I’ve lived a year in Japan and visited multiple times since then. I really love the country, its people and the culture. But, while Japan has long been considered an example of high-tech progress and advanced mobile communications infrastructure, the reality on the ground is quite different, at least from a foreign visitor’s perspective. In fact, while they practically give away prepaid SIM cards in … [ Read more ]
I started off my lengthy travels with an Osprey Porter 46. Even though it was a good bag, its harness wasn’t good enough for my style of travel. After looking for a replacement pack, I ended up split between the Osprey Waypoint and the Deuter Quantum 55+10. Ultimately, I chose the latter, and it proved to be … [ Read more ]
Travel Adapters, Converters and USB Chargers
Some countries have different electrical outlet standards than your home country, both in the type of plug used and the amount of AC voltage and frequency. Most operate either at 110V or 220V (plus or minus) and have one standard plug, but occasionally this can vary inside the country as well. Wikipedia has a page detailing the values and … [ Read more ]
Buying a camera is one of the toughest purchase decisions to make due to incredible competition and an overwhelming number of features to consider. One way to approach buying a new camera is to consider six broad criteria:
- Size and type of camera
Are you looking for a subcompact, compact, ultra-zoom compact, waterproof, bridge, DSLR (digital single-lens reflex) or some hybrid (alternatively known as
… [ Read more ]
It’s fairly common advice to travel with an unlocked mobile phone (quad-band GSM to be the most compatible worldwide) so that you can purchase an inexpensive prepaid Subscriber Identification Module (SIM) card and pay much better local prices. Choosing a service provider is not usually a terribly important decision if you are only going to be in a country for a short duration … [ Read more ]
I travel with a netbook and own the Lonely Planet in PDF version (yes, a legal copy). Until recently I would print out the pages with maps and just read the rest on my computer, but that is inconvenient, environmentally wasteful, and occasionally expensive. After trying to think of useful alternatives, I have two to share with you.
Using Your Digital Camera
Occasionally when I visit a … [ Read more ]
Electronic book readers (eBook readers, e-book readers, e-readers, eReaders) haven’t been around that long but are quickly gathering market momentum and are quite naturally a great fit for the extended traveler. Spend a bit of time searching the Web for reviews and you will rarely come across a less-than-glowing opinion, and most of the negative writing you will encounter comes from … [ Read more ]
“A book is not only a friend, it makes friends for you. When you have possessed a book with mind and spirit, you are enriched. But when you pass it on you are enriched threefold.” — Henry Miller, The Books In My Life (1969)
Depending on where you are traveling, finding books to read can be either very easy or very difficult. Clearly, the task is … [ Read more ]
This list of suggested travel books generally focuses on novels or personal histories that involve travel either directly or indirectly. You won’t find much in the way of guidebooks, though there are a couple of suggestions which lean in that direction. My choices come from multiple best travel book lists (see below for links), recommendations from other travelers and my personal favorites.
I have tried to … [ Read more ]
I understand that a lot of travelers don’t plan much or spend much time organizing their travels. This post is for the rest of us who do at least want to make an effort. I will tell you the ad-hoc system I have cobbled together, admitting up front that I don’t consider it anywhere near perfect and hoping others will chime in with good/better suggestions.
Since … [ Read more ]
Getting a good backpack you will be happy with is probably the most important thing you can do before traveling. Last year I did a one year trip in Central America using the Osprey Porter 46 backpack (click to read my review). That pack turned out to be just a bit too small (though I managed with it) and, more importantly, lacked … [ Read more ]
Today I went in search of a decent place to exchange a book in Bogotá, Colombia. Being a large city with numerous popular hostels, I assumed any number of them would have a moderately good book exchange. I was mistaken. However, after visiting several hostels and asking for suggestions, I was told to visit Bogotá Bike Tours, which does indeed have many books. … [ Read more ]
Backpacking invariably means staying in hostels, even if not exclusively. Here is a list, in no particular order, of what I think contributes to making the “perfect” hostel. Obviously not every item will be of equal importance to everyone and this list is a work in progress based on my continuing experiences and your feedback.
- GREAT staff. I am amazed at how often the staff at
… [ Read more ]
I began my first year-long trip in March 2009, starting off on Isla Mujeres, Mexico and traveling through all of Central America (except for Belize). I had done a fair amount of research online before going and everyone seemed to say the same thing – pack light! Many also said that the things one packs tends to expand (or shrink) to fit the size … [ Read more ]
In the summer of 2008 I decided to spend a few months in Antigua, Guatemala studying Spanish and avoiding the awful heat of my home base, Austin, Texas. I have a strong interest in languages, having studied Japanese for years (for those interested, I run a site for Japanese language learners). I had wanted to travel since college, when circumstances prevented me from … [ Read more ]