Unfolding Here: advice from people on the road

Greetings from DesMoines, Iowa!


For the last few days I have been driving across the country with Caroline Catlin.

We’re collecting handwritten pieces of advice from people we meet along the way, because why not?!

unfoldinghere1unfoldinghere2unfoldinghere4You can read more of that advice here and follow along on Instagram.

This mini-project is unfolding into beautiful, face-to-face interconnectivity on the move. I’m grateful for this time to stop and reflect.. and to catch up on episodes of On Being.

In San Francisco I’ll be attending a meet-up of climate activists going to Morocco this November as part of the youth delegation with SustainUS. Then it’s back to the northeast for a few months of coaching rowing at Phillips Exeter before packing up the bicycle and flying to Marrakech.

What piece of advice would you give to your past, present, or future self?


Q&A: Tips for a Traveler: Blogging and Life on the Road

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.



devi_onebike_backHere’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.


Mike replied:

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.

How Do You Say Goodbye to a City?

Self-Care Sunday: Music for the Ride

What Does it Mean to be Alone?

Self-Care Sunday: My Body, My Story

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!

Q&A: Lean In To What You Love

M asked:
Hi. I teach in China where all my kids are pressured to make money. I have a female student who is a gifted writer of narratives who longs to travel the world. She can’t now see this as a real possibility. I told her about you today. If you have time, would you be willing to give her some kind of message? I was thinking maybe a selfie of you holding a sign that says something like: “Lean in to what you love.” I remember you said your mother taught you that. The girl’s English name is Katherine. If you can do this, I will be grateful. Thanks.


Katherine, we haven’t met, but I wish that we could. If I could talk to you in person right now, I would tell you to lean in to what you love.

You know what you want to do with your life––it’s not about pleasing other people. Yes, we are brought up that way. As women, especially. It’s a thing that I am doing my best to unlearn.

Live your truth.

Read voraciously.

Find a way to make travel happen––M will be a great resource in pointing you in the right direction. (Fulbright? Other funding sources? Finding a way to work and travel at once?)

There are as many ways to see the world as there are people living in it.

The important thing is that you keep on writing.

I believe in you.

You can do this.

If you have a question, please don’t hesitate to ask! You can reach me in the comments here, or via the Contact Me page above.
I love questions. They are energetic spaces.