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About Me

 

First off I would like to say welcome to Where The Road Forks! Thank you for visiting.

My name is Zachary Friedman. I am a traveler, outdoor enthusiast, and digital nomad from the beautiful state of Washington, U.S.A. Currently, I’m living the digital nomad life as a professional blogger. So far I have visited 66 countries on 6 continents. I am the creator and sole author of Where The Road Forks.

I launched this website in October 2017 to document my travels, share my knowledge and experience, and help fellow travelers and outdoor enthusiasts save money, stay safe, and have an adventure. Where The Road Forks is a travel and outdoor recreation blog. This blog covers a mix of topics including travel, cycling, hiking, and camping. Basically, I write about my interests. When I discover a new interest, I like to research it, experience it, and write about it.

At Where The Road Forks, you will find how-to guides, trip reports, comparison lists, gear reviews, and other knowledge I’ve picked up through my adventures. Hopefully, I can inspire you to have your own adventure.

A recent picture of me on the summit of Mt. Fuji

On this site, I write in as informative, honest, and realistic as possible. Every piece of content you read here is written with as much accuracy and attention to detail as possible. The truth is important. Everything you read on this site is also based on my opinion.

Every article you read on this site is written and edited by me. I write from personal experience. If I don’t know about something, I won’t write about it.

Where The Road Forks started as a passion project but is now run as a small business. I operate this site to make money to fund my travels and adventures. On this site, I make money through display ads and affiliate links.

I do not publish sponsored content or sell links or mentions. I do this to keep the quality of the content as high as possible. I am a bit of a perfectionist, for better or for worse. Visit my editorial policy for more info.

How I got started traveling

I caught the travel bug at 12 years old during my first international trip. My family couldn’t really afford to travel until one year during the holidays when my dad gave up his seat on an overbooked flight and scored 2 free tickets. He decided that we were going to take the longest flight the airline offered at the time so we would get our money’s worth.

We ended up going to Zihuatanejo, Mexico. Before that trip, I had never left the U.S. I had never visited a country with a different culture and language. I had also never visited a developing country.

In Mexico, my dad decided to take me fishing. He booked us on a one-day sportfishing trip with Captain Jaime. After a long, uneventful day at sea, we both thought they just weren’t biting…until the big one took the bait. After an exhausting hour-long battle, I ended up bringing in an 8 foot, 100 pound sailfish.

Once we returned to shore, the deckhand filleted the fish on the pier. My dad and I walked to the nearest restaurant with our fresh filets and my dad paid the chef to cook up our fresh catch. This was one of the best meals that I have ever enjoyed and is still my favorite travel memory. After that, I was hooked on travel and knew that I wanted to see the world.

On the summit of Mount Fuji, Japan
Petra, Jordan

Solo Traveling

In the summer of 2011, I took on my first solo trip. I had just turned 18 and graduated high school.

During senior year, I decided I wanted to travel. I saved up $5,000 by cooking french fries at my minimum wage job at McDonald’s.

A couple of months before graduation, I bought a flight and a Eurail Pass. A week after graduation, I flew from Los Angeles to London. I backpacked Europe for the next 3 months.

On that trip, my goal was to visit as many countries as possible in the time I had. I ended up visiting about 20 countries in 3 months. I made a loop around most of the continent. I started in London and then traveled north toward Scandinavia. From there, I turned south and traveled through Eastern Europe to Istanbul. I turned West and traveled across Southern Europe to Spain. I then turned back north toward London. It was exhausting but I loved it.

When I returned home, I started college. I was studying accounting and finance. I worked at a restaurant and saved up some money while I studied.

After saving up for two years, I took a semester off and spent 6 months traveling through India, Southeast Asia, and Australia.

The author at the Taj Mahal
At the Taj Mahal
The author in Goa, India
In Goa, 2013

The following year I spent the rest of my money traveling to South America. I spent 3 months traveling through Colombia, Ecuador, and Peru.

During these trips, I traveled on an extremely low budget. To keep costs down, I camped and stayed in hostels. I also cooked most of my own meals.

The author at Machu Picchu
At Machu Picchu
The author in Bogota, Colombia
In Bogota, Colombia

After that, I got a job. I was completely out of money so I didn’t have a choice. I didn’t travel for the next 4 years. I worked in a bar and restaurant. Over the years, I worked my way up to becoming a manager. Eventually, the restaurant was sold and I was laid off along with most of the staff.

At that point, I didn’t know what to do with my life. I didn’t want to go back to school because I thought it was a scam. I didn’t want to get another basic job and break my back for 60 hours a week. It was a depressing and anxious time in my life.

All I wanted to do was travel. At the same time, I knew I had to get my act together. I didn’t have any money to speak of because I had spent it all on travel. I also didn’t have a career or any valuable skills.

