“When I was 5 years old, my mother always told me that happiness was the key to life. When I went to school, they asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up. I wrote down ‘happy’. They told me I didn’t understand the assignment, and I told them they didn’t understand life.”
I am a wanderer. I am a minimalist. I am a traveler. I am curious, unafraid, and ambitious. I am also a photographer, writer, adventurist, and, simply put, a twenty-four-year-old gal with more energy than a five-year-old boy. I’m the one who sings to every cow we pass and the one who tends to drastically change our itinerary in a heartbeat. I’m also the “social butterfly” who will make friends with just about anyone we happen upon along the road. I am one of the happiest people you will ever meet, and I want to do just about everything from live in a remote African village to climb Denali. My bucket list grows rather than shrinks with each passing year because for each item I check off, I find at least three new ones to add. I strongly believe that the key to happiness, and therefore success, is to do everything you have ever dreamed of doing. And if you don’t start now, who is to say you ever will?
Kevin is the quieter one, the behind-the-scenes man who is calm and collected throughout every situation. He is the one who invents kick stands out of sticks, and the one who is guaranteed to stop and help you fix your broken chain in the pouring rain. He is the patient one, the practical thinker, and the fisherman. A small town guy with a love for the woods, Kevin is a hunter, a firefighter, a family man, and the one who keeps this trip running smoothly.
How It Started
I am Canadian and American by passport (and always Canadian while traveling), but I consider wherever I may be living at the time to be my home. Unlike many travelers who find this lifestyle in their late twenties or thirties after realizing there has to be something more out there, I was lucky enough to find it at sixteen (and the seed was planted even younger). I grew up traveling a few weeks a year with my family, mostly to Europe, as well as to New Zealand and Israel, and then at sixteen I lived in Belgium for a year. After graduating from high school I left for a year long, life changing adventure backpacking through South America. I climbed mountains over 6,000m in the Andes, worked with monkeys in the jungle, met hundreds of astounding people from around the world, and most importantly, experienced life on the road.
Then I spent a year living in Bend, Oregon, a mountain town where everyone climbs, cycles, skis, and fishes… all in one day. And that’s where I met Kevin, my craigslist roommate. After becoming friends, and then lovers, we spent an amazing year together before we went our separate ways; Kevin to Alaska to begin firefighting again, and me, to cycle around the world because it sounded like everything I had ever dreamed of. Nine months into my solo trip Kevin bought a plane ticket out to Nepal and that’s how this solo nomad turned into part of “The Wandering Nomads” team.
After our two-year long tour finished in 2015, Kevin and I spent nine months living in Astoria, OR, where we struggled to transition from nomadic freedom to having a home, a schedule, and commitments. Things changed for the better once we moving back to Bend, OR in 2016 where I started my dream job working in wilderness therapy and Kevin got his dream job repelling as a Wildland Firefighter for the Forest Service. We found that starting jobs we love (and, more specifically, jobs which allow us to eat, sleep, and poop in the wood), doing as many microadventures as possible, trail running (for me), and living in a beautiful place has led us to find fulfillment and excitement in our sedentary life.
Since Kevin’s job is seasonal and mine is flexible (they are used to people like me who like to take off on extended trips) we plan to cycle tour for three months every winter and enjoy the other nine months in Oregon (in 2017 we will be moving to Eastern OR).
Why We Do It
Think about it, seriously. Why not travel the world, explore different cultures, climb mountains, visit temples, and live life simply but happy. Many people see my lifestyle as “alternative,” which is hard for me to understand since I could not imagine living any other way. There is no better education than travel!
Why the Bike
After backpacking through South America at eighteen I knew I would be traveling for the rest of my life. I also knew I wanted something more. I wanted to do something different, something that gives my travel a “purpose.” I also knew I wanted a way to visit places other travelers don’t get to see, to stay in small villages in the middle of nowhere, and to have the freedom to go wherever I want, whenever I want. A bike fulfills all of this and more. By traveling by bike I am taken in by locals, I spend my nights camped in beautiful places, and I get the feeling of personal accomplishment since I am traveling by my own power. Plus, it is fun! Even after years of pedaling, my favorite part of the day is still while I am in the saddle.
