Saturday, July 25, 2009


I'm Raelyn Monstrosity. Self-Dubbed Naked Vagabond [of doom]. Everything sounds better if you add the word "Doom" to it.
Lately I've been a homebody, which means I'm getting boring, but ya know. I'll get back on with the traveling modeling when the time is right, and until then . . .

I get messages occasionally asking me stuff. So . . . Random travel advice. Cause I'm not doing anything tonight and feel like typing.

1) Make sure you can afford your trip, before you ever start out.

1a)Money is tight, and it gets even tighter when your income isn't secure. If you can't afford to get where you are going, you might arrive screwed. Don't count money before its in your pocket (I find myself doing this all too often). Have back up plans in case you get canceled or flaked on (this happens often, be prepared). If money becomes a focal point, it will stress you out and make you angry at people who can't afford your rate (no fault of theirs, money is tight for everyone), whereas if its a footnote, you will have the chance to love what you do and it will show.

1b) Driving is good if you have multiple people or really good gas mileage. I don't drive, so I can't tell you anything about it. I took Greyhound everywhere. You know a lot of Greyhound routes, you can get cheaper if you buy in advance. Because I liked being flexible, I rarely took advantage of this, and now I feel dumb. Also, take Greyhound often, and they give you 'Road Rewards' if you sign up for the club. This makes it even cheaper - much like airmiles. Megabus and Bolt bus are also really really cheap travel modes, for the regions they cover - particularly if you know where you are going weeks in advance. My kid brother just booked a trip from Ann Arbor to Chicago in a couple weeks, for $28.50 roundtrip (he used my debit card. Gah!). And some areas (like New England) have a Chinatown bus, it costs like $10 and comes and goes every hour or two.
The sooner you buy your plane/train ticket, the less expensive it can be as well.
Also, traveling on Monday-Thursday is best. Weekend travel is usually hiked up in price, and you deal with more people due to weekend traveling. So if you're attempting to book a weekend someplace head out Thursday evening and return on Monday.

1c) Start out small. You don't want to begin with something 2000 miles away from home. Try a city that is a couple hours away. Slowly branch out. Chances are, you'll book better your second time in a city, and you'll book better in locations where people know who you are. Financially, its better to work your way out.

1d) Many photographers and artists will feed you. Many won't. I like people who feed me. I'm more inclined to like photographers who feed me. Sometimes, I'll ask for it as a part of my slightly reduced rate, so that I know I am eating, because I may neglect to get food if it means dipping into money I know I'll need for the bus. Photographers, even if its just a peanut butter sandwich or some vegetables, try to feed your models. And models, see what you can do about ensuring that you are eating.
I've met some really awesome cooks while traveling. And eaten at some pretty cool places. <3

2) Get to know people.
If you take the time to interact, travelers help each other, and share experiences.
If you know people in different cities, you'll find yourself with more places to stay, and less of the need for hotels and hostels. You can crash on a friend's sofa. Or if you don't have a place to stay, hotels offer privacy and a shoot location, whereas hostels are less expensive and offer you people who are willing to help you out at any point of time. When I was at Music City Hostel in Nashville, one of the staff ladies came to my door and offered to make me tea. In Montreal at Le Gite du Plateau Mont-Royal, everyone helped dig each other's cars out of the snow. And the Adelaide in San Francisco, many employees also lived there, so it felt like one big family.
If you're getting bored with the books you have brought with you, talking to other travelers could result in an exchange of books, or music. Some will help you carry your things. Sometimes food if you've both packed some with you. There was a guy in Denver who swapped books (Asimov for Machiavelli FTW!), food, and great conversation for hours while waiting for the bus.

3) Always keep a collection of interesting reads.
You may like Harry Potter, but it won't make a good travel companion.
Find books that read slowly, but make you think. Some of the best books you can find for the road are books like Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance by Robert Persig, or On The Road by Jack Kerouac. Cater to suit your interests.

4) Research the area you are going to.
Before you arrive, you will want to know a bit about the city. Chances are, if its a big city like NYC or Chicago, public transit will get you everywhere, and be cheaper and more convenient than driving. Have an idea how to get to and from everywhere you plan to go. In cities like Los Angeles, the public transit isn't very good, so you'll want to know how you are getting around without it. Discuss it with anyone you'll be meeting up with who is local. They may be willing to give you a ride, they may just expect you to show up.
Know a few cafes or diners, just in case you have to meet up with someone or will want a place to sit down for a bit. Sometimes you just need some energy. Having a location in mind helps, and you could find a quaint little cozy artsy place instead of a Starsucks. If you're interested in the local food, you might want to look up that as well.
Also know where the clinics, hospitals, and emergency dentists are on the just in case factor. The day before Valentines Day this year, my left front tooth exploded in my mouth in Philadelphia. Fortunately, a 15 minute walk away was a 24 hour emergency dentist. Saved my butt.

5) Know where you are going.
The sooner you know where you will be going, the sooner you can make plans for travel and places to stay, and the sooner photographers and artists can plan to have you in their studios.

6) Take breaks.
Modeling is hard work. Unless its something you have done full time yourself, its kind of hard to comprehend. But modeling wears very heavily on the body and spirit. Constantly physically pushing your body, constantly being subjected to criticism, constantly trying to find and network to new people, trying to keep contact with people you already know. If you push yourself too hard, you will break down or become jaded. Don't let this happen - give yourself some time to breathe once in a while.

7) Talk to other models.
Many other models travel. Many of them know who is good or not good to shoot with. Many of them know neat locations. Many of them will help you out. Talk to other models, traveling models and local models in your field of interest. In exchange, share your knowledge when you can. Karma baby, make it a community.

