Travel Resources

Here are some lessons learned from 15 years of travel to 80+ countries:

  • Less is more, less is freedom
  • Invest in the few items that matter
  • You don’t need specialized everything
  • Toiletries can be bought there too
  • One bag travel allows for spontaneity
  • Travel is possible with little money
  • Making friends is easy — say hello
  • Smiles and respect are universal
  • Educate yourself about local culture
  • Tomorrow will be too late
  • Travel planning should be fun
  • Don’t overwhelm yourself with details
  • Plan trips around people and food
  • Splurge on interesting activities
  • You’ll find a way to communicate
  • It’s not as dangerous as they say
  • Time will pass too quickly
  • Your memories will remain

ELECTRONICS


Instax Mini 90 Instant Film Camera

While bicycle touring throughout South America
curious strangers would approach me all the time,
often offering home-cooked meals and spare rooms.
These acts of kindness are my best travel memories.
Having since traveled without the bike I’ve realized
the bike itself was an ice-breaker, an object familiar
yet strange enough to draw attention and build trust.
Instant photos can also fast-forward friendships.
To those who have never been photographed or seen
their portrait, a simple Polaroid can mean the world.
Don’t steal moments, share them with those you meet.
Buy camera and film. View photos on Instagram

 

apple-macbook-air

Apple MacBook Air

This lightweight laptop does it all while being bearably noticeable in my carry-on backpack.
Buy refurbished on Apple or new on Amazon

 

RadTech Screen Protector

Avoid keyboard oil marks and scratches on the screen when closing the laptop. Doubles as screen and camera lens cleaner too.
Buy on Amazon

 

iPhone 5s (32G Unlocked)

A game changer. Its quality camera / photo apps replace the need to carry a point-n-click. Compatible with SIM cards worldwide.
Buy on Amazon or Apple

 

Skull Candy Ink'd 2.0

Skull Candy Ink’d 2.0 w/ Mic

Affordable and portable, with surprisingly solid bass. Mic works great for Skyping too.
Buy on Amazon

 

4ft Nylon iPhone Cable

Phone dies fast so I charge while using it…hence, 4ft. Kindle/Steripen use 4-inch cable.
Buy on Amazon

 

Griffin Dual USB Car Charger

Griffin Dual USB Car Charger

For charging widgets on road trips. I pack it only if traveling long distances in vehicles.
Buy on Amazon

 

 

Tom Binh Laptop Sleeve

Tom Binh Laptop Sleeve

Without a doubt, the best lightweight protective sleeve on the market.
Buy on Tom Binh

 

Back-up Battery w/ Dual USB

How is this different from a regular back-up battery? When plugged in, it charges devices while charging itself. Revolutionary.
Buy on Amazon

 

Kindle w/ Free 3G and Wifi

Downloads books anywhere, in any language, instantly—while weighing less than a paperback. Trees everywhere thank you.
Buy on Amazon

 

Kikkerland Universal Travel Adapter

Kikkerland Travel Adapter

Compatible in 150 countries while folding flat and weighing 2.4 ounces. Simply amazing.
Buy on Amazon

 

iFrogz Auxilary Line

iFrogz Auxilary Line

For connecting my cached Spotify playlists to car stereos and home sound systems.
Buy on Amazon

 

Steripen Freedom Water Purifier

Steripen Freedom Water Purifier

Kills 99.99% of harmful microorganisms, in 45 seconds. USB rechargeable. I pack it only for off-the-beaten path locations.
Buy on Amazon

 

BACKPACK AND ORGANIZERS

 

Tom Binh Synapse

Tom Binh Synapse Bags

Pockets in all the right places, made in the USA. For two-week trips I use the 19 liter;
for extended trips the 25. Yup, bought both. The sexy Minaal bag is also worth a look.
Watch video review or buy on Tom Binh

 

Eagle Creek Undercover Hidden Pocket

Eagle Creek Hidden Pocket

To keep passport, visa photos, and back-up ATM and credit cards in one place. I attach it to my belt only in sketchy neighborhoods.
Buy on Amazon

 

 

Eagle Creek Pac-It Sacs

Eagle Creek Pac-It Sacs

Extremely durable and well-constructed for easy organization. Most all my clothes fit in a medium, all my toiletries in a small. Clothes stay generally wrinkle-free when tightly rolled.
Buy on Amazon

 

The World's Lightest Wallet

The World’s Lightest Wallet

Clamp cash between credit cards and a driver’s license. I also use a coin pouch in non-plastic-friendly places.
Buy at office supply stores

