Freedom Junkie Tips for How to Stay Healthy On the Road

The secret of your future is hidden in your daily routine. ~ Mike Murdock

If you’ve been reading my previous blog posts, you may know that when I returned from over two months in Africa this past winter, I felt – well – gross. I felt soft and squishy, low-energy, bloated, stopped up, and quite irritable.

I arrived back to the states utterly spent, and not in the I’ve-climbed-a-mountain-and-earned-my-gluten-free-beer kind of way. It was more like a, “Holy shizzle, my body hates me” kind of way.

I had spent tons of time on my butt (literally) riding on trains and in the back of pickup trucks and on painful plywood benches for hours on end. The parts of Africa I was visiting on this latest trip had minimal access to veggies and fruit, and I found mostly gluten and potatoes to eat. I had to treat my water with nasty chemicals if there wasn’t plastic water bottles (yuck!) to purchase, and drank a cold African beer (or three) daily to take the edge off the rough travel.

It wasn’t appropriate for me to hike by myself in many areas, let alone go running (my “exercise” of choice) when it was either 40 degrees Celsius or when I’d be prey for the lions. We got in some peak climbs and hikes, but as you know – it’s not what we do once in awhile that brings us health – it’s what we do daily.

Every day, amigos. It’s our habits and what we do every day that counts.

I had brought with me my greens powder, which saved my cells and kept my bowels a-movin’ on this trip. I also had digestive enzymes with me. But my body could only take so much before manifesting things like a rounder belly, softer muscles, less energy, a grumpy attitude, and jet lag that lasted an entire month.

We did amazing things and had epic adventures – that’s for sure (read here for blogposts about gorillas (primate and human kind) and other adventures there). But if you’re anything like me (which if you’re human, you are), then you need some basic things like exercise/movement and quality food to feel good in the long run.

And if you travel to places like I do, you know that most places you will be staying in won’t have gyms, and many cultures you are visiting don’t take kindly to westerners running around in skimpy clothes, profusely sweating on purpose – especially if you are a woman.

As I planned our next adventure to Mongolia, where we’ll be able to be more active while packrafting, hiking and the like, I came up with some ways to avoid coming back feeling like crud. I know better than to think that travel in a developing country won’t tax my body just because it’s not Africa, and just because we’ll be more active.

Yes, I did know a lot of these things before our recent trip, but apparently I forgot – or didn’t take the time to prepare more health-related things – because, well, I do stupid things like that sometimes;)

Here are my tips for healthy travel – and this applies for dirtbag  and budget travel trips where you are mostly camping and hosteling, as well as for those of you traveling a bit more on the plush side.

Note: I do mention specific products because inevitably I get a slew of emails asking which ones I prefer myself. So I’m just going to tell you up front! But do know that there are lots of options out there. These are simply the ones I have personal experience with. You should experiment with what works best for you too! And if you think of things not mentioned here, please add them in the comment below and keep us all in the loop.

[typography font=”Cantarell” size=”24″ size_format=”px” color=”#e31ce3″]20 Freedom Junkie ® Tips for Staying Healthy on the Road[/typography]

1. Pack a Greens Powder. This is super important. When traveling to developing countries or on a busy itinerary, eating fresh vegetablesgreenvibrancecan be challenging, or even sketchy. Bring a container of it – enough for a serving or two a day – in something lightweight like a plastic tub with screw top, or a bomber ziploc bag that you can also double-bag for security. I like Green Vibrance, and Hungry For Change has also come out with one that seems healthy too. Kris Carr raves about Amazing Grasses. They all taste…questionable, but I consider them medicinal anyway;)

While it looks questionable in a plastic baggie, I’ve never had problems with it at customs or at security.

2. Bring Digestive Enzymes. To go lighter weight, I like the Advanced Enzyme System by Rainbow Light because you only need to take one capsule with a meal (as opposed to two or three of the less-potent brands). I also like Advanced Enzyme Optima because it has probiotics and enzymes in one. These will help your digestive tract stay healthier and you’ll feel less bloated and gassy eating strange foods. Maybe;)

While Probiotics are awesome, it is admittedly hard to keep them cool enough while traveling. Ones that need refrigeration are out of the question, but even the ones that can survive room temperature won’t be able to survive the temps you may encounter on your travels – like when you have to put your bag in the back of the pickup under the blazing sun for 10 hours.

3. Have an exercise routine you can do in the space that a yoga mat would take up. This doesn’t mean you’d necessarily need a yoga mat (read further for more options), but it means you need to be able to move in limited space. That way you know you’ll be able to exercise between the two beds in your room, or on that small patch of poop-free grass near your camp.

Even if you will be doing some hiking or other activity on your trip, unless it is full-on expeditioning, you will likely be missing out on some major muscle groups, so it’s nice to have a daily full-body routine you can do no matter what. If I had to pick one, I’d say a flow type of yoga. But on longer trips, I also like to add in a few more creative things.

