Hi Devi! My name is Mike Dunbar. I have just received a grant for a summer project and was hoping you could give me some pointers. First, the project: I am a poet and songwriter. In late May until early July, I and one fellow musician will head from New Hampshire to San Francisco, stopping in historic music capitols like New Orleans. Memphis, and Chicago along the way. We will sleep in campsites, busk, and meet local musicians everywhere we go. I will also be running a blog at www.suitcaseandguitar.com. When I return in July, I will create and release a collection of travel songs based on our experiences. Of course, I realize you must be very busy, but if you had any thoughts on how best to spread the word about the blog and managing life on the road, I’d be very grateful! Thank you for your time. – Mike
Hi Mike, glad to connect!
The first tip that comes to mind is to make business cards with your name and website on them––something visually appealing that you can give to people you meet along the way.
Here’s a snapshot of the business cards I use. I have had them reprinted once since I started traveling six months ago (travel with the PDF file, just in case, along with a USB full of music––it will come in handy). Trust me, business cards are well worth their weight to lug around.
Second: if someone helps you out or takes you in, always write a thank you note. Handwritten is best. You can even do this alongside a print out of your poems. I’m doing something a bit like this here: www.anincompletecatalogofthanks.tumblr.com (I started to document these notes at the suggestion of a kiwi friend). I like to give folks who help me out a paper crane, too. It’s not much, but the gesture matters.
Third: listen. Listen deeply.
Slow down. College is all about speed and deadlines. Life is not.
Take the time to be with people you meet.
Trust your instincts.
Invest in an appropriate sleeping bag.
Self-care is important. Eat your veggies, even when it’s a pain in the ass to cart around perishable things.
Travel with a bar of soap you genuinely love.
Sleep when you are tired.
Tell your family / chosen family you love them. Frequently. And then remember to be in the moment. You’re going to have a blast.
Perhaps most importantly: don’t think that you have to have everything perfectly planned or figured out when you start out. You will learn as you go.
This is all wonderful. Thank you! Two other questions do come to mind. First, did you ever have any concerns about safety? Second, did you do anything to advertise your blog besides the business cards or did you let it happen organically? Thanks again!
On safety: trust your instincts. Don’t drink or do drugs.
The blog: just talk to people about what you’re doing! If you want to see how it started, look on the early posts on the archive page of One Bike, One Year. It’s nothing fancy, really.
Here are my first few posts, words I wrote before I even left home.
On the topic of getting the word out: be genuine.
Read other travelers’ blogs. Reach out to them. Connect.
I wear a cardboard sign around my neck (when I’m not on the bicycle) that says “tell me a story about water” on one side and “tell me a story about climate change” on the other. It’s a way of starting a conversation.
Smile. Listen fully when people talk to you. Be honest if you’re having a tough day. You will have tough days. If you tell people you need help, chances are that they’ll help you out.
Be present. Make eye contact. Nod.
You can do this.
Hop on over to Suitcase and Guitar to check out Mike’s project and drop him a line of support!