World Stompers


Not a vacation

We used to call ourselves drifters, or freaks, but “stompers” works just as well. Stompers are young, nomadic travelers having a great deal of fun meandering around the world, hanging out, partying in run-down grass shacks in exotic places, hooking up with each other, paying attention to the local scene, while ignoring boundaries. It is more a lifestyle than a vacation. Once centered mostly in Europe during the summer, the entire world from Ghana to Laos is now stomping grounds. This book is subversive, irreverent, bombastic, self-published, and full of the best advice I’ve seen in print for global vagabonds. It assumes you have very little money, but a whole lot of time and are open to new experiences. Average trip of a stomper: one year. What I like about the author, Brad Olsen, is that he seems to have made every possible mistake, but learns quickly from them.

Here’s the acid test: If you need to sleep in a bed on your world tour, The Practical Nomad is more your speed (and mine, too, these days). If you don’t care where you lay your sleeping bag down for the night, and you intend to be on the road for more than a month, this is the owner’s manual for you.

-- KK 09/27/03


One Summer when Tommy P. and I lived in Lake Tahoe, we made a bet. We bet five bucks on whether he could last a whole month without spending a single cent on food. He worked as an usher for Caesar's Showroom and was allowed free meals. Security was laid back and lax, so he would munch hard before and after his shifts and smuggle out pocketfuls of fruit, yogurts, puddings, cereal, milk and fruit drinks. I would barter meals with him on his days off to give him a variety, but never any freebies. The bet was only to pay for food.

Well he lost the bet a few days short of a month because he was fired from his job. He got the ax because he got up on stage and danced with Diana Ross during the encore. His boss did not believe she pointed at him for a dance.

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The World's Top 10 Best Stoner Meccas:
10. The whole country of Laos
9. Dahab, Egypt (page 220)
8. Nimben, Australia (page 179)
7. The ski mountains of Lake Tahoe, CA USA (page 151)
6. Tuk Tuk Peninsula, Lake Toba, Indonesia (page 189)
5. Pokhara, Nepal (page 241)
4. San Pedro, Guatemala (page 158)
3.The Whole Country of India (excluding the cities) (page 244)
2. The state of Alaska, USA (page 153)
1.The whole country of The Netherlands (page 206)

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Trevor also kept records of his ultra-budget days when he was trying to spend the bare minimum (and still have a great time). An example of one such day in India. Orange juice - $.20; vegetable, rice, and sauce lunch - .33; bike parking fee - .03; all-you-can-eat supper - .80; chocolate bar - .20; bungalow on the beach - 50 cents. Total expenses for the day - $2.06.

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Rip-offs are rampant for people commando-crashing outdoors, particularly in Europe. Backpacks are taken, money belts being used as pillows are unzipped and cleared of contents, and even shoes are swiped. If you are going to Europe on a low-budget and plan to sleep outdoors part of the time, consider a few tips. First, it is always best to sleep in a group. There is definitely safety in numbers. Second, sleep with your money belt inside your sleeping, but not all the way at the bottom. There have been incidents of thieves feeling the bottom of a sleeping person's sleeping bag for a money belt, then cutting the bag open with a knife and removing it. Third, chain your backpack to something, lock all the zippers, and try to use part of it as a pillow. Lastly, wherever sleeping with a group, lock all the packs together in the middle and position yourselves like spokes around a wheel hub. Detour thieves by making it hard for them to steal anything.