A good way to do this if you want to mix things up is to have workouts downloaded onto your iPhone or iPad/reader, which saves weight. Yes, even DVDs add up!

I prefer to have some options that don’t require WiFi or other internet access since that is still hard to come by most places I go. Some programs I’ve tried out and think would work well are:

P90X – The P90X-Fitness-Guide90-day program is about $130, and the optional iPhone App is about $4. Get to know the DVD workout before you go on your trip, then bring your iPhone with you for a varied workout every day. I like to travel lightly, so I wouldn’t personally bring the DVDs. However, if you are simply doing a weekend trip, the DVDs may not cramp your style at all!

Yoga Audios I downloaded these six classes from Baron Baptiste’s site and found them to be decent for not requiring internet access to watch them. There are single class audios you can purchase as well.

Yoga Journal just came out with digital video and audio downloads as well. I haven’t tried them, but Yoga Journal is pretty solid as a company and the instructors on many of the items are awesome.

If you have access to wifi/internet, try:

YogaGlo Has videos of real live classes from Santa Monica, and Jason Crandall apparently has a great travel yoga sequence posted as well!

My Yoga Online Classes from various studios around the country

Yoga Vibes Lots of Vinyasa classes

Those are just a few. Explore and see which you vibe on better. The ones above are the ones I’ve tried and liked. If you have more suggestions, please share them with the tribe below!

4. Did I say to pack light? Yes, pack light. My husband is king at this. In 2011 he went to West Africa a few weeks before I met up with him there, and when I dropped him off at the airport he had a small black nylon satchel, and that was it. It weighed maybe 5 pounds, and most of that was the Lonely Planet book. I followed after him with my own 8lbs (I get 3 extra pound for girlie stuff;), and I believe our shelter and small kitchen setup was about 4lbs on top of that. The pic of my pack is below, which weighed 12 pounds total.

my light pack for months in Africa
my light pack, sufficient for months in Africa

It makes the biggest difference, especially on hard travel days. Your Freedom Junkie back will love you for it, and when you are hot and sticky, nothing can bum you out more than having to schlep through a polluted town with a big ass bag on your back. And try running after a departing bus, or squeezing onto the back of a pickup with 20 other people with a beast on your back. Not fun.

And you’ll look funny.

It is much easier the lighter you can go. You’ll fit in more with the locals too, as they tend to also pack lightly, and you’ll be much happier in the long run. Plus, you won’t be as disheartened when you realize your guest house is 1 mile further than where you had the truck drop you off.

My friend Roman Dial, a lightweight guru, has been said to espouse three rules of lightweight packing:

  • need less. And I mean “need.” We all think we need things, but when you’re huffing it up a hill on a sweltering day after you’ve had diarrhea, you’re going to wonder if you really needed that hardcover novel.
  • share (even toothbrushes if you’re getting serious, yo!)
  • utilize technology (like titanium pots and pans, lightweight and high-tech clothing, dehydrated food)

And in that order.

sheltersystemthumbfCheck out Hyperlight Mountain Gear as well, which I think makes totally epic lightweight gear. Shazaam! Their shelters are amazingly light. Remember that you compromise durability with such extremely lightweight gear, so you must be vigilant about taking care of your shizzle.

One thing to keep in mind is that uber-light travel is much easier in warm paces (like West Africa). If you’re traveling to colder climates, use Roman’s guidelines above and do your best. When I worked as an Instructor for Outward Bound’s Alpine Mountaineering courses, I knew some instructors who could get their packs down to 35-40lbs, and that was with 10 days of food, a climbing harness, light alpine climbing rack (rock), helmet, cold-weather clothing, and other types of more extreme gear. I think the best I got was 50lbs…again, girlie-stuff allotment.

Or a need complex…

My friend Gordy says, “We pack for our insecurities.” Yup.

5. ToeSox and Yoga Paws These are AWESOME! I’ve tested them out and can vouch for these two brands. I like the Yoga Paws toesoxgripht_bathany_balancefor hands and the ToeSox for feet. The ToeSox with stripes are super-cute, and that helps me motivate;) You can do yoga on an indoor floor, outdoor hard floor surface, or a rock slab and have less risk for slippage. They wouldn’t be fun to use in dirt or grass, so just go bare for those.

6. Yoga mat? Again, because I am a lightweight kind of Freedom Junkie, I like to ix-nay the yoga mat. Hence, the items I mentioned in #5.

However, I had one lightweight mat recommended to me that I’ve used at home as a tester: the Manduka eKo Superlite Travel Mat. I dig it. It isn’t very padded (because it’s lightweight!),  but it is sticky. It still weighs 2lbs, so for me that is too much to take on a long-term trip. But I’ll be bringing this for weekend/week-long trips for sure! It folds up like a sweater.

