Vagabonding Case Study: Jason McAnuff
Hometown: Sheffield, UK
Quote: “I find stillness through movement and a certain peace I only find on the road, .”
How did you find out about Vagabonding, and how did you find it useful before and during the trip?
I stumbled across Vagabonding way back when I was in the dreaming and saving cash phase. Being almost completely oblivious to alternative forms of living away from the mainstream, it introduced me to a world of possibilities, that of the vagabond.
How long were you on the road?
I’m 2 years into my bicycle journey, and I reckon another year or so to go.
Where all did you go?
I bought a 20 year old bicycle for 40$ in California, fixed her up and started riding. Mexico, Central America, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, and I`m making my way down to Argentina.
What was your job or source of travel funding for this journey?
I worked my ass off for 2 years in crappy supermarket jobs, only getting 4 hours sleep a day made things slightly interesting, in a surreal sleep deprivation kind of way. I ended up saving just enough to hit the road and 2 years later that money has long gone, but I have something more valuable than money alone, creativity.
Did you work or volunteer on the road?
I make paintings and sell them, play with a crystal ball (contact) at stop lights, and sell poems/ articles online. Just enough to not go hungry and enjoy life. Also I have volunteered for maybe half the time I have been travelling, usually for room and board. Farms, hotels, schools, communities, I have been in some pretty interesting places, and found that even if the project has flaws, there is always something to learn, something to give, and cool people to share the experience with.
Of all the places you visited, which was your favorite?
As a whole, Mexico has been my favorite place, or at least it stands out. I think mainly due to the fact that I learned so much whilst in Mexico, everything was for the first time, like first big mountain crossed, first time riding through the desert, first time riding in the rainy season, and just the basics like camping in the wild. I wasn’t relying on previous knowledge, because I was clueless, and so everything was new, was challenging, and was always fun. Whereas now I can glance over at a place, be it a gas station or a piece of land, and I know whether it’s a good place to ask to sleep or to setup camp, I have the experience to draw from, which is of course helpful, but not as fun. Also the people are really friendly, helpful and with a joke always close to the tongue. Back then my Spanish was almost non existent, which in a way brought me even closer to the people, and I got by often with good vibes alone.
Was there a place that was your least favorite, or most disappointing, or most challenging?
Least favorite place was Honduras due to the lack of people contact I had there, just the general banter, the chit chat, the questions I was bored of, I now found I missed, Hondurans are really reserved. Cycling brings daily challenges, it’s what I love about it!
Did any of your pre-trip worries or concerns come true? Did you run into any problems or obstacles that you hadn’t anticipated?
I got rejected entry into Belize, ironically so, as I`m British. It was for no good reason, the officials had some kind of problem with a free man riding his bike around, you know that we don’t want any dirt bag hippy in our country kind of attitude; you can read about it on my blog. Huge problems with the police, especially in Colombia, great people, but the cops have serious issues. I had cash stolen inside the police station, was harassed several times, and had a gun in my face, and my machete waved around in an attempt to intimidate. Good learning experience though, I now have a certain emotional detachment from those kind of situations; I had a nonchalant act I would put on, now I`m like super chill, I`ll start making something to eat whilst the cops are `interrogating` me. Also had so many `no way` moments with the bike, like running out of water in the middle of know here, having my frame snap in the mountains, and almost getting crushed by a truck, with a bit of improvisation and help there is always a way.
Which travel gear proved most useful? Least useful?
My stove was epically useful and loved until it got crushed by a truck in an accident I had, from noodles to gourmet cooking, I did it all. Also my sleeping bag, tent, and flashlight have been pretty essential.
What are the rewards of the vagabonding lifestyle?
For me it’s the feeling I have from living my life, fanatically so. Doing what feels right, exploring the unknown, the mysterious and listening to my heart. I find stillness through movement and a certain peace I only find on the road, in the world I created for myself.
What are the challenges and sacrifices of the vagabonding lifestyle?
One of the challenges for me is maintaining a balance between the crazy guy on a bike and the rest of the world.
What lessons did you learn on the road?
I learned to always pee around my tent, choose the fattest woman when choosing street food and not to trust anyone who refuses a free banana. But really, you can read my blog for more stories, I have learned so much! Recently I learned that fresh eyes, that is seeing things as if for the first time is one of the keys to keeping the magic alive in life.
How did your personal definition of “vagabonding” develop over the course of the trip?
At first I thought it was simply a long term solo traveler. Now I think it is deeper than that, a vagabond is someone on the road, long term, who is constantly evolving and developing their way of life to their best interests whilst maintaining good relations with their environment.
If there was one thing you could have told yourself before the trip, what would it be?
Start practicing something daily, be it an instrument, or street performance act, I wish I had started this from the beginning.
Any advice or tips for someone hoping to embark on a similar adventure?
Do it! Don’t plan too much and project what you want in life, put it out there in the universe, think it, dream it, live it, be it.
When and where do you think you’ll take your next long-term journey?
I think I will end up taking another long bike ride, but this time around Asia.
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