Hitting the pavement is one the best ways to explore and soak up all a new destination has to offer – and few people will get to experience more than a traveller who is walking the whole way around the world.
Angela Maxwell is a 35-year-old explorer who has been walking for three years. She left the small town of Bend, Oregon back in May 2014 and that is ultimately where her trip will end – though there is no set deadline for her to complete her journey. While often meandering on her route and exploring new places, Angela told Lonely Planet she is working her way west towards home.
Usually covering about 20 to 30 kilometres a day, Angela has already walked more than 10,000 kilometres across nine countries and three continents – not to mention a number of islands. Currently, she is walking south from the tip of Scotland to the southern coast of England.
While taking on an entirely new way of life is a huge decision, Angela says when the idea came to her to walk around the world she knew she was born for the task – and was not going to let a lack of experience stop her.
“I’ve always loved the outdoors and hiking but I didn’t have a huge amount of experience… I had never camped alone, never walked such long distances in a day and didn’t know if I could successfully manage to build a campfire. So, once I was certain I would regret it if I didn’t follow this calling to go on a world walk-about, I read every book I could [that was] written by female explorers. I wrote notes on what gear they took, the routes they chose, the safety precautions they did or didn’t take”.
And while she did as much as possible to prepare, she says that the truth is you can never truly prepare yourself for such a trek. It took time for Angela to gain her confidence, learn what she was doing and even build a campfire in the rain – but learning by trial and error has made her ready to circumnavigate the planet.
Angela isn’t driven by a desire to set any records on her trip – she said that Guinness World Records even contacted her to give her the proper criteria if she wanted to attempt the fastest circumnavigation on foot around the world by a woman, but she asked if there was a record for the slowest. Instead, taking her time means that she can connect with her surroundings.
And enjoying the incredible natural environments also comes with a responsibility to protect them. Angela has a “no-trace policy”, where she tries to avoid any signs that she has camped at a particular site, carrying out all rubbish and using recyclable supplies.
Back in 2014, Angela left behind her consulting business and sold everything she owned to get ready for the trip. Beyond those preparations, such an adventure also requires packing light – Angela says she owns one pair of pants, one pair of shorts, a dress and two shirts – and living on a budget of $5 per day.
“It’s not easy but it’s helped me realise how little I can live on and how so little can bring me just as much happiness as living with more. I don’t see myself as travelling the world on a tight budget – my mission is to walk around the world and the only way I could afford it was to live simply”.
Taking on this trip has also led to amazing experiences, but Angela says that some of the challenging experiences have been the best. And as for the places she’s loved most, Kimberly in Western Australia makes the list, as well as Sardinia and the Republic of Georgia.
To learn all about Angela’s adventures, follow her trip on her website, She Walks The Earth.