7. Make requests for vegetables (or other specific foods) ahead of time. If you are staying at a guest house without veggies on the menu, you can ask the cook if they can please serve up some yummy greens for your next meal. Often they won’t buy vegetables without knowing someone will eat them because without refrigeration, they will go bad quickly. But if you make a request ahead of them, they just might be able to run to the market and grab you some yummy pumpkin greens!

Sometimes you’ll have to plan ahead for market days if you really want this to happen. I did really want this to happen, so I got the local market schedules wherever we went to try and find out when we could make special food requests. If we’d been offered only rubbery chicken for days, I’d ask ahead of time to please get some fish for us – then I’d eat fish as much as I could until we set off for gluten and potato and rubber chicken land again.

Don’t be afraid to ask for something not on the menu!

8. Nutrition Shakes and snacks. As you all know, I am a whole-foods advocate. However, when I am on the road, I find myself faced with poor food options a LOT, whether that is because of tight travel schedules, remoteness of location, or myriad other reasons.

When I am on a shorter trip, I like to bring along one nutrition shake a day/every other day for the times when I think I’ll end up eating crap just because I can’t find something healthier. I like Shakeology for their vegan version and for supplementing for workouts, and Isagenix for taste and as a more filling shake (this shake hands down tastes better). Both have super foods in them and are of excellent quality. Plus, they are better for you than potato chips, sistah!

Ideally, you can also pack some healthy snack like nuts and bars. While on longer trips, hauling snacks from home isn’t practical except for a few treats, but for shorter trips, they can be a lifesaver.

9. Handheld/small blender. This is obviously for those without baggage weight concerns. If you know you’ll be in a magic-bullet-blender-lrghotel near a grocery store – like the last conference I went to inMUSH Atlanta that was a block from Whole Foods – you can make your own smoothies in the hotel room. Be sure to pack the container in which you’ll be blending things too (lightweight is possible!). Toss in some greens powder that you brought along, and voila!

The Magic Bullet Blender is awesome, and Mush, the manual baby food processor from Boon, is smaller and comes highly recommended by the ladies in my Spring Superfoods Cleanse for mixing up your own simple shakes and smoothies (not for chopping, but for mashing up softer things and blending powders). MUSH doesn’t require electricity, but the Bullet does.

10. Natural bug spray and loose clothing. The natural stuff doesn’t work as well as DEET, but you won’t get cancer from it. Nuff said. Heinous bugs? Cover up with loose clothing and a mosquito head net (wear it over a rimmed hat to keep it off your face). That way you don’t have to use any kind of spray. This is my preferred way to deal with the bugs.

The best top is a tight-knit long-sleeve button down men’s shirts. I say men’s shirts because women’s are often too tight and the mosquitoes will bite through them. I buy my “bug shirts,” as I like to call them, from thrift shops. They can be found in uber-groovy colors;)

Note: If you are using the evil DEET juice,  be sure to use it on top of your clothes and never on your skin, and if you touch it, immediately wash your hands.

11. Go to the local market and buy yummy food – bring them back to the hotel/hostel/guesthouse IMG_0445and cook them up on your own, or ask the cook to make them up for you. If you’re going to eat raw, wash your veggies in a hydrogen peroxide mix or iodized water to avoid nasty stomach bugs.

12. Minimize the alcohol intake. Dehydration, excess simple sugars, hangovers that only beer from developing countries can muster… it isn’t worth it to be excessive on a regular basis.

13. Hydrate hydrate hydrate! This is also the antidote to #12. Drink lots of water when you can. Remember to pack your own water bottle (just make sure it’s empty before going through security) so you don’t have to rely on cabin service to hydrate! I like Ecovessel’s filtration water bottle to help me feel better about drinking tapwater no matter where I am – and it works for giardia and cryptosporidium too! Sawyer makes more hard-core filters.

14. Search out local yoga studios where you’re at. Just because you can’t go to class in your hometown doesn’t mean you can’t check out a new place!

15. Walk. Move. A lot. Like I said earlier, it’s the daily things we do that count, Freedom Junkies. Take every opportunity you can to walk, walk, walk. This means wearing comfortable and lightweight shoes while you travel. As long as I’m not mountaineering, I generally travel with a pair of flip flops  and a pair of lightweight running/approach shoes. It’s nice to have the lightweight flip flops to change into after the end of a long day, or to keep feet cool when it’s hot. I have historically brought Chacos or something, but these days they are so heavy, I have moved to my present combo.

I like Salomon’s Speedcross shoes as well as Brooks Pure Grit ultra-lightweight running shoes. They won’t hold up for long trips on gnarly trails, but both have lasted me months on the road while doing some hiking as well.

I bring one of those with a pair of flip flops. I dig Keen’s flip flops for the extra toe protection, which has TOTALLY SAVED ME from tetanus so many times! I know I can buy cheap flip flops overseas, but they have broken on me a bunch, and instead I can bring light ones with some semblance of arch support too.

If you know you won’t be hiking much and that you’ll be relatively warm, Chacos are still a good bet for a one-shoe option. Wear them with socks when it gets chilly or for some extra foot protection. Socks will also keep your feet from stinking in them sooner than later.

