random thought, travel

How To Travel All The Time… Forever

Ellen and I get asked all the time, “How do you do it?!?” With baffled looks, most people begin to wonder whether we are trust fund babies or maybe secret oil barons.

Ellen slaton hiking and camping the Cirque of the Towers

Well the truth is, neither of us come from any money at all, and contrary to popular belief, photographers and yogis really don’t necessarily make a ton of cash. So we’ve learned to be… well… resourceful.

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Ellen slaton hiking and camping the Cirque of the Towers

The road to Willow Lake

Don’t get me wrong, we do just fine and feel so blessed to be able to do what we do and not worry about paying our bills or having enough food for our bellies… most months :)  “So what’s the secret?” you may ask.

silhouette of a man and woman holding hands at dusk with the Tetons in the background

We don’t have children, spend much money on clothes, or even own a home. We have chosen to “invest” our money in experiences. True, they are fleeting, and probably we won’t be able to retire until… well… ever.  But when I think about it, we would both do what we’re doing if no one was paying us, so why would we ever make a goal to retire from our passions??

Rocky Mountain Bull Elk, Rocky Mountain National Park, CO

Here’s the deal; we have very different priorities from most folks our age.  And that’s okay.  Our way is not better than the folks that prefer the security of a steady job, and making sound financial investments, and sacrificing their lives to raise children.  In fact, those are all wonderful and even very noble things.  But they aren’t what God has called us to in our lives. At least not yet.

So for now, we travel.  And I might even venture to say we’ve gotten pretty good at it. So I’d like to share a few things that we’ve learned over the years to cut costs and keep the dream alive.

Sunlight Basin Road (Chief Joseph Scenic Byway, Wy

Ellen slaton hiking and camping the Cirque of the Towers

Early morning on Lulu Pass in Gallatin National Forest near Cooke City, MT

First thing’s first… once you’ve determined the where, you have to be able to calculate whether it will be cheaper to drive there, or fly and rent a car, or take public transport. It’s not as hard as it may seem. Figure out your gas mileage and divide that by your calculated total driving distance (I recommend very liberal estimates… better to over-prepare and stay under budget than the reverse), then multiply that number by the average price per gallon of gas.  There’s your travel cost for driving.  Sometimes even though driving may be cheaper, the amount of time (including food + lodging) ends up making it a better deal to fly. Know when to say when is too far a distance to drive.  For me, there is no such thing. Except for ocean crossings! But a deal is a deal, and if I can fly for cheaper, then that’s what I’ll do.

van life, early morning on Lulu Pass in Gallatin National Forest near Cooke City, MT

Travel is your first major cost that you can’t really get around. It’s essentially fixed.  The next few elements are more variable, depending upon your resourcefulness and desired comfort level.

Coleman tent with Tetons in the background

Lodging is something that Ellen and I have down to a fine art. Most locations we visit we camp 6 out of 7 nights.  So for our three week Pacific Northwest trip, I only budgeted for three nights in a hotel.  This saves you… big time.  You can expect to camp for an average of $0-35 per night, depending upon the state/ country you’re in, and what regulations they have.  This info is super easy to find nowadays online. I recommend camping in undeveloped National Forest campsites as much as possible. They are free and usually the most beautiful and quiet. Developed sites usually cost between $5-20.

Camping is hands down, the best way to save money, making it possible for you to travel all the time.

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Sunrise over the Winds near Soda Lake, lit Nemo Tent, man camping

Food is the next (somewhat) variable expense.  We try not to eat out much on the road, as it is typically unhealthy and expensive. But it’s not always easy to travel with groceries. Especially if you elect to fly, coolers can be a hassle. But you can always pick up a $2 styrofoam cooler at Walmart, and that will give you a huge advantage when on the road.

If we’re driving, we bring a regular sized cooler, and keep just the essentials in our car at all times: breakfast (coffee, eggs, butter, yogurt, granola), lunch (peanut butter & honey, tortillas, chips, fruit), dinner (veggies, meat), and snacks (nuts, crackers, snack bars, water, etc.). Clearly, this kind of living is not everyone’s cup of tea.  Especially in the U.S.  But the fact is, many of the people of the world live this way because they have to. Sometimes I think of that fact when I’m growing weary of living out of my car, eating peanut butter and honey.

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Cooking over an open fire really can be such a simple way to “spice up” your meals.  Just some fresh veggies and meat (or eggs even!) will break the monotony (and unhealthy nature) of eating on the road.

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And chopping wood is might fine workout, and often free fuel.

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The truth about travel is that it can be really expensive.  But it doesn’t have to be. You just have to have a realistic budget, a good dose of planning, and expectations to match the budget.  If you desire to travel, but don’t have cash to throw around, just be truthful with yourself and manage your expectations.