For a photo of the day and other updates follow me on facebook here, and for some awkwardly cropped photos from our journey, follow us on Instagram @awanderingphoto!
When I read your words, I just can’t believe so much wisdom and perseverance comes from someone so young. You are astounding and I am so proud to know you. Know that while you aren’t aware of it, many people will keep you in their thoughts and prayers as you fulfill this amazing journey. I will live vicariously through you! Safe travels and lots of love!
Dear Shirine, I met you at CHANDRATAAL..(Date 27-SEPT-2013,11:45 Morning) (Lake on way to Kaza) and was very Happy and impressed when met you.(I am a small cyclist and have cycled from LEH to LAMAYURU this Sept) .I have some photos of Yourself & also my Photos with great wanderer.(The photos may not be as good as the one by you.) Pl do tell me your mail address so that I can attach and send you.
You are wise, for one so young 🙂
I am in that club of having taken until my mid (late??) thirties to get to the point where I realize that not only is ‘normal’ life not always as great as most of us are brought up to believe, but that there is an alternative and that its not just for other people. The last few years, I have come across many people embarking on trips like this, and they all act as inspiration to those who have that little niggle that they might not be as happy in ‘normal’ life as they would like to be, but who need that little nudge, that bit of encouragement, to realize that they too can do something amazing, and that just the act of setting off is likely to change the course of their life. You are one of those people giving that inspiration. I set off in the spring. I came across your site via Mike Howarth’s (think you met him recently), and will be following with interest as I too want to pick a route across Asia. Keep up the good work!
You don’t know how happy this makes me, to be a small push for someone to get up and leave. That is exactly why I am keeping the blog. happy trails, and maybe someday our paths will cross!
Shirine, I have never met you but some day I hope to! I came across your blog by way of Mike Brockie and Judy Yeoman, two kiwis I met while biking the Orgeon coast in July. I head you were also biking the pacific coast during this time and I am disappointed that our paths did not cross then. I am also a young female (24) and an avid traveler hoping to do much more touring in the near future! Now that I have found your blog I plan to keep up with your adventures, and perhaps some day we will be in the same place at the same time, pedaling for the pure joy of it! Best wishes for a wonderful journey 🙂
Great to hear! I would love to cross paths will you someday!
Shirine — do you have a blog and pics of traveling through South America? My grandson is Chilean and Caucasian and son, daughter-in-law and grandson all live in Chile. I have visited there and traveled throughout Chile about 10 times. However, I would love to see info about your South American travels. Ginny Altmann
I had a very simple blog, but I have added some of my photos from that trip under the oldies photo section on this one.
Shirine, so glad to have stumbled here! I love traveling, yet I have hardly traveled! You are an inspiration and I hope someday I too, have a lot many stories to tell!
Hey! I’m loving your blog! We have been on the road for 10 months now (Australia, SE Asia) and and I have found your writing very inspiring and life affirming. It’s funny, you remind me of a younger version of myself, even down to your gear list and listening to podcasts! I really hope we get to meet you on the road. I think we will be reaching the Stan’s around August/September. X jude
Awesome me too!!
Looking forward to crossing trails with you!
I wish I hadn’t met you on the LAST DAY of my trip. Thanks for the tent and the Steripen. You’ve lent me enough of your energy to motivate me to hit the dirt again!
Yeah! Lending out energy is one of my favorite hobbies!
I’m so happy that I’ve found your blog! Having questioned what would be the best thing to make the most out of life over and over again, always reaching the same conclusion, I feel much more confident about taking the first steps on my adventure.
I’m planning my first trip in the saddle now (just a small one through Europe to start with). I was being plagued by doubts about logistics and whether I can live cheaply enough and asking myself if it’s the right thing to do at this point in time. Looking through your blog at all the amazing adventures and incredible photos you’ve been so kind to share here, I’ve just been thinking ‘Well if she can do, I can too.’
Thank you for giving another young woman the gentle push and bravery she needs to get the wheels spinning. Wishing you many happy miles ahead, Jo
Yes! That’s exactly how it started for me, seeing other people and thinking if they can do it, so can I. And you can! The hardest part is leaving, after that, it all comes naturally.
