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Surviving on the road… 5 (slightly unconventional) solutions to common problems

3 months ago written by
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Travelling can be a rough old business. Chances are at some point you’re going to find yourself hungry, thirsty, lonely, homeless and broke (or is that just me?). How would you like quick, simple and FREE solutions to all of the above? Yep, thought so. Read on!

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Life on the road can be a dream. Spontaneous and carefree, you float from location to location… but it’s not always sunshine and roses. You need to be prepared for whatever life can throw at you, and knowing these 5 tips for how to live on the road could just save your bacon (and your sanity).

Problem: You’re thirsty

H20.The stuff of life! Your body needs it for hydration, metabolism, digestion and excretions. It’s seemingly all around us, yet it’s pretty easy to find yourself dehydrated and in a pickle on the road.

The average human can survive for up to 3 days without any water but, depending on conditions, things can get pretty dangerous pretty quick.

The problem is that not all water is drinkable. Dare you risk taking a much needed sip if the consequences could be:

  • Diarrhea
  • Dysentery
  • Cholera
  • Hepatitis A
  • and many more delightfully horrendous conditions

You could carry around a bagful of purification tablets, (100 tablets for £4.24 from Amazon)  but that means having a receptacle, filling it with the foul liquid and then sitting back as the tablets work their magic.  For a thirsty man, that time delay could drive you insane!

Solution? The Lifestraw

  • Removes 99.9999% of waterborne bacteria
  • Super light (only 56 grams)
  • Super easy to use (lift off the cap, drink, shake it out)
  • Turns 1000 litres of contaminated water into safe, clean drinking water
  • 1000 litres for only £19.47 at Amazon… bargain!

Lifestraws are currently being used in Africa and India to provide over 600,000 children with clean, safe drinking water (check out the official site here to read about all their projects). A fine example of a simple yet genius solution, it could revolutionise your way of travelling. Armed with your trusty straw, every puddle, stream or toilet bowl has now just become a drinking fountain!

Problem: You’re hungry

Without water, we are weak… 3 days max.  But food? We’re much more hardy. You can last for up to 3 weeks without any food, although after only a day or two you’re going to start feeling the effects.

Back in the day (around 70,000 years ago), you’d simply dust off your club and go beat your next meal into submission… nowadays that’s kind of frowned upon. If you run out of cash (more on that later), travelling on an empty stomach can become pretty miserable .

Solution: Dumpster Diving

Before that gag reflex hits critical mass, hear me out!

While the words alone conjure up the idea of toothless old folk, rummaging around for fish bones, the reality is quite the opposite.

In the UK alone, over 200,000 tonnes of food are thrown away each year by supermarkets. That’s not because it’s rancid, mouldy or foul. The majority of the time it’s simply because the sell by date (a recommendation, not an absolute) has passed. Although the industry is working to lower the number, there’s still a colossal amount of daily waste. And where does it all go? In the bin… madness.

I’ll prefix this by saying that Dumpster Diving (or totting/skipping to folk in the trade) is illegal in some countries (see Wikipedia for details). However it’s not all doom and gloom. The internet is awash with whole communities making Skipping a full time habit… and looking at this image, why wouldn’t you?

How to live on the road

Dumpster dived food from one street in Toulouse

Not a single fish bone in sight!

There’s a mountain of information over at http://trashwiki.org/en/Main_Page including maps, guides by country, and tips and tricks to help get you started.

Problem: You’re lonely

Travelling can be a lonely business. If you’re wandering solo, it’s pretty much guaranteed there will come a time when you crave a bit of social interaction. And I’m not talking about the fun for 5 minutes “Where’ve you been? Where are you going? Where’s your favourite place?” token hostel bar exchange.  I say fun for 5… unless I’m chatting to a salty old road pirate I tend to glaze over after “Whe…”

You could hit up the local bars, but that’s Russian roulette depending on your current location. How do you meet local people, in a safe environment, who potentially have the same interests as you?

Solution: MeetUp

Exploring categories as diverse as Reading Groups, Fashion & Beauty or Pets (and most things in between), MeetUp.com hosts over 30 million members and nearly 300,000 meetup groups. Chances are, unless you’re a basket weaving ninja philatelist, you’re going to find a like-minded group out there.  Search online or download the app.  It’s free to join, and you can bottle it at the last minute should your nerve fail you (or you get a better offer in the bar).  Plus they’re organised events, which adds a nice layer of security.