16. Stretch in the morning. This will help your back to stay supple and not cramp up on the long and awkward plan/train/automobile/camel/donkey rides you’ll be partaking in. It will loosen up your body, and the mind tends to follow. If you can add a bit of meditation into the mix, you’re golden!

17. Pack a resistance band. I especially do this when I think I’ll be relying on P90X for my daily workout, because there is a lot of resistancebandsweight/resistance work. You can do most all of the P0-X workouts and any other resistance/weight exercises you like with a resistance band, which is lightweight and portable! If you don’t have one, you can create your own “resistance” by flexing your muscles AS IF you had a weight in your hand. Try it and do a bicep curl right now like you are trying to arm wrestle Popeye – it works better than nothing! I like Black Mountain Products’ resistance bands.

18. Get adequate sleep. This is huge. The body repairs itself when you sleep, and if you aren’t sleeping, you aren’t repairing and restoring. It WILL catch up. Plan rest days and lounging around days. I ALWAYS bring earplugs because SO MANY PLACES in the world seem to have talkative nocturnal dogs or early-rising roosters. An eye mask is also nice if you think you’ll be needing to sleep past sunrise a lot.

19. Wash you hands. This is the #1 way to prevent getting sick. I travel with a small bottle of hand sanitizer as well, which is super helpful when you don’t have access to clean water, or if water is scarce. Wash before eating, every time. This will dramatically cut down your risk for getting parasites, colds, the flu and other annoying bugs that cramp your style.

20. Plan a few days when you are NOT moving locations. Be strategic about where you place these – use them wisely, like after two weeks of daily galavanting across the country, or after a full three days of just getting to your destination. In our nearly three months of travel in Africa last year, Thai and I stayed at a place in Malawi for 3 full nights. Whoa! Other than the time we spent working at the refugee camp in Uganda, that was the longest we stayed ANYWHERE, and boy, did I absolutely relish taking out my toiletries knowing I wouldn’t have to repack them for three days, and sleeping in because there wasn’t a bus to catch.

I understand that when there is limited time, we can tend to want to Go! Go! Go! and not stay in any one place for too long, lest we miss out on something cool (read more about being a Freedom Junkie with FOMO here). But you will certainly miss out on something cool if you’re pissy and grumpy because you’re burned out.

Remember that no matter what top 20 make it onto your list, the best thing you can do for your health is to FEEL GOOD. So take a moment to ask yourself, “What could I do right now that would help me feel better?” Then get on it!

Those are my top 20, and there are MANY more! So please do share below and let the tribe in on your healthy travel tips and secrets.

Note: Ana Verzone (Neff)  is a personal life coach, guide and Freedom Junkie ® She helps passionate people awaken their lives of freedom, adventure and purpose. Her monthly Ziji Up! eZine goes out to hundreds of subscribers. Her blog posts stem from her commitment to live full-on, every day, for 365 days in a row – which she just couldn’t stop. If you are ready to take your life and your world to the next level, you can learn more about her coaching programs and download her FREE Getting Clear Guide by visiting

* Just so ya know: the links for P90X and Shakeology take you to my coaching site for them because you can get them both for less there than if you go direct to For full disclosure, yes, if you order through me, I may get some sushi money. But you certainly don’t have to use that site to make your purchase – just to save;) Also, I never affiliate myself with something I think sucks. Ever.

Days 275 to 303 Why “This Is LIFE!” Should Be Your New Mantra – News from Southern Africa

“I think all these little brown dots on the ground are…some kind of poo,” I suggest. Well, according to Thai’s imitation, I actually sounded like a grandma inspecting her kitchen for dirt with a white glove. “YOU have a look then!” I say to him. He gets down on his knees with my headlamp and after a few minutes of inspection, he uses a common medical phrase, “I’m afraid I can’t rule it out.”

Meaning he also thought the ground might actually be covered with poo (and I mean carpeted, not “dotted with”). More correctly, it meant that he couldn’t say what it was – or wasn’t.

I paused and took an “inner inventory of options,” if you will. The whole area in this section of the Kalahari desert we were camping in was truly covered with this stuff. Thousands of little bushes surrounded us that could hide little “poo machines” like desert shrew and what not.

I realized I had to be OK with camping in a carpeted world of little African rodent crap. And FYI: rodents are some of the main vectors for the more serious tropical diseases we were treating in the refugee camps.

I proceeded to set up the tent over the carpet of whatever-it-was.

This is Africa, baby. Deal with it.

Then I’m driving through Botswana and a little grouse walks in front of us on the highway. I toot the least-threatening-horn-ever of our trusted VW “Springbok,” and she takes flight. I sigh, relieved…Only to watch her get slammed by a speeding truck coming in the other direction. Feathers everywhere. Tears well up in my eyes. I reach for Thai’s hand for reassurance that it was a swift death, and I suck it up. Well, I let the tears well up a little longer, then I suck it up.