Morning brings dramatic light on the Winds

Oh yeah… one more thing that’s really important… work. Most folks with steady jobs can’t just pick up and travel all the time, forever. Well, if travel is your thing, I would sincerely consider a career change. But really, nowadays, a lot of jobs can be done remotely. There’s nothing wrong with working while you travel.  That’s what we do. It’s rare that we take an actual “vacation”.

So it may be worth having a sit down with the boss to see if you have the option of working remotely.  Because if not, it may be back to square one.  But there are a lot of ways to make a living from the road.

Travel writers, food bloggers, consultants, photographers… people are even making money from their Instagram following. If you have something to say, there are advertisers that will gladly partner with and enable you to make a decent living from the road.

Ellen Slaton hiking to and looking out over Seneca Lake in the Wind River Range

All of the images in this post are from a Wyoming/ Montana/ Colorado road trip we did this summer. We partnered with Ambler, a fantastic hat company out of Canada to make it happen, and it opened my eyes to the possibilities.  They’re out there.

Ellen Slaton hiking Bridger Wilderness

When wanderlust takes hold, it can be insatiable. And those of us who aren’t independently wealthy need to get creative to carry out our dreams.

Don’t let life on the road intimidate you… you might find it as exciting and fulfilling as we do…

— andrew


 
Join me on an amazing adventure… check out my exciting, NEW workshop dates:
 
Big Bend NP // Night/ Landscape // 2016
Isle of Skye // S C O T L A N D // 2016
Highlands // S C O T L A N D // 2016
 
 
If you are interested in licensing any of the images/ video from this post, please visit my stock agency:
 
Tandem Stills + Motion // Andrew R. Slaton
Image Brief // Andrew R. Slaton
 
If you are interested in purchasing prints from this post, please check my prints for sale, or email me directly for a custom request:
 
Andrew R. Slaton | photographer // prints
 
For assignment work requests, please email me: andrew@andrewslatonphoto.com
 
Thanks for visiting AndrewSlatonBlog.com!
 
all images and content © ARS Media, LLC 2015

 

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random thought, travel

Planning An Epic (International) Road Trip // SCOTLAND

Trying to plan road trip can be intimidating for the uninitiated.  But planning an international road trip can be downright terrifying.

There are so many unknowns when hitting the open road in a foreign country that it can paralyze even the most seasoned traveler.

So I’d like to share a few things I’ve learned over the years about road trips, and more specifically now, road trips on foreign soil.

If you haven’t read them yet, I have created a lot of content on planning epic road trips, so if you’re new to the subject, I would recommend checking out these posts:

Planning an Epic Road Trip // Intro

Planning an Epic Road Trip // The Destination

Planning an Epic Road Trip // The Plan

Planning an Epic Road Trip // Equipped

The road to Glencoe and surrounding mountains

The road to Glencoe and surrounding mountains

1.  Know Your Destination

First thing’s first.  Research the heck out of the country to which you’re traveling.  Whether your final destination is South Sudan or Norway, put in the time and effort researching the country’s customs, laws, and even safety for drivers.  If it’s a conflict zone, I would  recommend having a guide/ driver, getting the max amount of insurance, or not going all together!

For up to date travel safety info, check out The U.S. State Dept. Website.  Also, your local AAA office has a massive wealth of resources when entering into the initial planning phase.  You can also obtain your international driver’s license from AAA for $15.  It’s generally not necessary, but could definitely come in handy in certain places, so why not.

the road to Glen Afric, Scotland

the road to Glen Afric, Scotland

2. Know Thyself :)

Be honest with yourself.  Set yourself up for success and a good time.  If you’re the type of person that get’s stressed and loses it when road tripping in the States, your style may not be to hit the open road in a foreign land.  And that’s okay!  There are plenty of fantastic options for travel that don’t include the adventure (or headache, depending on how you look at it) of renting a vehicle, driving on the other side of the road, navigating round abouts and/or one lane, windy paths, and mapping routes in a different language.

Wildflowers in spring bloom along the east coast of Scotland

Wildflowers in spring bloom along the east coast of Scotland

3.  Prep, prep, prep

There is so much prep work that goes into any road trip, much less a trip to a different country… much less a road trip in a different country!  Here are a few things I know will help.

Call your car insurance company to see if you are covered in foreign countries… typically you are not, so I would go ahead and get secondary insurance either through the car rental agency or through a trusted international travel insurer.  There is nothing worse than having an accident.  Oh wait, yes there is!  Having an accident while on vacation.  Trust me, it’s worth the extra cash!

Get all the necessary maps, and actually look at them before you’re in the driver’s seat!  Make sure you can adequately read the maps.  They may be in a foreign language.  But don’t just look for the English maps, because it may confuse you even further when you’re on the ground…  The local signage will often not include the English :)

Learn a few key phrases of the local language.  You’re definitely going to have to stop for directions at some point (just get over it).  And I cannot tell you how much of an icebreaker it is to at least try to speak to folks in their native language.  They always appreciate it, and often, people speak enough English that you can communicate with one another, albeit primitively.

