Preparation

Traveling Solo As A Woman

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“It’s dangerous for a woman to go traveling alone! That’s why I don’t travel. Sure, you can travel the world, but that’s because you are a man!”

I have heard this sort of phrase from so many people; it seems to be the ultimate justification to live a life that does not fulfill one’s dream. They let this common myth decide where and how they go- but that’s all it is: A myth. While couchsurfing in Krakow, Poland, I met the inspiring and admirable “Cindy.” She was a nurse living in Korea and decided one day to travel the world to get a break from her “heavy” job. “Working everyday and seeing people die was very hard for me,” she says. And so, she took a break. A very long one: two years. She travels very similar to the way I do- Hitchhiking, couchsurfing, walking, carrying all her belongings in a backpack and experiencing everything there is to experience in this world. She has traveled throughout East Asia and Europe, and now says she is ready to go back home.

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Cindy Ji Eun looking cool with her travel bag.

When asked how she would assimilate back to a stable and routine life, she replied, “I don’t think I am done traveling. I will go again.” Cindy recalls only once when she had a bad experience hitchhiking. But even then, she did not feel in danger- the guy was just a little creepy, asking for “Favors.” There is no doubt that when you travel there will be dangerous situations, obviously. Nevertheless, we need to remember that there will dangers around the corner of our neighbor hood, perhaps more severe than those on the road. I’ve been reading a book about Jessica Watson, the 16 year old Australian girl who sailed solo around the world, and in it, she stresses these exact same points: You can’t let fear of danger stop you from living an extraordinary lifestyle. John A. Shedd says,

“A ship in harbor is safe — but that is not what ships are built for”

Yes, it’s scary to go out of the Harbor. But Shedd wisely points out that we were made for more. Cindy is now finishing her first journey, and I couldn’t have been more excited for her and her adventures. Let us see these women for what they are: Powerful, but utterly and completely human. Normal, weak just as we all are. Even so, they still decided to take the “risks”  (which are no more risky than staying home) and they both regret nothing. Cindy would like readers to follow their dreams, take into account the consequences and dangers, and then travel. As she says, “You will not regret it.”

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Travel Resources

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Everything I needed to know before traveling! This list is specific for citizens of the United States in relation to other countries.

Important Visa Information for Europe

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After a lot of frustrating calls to embassies for EU countries and mixed answers from all sides- I finally got an answer to my questions on how to travel through Europe long-term. Drum roll please:

You Can’t! Ta-daaaa

Unfortunately, you can’t as far as I can tell. If any country is apart of the Schengen, Agreement- The countries in Blue-


schengen-area – they share one Visa. However, they don’t all share the same entry prerequisites. Let me break it down for y’all:


If you are an American Citizen (and some other countries, but I’m focusing on me here), you may:

  • Enter the Schengen Zone without a visa for up to 90 days. You may travel throughout the entirety of the Shengen area wherever your feet take you. Yay!
  • If you wish to stay longer, you must apply for a Long-Term Schengen visa which is specific for each country, not the entire Schengen zone. This means that you can enter, say Germany, for up to a year (or if you are a student, longer).
  • But! If you would like to go to France with the same visa, well tough luck. You can’t. You have to apply for a specific French Schengen visa from your home country. Not cool. 

In my opinion, this defeats the entire purpose of the Schengen visas. But whatever, rules are rules and I’m just a lowly foreigner, who am I to disagree? I’m nobody. SO! It’s up to me to find loopholes… as best I can. I have created this wonderfully professional photo to explain what I’m thinking:


 

schengen-area


 

I would spend 2-3 months in both Ireland and the United Kingdom because they’re rebellious and at this point in time unconnected to the Schengen Zone. Once I hit France though, I’ll have three months to get through it, along with Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany, and Poland. After that, I can spend 2 months or more in Belarus, Russia, and the Ukraine in order to spend the 6 month required absence to RE-ENTER the Schengen territory. I can run through those bottoms ones, and exit into the lower European nations. I can use another 6 months rummaging in them until I hit the 6 month mark for a second, giving me permission to obtain an additional 3 months in Schengen.

I would have to really book it to get down to the port and catch my ferry to Morocco, but I can do it. This isn’t ideal, but you gotta do what you gotta do.

 

 

What NOT To Buy Online

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Any article of clothing that you have not put on yourself in person. This includes:

  • Shoes (VERY Important)
  • Socks (With Shoes)
  • Pants
  • Underwear
  • Shirts
  • Jackets
  • Gloves

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.

 

Backpacking Checklist 2.0

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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
_ _ _ _ 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
Sun Glasses Clothes Free 1
ExOfficio Boxer Briefs (2) On Body 42.05 4 oz 1
TOTAL: CLOTHES $436.81 7 lb, 1 oz 1
_ _ _ _ 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
Fishing System Cooking Free 1
TOTAL: COOKING $55.50 1 lb, 5 oz 1
_ _ _ _ 1
Toothbrush Hygiene 4.26 2 oz 1
Toothpaste Hygiene Free 1 oz 1
Toilet Paper Hygiene Free 4 oz 1
TOTAL: HYGIENE $4.26 7 oz 1
_ _ _ _ 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
Harmonica Misc. 1 1
Pencil Misc. Free 1 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
_ _ _ _ 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
_ _ _ _ 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

 

Trial and Error

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Planning. And more planning. And if you aren’t planning and would rather be uber spontaneous, guess what? You’ll end up spending more than you would have if you had thought it through. I am learning this first hand.Take for instance my water filter. I hadn’t thought to much about it and naively purchased the Life Straw.

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It’s light, its effective, it’s going to save me from the terrors of the Hershey squirts– Seems like a good choice, yeah? Wrong actually. Turns out that the Life Straw is only good if you have a constant supply of water! And if you bring a bottle, the opening must be long enough to fit the straw through, however bottles like that are often heavy or expensive.

I have since changed my stance and purchased what’s called a Sawyer Mini. It lets me screw on the filter to a variety of multi purpose bottles, or just a plain old plastic thing that you get in water packs. Point being: you should really consider planning your gear way in advance. What if I had already gone to Africa with that other filter? I’d be screwed, that’s what.

With this in mind, I took to the woods with my friend to test my rain gear. True to it’s claims, my rain cover protected my precious cargo on my back, and my lightweight coat and pants shielded my body. It is always a good idea to test your gear before you need it. My own backpacking checklist has changed at least 4 times! I ditch things that I don’t need, I add more on, I weigh and reweigh (new word?) until I am perfectly satisfied. I book my flight in advance, waiting for the cheapest options to save money (So I can travel further), and I can save cash, time, and headaches simply be planning.

Here’s the moral of this story:

Be spontaneous in your travels, but always plan your gear far before you leave.

 

Ticket Purchased

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Yesterday, I bought a One-Way flight to Ireland. Total cost: $408.00.

There’s no going back now,the departure date has changed to August 3rd. This simple change has saved me about $200.00 dollars in ticket costs, so I’d say it was a good idea.