While working at the restaurant, I had saved up a good amount of money by living frugally. I decided to use some of my savings to go to Africa, a place I had always wanted to go.

I used my credit card miles to buy a flight from Los Angeles to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Over the next 6 months, I traveled overland to South Africa through 12 countries.

The author standing next to a safari vehicle in the Maasai Mara in Kenya
Me on a safari in Maasai Mara National Reserve in Kenya
The author in front of a traditional Banna house in the Omo Valley in Ethiopia
In front of a Banna house in the Omo Valley of Ethiopia
The author at the Cape of Good Hope in South Africa
At the Cape of Good Hope, South Africa

Moving to Mexico

After returning home from Africa, I moved to Tijuana, Mexico. I did this to save money. I rented a room in an apartment there for just $185 per month.

I started working in San Diego. I crossed the border to work on the U.S. side during the day. In the evening, I crossed back to Tijuana to sleep.

During this time I did gig work because I could set my own hours. I only had to work a few days per week to earn enough to live in Tijuana.

After a couple of years, I started traveling in Mexico. I visited most of the major cities. I ended up living in Mexico City. In total, I have spent around 3 years living in Mexico.

Starting Where The Road Forks

While traveling in East Africa, I met a travel blogger at a hostel in Nairobi. He explained the business to me. He taught me how he made money online. I loved the idea of making money online and traveling the world.

It sounded like the perfect lifestyle. At the same time, I thought it was unrealistic. There was too much competition in travel blogging. I also had no technical skill.

When I moved to Mexico, I decided to start my own travel blog and give it a try anyway. I bought a domain and hosting plan and started writing about my experience living in Tijuana. I also wrote some articles about my recent trip to Africa. Over time, I started writing about my other interestes including bicycle touring and bikepacking, hiking, and camping.

There was a steep learning curve. I had to teach myself how to start a website, use WordPress, SEO, writing, basic coding, etc. I spent the next couple of years obsessively studying the blogging business and SEO and working on building this website.

I started writing and posting an article every week. Sometimes I would post two per week. I worked on this blog for 6-8 hours per day 7 days per week for 3 years before it started earning any money. I spent all of my extra time working on this website.

Over time, Where The Road Forks developed into a small business. The little bit of money that I earn from this site allows me to travel and pursue adventures.

What I’m Up to Now

These days, I’m living as a digital nomad and professional travel blogger. I’ve been living the nomadic lifestyle for the past 3 years. Last year, I spent most of the year in Uganda. Currently, I’m in Asia.

My favorite countries I have visited include Kenya, Uganda, Mexico, and Thailand. My favorite cities are Nairobi, Bangkok, and Tijuana. A long term goal of mine is to visit every country.

During my travels, I have traveled through 66 countries on 6 continents. I have spent over a thousand nights sleeping in hostels, hotels, and Airbnbs. I’ve also spent a fair share of nights camping. I’ve tasted some strange foods (most recently, I tried balut in the Philippines.) Of course, I’ve also made some lifelong friends.

Me at Mount Bromo, Indonesia
At Mt. Bromo, Indonesia
Fushimi Inari Shrine, Japan
Fushimi Inari Shrine, Japan

Cycling and Bicycle Travel

I have been an avid cyclist for most of my life. As a kid, I rode mountain bikes and BMX bikes. When I got older, I commuted to school and work by bike. Over the years, I’ve pedaled tens of thousands of miles while commuting and riding recreationally.

About 6 years ago, I learned about bicycle touring. The idea of traveling long distances by bicycle fascinated me. I ended up buying a touring bike and some luggage and taking a tour in my home state of Washington with my best friend. I fell in love with this method of travel. I have since biked thousands of miles through multiple countries.

Me on my first bicycle tour near Aberdeen, Washington.

Over the years, I’ve taught myself how to do all of my own bicycle maintenance. I also love testing out new components including internal gear hubs, belt drivetrains, hydraulic disc brakes, electronic shifters, and more. Over the past few years, I have gotten into e-bikes.

Hiking and Camping

Hiking and camping are other passions of mine. I often combine these activities with my travels. My first big hike was the Wonderland Trail around Mount Rainier. Earlier this year, I hiked Mt. Sinai in Egypt. This past summer, I hiked Mt. Fuji with my best friend. Last year, I hiked in Patagonia. I’ve also done hundreds of day hikes during my travels. Whenever I reach a new destination, the first thing I do is look for hikes in the area.

Zachary Friedman hiking Mt. Sinai
On Mt. Sinai
Zachary Friedman on Dune 45 in Namibia
Dune 45, Namibia
On the Wonderland Trail, Mt. Rainier National Park
On the Wonderland Trail, Mount. Rainier National Park

Travel Stories

To learn a bit about me, check out a few of my travel stories:

Hopefully, you find my writing interesting and helpful. Again, thank you for visiting Where The Road Forks!