Have a great adventure! Maybe some day our paths will cross trails.
Amazing…you are simply amazing!! I wish I could just get on my bike and ride with no worry as to where the day will bring me……….but unfortunately I can’t seem to do a 3-day trip without excessive planning and worry! I think your blog has changed that for me…just get on the darn bike and ride right?? I’m gonna go for it this weekend around the Olympic Peninsula! You’ve inspired me:)
Yes yes yes! No planning, no worrying, it will all work out! Plus, since cycling gives you the ultimate freedom, you can pick up and leave whenever. The Olympic peninsula is great, have a fun ride!
I did that wonderful thing of cycling far away from home, being 10 years older than you are now. When it comes to travelling, not many people can really impress me, but you do. I wish you a lot of luck and determination. These are the two most important things to push forward, and then everything else will turn out well. Will be watching you 😉
Don’t forget to come to Poland once you reach Europe 🙂
Wish you tailwinds,
Thank you! After a bit of a run in with typhoid fever I’ll be needed a little luck now 🙂
Hi Shirine, My son Phillip Tyler is leaving by himself on June 7th of this year, his dad and I are very concerned for him. He is only 19 and he will fly into Glasgow Scotland and travel across the countries. He knows no one and this is our main concern, he is bright, but has a big heart and is so trusting of other. Do you have any advice for him or us? thank you and stay safe out there,,,,
P.S. Does he need to get shots before he leaves?
Go for it! He will have an amazing and eye opening experience, and will come back a changed man for the better. As parents, try not to worry too much. You will experience through him the kindness of strangers, and by supporting him, he will let you in to follow his travelers as well. I traveled through south America as an eighteen year old solo female, and came back with only wonderful experiences.
Thank you for your reply….Tyler started his Journey in Glasgow Scotland, then on to Stirling, Scotland, Edinburgh and back to Glasgow to see the Isle of Skies, and the Highlands.
Then he plans on taking a bus to London with a friend he met at a hostel, they are planning on hitchhiking to Spain to run with the bulls! I’m not to thrilled about either one of those ideas, but he says hitchhiking well know there unlike the United states.
Your an inspiring young lady! I so would have done something like this in my twenties!
P.S. My middle name is Raelene.
Take care and be safe!
You’re absolutely amazing
Hey Shirine, I just dropped a few bucks into your Paypal stash 🙂 Keep the stories and photos coming, they’re awesome. Keep adventuring, it is inspiring.
Smooth trails and tailwinds,
Thank you so much! You just paid for a weeks worth of trekking stories through Zanskar;)
Hey Shirine, I just came across you Al’s blog and was hooked instantly… It’s really great to see how you actually embrace life and all these little magic moments around you and you do have an wonderful outlook on life as well, realizing what a treasure the world is and how life can actually educate us and not how we need education for life. Following saying comes to my mind as well when thinking about your wandering and wondering:
“If you think adventure is dangerous, try routine; it is lethal.” ― Paulo Coelho
I wish you all the best, take care of yourself and may the curiosity never cease and the things and people around you keep sparkling… Best wishes, Oliver
Thanks! And great post, you will be seeing that one appear on my blog soon enough!
Very nice indeed. Safe travels, wherever they lead. 🙂
Your stories and experiences have been such a huge source of inspiration. Your stories are so powerful and one can witness lot of courage, compassion, perseverance, passion for travel and so much commitment for dreams pouring in almost every para. Being an experiential learner, I also learn so much when I travelling and volunteer. Travelling has taught me lot of life lessons which can’t be learnt without experiencing it. Thank you again for your stories.
Let me know, if you are travelling across Rajasthan and need any support while your travels in India. All my positive energies with you. Wishing you safe trails.
Thank you a! I won’t be headed down there, but thanks for the encourage,ent!
Great to hear your stories , keep traveling and living your dream!
Discovered your blog today on Freshly Pressed.. I think there is always a good reason for why things happen when they happen.. 🙂 Hope to keep up with your travels, experiences, and stories! Wish you all the very best!