8) Telephones
Have one on you everywhere all the time. Make sure it has plenty of minutes and unlimited texting, and emails. You could be on the train back from a shoot, and get a last minute booking from someone who's model flaked. They'll appreciate you coming in, and you'll benefit too. You could lose your internet, and need another way to get a hold of your photographers. Make yourself constantly available for communication.
Cellphones can also now come with GPS, MP3s, internet, IMing, maps, alarms, calenders, and all sorts of other useful tools.

9) Barter.
Sometimes you may not have the means for something. This is where barter is good. Photographer pays your plane ticket in exchange for a half day shoot? Awesome. Don't charge them, go, shoot your half a day with them as top priority, book more shoots while in town. Hungry and cannot afford to eat? Sometimes photographers or artists who cannot afford your rate will gladly give you a meal or two in exchange for an hour or so of your time. Want a guide around the city and cannot find one? Need shoot clothes? Barter.

10) Pack food.
You never know when those peanut butter cookies or the granola bars will come in handy. They're small and can be shoved anywhere.

11) Big cities are awesome and full of people. Little towns are awesome and probably don't get a whole lot of models. Find out where you would do the best going to. Many locations don't get many traveling models for a reason, and many locations get lots of them for a reason.

12) Learn local laws
Because you're going to break them. Certain areas of certain cities, you can be topless or nude in public. Certain other places will charge you for sexual offenses if they catch you topless in the woods. You may break into abandoned buildings, trespass. Know what you are up against.

13) Have a slip dress, long coat, or tube dress in your suitcase. Bring it to any shoots that have the potential of being outside. They are quick to get on and off, and usually don't leave lines. Make sure it looks casual, and not like something for posing.

14) Don't
Flake. This makes models look bad, angers the photographer, and just is drama for everyone.
Bring your boyfriend/mother/sister/ whatever. Yeah. Just, no.
Demand that you get paid, just cause you think you should be. You don't decide if you are worthy of it. Artists do.

15) Camera
Bring one. There will be lots of cool things you'll run across. Taking pictures, even snapshots will be fun and keep them with you. You could even post them on your blog.

16) Keep a blog.
Blogs let people know about you. You can post more pictures of you. You can tell about all your adventures. You can show off the images you take of landmarks and such. You can write poetry. You can express your political beliefs. You can do just about anything with it, and many photographers will feel more connected to you after reading it, and more inclined to want to meet/shoot with you.

17) Websites.
Be on as many websites as possible for networking. OneModelPlace, ModelMayhe, ModelBrigade, ModelInsider, Musecube, PaidModels. . .
Network and promote like crazy. to find shoot offers.

Let people get to know you on myspace or twitter. Whatever. Respond to and post ads on craigslist. Make a wikipedia entry about yourself if you deem it useful.

But also, read up on travel websites. Examples are:

18) Trusting
Trusting in people and communicating will take you further- by opening yourself to people, you receive any help or advice they can offer.
Trusting yourself to make things work will give you confidence to make things flow. Don't despair, just tell yourself that you will make things happen. Always do what is right for you.
Trust the universe, god, karma, FlyingSpaghettiMonster, whatever you believe in that you will be on the path you need to be, and everything you experience is a step to help you grow.

19) Life is a highway, I wanna ride it all night long. . .
A good friend of mine likes driving around a lot at night. Sometimes when we hang out, he just circles the area, around Detroit, Ann Arbor, Lansing, Toledo. One day he was talking about driving. How, when you go down the highway, there is nowhere to go but forward. You can't just park your car in the middle of the fast lane, and expect it to be okay. Its gonna get crunched quickly. And hurt someone along the way. You've got to keep going. Sometimes, you'll hit an exit or a fork in the road, and you'll have to decide which way to take. Sometimes you know already. Sometimes you're uncertain. But once you've picked your lane, you can't just change your mind. Keep riding it to see where it goes. The highway has hills, sometimes mountains or tunnels. There are areas that are a bit bumpy, or that have not recently been repaired. But they still get you there in the end.

20) Travel light.
You may want every outfit you own to come with you. But how the hell do you expect to carry all that? Find one big suitcase that you can easily carry, and keep no more than what fits in that. Mine is a giant duffel bag with wheels and backpack straps. That thing is a life saver. Holy crap. Before that I had two medium sized hand help suitcases that equaled 60 lbs that I had a hard time carrying. I'd have to get a taxi for 6 blocks of walking to the subway, Now I can move about on my own again, free!

21) Get a passport.
You can't get out of the USA or travel internationally without a passport. If you want to travel internationally, you're going to want a passport.
Learn what to say at the border. No work visa? No working, got it? Work visas take time to get and may cost money. So either try to finagle a way around it, or find a way to make getting one profitable.

22) Itinerary
Have one. Know where you will be. When you will be there. How you will get there. Who you will be meeting up with. Content you are shooting. Phone numbers, addresses, etc. This will keep you organized, and serve to make sure you know all the details of what you are doing.
Keep it either semi-public (like an online calendar with the photographer's names) or send it in full to a friend. This will provide a last known location should you disappear.

23) Carry a notebook. Write down everything. What you're doing. What thoughts come to mind. What you're eating. Your health. Anything that crosses the mind.

24) Keep a list of what photographers in what city want to shoot with you. Contact them when you know you will be in their area. Sometimes they will contact you saying 'if ever in my city', so make sure you know who they are for when you come to their city.

25) Let your photographers tell you what they will pay you until you know what you are worth to them. Some models easily can charge $150 an hour per shoot and some can barely hope to make $50 for a half day shoot. You don't determine what an artist will pay you. They do. You don't outright deserve to be paid, you earn it.

26)Have fun.
Its an adventure after all. If you aren't fully enjoying yourself, you aren't doing it right.

Add your own. :)

(Photo by Jennifer Ilene)

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