This is Africa, baby. T.I.A. Deal with it. At least it wasn’t a donkey or a cow.

I get a fast and furious GI illness that takes me out for a few hours. I’m puking my insides out. People are frolicking by the pool. Dancing at the bar. Thai tries to get a room for me but reception is closed. We’re camping. Far away from the porcelain basins. Thai brings my sleeping pad next to the bathroom doors and I sleep there for awhile. Happy drunk girls wander around me without thinking twice. Happy drunk boys walk past with stupid thoughts and continue on. I am thrilled to be so close to my new porcelain friends. The bar manager asks if we’d like to move our tent next to the bathrooms. Why, Yes! THANK YOU! We do.


Alright. Let’s talk about this phrase I hear a lot here: “This is Africa” or “TIA.” When shit happens here, people usually do one of two things:

1) get pissed and be pissed in the heat with no subsequent change in the outcome or…

2) shrug it off, sigh, smile, and say – with a sense of brotherhood and sisterhood – “This is Africa!” Then let it go, and buy a beer. Likely, you will then wait (many of the frustrations involve waiting and waiting and waiting…).

Why is this letting go something that so many people are so willing to do here, but are so UNwilling to do back in their home countries? I mean, this is kind of huge, in my mind.

Do you realize HOW MUCH HAPPIER we’d be if we could say, for example, “This is life!” Or “Shit happens ha ha ha!!!” then let go, and get on with being and living?!! It would be amazing!

I realize that what I’m talking about is, on some level, deep spiritual work, and it takes time and energy. We need to become aware of our attachments and expectations, our sense of entitlement, our excuses based on our “wounds.”

Then we need to develop the space between the thoughts and emotions and actions to allow a different response (meditation and yoga are my fave ways of cultivating this).

Then we need to stop ruminating about what could have or should have been, stop replaying the suffering (trust me – the poor bird ran many reels of movie-time through my head after that event), stop daydreaming about what might have been, and get the fuck on with our lives!

We need to learn to OWN IT and ROCK IT. Focus on what we want. Not on what we don’t want.

So yes, it is, on some level, deep spiritual work.

But it is also something simple: a CHOICE. This I what happens in Africa. Many of us simply
choose to simply let go. Life is better – and more effortless – that way.

What is happening RIGHT NOW? That’s what you should be focused on. Nothing else. Not on your expectations or past dreams. CHOOSE to let things go, and focus on the things you CAN work with.

One of my favorite quotes is:

“If you CAN change something, why be unhappy? If you CAN’T change setting, why be unhappy?” ~ Shantideva, A Bodhisattva’s Guide to The Way of Life

Suffering in Africa is no less intense than in the “Western world” (and many would argue it is even moreso). Contrary to popular belief, people here are no less sensitive to suffering, either. I also don’t think they are necessarily more “spiritually evolved” when it comes to non-attachment.

So why, here in Africa, are locals and expatriots and travelers able to let go so much more readily? (Caveat: if you are not prone to this adaptation, you’d likely avoid Africa altogether anyway).

I believe the difference is a keen understanding of the above statement: Knowing the difference between what you can and cannot change. Here in Africa, it is much easier to make that distinction. And while it can be terribly frustrating, it can be quite a relief, actually.

I remember after many trips to Asia when I was working as a climbing guide, I walked into a supermarket in the US to buy toothpaste after returning home, and I was completely overwhelmed by the ENTIRE ISLE of choices: With baking soda or without? Tatar control? Fluoride? Mint or peppermint? Gel or paste? I mean, WTF, right?! In Nepal I’d ask for toothpaste and get handed a tube over the counter. That was IT. Take it or leave it. It’s the only toothpaste they had. I rather miss that sometimes. I have more important things to ponder. I’m sure you do too!

Things are similar in many parts of Africa. The bus will leave when it leaves, no matter what the schedule says.

Animals will get hit regularly on the the side of the road, because people have cattle that need to graze, and there is grass along the roadway, and one-lane highways.

You have to pay a guy a few cents to make sure your car doesn’t get broken into. While thuggish himself, he’s part of a street-wise system way larger than you or your desire to save a few cents or sense of self-righteousness about the way things should work.

You don’t know your car’s “engine number” for the border crossing? They don’t care that they didn’t ask at the other border when you came in. Find the engine number. Whatever that is.

You see, it’s easier to see what you can and can’t change here. We are all in it together.

In the US, I observe – and admittedly found myself a part of – a sense of entitlement, of how if we yell loud enough, or show the right small print, or tell a really good version of our personal tragic story, we’ll eventually get what we want (and in our minds, what we deserve).

It’s true that some of these things protect us and keep things running efficiently. I am grateful for those aspects of it.

