Travel

Looking To Travel? 5 Questions To Ask Before Joining The Navy

From joining the Navy three years ago, I've always heard people coming in for travel. It may not be the motivating reason, but it's a mention for the many benefits provided. If one were to join for the sake of travel, we must ask ourselves a few questions

Do you value your freedom? 

Maybe you're different here, and don't. That's okay. But for those that do, this is a crucial look in determining how we wish to travel.

Curfews

A sacrifice of opportunity. In the Navy, you're restricted to time slots. From when you may leave, and when you have to come back, everything is set in stone. This meant denying our liberty in foreign ports early in the mornings, never catching glimpse of the sunrise nor the underlying rustle of the community. A late start, everyday.

There is no remedy towards overcoming this rigid system, so one must in obligation, commit to the framework and make the best of what's available to you.

For the return, depending on your rank, it went from between 2100 to 0100 the next day. Staying beyond your time means suspension of liberty, and therefore must be followed. What would be the point of joining when unable to travel?

Regulations

You're expected to be a sailor off the ship, too. Meaning that, an orderly appearance is to be maintained (preferably through the Navy's guidelines), limiting your clothing options and therefore expression. No white shirts or sandles for starters, but as a representation of our country and ship, we're overshadowed by more rules that distract us from the heart of traveling.

Suppressed to Convention

If one is allowed overnight liberty, you're forced to check into hotels and modern conveniences rather than alternative stays; no couchsurfing, airbnb, or camping. Having to check in at your hotel and call back by a certain time, we are void of our personal time. Unable to disembark from the Navy, it follows you everywhere.

On a leash

Cornered into certain areas by strict adherence to marked locations that are off limits, adventure is ran thin. You can only go so far, and in having to return on time, one's plans get altered for the Navy's agenda. With short supply of time, and pushed in their directions, you lose out on choice and freedom of will.

Is slow or fast travel important to you?

 If you picked slow travel, you've hit a dead end. There's no ifs, ands, or buts about it. The Navy is fast travel. 

Most post visits were roughly four days. With one of the days being a duty day-having to stay and work on the ship-you're left with three days for each destination. Now to imagine how this feels on your arrival, imagine the vastness of the United States. Is it possible to see it all in three days? Heavens no.

But that's precisely what the Navy sets you up for. You arrive with nothing, pale, and exhausted from months out to sea. And you have three days to see it all. Good luck.  

A race against the clock

You're rushing to reach destinations before dusk. Getting off the ship takes time, standing in hour long waits to get on the next bus off the base, and to the next means of transport. Its go, go, go.

Skimping out on meals, sleep deprived, and the wind in your steaming ahead pull you away from true experience of traveling. Everything becomes a task to get done, losing its vitality and energy we so desire to connect with. 

Where do you want to travel? 

The Navy has big plans, and they have little to do with one humble sailor.  While everyone has a wish list, you're not guaranteed anything. You could get stuck on a ship that will never hit a port or region you'd like to visit. And you're done for.

Is 4 to 5 years of your life in service worth the cost to travel? 

For one, you lose out on your health. There is no fixing this once taken.  Hearing loss from needle gunning, jets coming and going, incessant bells at every half hour, vehicle exhaust, knee pain from ladderwells, back pain from worn down mattresses, the list goes on.

What you're paying with is not money, but your life force. Something of invaluable proportions. Nothing could compare to the cost we must pay, and for the amount of time we get to travel, you're not traveling at all. It's Navy time, all the time.

Do you prefer traveling solo or by group? 

There is no solo travel in the Navy. 

The buddy system

You're enslaved to liberty buddies. You can't venture out alone, and must be kept hand in hand with your buddy from departure to return on the ship. This is all great and dandy when you're with your best friends, but when you differ in work schedule, we can't always go with whom we most desire.

Differing Interests

A majority of sailors go out into town and drink their life away. If you're not down for that, there's no way you may separate from each other, and must suck it up, sacrificing your own travel time. That, or convincing them otherwise.

