After Hiking The PCT For 2650 Miles In 2017 This Couple Was Bitten By The Travel Bug & Decided To Quit Their Jobs Two Years Later To Travel The World
What is GAFFL?

GAFFL connects solo travelers with similar itineraries to explore destinations together. Whether you are backpacking in Asia, road tripping in Australia, or exploring national parks in the US, simply type the destination you are traveling to, find travelers who are going there at the same time as you, connect with them, plan trips, meet, and travel together.

GAFFL
5th Jul | 9 min read

Table of Contents

    Originally from Seattle, Katy and her husband Daniel decided to quit their jobs and travel around the world. So, they left their home in 2019, ditched most of their possessions, and have been traveling ever since then. 

    After traveling Europe for six months, they flew home in 2020 due to Coronavirus, bought an RV, and spent the following year exploring the National Parks, hiking the long-distance trails in the United States. 

    Katy has been chronicling their travels together along with her hiking adventures in her blog A Rambling Unicorn. You can also follow their adventures on Twitter and Instagram

    PCT-2017-Katy-and-Maricruz

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    What Drew Us To The Outdoors In The First Place

    I went on hikes with my family all the time as a child. However, after I moved out on my own, I stopped hiking. There was no one to go hiking with or, more importantly, no one to plan and lead the hike.

    Eventually, it occurred to me that I should just figure it out and go hiking by myself.  I did a bunch of research and started doing small day hikes near my home in Seattle.

    A few months later, I went on my first solo backpacking trip and a few years later I thru-hiked the Pacific Crest Trail

    Joshua-Tree-Daniel-and-Katy-Jan2021

    The Frequency Of Our Excursions

    Daniel and I have been traveling around the world together non-stop for the past 2.5 years. We don’t have a permanent home and essentially live out of vacation rentals and hotels

    Whether or not we are traveling together or are based out of a permanent home, I also like to go on solo hiking or backpacking adventures. I try to fit in one or two of these trips per year.

    PCT-2017-High-Sierras-Katy

    How We Decide On Our Next Destination

    Since we are traveling long-term, that means we must plan our next travel adventures while we are still on our current ones. It’s a delicate balance of planning ahead and chronicling our past destinations – while trying to enjoy the moment here and now at the same time.

    When selecting a new location, we try to choose places that we are both excited about. We also try to ensure we have a mix of cities and rural locations to keep things interesting.

    Since we are already on the road, preparing for new destinations usually involves researching COVID-related travel restrictions and scheduling PCR tests (as necessary). Also, we like to watch travel documentaries or videos about the new destination to get ideas (and to get inspired!).

    Our Must-Haves That We Pack

    I’m a firm believer in traveling as light as possible. I live out of my backpack which has my few clothes – I’ve been wearing essentially the same 3 shirts and 2 skirts for the past 2+ years. I also have a smaller pack that I use to transport my electronics which also doubles as a day-hiking backpack.

    That being said, there are a few pieces of gear I don’t skimp on. One of my must-have travel accessories is my pair of lightweight hiking poles. We also travel with a lot of cords and travel adapters to make settling into each new vacation rental as easy as possible.

    Kelso-Dunes-California-Daniel-and-Katy-March-2021

    Our Best Excursions & Our Travel Bucket List

    One of my most remarkable adventures was thru-hiking the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT). The PCT is a long-distance footpath in the United States that stretches from Mexico to Canada for over 2650 miles (4260 km). While I wasn’t able to finish the entire trail, I did complete over two-thirds of it in a single summer back in 2017.

    I also recently completed a pilgrimage on the Portuguese Camino by walking from Porto (Portugal) to Santiago de Compostela in Spain. I walked 150 miles (240 km) and the journey took approximately 2 weeks.

    Portuguese-Camino-Santiago-de-Compostela-Oct-2021

    There are always adventures on my bucket list – the more I travel the longer it gets. I would love to visit New Zealand and Antarctica and explore new long-distance trails such as the Superior Hiking Trail in Minnesota or the Kerry Way Trail in Ireland.

    How We Inspire Readers Through Our Blog

    My goal is to help other travelers and hikers to get out there and explore the world. Sometimes it can be challenging to even know how to start when you’re dreaming about a new destination. I hope that by sharing my story, other people will get inspired and learn some practical tools that they can use on their own adventures.

    One Of Our Favourite Travel Memories

    I made a lot of amazing friends when I hiked the Pacific Crest Trail in 2017 – many of which I’m still close to even now. While I started hiking the trail solo, I met so many amazing people on the trail that I rarely hiked or camped by myself.