Leave your itinerary open for minor changes.  Definitely have a master route planned.  And book a few hotels ahead of time in key spots you know you’ll visit.  But don’t create such a rigid itinerary that you’ll annoy any travel buddies to death or even miss out on unexpected opportunities or adventures!  That’s what travel is all about, after all.

the cliffs near dunnet head

the cliffs near dunnet head

the main road through Dunnet

the main road through Dunnet

The River Abhainn An Lethuillt with wildflowers and dramatic morning light and clouds

The River Abhainn An Lethuillt with wildflowers and dramatic morning light and clouds

The Northern edge of the Totternish Range on skye

The Northern edge of the Totternish Range on skye

A dramatic sunset over he Isle of Harris from Rubha Hunish

A dramatic sunset over he Isle of Harris from Rubha Hunish

*Other Highly Recommended Preps:

Call your cell phone provider and consider a temporary international plan ahead of time.  If for nothing other than texts and data, this might be the way you want to go.  You can communicate with family and friends cheaply and easily via text, and use your data to navigate and locate yourself or hard to find destinations.

Know what size car you need!  You may not have as much gear as me, and I would always recommend getting the smallest, most fuel efficient vehicle possible… just make sure you have enough room!  Most other countries do not have the huge cars and roads we have in the U.S., and gas prices can be way more expensive.  The smaller the car, the better.  I find there are many more “tight squeezes” while driving over seas.  It’s also common to have to pay a lot more for automatic transmissions.  If you’re comfy with manual, save the money and go manual.  However, be aware that the stick shift may be on the left side instead of what we’re used to on the right.  Be a smart, savvy traveler!

A Renault Captur hatchnack navigating the dirt trails of Dunnet Head

A Renault Captur hatchnack navigating the dirt trails of Dunnet Head

Along with currency, be prepared to convert gallons to liters. If you’re like me, you’re thrifty, and you track every dollar when you’re traveling.  Well, in case you were unaware like I was the first time, the rest of the world works on the metric system, so it can be a bit confusing when you’re trying to figure out how much gas mileage you’re getting, when everything is in liters per kilometer.  There’s an app for that!  Actually several.  Find the one that works for you.

Don’t forget your chargers and cords.  Nearly all cars you’d drive will have the traditional “cigarette lighter” outlets you’re used to.  This could be your best (or only) way to charge your devices!

Use google maps, or other software like it, to plan your route ahead of time.  And now with smart phones, you can take it with you to help along the way.  This was our route in Scotland…

The Quiraing

The Quiraing

A855 leading up to Storr and the dramatic Totternish Range on the Isle of Skye

A855 leading up to Storr and the dramatic Totternish Range on the Isle of Skye

Moon and stars as cars passing on A82 near the River Etive

Moon and stars as cars passing on A82 near the River Etive

There is so much beauty out there to see, and often times, the only way to see it is behind the wheel.  So don’t be afraid, just educate yourself, use every resource possible before and during, and get out there to find your adventure!

All in all, try to have that good blend of laid back/ adventurous mixed with some detail oriented/ planner, and your trip will be glorious.  Oh yeah, and be a courteous driver… it goes a long way… just about everywhere.  **Just don’t ask my wife if I am one… she’ll probably lie and say I am, fingers crossed behind her back. :)

— andrew

P.S. If you’ve learned anything during your travels that you think might be helpful to others that I’ve left out, please let us know in the comments!


 
Take your photography to the next level… check out my exciting, NEW workshop dates:
 
Isle of Skye // S C O T L A N D // 2016
Highlands // S C O T L A N D // 2016
Big Bend NP // Night/ Landscape // 2016
 
 
If you are interested in licensing any of the images/ video from this post, please visit my stock agency:
 
Tandem Stills + Motion // andrew r. slaton
 
If you are interested in purchasing prints from this post, please check my prints for sale, or email me directly for a custom request:
 
andrew r. slaton // photographer // prints
 
For assignment work requests, please email me: andrew@andrewslatonphoto.com
 
Thanks for visiting AndrewSlatonBlog.com!
 
all images and content © ARS Media, LLC 2015

 

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instructional, photography, travel

Neutral Density Filter Basics

— andrew


 
Take your photography to the next level… check out my exciting, NEW workshop dates:
 
Isle of Skye // S C O T L A N D // 2016
Highlands // S C O T L A N D // 2016
Big Bend NP // Night/ Landscape // 2016
 
 
If you are interested in licensing any of the images/ video from this post, please visit my stock agency:
 
Tandem Stills + Motion // andrew r. slaton
 
If you are interested in purchasing prints from this post, please check my prints for sale, or email me directly for a custom request:
 
andrew r. slaton // photographer // prints
 
For assignment work requests, please email me: andrew@andrewslatonphoto.com
 
Thanks for visiting AndrewSlatonBlog.com!
 
all images and content © ARS Media, LLC 2015
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