However, we need to keep in mind that the unintended result of this is that we have, as a society, become less adept at letting go of the small stuff. We are less skilled at quickly putting things into perspective, and not trying to control the things we cannot change. And it IS a skill. (pssst: we teach these Jedi Skills at Freedom Junkie;)

Next time shit happens – and try to start with the small stuff, like when the food that gets brought to your table is not exactly what you ordered, or when your friend is 15 minutes late – try out T.I.L. “This Is Life!” It’s happening right now. It’s perfectly imperfect! Live it! Don’t screw it all up with ideas of how it should have been!

Things are much more fun this way;)

What are you choosing to let go of today? Or what have you already chosen to let go of already? (And by the way, Bravo, Badass!). Do share below…I want to know!

PS: the little dots were not poo. In the light of day, we could see they were seeds from the surrounding trees:) Poo Trees, I’ve decided to call them

PPS: for those wanting in on the other full-on adventures since my last post, they include:

* Hiking through the deep red sand dunes of Soussvlei in Namibia

* Being awe-struck by the stark vastness of Namibia’s Skeleton Coast

* Spotting lions, rhinos, elephants, giraffe, and more at Etosha National Park

* Visiting the majestic Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe

* Chobe National Park morning game drive and sunset river boat cruise to see hippos, crocodiles, and more lions rarrrrrrr! (Botswana)

* A tree fell on Springbok in a big Botswanan storm and she survived unscathed! Amazing!

* Romantic and beautiful nights and days of camping in Botswana’s Okavango Delta after lazy rocking mokoro travel through the delta (where a wonderful man named BT took us in his dug-out canoe through the reed pathways, using his pole to navigate the waters (and hippos!). If you want a guide’s number for the Okavango, he’s awesome and you’ll save LOTS of money booking directly. Email me!

* and proposal update: add on Namibia, Angola, Botswana, Zimbabwe, and Zambia to the list! So many good stories about those moments:)

* there are more, but those will have to wait for when I don’t have to thumb type! Thank you for your patience:)

Now we’re back in South Africa after having just crossed the border from Botswana border in our trusty VW Polo (aka “Springbok”). It will be sad to leave her. Her maiden voyage has been quite epic to be a part of!

We head to the Quirimbas Archipelago in northern Mozambique tomorrow morning. Beach time!!!!! Yay!!! We plan to sail and dive off the traditional dhows there. Hopefully we can find one to charter that we can afford!!!???

For more photos, please friend me on Facebook if you haven’t yet and check out pics here. There are a few videos on my YouTube channel too.

Below are pictures of me with a Himba woman in Namibia (she was a midwife too so we had some nice chats. When I told her some peeps in the states ate their placenta she gagged then spit LOL), Springbok at camp on the Skeleton Coast, the red dunes of Soussvlei, and the mokoro in the Okavango Delta.

Be free, fellow Freedom Junkies!

Remember: the world responds to ACTION, so get out there and DO something differently to move you closer towards your freedom!!!! I’m rooting for you;)







Badass on a Budget Part II – Essential Freedom Junkie® Road Trip Tips

“They danced down the streets like dingledodies, and I shambled after as I’ve been doing all my life after people who interest me, because the only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones that never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn…” – Jack Kerouac, On the Road

Road trips are the shizzle – especially when it comes to budget travel – and after my last trip across the desert, I decided to add a Part II to Badass on a Budget (BOAB) and dedicate one to helping you take the Epic Road Trip. In addition to road trips being completely badass, when you’re craving an adventure and are tight on money, a road trip is truly in order.

In fact, I like to road trip a LOT, and it is often my first go-to for an adventure – not just a fallback for when I can’t get a plane ticket somewhere (perhaps you – like me- may also have a hard time planning ahead to score those low-priced plane tickets?). Good for last-minute trips. Easy to pack. Freedom galore.

However, with the price of gas these days, road tripping can seem not-so-budget-oriented. Once, I even found a plane ticket from Southern Oregon to San Francisco that was only $25 more than it would have cost me to buy gas to drive there and back (5.5 hours one way). Still, if you do it right, road-tripping is an easy and affordable way to go. And don’t worry – I’ve added lots of gas-saving tips below.

[typography font=”Cantarell” size=”19″ size_format=”px”]Road Trip Essentials[/typography]

Freedom Junkie Tip #1

  • Pack light and tight. This may seem like common sense (the more your car weighs, the better gas mileage you’ll get). However, it can be easy to say, “Ah, what the hell – there’s room. Toss it in!” I have been guilty of this often. I spent so many years on light alpine climbing trips where I would go so far as to break the handle off my toothbrush to save weight (every ounce counts!). The idea of driving makes me salivate at all the heavy things I could bring: canned goods, a ROLL of toilet paper (including the cardboard center!), beer (lots of it), bottles of wine, coolers full of fresh veggies…Alas, it all adds up, amigo. So, treat yourself well, but don’t go overboard.

