00 but when I put on my hiking socks, I realized they were far to small. For those of you who are familiar with hiking, small shoes can result in loss of toenails, blisters and more (For a great guide to buying the right size shoe, click Here).
I strongly suggest, in order to keep from wastefully spending like I did, to go to a store like REI and try on your stuff before you actually buy it.
When traveling, short-term or long-term, it is important to have a list of everything you need before you leave. This reduces your anxiety, stress, and money. If you buy things you need in advance, you can find cheaper options. I made this mistake with my Filter, Pants, and Shirts. I’ve since corrected my them.
In total, the bag on my back will weigh around 12 pounds, not including food or water. All items on my person add up to about 8 pounds. All in all, if I assume my food weighs 5 pounds, my entire weight will come to around 25 pounds.
This here is my Checklist of all the things I think I will need when I am traversing the globe. If you have any suggestions, go ahead and leave me a comment.
|Pack: Osprey Talon 44 (Blk)||Packing||149.95||2 lb||1|
|Tent: Big Agnes Fly Creek UL2||Packing||303.95||2 lb, 4 oz||1|
|Therma Rest Neoair Sleep Pad, (Lg)||Packing||179.95||1 lb||1|
|Sleeping Bag||Packing||Free||3 lb, 9 oz||1|
|550 Paracord 50 feet||On Body||4.39||5 oz||1|
|Clothing Stuff Sack||Packing||Free||1|
|Compression Stuff Sack (Med.)||Packing||Free||1|
|Rain Pack Cover (Grn)||Packing||21.99||4 oz||1|
|TOTAL:||PACKING||$660.23||9 lb, 9 oz||1|
|Merrel Hiking Shoes (Tan)||On Body||109.89||2 lb, 6 oz||1|
|Merino Wool Cushion Socks (Gray, 1)||Clothes||15.95||2 oz||1|
|Summer Hiking Socks, Merino (Blu, 1)||On Body||18.89||2 oz||1|
|Kuhl Synthetic Polyester Pants (Gray)||On Body||56.99||12 oz||1|
|Synthetic T-Shirt (Grn)||On Body||21.53||5 oz||1|
|Longsleeve Synthetic Shirt (Blk)||Clothes||3.95||1 lb||1|
|Winter Scarf (Red)||Clothes||Free||7 oz||1|
|Ghost Whisperer Jacket (Blk)||Clothes||142.83||7 oz||1|
|Padagonia Rain Coat (Blu)||On Body||1.05||8 oz||1|
|Patagonia Rain Pants (Blu)||Clothes||Free||8 oz||1|
|Head Lamp Black Diamond (Grn)||On Body||23.95||1|
|AAA Batteries (4)||Misc.||Free||1|
|ExOfficio Boxer Briefs (2)||On Body||42.05||4 oz||1|
|TOTAL:||CLOTHES||$436.81||7 lb, 1 oz||1|
|Mini-Stove; Wood Fueled (and sack)||Cooking||Free||10 oz||1|
|600ml Titanium Pot (and sack)||Cooking||28.5||4 oz||1|
|Cleaning Sponges||Cooking||Free||0 oz||1|
|Titanium Spoon, Chopsticks (and sack)||Cooking||Free||0 oz||1|
|Bic Lighter||Cooking||Free||0 oz||1|
|Small Matches||Cooking||Free||0 oz||1|
|Homemade Pot Cozy||Cooking||2.05||0 oz||1|
|Sawyer Mini Water Filter||Cooking||24.95||2 oz||1|
|50 oz. Water Bottles (2)||Cooking||Free||0 oz||1|
|TOTAL:||COOKING||$55.50||1 lb, 5 oz||1|
|Toilet Paper||Hygiene||Free||4 oz||1|
|Nokia Lumia 1020||Misc.||120||9 0z||1|
|Sony Cyber Shot DW800 20 MP Camera||On Body||82.63||4 oz||1|
|Passport, 28 Pages||On Body||Free||2 oz||1|
|Solar Powered Charger, Plugs, and Cords||Misc.||23.95||9 oz||1|
|Gerber Knife||On Body||Free||1|
|Compass: Flat, Multi Purpose||Misc.||Free||0 oz||1|
|Mountain Climbers Clips||On Body||Free||1|
|Sewing Kit, Zip Ties||Misc.||Free||0 oz||1|
|Pencil Sharpener||Misc.||Free||0 oz||1|
|Moleskin Journal 193 Pages||Misc.||12.95||5 oz||1|
|TOTAL:||MISC.||$163.48||1 lb, 6 oz||1|
|Band Aids||First Aid||Free||0 oz||1|
|Pain Relief (10 Tablets)||First Aid||Free||0 oz||1|
|Diarrhea Medicine (12 Tablets)||First Aid||9.99||0 oz||1|
|Bandages||First Aid||10.95||1 oz||1|
|TOTAL:||FIRST AID||$20.94||1 oz||1|
|Estimated Worn Weight||On Body||_||5 lb, 4 oz||1|
|Estimated Bag Weight||Packing||_||15 lb, 8 oz||1|
|Estimated Consumable Weight||Food||_||6 lb||1|
|Estimated Total||All Categories||$1,341.22||26 lb, 12 oz||1|