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On October 1, 2014, I left my home in Alberta, Canada and started a 10,000 mile towards the southernmost city in the world: Ushuaia, Argentina. I was on my bicycle and had very little money.
Originally, my motivation for this trip was to go snowboarding in Chile. After looking at a map, I saw a road that went all the way down to South America and thought, well, might as well just ride my bike there.
When I set out, I had never even done an overnight bike trip before. But I knew of other people who had taken long journeys on bikes before, so I figured I could make it work.
As for money, I don’t have a lot credit cards or savings, so when my bank roll is $0, it’s $0, and I have to figure out how I’ll eat that day.
My financial timeline so far
I left Calgary with $1,800 to my name. By the time I hit Santa Cruz, I was broke. So, I sold some of my art and launched the Pizza Fund (more on that in a minute).
After a month terrorizing Santa Cruz, I left with $500, which got me to Encinitas, where I made $2,000 selling more art to a condo developer back home.
That got me to Mexico City, where I stayed for a month. Didn’t spend any money on accommodations, but plenty on tacos.
I left Mexico City with $2,300 after selling a bike at home. I arrived to El Salvador with $900 and left with $250. Now I’m in San Juan del Sur, and, thanks to the Pizza Fund and Postcard Club (you’ll hear about those in a minute) I currently have $700 dollars to my name.
Most of my expenses are for food and water, but maintaining my bicycle and new socks every now and again are other expenses. I eat A LOT, and drink more water some days than I ever thought possible. Eight liters some days!
How I make money
In addition to selling stuff back home, I do lots of bartering. Smiles and hugs or high fives can go a long way.
For the most part though, I trade art, murals, chalkboards, signs, etc. for accommodation and food, which works well 90% of the time. I did some farm work in Northern California for a few extra bucks, cleaned a friend’s house in L.A., and litter-trained a kitten in Mexico City for a free stay. I am not a fan of cats, so that was a task!
Here is a random money-making scenario that happened: I was leaving L.A. and stopped to get a coffee. There was a guy wearing a pink polo shirt and some Gucci shades. I asked if I could steal a smoke. He replied: “You can’t steal it. I’m a businessman — what do you have for me?” I said: “Well, I rode that bike here from Canada, and I have a couple stories.” So we talked shit for a while and he asked how I was funding this adventure. I said not very well. At this point he wanted my life, but there were far too many condos to be sold in Dallas. So he went to his Porsche and came back with a crisp $100 bill. He said: “Don’t spend it all in one place.” I used that money to buy a new bike seat and a chicken sandwich.
I also launched the Pizza Fund. I started it in Santa Cruz in December 2014 Basically people donate what they can and that money goes towards pizza because it’s my favorite food. It’s made me about $1,500 so far.
Another big one is the Postcard Club. People pay me a little money every month and I send them postcards in return. The club blew up when I hit Nicaragua. I’ve sold well over 100 in the two weeks since I’ve been in San Juan Del Sur, with a total of 17 people now in the club. I’ve made about $1,500 from that, too.
Another fun scheme was the cashtag: people send me a hashtag they would like me to fulfill and attach a monetary value to it. example: #bikestunt for $100 or #dirtybathroom for $20. That made me a good $250.
All in all I have spent a good chunk of money. I’d say about $7,500.
I haven’t paid for accommodations in the last four months by staying at fire stations, camping, warmshowers.com, and the generosity of complete strangers.
For example, when I got to El Salvador, a flock of Canadian babes let me stay with them for 50 days in exchange for making fruit salads and playing the latest twerk jams. Very relaxing. That’s where I launched the Postcard Club and planned my Kickstarter campaign.
This is Estanislao, from Guatemala. He spoke no English whatsoever. He told me it was too dangerous to go camping and invited me to his house. Then he walked me around his entire little village and introduced me to literally everyone — chasing down kids and making them say hello. Even all the women breastfeeding babies in tin huts got a visit from “Yerry”. Later, he kicked the kids off their shared bed and made sure I was fully fed and got a good sleep. He told me he was my papa in Guatemala and I could stay as long as I need. He was epic and unforgettable!
Oh, the places I go
Since all my stuff is packed on my bicycle, and I have a hammock that I sleep in most nights. I’ve been able to hit up a bunch of different places and stay as long as I want.
Here is my home all packed up after a night watching a blood moon rise somewhere in Mexico.
This is me with a bunch of locals in Mexico city. I painted the vans on the wall behind us over three days in a rather interesting neighborhood. I ended up being on the Mexican cultural news channel about my adventure. As you can see, Mexico city isn’t that dangerous — it’s actually an awesome, epic city.
Some of my other favorite places have been Cave Junction, OR; Leucadia, CA; and Santa Cruz, CA.
I met a bunch of epic musicians in Santa Cruz: Eliquate, Boostive, Joomanji, and my long lost brother Olright… check them out on SoundCloud.
Also, San José Del Pacifico is a town in the mountains in Oaxaca, Mexico known for magic mushrooms, which was a really special place.
I’ve also met so many radical people along the way, it’s amazing. Like…
… a cyclist riding a penny farthing across the world.
… an Italian dude who told his girl he was riding to Japan and has been on the road for five years
… a rad French couple touring the world on custom bikes with an 80-lb gay Rottweiler named Boyd
… a Mexican girl hitchhiking with a Great Dane named Mango
… a Mexican guy who rides a bike with a didgeridoo and makes bracelets to fund his way.
I also met a mega-talented videographer in Nicaragua, and she actually made the video for my Kickstarter campaign. I’m going to make a book that illustrates my whole adventure from Canada to Argentina.
It’ll include journal entries from myself, and artwork from artists I’ve met along the way. The goal of “Picnics In Paradise” is to show people how amazing the world is if you have an open heart and open arms.
You can check out the vid on YouTube — it’s insanely rad.
Wait, but why do this trip in the first place?
When I started this journey, my motivation was to go snowboarding in Chile. I also wanted see what this big round world has to offer.
Now that I’ve been on the road a while, I’m inspired by influencing people to live a bit differently, painting everything I can along the way, and giving back to communities through art. I am motivated by people’s responses to my adventure, and their stories as well.
One of the trippiest parts of this adventure is seeing other people’s reactions. My dad told me before I left that he wasn’t in a position to fund my trip and not to call him for money because he knew I didn’t have enough to begin with. He really didn’t understand why I wanted to go, and was tripping out for sure. But when I was in Mexico City and things started to roll, he told me he was proud of me.
My mom is jealous of my experiences and always dreams of me surprising her at family dinner on Sundays, which is one of the things I miss most.
But meeting people from all over the world, and now having so many places to stay… it might be a while before I am home. Sorry, mom.
When I sent my folks the video by Blue Vue Productions (for Kickstarter), they had to pause the video as they were crying with so much joy.