$7,035.57 = How much it costs to travel around the world through nine countries over five and a half months

 

Since I get a lot of questions about how much it actually costs to travel, I thought I might go through what my trip around the world (across Asia to Europe and back to the US, click here for the rough map) cost according to my bank statements.

Cost is obviously one of the most important factors in deciding where and when to travel. Before beginning, I should say that a lot of my trip was in the low season for many places (that is, not summer), and I would almost always travel in the cheapest class of transportation Read More ...

Revisited: How to pack for an independent traveler with no set return date

 

As I am starting a trip that will take me from China to (hopefully) Eastern Europe over the next several months, I thought I might go through what I am packing for this trip. There have been a few changes since my last trip's packing list (link for original packing post), mostly in terms of electronics, but for the most part it is very similar. Overall, my goal is maximum mobility and minimum weight, but not bare-bones, super lightweight (for that, see No-baggage challenge). My backpack is right around 25-28 pounds (11-13 kg), so it's light Read More ...

A glimpse in the thoughts of Bolod Namkhai Mukhadi

 

Click here for an explanation of "A glimpse in the thoughts of..."

Bolod was the owner of the guesthouse that I stayed at in Ulaanbataar, and, due to it being the low tourist season, also my source of transport/translation when I headed out to the Mongolian countryside. His main guesthouse was actually closed, but I stayed in his "suburban guesthouse", which was just a room in his house with his wife and kids.

He grew up in a small village in Eastern Mongolia and came to the capital when he was young for school. Coming of age when Read More ...

How to get Chinese and Russian visas as a United States citizen: My experience

 

Preparing for my trip to Asia, I had to obtain visas before arrival to China and Russia. Since I am just finishing up this process, I wanted to describe the steps that I went through in case anyone might be doing the same thing and wants to save some time on research. This is geared for the independent traveler without set itinerary.

I want to emphasize that it may be different depending on where you are from in the United States (and obviously different if you are from a different country, check here for the Russian consulate and Read More ...

Marathon hitchhiking: Southern Mexico to Michigan in 7 days over 3,400 mi

 

Day 1

5:30 am. I'm leaving my hostel in San Cristobal as the sun breaks, already reminiscing about the cool weather, good people, and nice local markets stocked with fresh produce every day for pennies. I have left myself two weeks to hitchhike back to Michigan (click here to see the route). After talking with a few of the dread-locked, unicycle-riding sort on the street last night about hitchhiking, I decide to take colectivos up to Villahermosa since hitching in Chiapas is supposedly fraught with long waits and suspicious people. Another big plus is that the main highway to Read More ...

Mango Surprise: Being the victim of a random, delicious act of kindness

 

This story is the other side of the news reports, the non-profitable story, the anti-State Department website of the capital of Guatemala, Guatemala City. Instead of pointless violence, I am writing about pointless kindness.

After being abroad for a long period of time in non-traditional tourist spots, a certain persistent question always and unavoidably comes up: “But, isn’t it dangerous in [insert city]?” Even between long-term travelers who should know better the question is frequently asked, with swapping stories of tourist crime (usually second or third hand and undoubtedly exaggerated for narrative effect) being an entertaining way to pass the time Read More ...

How to wash your clothes by hand while traveling quickly and effectively

You have set out to travel to extract yourself from the daily routine, but there is one chore that will never go away: dirty clothes (nudist colonies an exception). And if you´re trying to save money on the road, or just don´t trust that random lady on the corner lavanderia, washing your clothes by hand is the only option that´s left. The good news is that it´s easier than you think, and with practice becomes no chore at all and you can tailor it to your situation. Here´s a quick run down on how to get it done.

Read More ...

How to get the local price for anything while abroad

With the cash economy spread to every corner of the globe, it´s no hidden fact that travelers abroad are many times looked at more as breathing cash machines and less as curiosities from foreign lands. It´s not that people are necessarily looking to grab money from tourists, but rather that poverty incentivizes creative pricing where price tags are lacking. Those of us traveling on a budget for extended periods need to economize since we´re already putting a hefty bit of cash into the local economies of the places we visit, so let opportunists prey on the less saavy traveler. There Read More ...

First stop in Colombia: Checking out Popayan and the weirdest desert I´ve ever seen (Tatacoa)

cactusMy first stop in Colombia was the so-called "White City" of Popayan in the south of the country for a bit of R&R before heading out towards the geographic anomaly known as the Tatacoa Desert. Due to a nearby mountain range casting a rain shadow over the area it stays dry year-round, but there is enough rain to cause some pretty crazy erosion patterns that were pretty eerie to hike around. If I had to imagine what Mars looked like, Tatacoa would basically be it. I pitched my tent near an observatory in the area for a few nights, put there because the desert made for some pretty good astronomical observations apparently. Unfortunately the local astronomer wasn´t there at the time, so it was closed. It was more or less deserted (no pun intended) the whole time I was there except for an army patrol...

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Does this make me a travel writer/photographer?

photoessayProbably not, but they paid me anyways.  In February I had the chance to experience the Fiesta de la Candelaria in Puno, Perú and thought it might be worth a shot to do a little write up to get published to my favorite online travel publication, Matador Travel...and violá you can find the article and pictures here: Photo Essay: Fiesta de la Candelaria in Puno, Peru.