 

SPECIALIZED CLOTHING

 

Patagonia Ultralight Down Hoody

Patagonia Ultralight Down Hoody

Packs to softball size, warms you in winter weather. It’s my one and only travel jacket.
Buy on Amazon

 

Ministry of Supply Core

Ministry of Supply Core Shirt

MIT engineered, this synthetic wicks well, quick dries, never wrinkles, and looks classy. Uniqlo’s Airism v-necks are superior but always out-of-stock. Buy one if you can.
Buy on Ministry of Supply

 

 

 

Bluffworks pants

Bluffworks Travel Pants

My quest for the perfect travel pant is over.
Forever wrinkle-free, lightweight, durable, stylish, matches anything, and doesn’t stink
after a week of daily use. I travel with 3 pairs.
Buy on Bluffworks

 

TOILETRIES

 

MSR Packtowl

MSR Packtowl

Don’t be fooled by imitators. MSR is the only quick dry, compact towel worth owning.
Buy on Amazon

 

seven Day Vitamin Box

Seven Day Vitamin Box

Becomes a 14 day box with vitamins doubled up. Secure the lid with an elastic hair band.
Buy on Amazon

 

 

Somersets Shaving Oil

Somersets Shaving Oil

Just a few drops for a clean shave. One bottle lasts months and months on the road.
Buy on Somersets

 

Muji Travel Containers

MUJI Travel Jars

For hair cream or other non-carry-on sized products. Muji = Japanese = high-quality.
Buy on Muji

 

FAVORITE TRAVEL COMPANIES

Airfare

Airfare Aggregators: Google Flight Search / ITA Matrix

Of course Google moved into the aggregator space, it’s big money! How will they win? With the cheapest flight results, delivered efficiently. Use the calendar feature to find cheapest days. Flexible? Savings for +/- 1 day automatically appear. ITA Matrix is useful for routing and airline tax details.

Budget Airline Aggregators: WhichBudget / Wiki

You know about RyanAir and Southwest, but what about Mango or Scoot? Few airfare aggregators include budget airlines in search results. I use airport Wiki pages and WhichBudget to find cheap connections between hubs and deals directly on low cost carriers’ websites.

Airfare Deals Newsletters: Flight Deal / Secret Flying

The Flight Deal is the internet’s best source for absurdly cheap, unadvertised airfare. (The second best is this travel forum). Secret Flying also has unadvertised fares, but focuses on US and European deals.

Accommodation

Point Hotel Map: AwardMapper

Eighty percent of the time on the road I’m staying for free in hotels. This is the best one-stop place for maximizing hotel points in any and every location. Use free night certificates at fancy five-stars, use hotel points at Category 1s and 2s. A common sense strategy for long-term travelers.

Free Hospitality Network: Couchsurfing

Stay on people’s couches or spare beds for free. It’s a great way to save money while meeting locals who often show you around and introduce you to their friends. I’ve hosted and been hosted hundreds of times, and the site’s city groups are my number one source for local info and events.

Short Term Apartment Rentals: AirBnB / Homeaway

For less than a hotel you can rent a fully-furnished home, which is especially nice during extended vacations or when traveling with a partner. From châteaus to sailboats to treehouses, I love to checkout my destination’s housing options when planning a trip.

Housesitting Membership: Trusted House Sitters

Can you water plants? Do you love dogs and cats? If you convince homeowners that you’ll love their pets like your own and not burn down their house, then you can stay for free in some of the world’s most desirable locations for only $70 (Use promo code ‘retirearly’).

Cheap Hostels: Hostelbookers / Hostelworld

These are the two major players in the hostel game. Both are basically the same, except Hostelbookers tends to be slightly cheaper. Check both before booking (or use Hostelworld to send some affiliate love my way).

Travel Products

Travel Insurance: SquareMouth / World Nomads

SquareMouth is an aggregator that helps you make side by side comparisons. Be sure to read coverage details if participating in adventure sports. World Nomads is the most widely-used insurance, their website is stupid-proof, and I’ve never heard trash about their service.

Zero Fee ATM Card: Charles Schwab

With no monthly service charges or minimum balance requirements, Schwab reimburses all domestic and international ATM withdrawal fees at the end of each month. The savings are significant for travelers in cash-based economies. Thanks, Chuck.

