Name & age? Jasmine Reese, 27 years old
Where's home? Indiana
What got you started? I wanted to travel, get out of a routine, and learn to believe in myself again. Bicycle touring, when I came across the activity on the web, seemed to be the only thing that fulfilled my needs all around. I could travel inexpensively; I could lose weight; I could challenge myself, learning patience, perseverance and self-sufficiency; I could meet tons of people. And ultimately, when all was said and one, I knew I'd be the confident woman I started to lose in the monotony of everyday academic and work life. I thought to myself, if I can accomplish this, then I can do anything I set my mind to. My biggest dream is to be a professional violinist, but I started to lose hope in that dream. Bicycling seemed to rekindle that fire.
What was/is your last/current trip? My last trek was bicycling across the U.S. from New York to San Diego, CA. I completed that with my dog, Fiji. I am currently preparing to leave on a world trek, pedaling through 50 or more countries with Fiji and my violin.
How do you pay the way? I send sponsorship letters. I use resources like warmshowers.org to offset costs of room stays. I camp as well for the latter reason. I never truly have set off with enough funds. I have been saved by the kindness of others and the resources provided in different online and offline communities. This time around, I will take my violin and street perform. I also plan to WWOOF, and find other odd jobs to fund my visas and airfare.
What's always on your packing list? I have not found my must-haves yet. But I think a camera and laptop are super important for documenting your adventure. Also, they are important for possible mobile job opportunities.
What’s the last thing that blew your mind? The Lonliest Road in America, it's beautiful, but full of stories, especially Native American stories.
By land, by sea, or by air? By land
Hotel or hostel? Camp or Couchsurf? I am not going to lie. I love the luxury of a nice hotel, but I also like to use Warmshowers and meet new people. I am not much for camping, but I think it's something I could grow to love as long as I have the proper gear. I have never stayed in a hostel.
What's your travel pet peeve? Being rushed. I like to take my time and travel deep. I don't want anyone or anything dictating how long I stay in a particular place. I am for experiences, not races.
How do people react to you as a solo female traveler? They pray for me. Hahaha, but seriously, people often show a lot of concern. They think I am lost mentally, trying to find myself, or just plain crazy. I have had people try to convince to stay put in their town or city, as if they were doing my a favor and saving my life.
What scares you? Planes. I am afraid to fly. I am also afraid for Fiji to fly. It'll be very nerve-wracking for me to take my first plane overseas.
How do you overcome fear / anxiety / doubt? I am not sure how I will overcome this fear of flying. I can only hope when the time comes to enter the plane that I will face it head on like I have everything else. As far as doubt goes, I just keep believing no matter what. I try ignore negative self-chatter and self-criticism. Sometimes my mind likes to sound like a broken record, "What if this is the wrong decision?" That questions plays over and over in my mind. I just get out my violin and play a few tunes, listen to some good music and then I am able to see the picture of my dream clearly again.
Worst memory: I don't have any. Oh, wait! Tarantulas. However, it was also exciting to see them on the road, but if one was on me or Fiji, it'd be the worst memory for sure.
One unforgettable memory: Cycling through Colorado. It's such a beautiful state.
Bravest memory: Cycling around Pittsburgh with a friendly stranger until 2am.
Culture shock moment: None yet.
Best reason to talk to strangers: You get to learn some fascinating things about the area you're in and it might lead to shelter and a nice home cooked meal.
How are you different while traveling? I don't like to sit on the ground or get dirty. But when I am traveling, I could care less.
Is it harder to leave or to stay put? It's harder to stay put.
Three things you've learned on the road:
- People are kind.
- Our Earth is still beautiful, despite the damage we've caused.
- Not to take things so serious.
What keeps you going? Ice cream and the motivation to accomplish and see things through.
What's next? Pedaling around the world for an extended amount of time.
What would you be doing if you’d never left home? I am sure I would have overcome my rut and continued to work hard at my dreams, but I'd be so bored!
What advice do you have for wanna-be Wild Hearts? Don't get stuck in the panning phase. Sometimes you just gotta go.
Last question: What would make you stop traveling? Dying.