My Six Week Ultralite Pack List

Travel buddy reading an e-book on my HTC Sensation in Laos.  You can 
see her GoLite Peak backpack beside her and my GoLite Peak backpack 
on the right with my Manfrotto monopod strapped to it.

Here it is, my full pack list from my recent six week trip to India and SE Asia.  I wanted to shoot professional video on this trip, so I also brought a Canon T2i, monopod and shotgun microphone.  The footage I brought back was definitely worth the extra weight!

Each person's pack list should be personally tailored to them, but if you wanted a starting point for what to take with you on a longer trip, hopefully this list will help.

If you click on an item, it will take you to that item's page on Amazon so you can compare specs, prices, etc.
In Jodhpur, India, wearing Hercules Sunglasses, Chums Eyewear Retainer, 
Sea to Summit daypack, Merrell's  Embark shoes, ASICS Nimbus
socks, Hanes A-Shirt and Perry Ellis dress shirt.

Storage
Head
Torso

Peace Corps Stories: Fruity Wednesdays/Naked Dessert

Image hosting by PhotobucketOne of the greatest things about serving in Peace Corps was that every day tended to bring with it a moment the until then had been completely outside the realm of my experience.  For two years, my life became a day-to-day series of stories.  So it was quite strange when I once went more than a week without seeing or doing anything new.  It got to where I was feeling novelty withdrawals and wondering if Ukraine had nothing new left to show me.  It turned out, though, that the country had just been saving up for something completely sureal.

Several times a year, Peace Corps called us together for language and skill training.  This particular training was in the capital of Kyiv, and I arrived the day before it began to abuse the internet at the Peace Corps office.  That evening, I was sitting in Peace Corps' lounge watching a DVD of "Desperate Housewives" with several other volunteers when someone suggested that we get off our asses and do something interesting.  Someone else suggested going dancing.  It was a Wednesday, but what the hell?

How to Get Travel Size Toiletries for Free

I was going to picture of a midget, then thought it might be tasteless.
Although I've written about a bajillion articles on how to lighten your toiletry kit, I realize that a lot of people are not ready to give up their stick deodorant, give up their shaving cream, or give up their liquid shampoo.

So I get why you want to bring smaller versions of the name brand products you know and love, and I have some good news for you: you can get most of those travel-sized without paying for them.

Companies like to give out free samples to get people to try out and switch to their product, and there are sites on the internet that consolidate these sample giveaways (and then surround them in ads in order to make money).  I've tested a few of these out and have successfully gotten travel-sized products from 3000FreeGoodies.comFreakyfreddies.com and WomenFreebies.com.

After a bit of trial and error, I was able to streamline the process of applying for the freebies, and I now want to share that process with you.


GoPro Hero2 Review and How to Deal with Its Drawbacks

Shot with my Hero2.  Travel buddy has requested that I stop
using her pictures to get more page views.  I obviously haven't listened.
I'm extremely rough on my cameras.  I crushed one once while caving in Slovakia, and I drowned another when crossing a river on a rope in Ukraine went awry.

Those mishaps drove me to splurge on an Olympus Tough 8010, which lived up to its promises of being freezeproof, drop-proof, crushproof and waterproof.  It had some technical drawbacks--including taking a little too long to focus--but for the most part it did its job spectacularly well.  The problem was that I do a lot of scuba diving when I travel, and most of that scuba diving took place below the camera's depth max of 33 feet.  My solution was to splurge again on an Ikelite underwater housing that let me take the camera to 150 feet, but I know had to carry a bulky, relatively heavy housing in my backpack that would only get use 5-10 times per trip.

12 Free Cloud Storage Sites for Protecting Trip Photos

 Not jealous.  Not jealous at all.  Sniff...
Since I've already detailed the steps I've taken to insure my electronics when I travel, I thought I woud go into how I protect what's on those electronics.  A laptop can be replaced; travel photos can't.  And if you'll look at the picture of Travel Buddy on the right, taken at a temple in Vietnam, you'll understand why it's important preserve blackma...er, memories.

Cloud storage has made the days of backing up travel pictures on CDs burned at internet cafes a distant memory (and if you have no memory of that, you're too young to be traveling, you frackin' gap year punk!), but while I love online backup, I hate paying for it. Luckily, quite a number of websites offer smaller amounts of free storage, and if you daisy chain a number of companies together (more on that in a minute), you'll find that you'll never drop a dime on preserving stone penis portraits.

