Solo International Travel

December 8, 2015

In the winter of 2014/15, I took off from the USA for four months to do some dirt biking in Africa, dog sledding in Sweden, and general exploring around the world!

Travel Images Mosaic

I hadn’t traveled much internationally prior to this. I did a semester abroad in Ireland, but that didn’t really seem like long-term, solo, international travel — probably because the school program had everything so tightly organized for us.

This time, I organized everything myself stitching almost every activity on my bucket list into an epic 115 days of geographic, cultural, animal, and personal exploration. I gotta say, the month-long planning process was almost as fun as the actual travel. I started planning about a month of travel. That grew to 1.5 months. And then that ballooned to almost four months. There was so much I wanted to do, and I knew I might not get an opportunity like this again.

“Are you going to drop off the face of the earth?”

My dad asked me this as I was planning out the itinerary. He was worried he wouldn’t hear from me for months and wouldn’t know if I was having so much fun I just didn’t have time to call or dead in a gutter somewhere. Fair point.

Map of my travel route

I knew that I wasn’t going to write. I probably was going to forget to call. But I knew for sure that I would be taking pictures. So I setup a simple static web page with a Mapbox map on it and pre-define some hashtags for each location to which I was planning to travel. Any time I posted a picture to Instagram all I had to do was tag it with one of the pre-defined hashtags and it would automatically appear on the map web page associated with a pin showing where I was. This was great because I wasn’t going to have a computer with me while traveling. I wouldn’t have been able to manage anything more complex.


All of this was and is completely free to run. The HTML/CSS/JS files are stored on GitHub and served by GitHub Pages. The customized map was free with a Mapbox Starter Plan.

Here’s all the code, including the JavaScript that ties it all together, if you’re interested in digging in more.


Tweet at me, crc, if you have any questions about this!