In addition, BULK can be a pain in the ass to sift through and it feels crowded, cramping your style. Try to pact compact, taking smaller things than bulkier things when given the choice (like compress your bedding into a compression stuffsack). Also keep things you will need throughout the drive easily accessible right behind the driver and passenger seats (water bottles, snacks, camera, foot massager…)

Freedom Junkie Tip #2

  • Eat well and drink fluids (even if it means you pee more). Riding the shirttails of the previous item, I want to make sure you take care of yourself even though you’re trying to not bring too much. Pack healthy snacks so you can at least feel good about what’s going into your body while you sit on your ass for hours at a time. Have a small cooler easily accessible with fresh snacks, as well as healthy fun drinks like fizzy water (my personal fave). I like fruits (but overly-juicy ones make too much of a mess sometimes), all-natural potato chips which are my weakness so thank god they put all-natural in front so I can forget how bad they are for me (yup, that means ONLY naturally simple carbs fried in healthy FAT and salt, yo ;)), snap peas, cheese and crackers and olives…

Freedom Junkie Tip #3

  • Try to fill your gas before you try to leave town, like the night before or earlier in the day. Packing up and having to stop after 5 minutes in the car to fill up is such a buzzkill, and drops the momentum.

Freedom Junkie Tip #4

  • Having said THAT, pay attention to the days you fill up if you have a choice: Gas prices don’t just seem to go up around holidays and long weekends – they really DO rise! Sneaky buggers. So don’t wait until Thursday night to fill up for a Memorial or Labor Day weekend trip. Fueling up can also be more expensive on weekends, so load up midweek.

PS: Did I say, “Try not to road trip on long weekends?” When the rest of the freakin’ country is roadtripping? Yeah. Don’t. Bad idea. Unless you like trapping your companion for forced hours of conversation at a standstill. I know some women who use this tactic for “important talks.” Don’t let that be you. On either end.

Freedom Junkie Tip #5

  • Bring good tunes. I cannot emphasize this enough. BRING GOOD TUNES. I also like to bring awesome audiobooks (comedy, spiritual/personal growth, adventure, best-sellers) and podcasts. You can stream Pandora or something similar in places where you get good reception, but on most roads worth tripping on, your cell won’t work. You can also consider a satellite radio subscription, but I’m guessing that if you’re a Baddass on a Budget, that’s probably one you could do without. Also, local radio can be AWESOME! There are often completely whacky characters and songs you haven’t ever heard…or haven’t heard in a long time. On the other hand, local boondock radio is often filled with religious propaganda which is cool if you’re into that.

Freedom Junkie Tip #6

  • Which brings me to my next point: consider having a calling card with you on longer trips for places where your cell won’t work. You may need to make calls in a pinch for breakdowns, money transfers (I hope not!), or to notify your friends of the bootleg Burning Man fest you just found in New Mexico that they MUST come to.

Freedom Junkie Tip #7

  • Stop to stretch once in awhile. If all you’re doing is driving 4-5 hours a day, you can bust it out with one or two pee stops. However, on longer trips, I recommend getting out every 3 hours to stretch and hydrate and feel the air/elements outside. It helps keep you from becoming a zombie. A frisbee is nice for a few minutes too! Having said that, if you stop at all – to get gas, take a picture, etc – pee. Try to pee at every stop or you make need the following:

Freedom Junkie Tip #8

  • Have a pee bottle. I’m serious. I know you think it may be gross, but every serious road-tripper has used one. If you’re in a van (I LOVE vans!) or larger-sized vehicle, us women can use these easily too! I have a large pee bottle with a wide mouth for emergencies, like being stuck in traffic for hours with nowhere private to go, or simply because we are in a flow and it would be a bummer to stop. Once mastered, the pee bottle is not a put-off. Good bottles for women have a low center of gravity and a wide mouth, like pickle jars. LABEL so someone doesn’t think it is pickle juice. For men, well, they just need to be able to insert their thang. I like it to be at least a liter in size. The jar. Not the thang. You’d be amazed at how much pee you can hold.

Freedom Junkie Tip #9

Go with the flow. Have a general plan for where you’re going, but be open to taking side roads. A road trip on major highways isn’t so romantic or adventurous, so be sure to take backroads when you can (at least once in awhile), and make sure they are pretty/wild in nature. Get a good gazeteer/road atlas that shows “scenic routes.” There are backroads that suck. Badly. If you take a backroad, look ahead on the map for “escape routes” if it isn’t as groovy as you thought it would be.

See something pretty? Stop! See a cool turnoff? Check it out! Did you pull over to pee and decide this was going to be the best sunset ever? Stay! Camp there! Hang out! Allow some cushion days for unexpected adventures, and hell, be ready to toss your plans completely for that bootleg Burning Man fest you found!

Freedom Junkie Tip #10

  • Know the weather. Don’t take a backroad in winter unless you KNOW it is maintained. Many a tragedy has happened from people failing to do this, like the Silicone Valley family who’s father perished in Oregon after they took a side-road in winter (which was closed and unmaintained) and got stuck in a storm.