How They Work

If you haven't already jumped into the fluffy, cutthroat world of cloud storage, what you need to know is this: they're all the same.  No matter how much they try to differentiate themselves, they all follow the same formula: you sign up for an account, you download their program, you designate what folder(s) on your laptop you want to back-up (or their program creates one for you) and then their program constantly uploads your data to their servers.

Lessons in Las Vegas Freebies and Discounts

We got into Tao Beach for free.  Read to find out how.
When sitting down to write a Las Vegas article, I thought I would skip the usual travelogue format and detail what I did on my trip to save money, as well as the lessons I learned along the way.  If you're going to loose it all at the tables, hopefully some of this will keep you from starving...

Getting There and Sleeping

While I was consulting with my friends CheapAir and Hostelbookers, my girlfriend at the time, Heather, was searching for weekend vacation packages on Orbitz.  Much to my emasculation, she found a better deal than I could: flights and
three hotel nights for two for $843.58.

I was surprised that the package cost less than the cheapest flights I could find, so we bought it.  Before checking out, I did a quick Google search for Orbitz coupon codes, and found one that took 10% off if we used an American Express card.  Five seconds later, our total was $759.22, basically $380 a person.  Total Savings: $84.36. 


LESSON #1: ALWAYS LOOK FOR COUPON CODES BEFORE YOU BOOK YOUR TICKETS.


Ultralite Shampoo and the Problem with Conditioners

Someone seriously needs shampoo advice
I knew it.  I KNEW not to trust them.  They tell me that wearing the right shirt surrounds me with women and that drinking the right beer surrounds me with women and that buying a domain name from the right company surrounds me with women.  None of this turns out to be true (unless the women are the female bedbugs infesting my apartment), and yet I believed them when it came to shampoo.

Sigh.

Those damn commercials use words like "nourishing" and "revitalizing", and then I learn that such things are impossible: hair is dead as soon as it leaves the scalp, so nourishing is like trying to spoon-feed a corpse and revitalizing is, well, promising to give you a head of zombie hair.

No, despite the many brands and claims, all shampoos really do is clean hair, and they do it in the worst way possible.

Shampoo: Good For Warfare

Your body naturally produces an oil called sebum that helps protect the hair root.  This oil traps dirt, and shampoo's job is to break that oil up and remove the dirt with it.  The main ingredient in almost every single popular shampoo brand--including the high-end salon-branded ones--is sodium lauryl sulfate and it breaks up oil extremely well.  So well, in fact, that it's the base ingredient in Agent Orange, which the American military used to deforest thousands of acres of Vietnam.

Some New Videos From Southeast Asia

Just got back from a long trip, and am slowly making editing footage of the experience. Here are a few:

Drinking Snake Whiskey for the First Time (Luang Prabang, Laos)

It's supposed to be healthy for you...


Swimming With Sharks in St. Maarten

[Read the Published Version of my Swimming With Sharks Story at GoNomad]

Honestly, I wasn't worried about the sharks. What I was worried about, as I let the air out of my BCD and drifted down into the deep blue waters off the coast of St. Maarten, was that I might not get back to my cruise ship in time.

Scheduled departure time? 4:00 PM. Scheduled dive time? Three hours, starting at 1:00 PM.

I dourly debated about dropping the dive, but then... I mean, diving with sharks is a story. Getting stranded on an island because you missed your cruise ship is a story. This is how I make decisions.         


France: Cafe L'Embuscade

The author in front the store where she beat Victor Hugo in a poetry slam.
Our guest post today comes from Diana Rosenberger, an avid traveler.  She currently resides in Detroit, where she is serving in Teach For America.

There is a certain degree of, oh I don’t know, genius that seems to surface in my poetry when I write at Cafe L'Embuscade. That’s pure sarcasm by the way. The kind that doesn't seem to translate across borders. Particularly within the borders of France. So when I tell the local Parisians that I’m taking a poetry writing class and to look for my name on the shelves of Shakespeare and Company because really I’m the next Victor Hugo, I usually just get funny looks. All of a sudden, I’ve unintentionally beaten the French at their own game of brazen snobbery.