Liberty and travel become a time to push and pull on our social abilities, and not on the pursuit of the destination itself. You're stuck with co-workers months out to sea, only to remain on land together. Staying with co-workers in a novel place is adjusting to comfort and not living fully on the edge.

But you can't rid yourself of them! On a carrier of over 5000 people, you bring a floating city into the clash of another. The locals pick up on this, and spot you out. You're just another sailor, and whatever impression was set before you is returned. This can make it difficult to integrate when the collective breaks your experience.

Camping the Polywander Way

Camping is such a delightful undertaking with a gazillion options available to us on this luscious earth, so how could we limit ourselves to civilized comfort?

We gradually lose touch with our presence as we walk its shores, forgetting who we are. We're not meant to be cooped up inside air conditioned spaces and windows looking out. Go outside, and embrace life for what it is!

As a walking meat bag, we may bring ourselves down from our steep cliffs of comfort and live on the edge by alternative camping . Rather than sit in a well worn pile of dirt alongside other comfort seekers in campgrounds, we'll check out three new options: dispersed camping, wild camping, and urban camping. 

Dispersed Camping

A fantastic way to get out into nature without throwing yourself into the heart of the wild. Often allowing stays for longer than a week, these areas are an entry into real camping. Still paved out by humanity and easy to get to, they provide a way for a quick stop off the road. 

Or time in Utah was spent for free by using all the national forests as we transited the state.  Each dispersed camping area had plentiful paths going this way and that, taking you off into the forest and into more sideroads. Each one provided several turnouts along the way one could stop and set up camp.  

All were far enough away to seclude your group to the experience of the land, but remained close enough to feel the warmth of others. You get the best of both worlds, and don't pay a dime.

Depending on the season, they may all be full or taken, but there are still more options.

Wild Camping

Forget the paved roads, and take it by foot. Plunge into the wilderness with your gear, settling down where you please. While there are jurisdictions and regulations to be followed, there are times when nature prevails; or, the nail that sticks out gets hammered.

Most people have access to adequate shelter, electricity, running water, and a plethora of accommodations we as a species have created. Often times these luxuries we have grown accustomed to are overlooked and taken for granted. While a permanent headquarters is an ideal acquisition, we cannot overlook the other options beyond our comfortable abode. Sitting on our pre-assembled furniture, we gaze into the television screen, observing documentaries of individuals who have taken alternative lodging to the next level, opting for hand-built cabins in the bush. We read books of people who hitchhike into the last frontier and fantasize of a life of such simplicity, forgetting that we possess the power to change our direction in an instant. Although it is not very realistic to abandon our everyday comforts, it could be an unforgettable experience to pack a bag with a tent and some basic necessities, and venture into the night.

We've taken our fair share of wandering into the deep end; crossing rivers, ponds, and streams.  There could be no greater pleasure than the test of your own doing, in the thick of it. There is but you and the world, melding seamlessly together in a joyous harmony.

We have witnessed some severe weather in the past months- hurricanes in the southern hemisphere obliterate entire towns and cities, turning exquisite real estate into piles of rubbish. People grind away at their jobs day after day to afford a residence where they can comfortably get a night's sleep, and without warning, their efforts are destroyed by natural disaster. How would one cope with such unfortunate events like their homes being wiped away? Better yet, how could we attach such a valuable reputation to a mere construction project

 All burdens and stressors that we encounter on a daily basis in our industrialized economy are replaced with our primal instincts of locating shelter, gathering food and water, and not being a victim of Mother Nature or predators that lurk around. You are concious of your every move, and when such a mindfulness ensues, it is pure bliss. Unplugging from our weapons of mass distraction, we are reacquainted with a familiar and nostalgic experience relevant to our ancestors. Several options exist to pursue wild camping- perhaps on a bowhunting exploration in the wilderness, or as a moderate backcountry trip into the deep recesses of the forest. Either route you take, it pays to research basic survival tips and bring adequate gear for your stay.