    One of my favorite stories took place at a hotel in a small town near the trail. My friends and I were taking a much-needed rest day to restock our food supplies and do laundry. We had spent the better part of the previous week discussing the Lord of the Rings movies (apparently this is what hikers do when they have nothing else to talk about for hours on end). Needless to say, we were really in the mood to watch Lord of the Rings by the time we arrived in town.

    PCT-2017-with-friends

    My friends found a copy of the movie at a local thrift store… but there was a catch. Unfortunately, it was on a VHS tape! We had no way to watch said VHS tape because, unsurprisingly, our hotel room did not have a VCR. So… they bought an old TV with a VCR player built into it from the same thrift store and then carried it all the way back to the hotel on foot. We spent the rest of the evening crammed into the hotel room and watching epic fantasy adventures together.

    Safety Measures That We Take

    I usually hike alone which is a lot of fun. I really enjoy spending time by myself in nature. But hiking alone is a bit riskier than hiking with other people because there’s no one to assist you if you get injured.

    So I always keep my husband informed of my exact whereabouts and check in with him often. I choose less risky or remote hikes when I’m by myself so that it’s easy to get help if I need it. I have also taken wilderness first aid and navigation courses and I always bring along some basic first aid supplies.

    PCT-2017-Mount-Whitney-summit

    How We Manage Our Work & Travel At The Same Time

    Easy – we quit our jobs so that we don’t have to do both at the same time! We’ve been planning for years to take this trip and carefully saved our money to make it happen.

    That being said, I do work on my blog constantly while we travel and spend just as much time on it as I did at my job before I left. It’s a lot of fun but a lot of work too. We also plan a lot of rest days so I have time to write and keep the website going.

    Donegal-County-Ireland-Daniel-and-Katy-August-2021

    Our Next Big Challenge

    After traveling nonstop for 2.5 years, our next big challenge will be settling down for a while. We have a few more months of travel planned across Europe and then we will be heading back to the United States later this spring.

    Doi-Pui-National-Park-Thailand-Katy-January-2022

    It’s going to be a huge transition for us to go from traveling full-time to having a permanent home again. I’m looking forward to putting more of my focus back on hiking again and planning some long-distance treks in the United States

    Our Say About GAFFL

    I’m always looking for new ways to connect with other adventurers on my trips. It’s great to have a resource available such as GAFFL to connect travelers together.

    I use a ton of different travel apps that are always changing depending on what country I’m in. I spent the last week in Southern Spain and primarily used: Google Translate, Google Maps, PideTaxi (an alternative to Uber as it was not available in my location), AllTrails, and Renfe (for train travel).

    Belgrade-Serbia-with-friends-from-hostel-December-2019

    One Of Our Most Memorable Outdoor Adventures

    One of my most exciting outdoor experiences was summiting Mount Whitney in Sequoia National Park. Mount Whitney is 14,505 feet (4,421 meters) tall – which is the tallest mountain in the contiguous United States. Since thunderstorms were in the forecast, I decided to hike up to the top as early as possible so that I’d be off the mountain before the bad weather hit.

    Elephant-Nature-Park-Thailand-Daniel-December-2021

    Unfortunately, I was suffering from altitude sickness and feeling a little dizzy. I had to take a lot of breaks as a result. I reached the summit just as the storm hit and visibility was poor. I was terrified of getting struck by lightning so I quickly signed the register and turned around. It wasn’t fast enough to beat the storm, however. Thunderclaps boomed overhead two different times as I scurried down the trail in a panic.

    I didn’t slow down until about 4 miles later when I was halfway down the mountain. 

    Our Advice To First Time Adventurers

    First-time thru-hikers spend a lot of energy worrying about their gear. I know I did. There’s a good reason for this as it’s important to have as light of a pack as possible to save wear and tear on your joints.

    I advise newbies not to worry about it too much though. Yes – a new thru-hiker should try out some different packs and sleeping systems before hitting the trail and strive for a low pack weight. But there’s no need to obsess about it too much – you can and will make changes as you go along.

    The same applies to long-term travel too. The contents of your bag will evolve over time as you realize what works and doesn’t work.

    Tatras-Mtns-Poland-Katy-August-2021

    Things We Wish We Had Known When We First Started Traveling

    When we started traveling, I was overly focused on the number of total countries that I’ve visited. I wanted to travel quickly so I could see as many new places as possible and check countries off my list.

    Well, that quickly became exhausting. I didn’t feel like I had time to adequately get to know or connect with each new place that we visited. Plus, moving between countries is more difficult these days due to the pandemic.

    So, we have slowed down a lot in recent months. I wish we would have started at a slower pace in the beginning since I find it to be a more comfortable way to travel.

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