How to be a Gypsy

I often get this question, from kids and adults alike. “David, how does someone without a license, who’s barely 18, has almost no money in their pocket, and who almost never has any semblance of a plan, get around so much?”. It’s a question I honestly often wonder about myself, which is why I decided to take this time to think about it, and to try and provide the most comprehensive guidelines I can.

Be Courteous
This is one of the most important ones, and I can’t stress it enough. Always say please and thank you, for everything. Offer to help clean out the car, wash dishes, take out the trash, go get the red bulls, whatever. Anything that makes the other persons life a little easier, and makes them glad that you’re there. You owe them, after all.

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2. On Road Entertainment
Don’t be that guy who gets in the car for the road trip, and then proceeds to sleep the whole way. Don’t do it. Provide conversation, some sweet music, whatever you can to keep stoke up and keep the trip fun.

3. Gas
Always at least offer to help with gas, and be ready for it- that stuffs expensive. But this can be a big selling point for you to hop in the car. Who doesn’t want their gas cost cut in half?

4. Make Friends Everywhere
This ones harder to just do, but it’s invaluable. At any point, I’ve got people across the world to go stay with and know people traveling to those places so I can get a ride. Through paddling, you meet people from everywhere- use this to your benefit. (This is another place where being courteous comes in- if people like you, they’ll be stoked to have you come and hang with them.)

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5. Be Stoked
Nobody wants to hang out with some jamoke who’s going to be all negative all the time- get pumped! If you’re happy, and excited to go paddling, or party, or just chill, people want you around. Be that guy.

6. Don’t Take It Too Seriously
This is the most important element for your own sanity. At any given time, plans might fall apart, or something might not work out. Always be ready to turn on a dime and figure out a new plan, instead of getting stuck. Quebec Tour cut short? Don’t lose it, thats a cool time to head to the Southeast. Broke your creek boat and can’t to go from Idaho to California? I hear that Montreal has some good flows right now. It’s the biggest thing I can emphasize- go with the flow, and keep your cool. I have yet to be stranded somewhere (well, permanently at least…), all you have to do is relax and keep your mind open. Life works itself out if you just give it a push and stay flexible.

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All these things are how I’ve managed to travel all over the USA and Canada, in cars, with no license and questionable funds. Though it gets more complex once air travel gets involved, often many of the same rules can apply as long as you know people where you’re headed as well. It’s an incredible experience to be able to essentially bum around, with some good friends, and provides whitewater possibilities like nothing else. Thank you so much to all the wonderful people who’ve let me into their homes/cars over the years- The Jacksons, Troutmans, Madlocks, Walkers, Oxleys, Katie Jackson, Donnellys, Campbells, and many more, not to mention my parents. Without these people, the dream wouldn’t be happening like it is.

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