Urban Camping

You've seen them. All the hobos on the streets, among up their own path of tents. Taking it urban is to live without fear. Rid yourself of old perceptions and connotations to the homeless. Join them. 

Due to social stipulation and potential illegality, this last option exists for those who cannot afford modern living standards, or are perhaps fed up with the way housing is set up. To pay a steep price for a rental property, or pay a hefty lump-sum of hard-earned cash for a potentially depreciating property, is simply out of the picture for some people. 

Pitching a tent in the middle of an urban sprawl sounds like a nightmare to some. But we must ask ourselves- this is one of the most unfavorable living conditions on this planet, no? Coined by Tim Ferriss, the term "fear-setting" is most appropriate. Putting ourselves our there, in the situations we fear most, to strengthen our character. Ask yourself, "is this what I so feared?" Some people may benefit from a temporary stint sleeping with the bums, allowing for a more wholesome appreciation of our daily lives.

To be cold, hungry, and sleeping on concrete does not exactly strike a chord in our minds as a perfect living scenario, but we must exploit all potentialities as we see fit. Maybe living in a van sounds more appealing. Definitely a unique approach, but there is quite the following of this particular group. Something about being on the open road and sleeping where you please is a very liberating sensation..

Alternative Lodging

When it comes down to budgeting for travel expenses, spending money on lodging takes the biggest chunk. On the lookout for alternatives, we discover:

Hostels

What could be better than joining the ranks of our peers and collaborating our experiences within the same space? We gift ourselves and recieve back the vibrancy of people in their living flesh. This is the heart of it. We come to share a universal experience, stopping to catch a glimpse of each and every one of our unique paths in travel.

Prices range from free with work accommodation to a cheap campground. Yet, you get the benefit of all. Working in exchange for lodging gives one the opportunity to confront ideas different from oneself, working towards a greater cause and spirit of the earth, and one acquires new skills.

The hindrance is the same as a hotel, in that you may make a payment, but its one cheap leap in the right direction. Don't forget to bring some earbuds!

 

WWOOF

Standing for World-Wide Opportunities On Organic Farms, WWOOF is a great introduction to long term stays in foreign places. The opportunity to work alongside locals, perhaps even living together, is hands down the closest you could get to a truly enlivening experience. An exchange of work for accommodation is little for the feedback from the real deal.

Downfalls can be varied working hours, inconsistency at large between hosts over disparate climates, and expectations, but that's life. Take it or leave it, it's happening.

Couchsurfing

A free way to spend the night, with an assumed exchange of yourself and experiences. A simple way to meet terms, but it all depends on your host, and more importantly, you. Coordinating times with others can make scheduling difficult on a time crunch, but there's value to be had when one is patient.

Be willing to break some social barriers

Airports  

While it may not be one's first choice, spending a night in an airport is an inconspicuous place to cheat a days rest. Nobody said anything about sleeping well. But if you're questioning where you can go at odd times, it's a safe bet you'll pull through the night. Best for when you're already exhausted from giving it your all traveling.

Train Stations

Locations vary, but a quick nap throughout the day is often all you'll need to get back at it. Not as easy as an airport, but not difficult to do in the right spot. Worth the shot when moving between destinations if you couldn't sleep on the train.

Parks

Laying in a field of mother nature's grasp is a real vitalizing way to keep her in the city.  Whether you nap or sleep during the day, you can be sure to get some rest. It's when night falls that this relaxation becomes increasingly hard to stay. Cities often have rovers pushing you away, or you face many mysterious individuals in their own little world. Can always make something work in a park, and good to keep the look out throughout the day. You may never know if you need to come back for a lack of options.

That wraps up our alternative ways to lodging while adventuring out into this wonderful world. If you know any other good ways to spend your night, be sure to spread the word!