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The quickest pass through Ecuador, ever

 

My stay in Ecuador consisted of a few nights in Guayaquil doing little but killing time with a French guy and a total of 12 hrs in Quito (didn´t even take pictures). It was my second time in Ecuador, so I didn´t feel so bad about skipping over it (okay, I guess a little bit) since I´m trying to maximize my time in Colombia. In any case, the random pictures of Guayaquil are below. Prepare to be underwhelmed.

 

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Last few days in Peru: Sun and mountains

zorritos food beachAfter departing from the south of Peru, there were a few places I wanted to visit on the way up toward Ecuador. The first stop was in the jaw-dropping Cordillera Blanca in the town of Huaraz, which I only got a quick peek at before I got a pretty nasty stomach infection as well as an infection on my flash drive and lost all of my pictures. A few days in bed and a few antibiotics later I got over to Trujillo, and old colonial town on the coast where I Couchsurfed with a colorful girl from there (lost pictures from there too, minus a few). I next hopped up to Máncora, an overrun and overpriced beachtown that I got out of after a failed attempt at surfing and staring at too many ridiculously tanned tourists. The next and final stop in Peru was another, more tranquil beach town called Zorritos where I pitched my tent and got some R&R on a deserted beach before skipping to Ecuador.

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Joining the parade during La Fiesta de la Candelaria

A bit slow on putting this up, this is the video of I shot with a few friends from Puno/Cusco as we marched along in the Fiesta de la Candelaria (may have to Google translate the link):

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Video: Inflating sheep´s lungs by mouth after the slaughter (Huañuscuro, Peru)

Slightly morbid but definitely amusing, after I slaughtered a sheep with my host Julio while visiting Huañuscuro we took a little break and had some anatomical fun. The video is slightly graphic, just a warning. (Animals were definitely injured in the making of this video, but basically every part of it was eaten, so no moral qualms here. [I think]. Direct hate mail to ad dot pirz at gmail dot com.)

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How to get the local price for anything while abroad

IMG_0041With the cash economy spread to every corner of the globe, it´s no hidden fact that travelers abroad are many times looked at more as breathing cash machines and less as curiosities from foreign lands. It´s not that people are necessarily looking to grab money from tourists, but rather that poverty incentivizes creative pricing where price tags are lacking. Those of us traveling on a budget for extended periods need to economize since we´re already putting a hefty bit of cash into the local economies of the places we visit, so let opportunists prey on the less saavy traveler. There are countless stories of visitors getting ripped of for many multiples of what the local resident would pay; these are the ways to avoid it.

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How to pack for a trip with no set return date (with post-trip comments)

 

Note: this has undergone revisions beyond the comments in italics below. See this link for my most updated packing list: Revisited: How to pack for an independent traveler with no set return date

 

[Post trip comments are in italics]

On the eve of a trip that I'm hoping will get me from Peru to the US by land by summer, I thought I might go over what's going into my bag. A lot of people have asked what I pack for a trip that long...well in short, I try to pack lightly and I don't pack everything I need for that long. I will always be in places where people live and have stores, and I can resupply with what I need. My style is not exactly the superlight style, but I try to pare everything down to the essentials. (Excuse me if I seem a bit out of it in the video, it was the night before leaving around midnight and I was a bit scatterbrained.)

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Tips to turn a long bus ride into an unforgettable time

bus_road_500x375

Budget travelers are more than familiar with bus travel, since added travel time is usually the first thing in exchange for the cheaper ticket.

That said, this extended time in a fixed location presents a good opportunity to slow down and connect with those all around.  Very often the temptation is to pop in the ear buds, swallow down some sleeping pills, or clam up into a guide book, but we should all know better than to sacrifice the journey en route to the destination. First, let's prep for the bus ride.

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"Gas jugging" and coke dealers: hitchhiking for the first time (Ann Arbor, MI to Chicago)

A clumsy, narrative manifesto

Chicago (West) Please!

 

Gas jugging: click here to jump to how Matt and Galen got free gas crossing the country

[The bulk of this was written the day after I returned, and I would be enthralled to receive comments and criticism. I hope you find it entertaining]

Final night in The City of Big Shoulders, and falling asleep under the stars had a romance about it. Considering the city lights usually wash out the dim pokes from above, the timing seemed fortunate. Indeed, that grassy area hinted that the Traveling Gods purposefully carved it out, with proud grins on their faces high above. A divine reward, since I decided to indulge my pull to hitchhike a bit and pay them proper respects.

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Recent Photos

Camping in Puerto Olbaldia along the Atlantic.JPG
Leaf cutter ants in the Darien.JPG
The crystal clear waters of Porvenir.JPG
The jungle of the Darien.JPG
The ornate mola of the Kuna Yala people.JPG
Wax plams in Salento.JPG
a central plaza in tikal.JPG
a compass while hitching back to the US from mexico.JPG
a fire juggler near lago atitlan.JPG
a semuc champey in guatemala.JPG
a the market in san cristobal.JPG
a zapatista graffiti while in san cristobal.JPG
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