You might not think that by the time you’re 30, you’d have slept by the roadside in a tunnel in Italy, sold all your belongings, and maxed out your Facebook friend limit, but Nikki Misurelli has done all that. She’s also motorcycled 17,500 miles across the world – and if that’s not enough, she’s done all that alone.
Ever since she passed her driving test, Misurelli used her modest Honda CBR600RR to nip to the supermarket and drive around town back home in Alaska. Then last September, her boyfriend-as-was got the idea for the trip of a lifetime.
“He said he wanted to motorcycle all the way from Alaska down to Argentina,” Misurelli told The Independent. “I asked him if I could go with him but he said no, that it was a ‘guys only’ trip. ‘It’s too dangerous and intense,’ he said. ‘You probably couldn’t handle it’.
“So we broke up and I went by myself.”
Since then - when she covered 12,000 miles from Alaska to Panama - Misurelli has barely stopped. On her sports bike (she's made it into an "adventure bike" by adding dual sports tyres), not only has she ridden the west coast of the Americas and spent time in Central America, but last month she finished a 5,500 mile journey over the other side of the pond. She ticked off Italy, Spain, France, Gibraltar, Portugal, Austria and Slovenia, and even nipped over to Morocco.
Much like van-dwellers, a predominantly American group of people who choose to live in vans, Misurelli doesn’t have a job, a house, or even a permanent base to live.
“A lot of people just assume I’m rich,” she says. “But it’s not true. I have no house and barely any possessions. I pulled all my retirement money and sold almost all of my belongings. It’s amazing how little we actually need in life.” In between trips, she works part-time; on the road, she carries a tent, hammock, sleeping bag and a few clothes. It also helps that she doesn’t have many outgoings: she never plans ahead, but sleeps wherever she can, whether that’s a hostel, tent, or sofa. In Italy, she once slept in a highway tunnel.
“I did some camping in the mountains but it was really cold – it was pouring down and I wanted somewhere warm, with no wind or rain,” she tells The Independent. “I didn’t feel like socialising or finding an Airbnb so I just decided to go for it.” She wasn’t nervous, she says – she’s rarely nervous, in fact – because “bad things can happen anywhere in the world, but there are more good people than bad.” She never feels alone, she says because even a chat with someone in a petrol station gets her mood up.
Next on the agenda is a work stint – Australia or America, she says, to do anything that allows her flexibility (in the past she’s waitressed and done construction work). Within six months, she’ll be back on the road – ideally in the Middle East, she says, or possibly North Africa.
Misurelli does see herself as an ambassador – “I want women around the world to get out there and get travelling,” she says – but ultimately, roadtripping is something she needs for herself. Even if it’s not the easiest lifestyle. “If you want something enough, you can make it work,” she says. “That’s how I feel about travel.”
Join our commenting forum
Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies