vagabonding can be a very spiritual experience. Sidharta, the first buddha embarked upon a great journey as a vagabond. His journey brought him close to death at times, but he always knew when to turn around continue onwards.
After 5 years of on and off life as a bum, i thought id offer up some lessons learnt. and if anyones interested in traveling on a minimal budget, discover a possible starting point to plan such a trip.
for me, near the begining, i didnt really know why i should do it. In fact through out the entire thing i was never sure why, which made all the tough moments of hunger and lonliness even harder.
Its like a very long rollercoaster, with the bad times being god dam awful and the good times overwhelmingly beautiful, then a whole load of sitting around in between.
a good starting point would be to look upon it as a 'ray mere's urban survival'. the core principle is quite simple, adapt to your eviroment as you move, and try to have a little bonus fun along the way.
What to bring:
-As little as you can bear to go without. a half full rucksack is a good one to aim for. why? I dragged around far to much stuff i had imagined using as part of my poetic preconceptions of this adventure.
portable gas stove with 2 pots... used twice in 2 months.
camping gear... used a lot, got fed up with continuous pitching, a ball ache, and made me a lot more noticeable. and dam heavy.
ultimately, i discovered by the end of 5 years traveling, that its best to save money on pre-travel purchase, and find it locally when needed. that way gear is always suited to the environment.
some valuable lessons learnt:
stealth camping... during the day, have a wonder and find a nice spot, preferably out of eye shot of public footpaths, find a grassy patch, make sure there's no glass or used needles you might sit on. once sleeping arrangements made, go get lost in space and time. come nightfall, return to your spot, but dont walk right to it.
walk in a slow inward spiral. checking as you walk around, to see if anyone can see you. spiral to your spot and take a perch, chill out for a bit.
if your in country, start a fire, if your in urban land, dont, you will be bothered by somone unpleasant.
relax, unwind, stretch of sore muscles, get food out, listen to music, but stay hidden, careful with light.
what follows is not really sleep, but simply an extended nap. you need to be alert when asleep, Dogs do it well, learn from them.
From hitchhiking i always had a piece of cardboard. however you sleep, stick it under your butt/hip... it will save your hip.
to plan or not to plan... both. plan the next 'step' but after that who knows where you'll go. dont get attached to poetic ideas of what you want your trip to be. you are going places you could not imagine, you will change, and so will your ideas.
start small... ever seen your own backyard, your own country, start there, small trips, then when you realise you brought loads of useless crap, you wont have to lug it around for months. almost like test trips.
join communities... as you travel, you will stumble across beautiful communities full of love, some of which are happy for you to stay. you are traveling yes, but dont be afraid to deviate from the plan and stop for a while. the rest will do you good. It will be a chance for you to really get to know local cultures, instead of simply passing through.
i met a few travellers who said they had ben around europe, "yup, paris, london, madrid, rome...". im sure they had a lovely time, but only stuck to comforts of familiarity.
ways to get around... I hitchiked, its shite once the novelty wears of. Everyone has a car but you, and when its raining and no one wants to stop because you might get thier leather seats wet, it sucks.
but then suddenly a veichle will unexpectadly stop, with smiling driver who will often want to talk about philosophy and culture, or it will be a quiet (often french) driver who wants nothing more than to give you a lift, in silence.
hitching is simple, find a spot for cars to pull over, stick your thumb out, sign is good but not necessary.
Hopping trains is a good one, something of an art i never quite mastered. Its ridding trains without a ticket, buy arriving at the train station, checking to destination board, getting the map out and picking a train. you can never get to where you want, just the destinations listed.
choose the train and return 10 minuets before it arrives. make the unsuspicious waddle to the platform and pick a carriage in the middle, the ticket inspectors start at the back or the front, this gives you time to get settled and look for a possible hiding place.
the ticket inspector will be grumpy at you having no ticket, dont give him your life story, it pisses him off. be honest, you are a traveler and dont have money for a ticket. if your good with people, casually incline that you would be grateful for some help, but understand that regulations must be upheld, or, if your me, freeze and panic, "WHAT DO I SAY?"
flying, i have one policy on that i try to stick too, never fly over land i have not yet explored by foot.
collect skills... As you travel, i strongly recommend learning as much as you can. these skills will prove useful in making money to continue traveling for longer. collect enough and master a few, and you will reach a point when you can fund your travels as you go, and thus your intrepid adventures will become your life. but thats quite far down the line. best not worry about that too much.
the ability to work the land is very beneficial. where ever you go, people will be living from the land, which means finding work anywhere in the world there are people.
become an apprentice, work in exchange for food and accommodation, of which you can learn at your own pace.
Recourses... a note on perception of what recourses are. a €10 note in my right pocket and a 25g pouch of tobacco on my left pocket, are the same to me. both can be used to trade in measurable quantities and have value to others. everything on you is a recourse that can be traded. swapping a useless item for a useful one, is just lovely.
medicinal herbs... cannabis pretty much, but to me, it ways always medicinal. it always blew my Aura wide open, so as i wondered strange new places, it was overwhelmingly beautiful. but be careful to keep in balance. I am still getting to grips with the plant, its quite new for me. when i was lucky enough to actually get any without being ripped of by street dealers, i would usually smoke it all too fast and get blazed in a city or town i dont know, cursing my own stupidity in forgetting that this is a serious game with serious consequences of not played with respect.
I did notice that if smoked on occasion with moderation, my Aura would steadily expand on a daily basis, due to all the new energies being picked up.
Dogs... they make a lovely companion when traveling. though stay out of urban environments i took a jake russel puppy to france and spent far too much time in cities and towns. It wasn't good for him, too much confusing noise, but we did have great times with other street peeps with dogs. he learnt so much about the world from other dogs.
pooping outdoors... yup, its gonna happen, get used to it, much healthier, i wont go into details.
Follow the rainbow... if you spot anyone wearing rainbow-esque clothing, follow them, good things will happen.
The elements... me personally, i like to be prepared for rouge wether. Though i may have been a bit to overcautious and packed for north Atlantic gales. again, finding the balance between weight and usefulness.
this is stuff best figured out on smaller journeys near the beginning, trial and error. items with more tan one use is good, like the army sheet shelter that doubles as a poncho.
the world of bureaucracy... for the love of god don't lose your passport, at the same time as having no money, it sucks. and if your British it means you cant go home.
A strong mind... "ahhhh, your traveling the world, i wish i could do what you do" No it sucks, I was a bum, who happened to be on the move. i would spend days outside, lost in space and time, then someone would pull me into their world of Unconditional love, and suddenly all those times of hardship and desperation, didn't matter anymore.
I found the beauty of such times, often overwhelming. I realised that it is the tough times that make me stronger. It is an unimaginably fast way to become strong of mind, and of body, if one eats right.
follow the flow of water... Like a water flowing down a stream.... im tired. sleep time