How to Travel Around the World for $418

How to Travel Around the World for $418.

I am reposting this article I have just stumbled upon looking for the best credit-card to have with me because it is rich in information and tips. Moreover, I know that I am not the type to go for the credit-card points or reward systems as up till now I thought learning how to use them properly was not worth the time invested in the process. Now that I am jobless I obviously would have probably benefited of such knowledge, yet I am still quite skeptical about this subject.

Anyway, in case you are into travel hacking or interested in it, this post can be a very good start. I also wish for you to let me know how do you feel about this sort of rewarding systems and if you have any tips on this matter or if you have any good stories about using them.

Thanks a lot to Steve Kamb that actually shared this info with all of us.

Morning Surprises

It will be a very short update, spring is coming and the work start to pick up here at the farm so I have always something new to do and that comes with tiredness and little time to properly blog attached to it. However, when you get up and first thing in the morning you get to the barn and find out that there is a stray cow parked in the middle of it, you know that you are in for an interesting day from the start. It was nice that AK was around to save the morning, I really didn’t know from where to start otherwise!

5 problems that keep you from leaving for a Round the World Trip

Greetings,

It is approximately 2 months now that I have committed to a year of Interactive Travelling around the world. I am still as excited as day one and I am trying to plan the first part of it. I wanted it to be as unplanned as possible. I knew this choice was romantic more than realistic, but I am now completely aware that it is just a mythical goal and the path to it is paved of procrastination, sleepless nights and commiseration. As a result, enough with this romanticism and let’s make my walk on that path so far, a positive part of my journey.

Being a scientist I am good at analysing and deconstructing problems to more manageable ones, so why not start doing precisely that? Well, here lay the mind trick, is easy to say but difficult to do when you keep stressing about the results and details.  I already started my adventure by relocating in a farm and working here but I will consider myself on the road only when I will have broke free from Finland. Realizing today that despite all the pointless details I was stressing about I fully overlooked the need for visas for some countries I want to visit, tipped the balance on my favour. So here my list of problems that I feel kept me from committing to my final step so far.

1) Say goodbye to friends and the old style

You have probably like me dreamt and waited for something like this a long time, you finally leave your job, box your stuff and notify friends and family of your plan. But after that the time start to slow down in your mind and only every now and then you realize that it has actually flew by and not slowed down at all. In my case I put this down mainly to the fact that I am quite unease to say bye to my friends. I have great people around me and despite I am use to move from country to country I am the ultimate sentimental when it comes down to friendship. The only thing I can say about this is to embrace the fact that it is not a goodbye, you will be seeing them again, no matter where or for how long, the good ones will stick around and your relationship will just evolve in a different direction; but that is how things go in life anyway.

For the old life style, well yes I already kind of kissed goodbye to that with no regrets but some of the old me is still trying to resurface at times and the only thing is to keep looking forward and probably start to speak to myself into the mirror repeating “Mirror mirror on the wall…” oh no wait this is the wrong quote, but you get what I am aiming at. I will start from tonight, let me know if you get any results yourself in case you try.

2) Reading blogs to plan carefully and find the answers to all your questions

Now, this can sound contentious but actually it is true. Because I found out that there are many people that have experienced a similar journey and they wrote about it, I convinced myself that all their knowledge would have provided me with all the answers I need. I am actually sure that would be the case, there are very good ones around and I got some great tips but I also spent hours if not days on checking them, studying them and ping-pong myself from one link to the other. All good stuff, and I am happy I did it and I will keep doing it but first and foremost this is a PERSONAL journey and I have to find my way not patch together other people ones.

So stop reading to plan, just plan your own things and read others’ stories to enjoy, be inspired and share. But just in case, Rob from Stop having a boring life (SHABL) has a very good list of travel blogs that you can see here if you want a taste of them.

3) Bureaucracy

There has to be a reason if my brain ignored the visas issue so successfully. I like bureaucracy as the next person and I am trying to avoid it and postpone it as long as I can. This is the wrong approach. I luckily never got in trouble and I am trying to straight things up, but a healthy relationship with bureaucracy is critical, especially when you will have to deal with it on foreign and unknown soil.

Prepare yourself, take copies and PDFs of all the documents you need and send them to you by email for online access to it as well, just in case your hard-drive will give the ghost on you when you most need it (and we all know they have the tendencies to do that sort of thing). By the way, Jodi at Legal Nomad has a very good resources page from which I quote here about the visa issue so I suggest you to go down there and have a look for more info.

For American Citizens, entry requirements are here; for Canadian Citizens, entry requirements are here. IATA’s global visa database is also a great resource for anyone – plug in the country you’re from, your resident country and where you are headed.

I am not an American citizen, but go figure you probably are.

4) Looking for the needle in the haystack

I found myself researching the most trivial things. I am postponing the open travelling because I am not sure which portable hard-drive is the best, which online backup service to use or which kind of bag to buy for a year long travelling in unknown conditions…really?! I mean come on stop fidgeting START booking flights! That’s what I would suggest to anybody telling me something like this so I will take the lead myself and drop now all this researching. If a bag is no good I am sure I will find a better one if needed in a new place.