You have a beautiful blog and a lovely narrative voice. Happy to follow you on your adventures 🙂
Bravo vous me faîte rever………..vous êtes une belle personne…..Bizz
I’ll be minimalist like you. so
Instant fan here! Amazing blog. You are among the inspiring blog list on my blog
pleasure is mine 🙂
Great: “happiness, and therefore success”
Wow, inspiring blog!
I don’t know if you remember me, but I did martial arts with you 12 or so years ago at Best Martial Arts…I just barely recognized your face but you mention in your blog the Bahai faith, and I remember you going to those youth groups. I just interviewed for a job with your mom at EC Cares and she gave me the link to your blog because I have a friend who is also solo traveling and plans on being in Turkey next! It is a small world after all, and I’m guessing you are literally finding that out right now. Maybe you can give her some travel tips. Right now she is in Vietnam and her blog is http://travelanniekat.blogspot.com/ if your interested in contacting.
Hello! My mom just emailed me, and boy is it ever a small world!! She can contact me whenever if she wants some tips or info or anything! Happy to help anyone in the small traveling world.
It’s possible to have both a “sedentary” life and continued “nomadic” life. Travel allows you to see what money will give you so when home you will spend it differently. My husband of 20 years is Dutch, we met as independent cyclists in NZ. In our life together we bought (and paid for) a smaller house than the bank wanted us to, don’t have cable TV or cell phones, have only one car and bike to work because we know that is a way of saving for trips. We have twice quit our jobs to travel by bike for a year each time. We are about to do it again only this time for two years. It’s about choices isn’t it?
That’s exactly what we want to do! We definitely plan to incorporate everything about our nomadic life (simple living, kindness of strangers, exploring.. All that good stuff) into our sedentary life once we move to Oregon. It definitely is just about how you choose to live your life, and as someone once so wonderfully said, “home is just a place you can camp forever.”
Dear Shirine and Kevin! I just found your website and just wanted to tell you that I really like the way you write 🙂 Very interesting, friendly, pure, energetic… I and my partner Jan are also cycling around the world. After 3,5 years on the road we’re on our way back home to Germany. In case you make it to Germany on your way back home please visit us in Taunusstein 🙂 All the best! Karina
Hello! Great to hear from you, and thanks for the invite!!
after i see ur picture and read your blog..
now i,m your fans..
this is the best blog i ever read..
sorry for my bad english 🙂
hello 🙂 . your blog is very inspiring . i just want to ask . .what kind of trainind did you have before you start travelling ?
No bicycle training, just learning on the way!
Awesome photos. Love your travel philosophy. I’ll definitely be doing some backpacking in South America in the not-too-distant future. Thanks for sharing and inspiring! 🙂
Oh my goodness!” Ever since Kevin was a little tiny boy about 1 yrs. he LOVED to be outside and look at the stars. He was so excited to be outside at his Great Grandma Alma’s birthday party when he was sooo tiny… So glad he is able to take this journey with you Torres, you guys are perfect for each other! So happy for you!
That’s great to hear and I look forward to meeting you in person someday!
I’ve been checking out your blog for a while now. I am planning a bike tour myself down the coast and my funds are beyond limited! I would love to hear more about your $5 per day down the coast…Did you do a lot of warm showers/couch surfing? I;m not too keen on that but might give it a go 🙂 I prefer to camp! Do you know if the hiker/biker campsites in Oregon are open in oct-nov? I know that’s where the cheap sites and showers are at! Sometimes camp sites can get pricey, and on $5 per day even the nominal fee of $4-$7 for a hiker biker campsite would be over your budget. Did you stealth camp? I like the rice, pasta, oatmeal advice—and veggies are cheap! Anyway it would be great to hear more about your US budget. CHEERS!!!
Hello! So I did a lot of stealth camping, the occasional hiker biker at the cheaper ones (though you are right they are going up in price) but yes they should still be open! I did a few warmshowers but only for a night or two in the big cities (San Fran, San Diego) and I ended up staying with some lovely people along the way who randomly invited me in for the night as well. Mostly camping though! Since the USA is so full of fences sometimes you have to ask a farmer to sleep on their land, or find a spot on or close to the beach and just set up as the sun is going down. Have so much fun, and let me know if you come through Astoria !!
Great story and photos!