Angela Maxwell Has Walked Alone for 3 Years. Now She Shares All Her Best Slow Travel Tips

Walking Solo Angela Maxwell

My name is Angela Maxwell and I’ve been walking solo around the world for three years. I left my home in Oregon, USA to attempt a slow travel adventure across four continents, three of which I have completed. I have one continent left to complete my walk, which is home across the US. However, I made a side trip back to Mongolia to join an expedition with camels across the Steppes (more info below).

When I’m not walking, I enjoy painting and writing. One of the aspects of my walk that I enjoy is the solitude because I’m an introvert. But my ambition is to connect with the culture and people in the places I walk through. Slow adventuring is a way to learn, expand our ideas and creativity and encourage cultural understanding. Although my walk may be completed in the next year or two, I think I’ll be going walking adventures for the rest of my life.

Walking Solo Angela Maxwell

How and why did you get into walking around the world?

It’s a unique unfolding for me — walking around the world. The only way I can describe it is a calling, an idea that came overnight and became an obsession. I spent nine months planning for it. I had heard about a man walking around the world and it sent me into a tizzy of wonder, excitement and a pull to investigate more into long-distance treks.

About a month after the initial concept came into my life, I was packing up, researching, and closing down my business. The idea kept me awake and energized through long nights of creativity, and the most fascinating aspect for me was that I had almost no experience in long distance hiking, camping or survival knowledge. I immersed myself in learning before I started but I’d quickly discover that just getting on the road would teach me more than any advice or opinions.

Walking Solo Angela Maxwell

How do you prepare for your adventures?

My preparation technique is probably different than most because I don’t see myself as an athlete. Although I like to workout to feel good in my mind and body, most of my focus before a trek across a country is trying to eat as much as possible! I quickly lose fat and muscle when walking and on such a small budget combined with supply accessibility, my diet is simple and sometimes void of solid nutrition.

Planning my routes, however, is a more fluid and intuitive approach. When I first began three years ago, I had a marked route, complete from start to finish. But based on Visa issues, who I meet along the way and simple interest in certain countries has shaped my walk over the years, I’m no longer interested in following a straight line and it reminds me that I’m on an adventure not a mission.

Walking Solo Angela Maxwell

How do you finance your walk and adventures?

As most walkers, runners and cyclists I run into, no matter the distances or mode of travel, we have one thing in common; we’re broke. Some people are lucky enough to have sponsorship or personal finances to fund their expeditions but the world of walking is vastly different than the athletic realm. I sold most all of my belongings and take donations to help fund the walk. I then share a part (10%) of what’s given to me to a non-profit I feel is doing impactful work with women internationally. It’s not much and I don’t promote myself enough to be able to fund my walk through donations so I spend on average 5 USD a day.

Hilleberg has been my only sponsor and I couldn’t be more grateful. They gave me my Nammatj 2 tent that has been my home over the years and it’s honestly the most high-performing and versatile tent I’ve ever had.

Walking Solo Angela Maxwell

How do you eat and sleep on the road?

I try to be as self-sufficient as possible so I carry all my water, food, gear and supplies in a two-wheeled cart. I camp in my tent and cook my own food. However, there are occasions where locals invite me in for a meal and a bed but I rarely stay in hotels or eat out. I used to use expensive multi-fuel stoves but since I prefer simplicity and less trinkets that can break on expeditions, I am a fan of the classical alcohol burner for cooking. I also like creature comforts and at the end of a long day I adore my REI folding chair, which sits flat on the ground and I can sit comfortably in my tent to eat and read.

I also love my thermarest Neo air because it rolls up into the size of a Nalgene bottle. And another creature comfort is my sea-to-summit inflatable pillow. After three years, it doesn’t look so good but it works. Most of my gear is the same as what I began with three years ago. I try not to replace things unless it’s broken.

Walking Solo Angela Maxwell

How do you bring your things with you?

I carry all my gear and supplies in a large Ortlieb bag (waterproof) and that sits on top of my cart. My cart was made by Kai Fuchs at Monowalker. He specifically designed a cart to my needs. A two-wheeler which can fold up into the Ortlieb bag, making it easy to transport when I can’t use my wheels.

Due to the nature of my walk, I’m aware few people need carts but the ease on the body not carrying all the weight makes my long-distance walks pleasurable. At times I’ve had to backpack and thoroughly enjoy that too.

I still use sea to summit dry bags inside my waterproof for extra protection against the weather or accidents (like a leaking water bag) but with so many options out there I find it something works for me I don’t feel the need to change it. I’m not really a great junkie. If trash bags worked as well as dry bags I’d use them too. 😉

Walking Solo Angela Maxwell

How do you organize things in your bags?

I have an organisation to how I pack my Ortleib bag. It’s mainly about how I need to unpack in the weather. For example, the tent is the first thing I need easy access to in case it’s raining. I can put it up as quickly as possible without getting my other gear wet, then all the bits like stove and clothing is at the bottom. And when in a hurry, it does sometimes just get thrown in there!

Also, having waterproof/water resistant bags are very important. Walking is easy. Keeping your gear safe and dry from the harsh environments is a challenge.

Any gear you wish you had brought with you from the beginning?

When I first started, I was carrying around 100 pounds of gear. I have gone lighter and lighter over the years and prefer caring less. It’s helped me understand and embrace a more minimal lifestyle. I generally only carry (and own) two pairs of pants, two shirts, five undies, thermals, five pair of socks and two hats. It makes choosing my wear for the day as easy as possible.

Walking Solo Angela Maxwell

What has been your best walking/adventuring-related purchase below $100?

REI co-op trail chair- Cost me about $35. It’;s what I most look forward to after a long days walk and nestled next to a campfire.

What is your best advice for people who want to follow your footsteps?

I was a complete amateur when I began my world walk. I don’t advocate to begin something without researching and practicing but I do implore people to jump all in. We can’t do anything half-way and feel complete and satisfied without putting our all into what we’re doing. My experience is that fear and failure is inevitable. Our greatest ambitions can only be successful if we’re willing to fall and try getting back up.

I’ve faced the feeling of failure several times in my life and on this walk. I’ve found the greatest strengths is in accepting the falls and perfecting how we move forward with integrity and clarity. Often times, it’s just about taking a deep breath while stepping into the unknown and hope it’s the best decision you’ve ever made!

Walking Solo Angela Maxwell

What will the future bring?

Right now I’m back in Mongolia, which I walked solo back in 2015, as part of the expedition called, Steppes to the West with another world walker named Karl Bushby and a small team of adventurers. We started this walk on November 1, 2017 and take 10 camels across Mongolia. I’ve joined for a small portion of this expedition to try working as part of a team and supporting a Mongolian woman’s dream of a camel caravan along the ancient Silk Road. I’ll still be walking every step myself and it’s a bit of a healing journey as Mongolia was the most challenging place I’ve ever walked.

Visit Angela Maxwell on her website and follow her on Instagram and Twitter


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