Freedom Junkie Tip #11

  • Be prepared. Have a roadside assist service. For realz, I am NOT kidding, you MUST have this. I have used this more than any other kind of insurance I buy. It has saved my ass. Mine came with my car insurance. Make sure it has GOOD coverage. AAA is obviously good. I have USAA which has been awesome as well.

Have all your documents in one spot. Make sure you have recent copies of car insurance, registration, driver’s license, and roadside assist numbers. If you’re going to get pulled voer, might as well get it over with quickly and not offer any reasons to shuffle around your car and expose something untoward at a bad time.

Make sure you have: jumper cables, know how to change a tire (on the car you’re using for this trip), carry a plug kit for smaller punctures (I am SOOOO happy I started doing this!), ideally have your spare on rims and be a normal tire size so you can drive farther without damaging your car. Have water, sleeping bags, extra fuel (1-2 gallons depending on your car), a campstove and pot, lighter/matches, and emergency food and warm clothes. Also, beware at pullouts for things that put holes in your tires. Sharp rocks and nails more easily puncture your tires when you rapidly pull into a pullout.

Freedom Junkie Tip #12

  • Clean out your car at every gas stop. And check your oil too. You’ll appreciate having done both.

Freedom Junkie Tip #13

  • Don’t speed. Getting pulled over is such a buzzkill. And speeding uses more gas (55mph is the ideal for gas mileage). I use cruise control set for just a teeny bit above the speed limit because I am just feisty that way. If I don’t use cruise control, I have this leadfoot that has me thinking I am going 70 mph and really it is nearing 90. Yikes! Not even trying to speed!

Freedom Junkie Tip #14

  • Divide and conquer. Have a driver and a navigator. A car chef who is good at making car snacks and feeding everyone, an assigned DJ, etc. I often give the driver the right to choose the music. Use your strengths and your desires. You don’t “have” to equally share the driving if one of you likes it more. My partner often drives and I feed him. It works.

Freedom Junkie Tip #15

  • Choose your sidekick(s) wisely. Complainers suck. People who “should” all over you suck (“You should have turned left; See, I told you that you should have eaten that mystery meat on a stick so you wouldn’t be hungry now; You should have told me you didn’t love me”). Oy vey.

In general, good roadtrip partners are easy-going/go with the flow, are funny, willing to do random things, enjoy challenges and find them stimulating, are relatively low-maintenance when it comes to feeling “comfortable,” and are people you can be comfortable NOT talking to for awhile. People who want to constantly talk on a roadtrip can make the event exhausting. Good roadtrip companions also automatically chip in for gas and toll booths. Sweet etiquette says that the car owner doesn’t have to pay for gas in a party of 4 or more on longer trips because they are “paying” through wear and tear. In any event, a good balance of personalities needs to be there. If you don’t have all the above characteristics, make sure that together, you do;)

Bonus Freedom Junkie Gas Tips

If you’re SUPER anal about gas, here are a few more trips I discovered that I thought you’d like:

  • Don’t stop and start – accelerating from a standstill requires extra fuel. Try to coast to the light and reach it as it turns green – without coming to a full stop. You’ll get really into this eventually. will help you find the best deals for gas while you’re on the road. Do this in advance if you’ll be in areas without cell service. will track your mileage over the long haul.
  • Buy higher octane gas, which tends to get better mileage, especially for older vehicles. BTW – higher octane gas tends to be cheaper in larger towns than smaller ones.
  • Coast downhill in neutral. I can’t advocate going so far as to turn off your car engine, which would have you lose control of stuff like braking (!!!), but get into neutral and coast, baby. I did it in Hawaii coming down Mauna Kea when we were almost empty. Awesome.
  • Don’t overfill the tank, cuz gas can slosh around and escape. Did you know that every year 147 million gallons of fuel vaporize from tanks in the U.S.? Crazy! Click that gas cap – at least three times!
  • Bring more people! Split the gas. Balance this with being crowded and having fun being more important than saving a few bucks.
  • Drive when it’s cooler outside. Cooler, denser air can increase power and mileage. Hit the road early in the morning or later in the evening when the temperature drops, especially in the summer. You’ll save on air-conditioning costs too. Having said that...
  • This I didn’t believe, but Travel and Leisure magazine swears it is true: Use the AC. “A few years back the advice was the opposite: turn the air off and open the windows. Because air conditioners are more efficient, they now cause less drag on the engine than driving with the windows down.” Alrighty then!
  • Lastly, if you’re super broke, become a billboard. For realz. There are companies like and that hook companies up with drivers that then receive a few hundred dollars a month (in either cash or a gas card). I think its quite epic to pull off, and I rather dislike ads, but hey – sometimes, you gotta do what you gottta do!

I hope that helps, Freedom Junkies! Now get out there and have an adventure!

This list wasn’t exhaustive, so please add your own tips below. I’d also love to hear: What was YOUR favorite road trip adventure? One of my faves was driving through the desert from Oregon to Telluride, Colorado…mmmmmmmm. Please share your juice with us!