Airport Lounge Access: Priority Pass

This card provides access to 600 VIP airport lounges worldwide. Having enjoyed free food, wine, and comfy couches on three continents I now can’t imagine a long layover without it. The US$399 annual fee is waived for American Express Platinum card holders.

Expedited Customs Clearance: Global Entry

Goodbye immigration and TSA lines. After an interview and fingerprinting, your passport can be scanned in 43 international entry points as well as domestic airports that participate in the TSA-Pre program. The US$100 fee is waived for American Express Platinum holders.

Guidebooks: Lonely Planet

Lonely Planet created the budget guidebook genre and won the hearts of travelers with casual writing, detailed maps, and easy readability. The background sections provide cultural breakdowns of each destination too. Sometimes I buy Kindle versions for remote, exotic locations.

Useful Websites

Visas and Vaccines by Country: VisaHQ / IATA / CDC

VisaHQ is simple and accurate. IATA is useful for obscure rules regarding transit points, en route vaccines, and dual citizenship. Reading about visa and vaccine policies is always my first travel planning step.

Travel Weather Averages: Weatherbase

Don’t fly half way around the world to find out it’s monsoon season on your dream island. Avoid vacation disaster with a simple search. The site provides a lot of useful data, but the monthly average temperatures and precipitation with tell you whether or not to book that flight.

Travel Forums: FlyerTalk / Bootsnall / Thorn Tree

Listed from most to least expert online communities, FlyerTalk’s lingo can be confusing while Thorn Tree attracts first time travelers. Bootsnall contributors have some experience under their belts. These three sites, plus Couchsurfing groups, have info about every place on the planet.

FAVORITE TRAVEL BOOKS, MUSIC, AND MOVIES

Books

Papillon by Henri Charriere
The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho
Hitching Rides with Buddha by Will Ferguson
The Beach by Alex Garland
Round Ireland with a Fridge by Tony Hawks
Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse
Kon Tiki by Thor Heyerdahl
Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand
Lost Horizon by James Hilton
Aztec by Gary Jennings
On the Road by Jack Kerouac
Into the Wild by John Krakauer
Mr. Nice: An Autobiography by Howard Marks
Life of Pi by Yann Martel
A Heart Blown Open by Keith Martin-Smith
A Short Walk in the Hindu Kush by Eric Newby
Down And Out In Paris And London by George Orwell
In a Sunburned Country by Bill Bryson
Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts
White Teeth by Zadie Smith
Gulliver’s Travels by Jonathan Swift
The Mosquito Coast by Paux Theroux
The Rum Diary by Hunter S. Thompson
Serpentine by Thomas Thompson
Snowing in Bali by Kathryn Bonella
Una luna by Martin Caparros (in Spanish)
Flash by Charles Duchaussois (in Spanish)
Cem dias entre ceu e mar by Amyr Klink (in Portuguese)

Music

My Free Spotify Travel Playlist

Movies

180 Degrees South [ Netflix / Amazon ]
1 Giant Leap [ Netflix / Amazon ]
A Good Year [ Netflix / Amazon ]
A Map for Saturday [ Netflix / Amazon ]
Babel [ Netflix / Amazon ]
The Beach [ Netflix / Amazon ]
The Children of Huang Shi [ Netflix / Amazon ]
The Darjeeling Limited [ Netflix / Amazon ]
Eat, Pray, Love [ Netflix / Amazon ]
The Four Feathers [ Netflix / Amazon ]
Indiana Jones Collection [ Netflix / Amazon ]
In July [ Netflix / Amazon ]
Into the Wild [ Netflix / Amazon ]
The Jason Bourne Collection [ Netflix / Amazon ]
L’Auberge Espagnole [ Netflix / Amazon ]
Long Way Round [ Netflix / Amazon ]
Lost in Translation [ Netlfix / Amazon ]
Medicine Man [ Netflix / Amazon ]
The Motorcycle Diaries [ Netflix / Amazon ]
Red Dog [ Amazon ]
The Rum Diary [ Netflix / Amazon ]
Seven Years in Tibet [ Netflix / Amazon ]
Sin Nombre [ Netflix / Amazon ]
Spy Game [ Netflix / Amazon ]
The Swiss Family Robinson [ Netflix / Amazon ]
Thicker Than Water [ Netflix / Amazon ]
Up in the Air [ Netflix / Amazon ]
Vicky Cristina Barcelona [ Netflix / Amazon ]
The Way [ Netflix / Amazon ]
Y Tu Mamá También [ Netflix / Amazon ]


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