Interviewed by You (Part 2 of 2)

A while back on my Instagram and Facebook pages, I promised that I would answer any questions you had and for 24 hours, I kept the post up for questions.  At the end of that period, I compiled all questions and put them in the following categories of health, safety, social, fear, experiences, photography, Max, travel and money.  In part one, I answered questions about health, safety, social, fear and experiences.  For this blog, I am answering the questions about photography, Max, travel and money.  So, here we go...

With Max at the Wave.  We were lucky to be awarded a permit to hike here on our first lottery try.

With Max at the Wave.  We were lucky to be awarded a permit to hike here on our first lottery try.

Photography

What do you use to take your pictures?

I use the camera that I have on me which is most often my iPhone 5 and GoPro.  When I know I am going out shoot for a specific purpose, I also shoot with a Canon 5d mark ii and a Canon 6d.  

And edit?

I edit with Lightroom

It seems like a very conscious decision to rarely show your face in your images.  Could you elaborate on this choice? 

This is a great question.  It wasn’t a conscious decision at first. I was tired of taking selfies and wanted to do something different, but still document my travels. The further I got from the camera, the more anonymous I could become.  I also wanted a sense of place. Perhaps suggesting the viewer could imagine themselves in that spot, seeing what I was seeing.  I wanted it to become less about me and more of where I was or how the place made me feel, if that’s possible.

How do you make photography become your income too?

There are several ways to make money off of your photographs.  I don’t have one specific income from my images.  I license them for use, get paid to shoot a specific event, or by selling prints.  There are so many different ways you can make money from your images but the main thing is to be persistent and keep shooting.  Even then, there’s no guarantee, unfortunately.  But to be clear, I don't only rely on my images to make a living.  I talk about this more in the money section.

What is your “go to” camera/lens?

I love shooting with my GoPro.  It’s small enough to throw in my bag, it’s waterproof and I am more likely to bring it along.  For higher quality images, I use a canon 5d mark ii or my canon 6d.

Taking photos of Max with my GoPro and iPhone at the same time in Coral Sands park in Utah

Taking photos of Max with my GoPro and iPhone at the same time in Coral Sands park in Utah

Any tips for a solo traveler taking travel photos?

Yes.  Take photos for yourself.  Take photos of what you like to look at.  Sounds simple, but don’t follow trends… photograph what you gravitate to.  When I was starting and shooting with my canon point and click, I took a lot of photos of the same house at different times and of bird feet.  Yes, you read that right.  

I still love taking photos of birds

I still love taking photos of birds

How do you keep your cell phone/computer/cameras/equipment charged while out on the road?

I have a power converter in campy and I charge batteries when I am driving so everything is charged.  I also stop at Starbucks every now and then to work and charge my computer.  I also have a new GoWesty solar panel.

Do you post pics while you’re there in that particular spot?

I usually post after I’ve left.  I do this for safety reasons since I'm alone most of the time.  Also, I want to soak up the moment while I am there and reflect on it after I’m gone.

Camping all alone near Lake Powell

Camping all alone near Lake Powell

 

MAX

When you go to far away places, who does Max watch over when you are gone?

My best friend, Dan and his wife Carolyn watch Max when I am overseas.  He makes himself at home there and Dan works from home so he has company for most of the day.

Max relaxing in his cat bed in the middle of the desert.  

Max relaxing in his cat bed in the middle of the desert.  

I think you would miss Max.  How do you cope without him? Is he in good care?

I do miss Max when I am traveling but I know he’s in good hands with Dan.  When I travel overseas without him, I’m able to do a lot more since I don’t have to pay attention if dogs are allowed. I miss him but I know I will reunite with him soon.

Any special tips for camping with a dog?

Make sure to have plenty of water and extra food with you.  Be aware of your surroundings and make sure they are nearby.  Dogs can attract wild animals so I make sure Max is in campy most of the time since he's the most relaxed there anyway.  I camp with the weather so he won’t be left in a hot car.  He’s a great travel partner so he knows what to expect.

Travel

Do you ever stay in a hotel or is the camper your only overnight accommodation?

Yes.  Every now and then I will treat myself to a Motel 6 for a shower and a ceiling higher than a foot from my face.  I need to pack most of my things in the room with me when I do this so sometimes it’s not worth the hassle or money.  But every now and then…it’s so worth it.

Do you maintain a home base? Yes. 

How do you research your trips so you get to some of the most amazing off the grid places within a short, limited timeframe? 

I don’t research my trips that much.  I usually plan in the morning what direction I will head.  This is for times where I don’t know where I am going.  However, there are times when I go on a trip for a specific destination.  In that case, I get there as fast as I can and then need to plan what’s next.

Hiking out to our spot at white sands National Monument

Hiking out to our spot at white sands National Monument

How do you decide where to go next? 

I look on apps to see what’s around me.  Sometimes it’s a camp near a body of water, or just by the name of the area.  

What advice could you give me on what spots to see in Iceland and why is traveling alone so special? 