By the way, do you have any practical advice on any of the above issues? I can do with some help.

5) What about the end?

We all have jobs, we are all experiencing the economical crisis, we are all preoccupied for the future. Well I am, and there is a part of me that keep screaming that I am crazy and that a year of travelling will be a black hole in my CV. I will not find a job. I will find myself having thrown away years of studying and a safe future.  Mmm, not sure about the last point, safe future in Postoc-land is an euphemism.

The point is, if you have the opportunities and you find yourself in a situation in which a crazy but dreamt about experience is at reach, reach for it. Will I regret the choice? I don’t know. Will I regret having splashed around money instead that having focused on ways to keep them? I don’t know. Will I think forever that with my knowledge I should have found better ways to change my life? I don’t know. The list of I don’t know may well go on endlessly, and I think there is no solution to this circle of thoughts. What I know is that sitting here and procrastinating is not helping in anyway, so better go on with the plan and invest in things I will certainly enjoy and myself.

I don’t believe in future telling glass orbs nor I actually believe in the power of the 8 ball answers, despite I would trust the latter more.  Thus the way out is a no-brainer, stop stressing about what will be because you will know it only when you get there so you better sit and enjoy the ride and scenery as long as you can. At least you will know you are the one who sat on the driver sit of your life and this thought is soothing and empowering me.

I will end with a quote from Maria Robertson that I think sums it all up:

‘Nobody can go back and start a new beginning, but anyone can start today and make a new ending.’

Pictures of the day

After a 5km walk to the neighbours friends of KK I managed to take a couple of shots of the animals. Unfortunately, due to the risk of spreading a cow affecting viral disease running at the moment in the area, I could only take some photos in one of the small outside pen. This was to avoid problems in the barn. So here are: the turkey , one of the dogs and the stroll back to the farm for a delicious lunch.

Today at the farm

I woke up to a morning off from barn duties and a mouthwatering fragrance of freshly baked bread. Some of my friends are around and the lady of the house, my patron KK has already planned a long walk to a friend of her place on the other side of the lake. From what she said, he has in his backyard a selection of animals just shy of Noah’s Ark. I am preparing my camera gear and I will post something later on.

Happy day to everybody!

A full day of work

Today I was working all day long so I did not have the time to prepare anything in particular. The day went between barn in the morning, cleaning the household during the day, doing the horses boxes and barn in the evening. I love to have a lot to do as this will make my free-time much more appreciated. For this reason I will only leave a view of my morning while I was going from the house to the barn. Yes, this is what I wake up to and I have a beautiful view from my bedroom of the sunrise every single day! The commute is the best ever, 45 seconds door to barn, but as you can see is packed with expectations and beauty in a way that is nearly impossible to reproduce and convey!

The morning I found the greatest surprise

A couple of days ago we moved one of the cows to a special box as she was expecting to give birth quite soon. This morning, like every other time before, I arrived at the box with trepidation to find again nothing but the soon mummy-to-be laying down. We went for breakfast and after roughly 20 minutes I was back in the barn to clean the milk bucket…when low and behold AK with nonchalance is telling me “oh, by the way the calf is here”. I darted across the barn…my first ever new-born calf, never thought I would have seen something like this for real. It was incredible to see this little wet creature looking up and around and trying to stand up…luckily enough I had the camera with me and despite I felt nearly obliged to give them privacy and just observe in awe, I clicked so here some photos of the less then 20 minutes old calf…isn’t she super cute?

Chapter 1- My day as a Finnish farmer boy

After having left my job in the end of December, being back from Cape Town and having shoot as freelancer photographer for a couple of months; I took the final leap. I left the flat I was renting, packed nearly everything in boxes that I have stored away and moved to the countryside.

How did it happen? Well, I visited a couple of friends in their farm last autumn and I felt in love with the place. I already knew they are great people with a heart of gold and great personality, so when I asked them if I could have started my interactive travelling adventures from their farm I got a warm and immediate yes as an answer.

The farm where I am working is a family business split in two, AK my current boss and host is the CEO of the cows’ barn side, SK his sister has a horses training stable. I arrived with trepidation and high energy, looking forward to more practical work and dealing with the animals. I still feel like that, despite by now I have numb and painful fingertips, and my half poetic view of the country life has been halved. The sweet little calf looks cute and helpless, but just try to move it from a box to another one 10 cm distant and you will find out that it is an evil machine with the pulling power of the incredible Hulk…just furrier and not green. Luckily enough I found out this at day 2 of my experience, adapting goes faster when you start early.

I have been here for a while now, my day start around 7am with taking care of the barn while AK is milking. The milking system he uses requires squatting in between cows and we both agreed I am a bit too tall for such a task. So I clean the floor from the left-over hay, I feed the cows with oat, then I drop new hay and spread it between the “customers”.

After the barn, I go to take care of the horses, some belongs to AK but some are just kept here because SK’s stable is always so busy that she hasn’t got the place for them all. I have around 14 of them, all with a slightly different personality. The 3 young and far too curious stallions, are my daily nightmare. For someone who does not have experience in dealing with horses, dealing with unmannerly youngsters is quite a challenge.