MeetUp can be particularly useful if you’ve just landed in a new country and want to brush up on the lingo. Language exchanges are plentiful, and allow you to learn in a friendly, social and safe environment. And if you don’t like it, you can simply walk away.

MeetUp isn’t the only option for expanding your social circles. Eventbrite.com allows you to search for upcoming events coming in your area, although this also includes paid events and expos.

Another notable site worth checking out is Trustroots.org. It’s a free, community driven site where you create a profile and shop around others, but it’s got a much more bohemian feel. It hosts communities (or Tribes as they’re called on the site) such as Nomads, Ecoliving, hitchhikers and dumpster divers.

Problem: You’re homeless

Admit it, we’ve all done it.  We’ve all slept on beaches, building sites or motorway islands at least once in our lives… right? No? Huh… go figure.

Anyway, I’d bet most have had some kind of hotel/hostel nightmare where they didn’t get your reservation, they double booked, the hotel doesn’t actually exist etc What do you do then? Sleeping in airports and train stations could be an option (depending on the country), but you could also be as likely to wake up with a new scar covering a kidney shaped hole.

Solution: Hospitality exchanges

Couchsurfing.com is probably the most well known, with over 400,000 hosts and 4 million surfers. You create a profile, advertising yourself and your interests, and then search through the global database for couches in your target city. You read their profile, and if you like their style then you apply. If they like your style, you’ve got yourself a free bed.

Again, it’s Russian roulette (although I guess with rubber bullets). You’ve got to read the profiles carefully, and it’s always a good idea to check out the reviews. If your gut says no, scroll on.

I personally had an unbelievable time Couchsurfing in Croatia, as the guy just gave us the keys to his unused (yet immaculate) apartment, and only came round one evening (after asking permission) to bring us local beer and wine and to trade stories.

how to live on the road

The view from my Croatian Couchsurfing apartment

Admittedly, not all Couchsurfing hosts are created equally. I’ve heard plenty of tales of creepy guys using it like a dating site, and scary old women who just want to adopt you. But on the flipside there are people who’ve stayed on boats, or tents in the desert… it really is a pick & mix. Sometimes you get the flump, sometimes you get the coffee ball. Research will help massively, but nutjobs tend not to advertise their wares openly.

An alternative would be BeWelcome.org, which is less encompassing as Couchsurfing, but allegedly a more ethical organisation (not for profit).  Plus there’s also a chance of finding free accommodation through Trustroots.org, although that’s only for the more eco friendly, bohemian folk… Glampers need not apply.

Problem: You’re broke

This is a tricky one. I’d love to load you up with advice on how to make a quick buck when you’re on your travels, but I’ll save that for a later article (or for a comprehensive list of ideas you could do worse than checking out Kylietravers.com.au or Justonewayticket.com)

No. I shall approach this problem with the premise that someone back home loves you, and you can hit them up for a few pennies to tide you over until your next payday. It’s all well and good having friendly donors, but if they can’t get that hard earned cash into your pocket then it’s pointless. Western Unions are prolific around the world, but their exchange rates and fees can be crippling.

Solution: Revolut

My life transformed when I discovered Revolut.  Before heading to India I was looking for a solution to bank charges. Some credit cards offer 0% on transactions, and a few debit cards too, but most have a sneaky charge or three ready and waiting to rinse your precious travel money away. They’re the devil!

Step right up Revolut. You download the app, and request a card. A MasterCard will arrive on your doorstep within 21 days (mine arrived in 3). You then link it to an account and top it up.

Switch between Euros, Pounds and Dollars in seconds, and always at the best rate (the spot interbank rates). Wherever you’re using it around the world the card automatically converts into the local currency at the real exchange rate so you don’t have to worry about it… no fees, no hidden charges… never!

But the real winner is when you need a helping hand. As the app is linked to your phone number, you can request a cash injection from anyone in your contacts list. And once you find that magnificent benefactor, it takes around 3 minutes for them to set up an account and transfer the money. Within 5 you can be back down at the local pub chasing that loneliness away.

If you lose your card, cancel it with three clicks and request a new one. Plus they’ll deliver around the world (for a fee)… you can’t argue with that!

Final bonus… if a few of you have cards, you can ping money back and forward literally in seconds… making paying for bills/expenses a doddle!

So there we have it. 5 of my best tips for how to live on the road. Anything else is just window dressing.

If you master these 5, you’re set for a life of success, fulfillment and love*

*success, fulfillment and love sold separately

So what do you think? Rules to live your life by?

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