In Iceland, I recommend the glacier lagoon and any of the massive waterfalls in the south.  Of course, a hot spring or two is necessary.  Traveling alone is so special because you get to do whatever you want to do.  You will also have time to think, be creative, and being alone is the best time to get to know yourself.  Sitting in discomfort ultimately brings peace.

Have you ever been to England? No but I want to!

When you started out did you ever think you would be on the road this long?  No.

Are there any regrets?

No.  I am glad everything happened the way it did.  I hit the road in 2008 and didn’t really plan it too well.  Actually, I didn’t plan it at all.  I had a paper map, no goals and a fully stocked bar.  Not quite the recipe for a fulfilling trip.  I learned more the first year and I am glad that I did it, even though it was extremely painful at times.

If one was to call traveling an addiction, of all the elements involved, what do you think holds the greatest power over people? 

I wouldn’t call traveling an addiction, but I understand the need and strong desire to explore.  I can’t sit still for too long, which is a good thing for me. I still believe it’s the best investment you can make in yourself. 

What’s the biggest reason about it that hooked you?

The freedom and feeling I get from being in a place I’ve always wanted to see in person, or stumbling across one of the most beautiful places I didn’t know existed. 

How do you choose your next adventure? 

When I go overseas, I tend to do more planning and even then, it’s minimal.  I like to keep plans loose to allow for spontaneous moments. 

Is it planned or is it more like wherever the wind blows you?

A little of both but tend to enjoy the wind more.  All of the most memorable times I’ve had traveling are from an unplanned adventure.

Watching the sunset with Max in the desert

Watching the sunset with Max in the desert

What was your trigger to go on such a long ride? 

I was stuck in a job I hated and that was killing my creative soul.  I felt I just needed to get away and explore.  

Do you consider adding a partner?  Sometimes, but ultimately, Max is partner enough.

Are you happy you made this decision to go on this trip?

I have had many trips and yes,  am happy I made this decision, although there are trade off’s to this type of lifestyle.

How long do you see yourself living this lifestyle? I plan on exploring new places until I die. 

Do you wonder if you would have difficulty going back to a non-mobile lifestyle? 

I have a balance of travel and a home base these days.

How did you start traveling?

I just decided to leave in 2008 in a teardrop trailer with my dog, Maggie.  I didn’t plan much, I just left.  It was the most difficult year but somehow, I keep at it and can’t see myself going too long without being on the road again.

What is your favorite music for driving? 

I listen to Pandora stations but lately, I have been listening to my NPR app or other podcasts I love to learn from.  I love documentaries and learning something new. 

What is your favorite place to camp?

A place where I am the only one there.

My favorite picnic spot of all time

My favorite picnic spot of all time

How many pairs of socks do you carry? About 5

What do you list as a mailing address for mail?  I have forwarded mail to a friend for one trip and now I have a home base.  I have friends who purchase p.o. boxes and another that you can have someone gather and forward occasionally. There are several options.

Which countries are you going to visit?

My next country is Nicaragua in November

Would you purchase another RV/van/camper again if given the chance? If not, what is the one feature of your current set up which is most critical?

I love Campy and the van community.  I also loved the van I had in Iceland which was more of a sprinter type van.  It was pure bliss to be able to stand up right away and having a bed that was always set up. The current feature in Campy that I love is how compact it is and how it drives more like a car.  I love that the stove and fridge are there anytime I want a cold drink (when it works), and I can make coffee at any time if I wanted to.

Money

(The most asked about topic)

Vanlife and living a nomadic life is getting extremely popular and because of that, I get a lot of questions from young people wanting to live their life on the road. For the most part, everyone wants to know how how much it costs or how you make money while on the road.  I wish I had a magic answer.  In short, I saved and invested for years before I decided to quit.  I may seem like a young person (sigh...), but I didn't hit the road until I was 37.  

How do you finance your trips? How do you sustain yourself financially? Do you have a job? How can you afford all this travel stuff? How can you do nothing but travel? How do you afford to travel so much? How can you afford traveling around as much? How are you financing your adventures?

I have several income streams from different places that help finance my trips.  The largest is from saving a chunk of my income for 10 years working in advertising sales, investing the maximum amount in my 401K, and making smart investments.  Also, I am able to travel by renting my home on a large vacation rental website, securing sponsorships, and licensing my images. I am also very frugal and spend wisely.  

Camping with Max on the edge in Gooseneck State Park, Utah

Camping with Max on the edge in Gooseneck State Park, Utah

How much are your monthly expenditures on the road?

You might hate to hear it but it really depends.  I can keep costs extremely low by camping for free and not moving around so much. 

How do you keep expenses low? 

I try and spend as little as possible on the road.  I make all of my meals, I look for free camping where I can, and I don’t spend money on things I don’t need.

So, there you have it.

Thank you to everyone who submitted a question to me.  If you have a last minute question, feel free to ask and I will do my best to answer.  I hope you follow your dreams and do whatever it takes to achieve what you want to do.  There is no perfect road and looking back, it's the imperfections of the road that you will remember most.