After having fed and brought out all of them it’s time to go and clean the boxes for the night…all considered I just realized I am working in a bed and breakfast.

During the day there is always something to do; despite in the winter the field work is not a problem, Finland+winter=snowy fields, you know. And yes it’s still winter here despite the locals refer to it as spring (see for yourself)

At around 6pm is cow’s dinner time and then I am bringing back in the horses. Job done, hands hurting, and well a major thing I didn’t mention yet, smelling like a cave-man it’s time to relax.

Prelude- Cape Town and the Photography Bootcamp

It was the start of November, I found out about a selection process for which the tagline recited: If you like traveling, photography and learning from the best, read this! I could not but read it. Having just lost everything that kept me anchored to Helsinki, and decided to take a break from Academia, the prospect of being based in Cape Town and travel around the world chasing summer and photo-perfect locations as a photographer trainee was like a mermaid chant to my hears. I applied. I got accepted for the Bootcamp “…I did what?!” That’s what I thought when I found out.

10 days later or so, on New Year’s eve I was flying to Cape Town awaiting to meet the other 126 candidates to the up to 15 positions available. It did take a push from a friend to click on that “confirm booking” button but it was well worth it.

I am not going to speak in details of the Bootcamp as such, in fact we signed a non-disclosure paper so I cannot really do that. However, I can divulge some of my experiences with you.

Cape Town is a wonderful and incredible place. The surroundings and views are breathtaking, the fresh fruit and colour-packed flowers are divine. It was my first time in Africa and surely it will not be the last.

Spending 3 weeks with a group of people coming from world’s 4 corners, was one of the best experiences I had. Yes, it was not a holiday. Yes, we had long hours working and lots of tests to pass every day. Yes we slept in a lousy hostel but boy if we didn’t feel like best-friends by the end of it. We had the chance to participate in photoshoots and got critical and expert feedback on the results. I only dreamt of shooting some of the thing I found myself shooting and I will keep that experience with me forever. Yet, the best gain was the group of amazing people I met; the sweet but hard-haggler Canadian designer, the shy but super-pro Tahi photo-retoucher, the US professional photographers (among which the teen-slaigher), the land-scape wizard and all his filters, the boat-hitch hikers and I can go on. We took pictures and we posed for each other assignments, I had to play being a gay couple with EA the boat hitch hiker. We were all fighting for the same spot but I never felt like it; it was a group activity to improve and support each other. I was very happy some of my best buddies got into the program, and I am pleased with my achievements. I got a freelancer position that I kept for a few months and to be honest I am quite relieved I didn’t get the 3 years position as I think the company’s personality and mine would have clashed.

I came back to Helsinki, shoot assignments, some events and decided I was ready to take the leap and start a crazy adventure. That is how my interactive travel idea came upon. I spoke with some friends and I took my first step by moving in the countryside to work in a farm. More about this in another post.

Here you can see for yourself some of the shots I took, this time round I have to ask for you not to use this pictures as some are copyrighted and can be only used as personal portfolio.

How to prepare for an Interactive Journey?

You will be curious of how I am planning to go about this journey, well to be frank I am wondering about that too. I decided that it was going to be an unplanned experience and suddenly realized that a random project requires some serious planning to begin with. I think it is partly due to the fact that I have to figure out how to ship all my boxes from Finland to Italy to store them while I am away, and also setting up renting and so on for my flat down in Italy. But enough about this, in the end it’s a problem I have to face.

I will try to travel on a budget, getting from place to place making use of hitch-hiking internet resources, friends, friends of friends, social networks, couchsurfers and so on as far as possible. I wanna prove that good spirited people are still around, and we all would be happy to help out someone to have a great experience in places we know just out of kindness. But more importantly I want to demonstrate that great traveling is not based on money spent. I strongly believe in this so help me confirm it to all the readers!

I will pack a miminal survival kit, everything I can fit in a non oversized bag, this is my new reality. Don’t be fool it’s a hard task, I am not good in minimalistic packing. Moreover, being a photographic business I need to allocate for camera space and everything that comes with it. I am sure lots of you guys understand my ordeal.

A bag, this sounds like a spare pair of trousers, a couple of tops, a week allowance of socks and pants, a jacket, possibly that extra pair of shoes and the paramount most massively useful thing an hitch-hiker can have a towel as The Hitchhiker’s guide to the galaxy teach. It is as exciting as it is dawnting.

I am planning to visit places in Europe. Done that I am ready to fly over the Atlantic and start in style hopefully with a stop in the Caraibbean learning how to sail, that would be a real treat. In the States I am surely hitting NY, DC, Detroit and LasVegas but filling the gaps is all down to the wind, so to speak. After this I will have a stop in Bankgok and yet again the path is down to what it will come along the way.

I have just started and I am already changing “plans”. I was suppose to work here, at the farm from where I am writing, for one month, while I am prolonging my farming spree as it is a great experience that I enjoy so much. More about this in another post.

All that said, If you guys have any leads or suggestions I am welcoming all of them so please be interactive. In theory I should have had planned ahead but I am the last-minute kind of character when it comes to certain subjects.