Tag Archives: backpacking

“Carry Less, Blend In, See More”

8 Mar
Enjoy the awesome pointers from this interview with world traveler, Nathan Green.
Camping in Europe
What is your favorite place to travel and why?
 
I would say anywhere I haven’t been yet.  Going back to the same place is fine, but there is such a huge world out there to explore.  If I have to pick a place…Can I say anywhere overseas? The ability to hop from country-to-country is so easy and cheap.  In two weeks, you could hit up 4-5 different countries.
What is your best travel memory?
 
Backpacking Scotland, England and Northern Ireland with friends.  No one ever talks about Northern Ireland when they talk about Ireland, but it is an amazing place.  Visiting the Giants Causeway was spectacular.  Setting up camp wherever you could find space for a tent was also great.  We were able to see so much of the local culture by walking everywhere and sleeping in tents.  Not to mention 7 days of backpacking cost us $100 each.
Backpacking in England
backpacking in Ireland

What is your worst travel memory?
 
That same trip, it got down to about 33° one night and we had freezing rain up in the mountains.  I only had a 45° sleeping bag with me and froze all night.  I was wearing every layer I brought and I was miserable.  Perfect weather the other 9 days and for some reason it just dropped that night.

Do you have any tips/tricks for others traveling to (choose area of interest).
 
I’m probably a bit jaded on this one since I usually camp if I’m traveling, but if it doesn’t fit in carry-on with you, you don’t need it.  I don’t care how long you’re going to be somewhere, it can all fit in a 40L backpack.  This weeds out what you really don’t need and allows for quick movement, be it through the airport to catch a connecting flight, or through public transport without being a royal pain to others around you.  And nothing says tourist like three rolling suitcases.  Carry less, blend in, see more.
flower

What is your favorite piece of travel gear–something you wouldn’t leave home without.
 
I would never leave for a trip without my camera.  I don’t take a lot of pictures with me in them or friends in them.  I try and sell my photos so I focus on the landscapes, the buildings, the interesting facial features of people in a different environment than the one I am used to.  On a recent trip to Singapore, I found my Peak Design Capture system invaluable.  It’s basically a metal piece that you can wear on a backpack strap, belt, sling strap, etc and your camera wears the mating piece.  It slides in and locks in place.  When you want your camera again you simply press a quick release button and it slides back out.  Not having to hold the camera constantly is a lifesaver.  And not looking like a tourist with a camera hanging around your neck is just a bonus!
travel to Singapore
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Need a place to stay for free on your trip? Try the awesomeness of couchsurfing.org.

9 Aug

I decided to backpack across Europe right after the movie “Taken” was released. As a result, everyone I knew chastised me and told me to be careful to not get kidnapped and sold into sex slavery. I promised them that I would be smart and safe and reassured them that even if I was captured, my father, who is a very talented and successful graphic designer, would come rescue me for sure. Thanks, Dad. Big card for you on Father’s Day! That being said, I utilized a service that may sound nuts, but happened to be the most awesome thing of life. I urge everyone who likes traveling to give it a whirl.

Instead of paying to stay in hotels and hostels in my favorite destinations, I used couchsurfing.org. Couchsurfing.org is an organization that connects other travels. Basically, you sign up and create a profile, and offer your couch for travelers.  In return, people in cool locations offer their couch to you. I cannot begin to tell you about the awesomeness of this service.

First, it is a great way to meet new friends who also love traveling. I met great people in France, Italy, Switzerland, Germany, and I also met people from other countries who were staying with us at the same time. It was fun to talk about travel and hear about the best places to go from other avid travelers.

Couchsurfing.org is also unique in that you are staying with people who live in the area. That means you have a primary source on where to go, what to do, and what to eat.  I saved a ton of time I would have wasted researching on the internet and looking at maps by just asking my kind host. I also had some great experiences with food, which is sort of my specialty. Get this. One of my Italian hosts invited his chef friend over, and he cooked the most amazing Italian meal. It was the best meal I’ve ever had in my life. Straight up delicious. I also attended a wonderful picnic in France on Bastille Day.  I saw fireworks erupt all over Paris—an experience, I wouldn’t have had if I’d been left to my own devices.

While couchsurfing.org is amazing, there are a few good things to know/do.

  1. Make sure to bring a cool treat for your host. They are offering their house, time and energy to host you, so bring something special and unique to share with them.
  2. Learn how to make something delicious. A great way to bond and to show your appreciation is to cook an amazing meal for them.
  3. Make sure to read recommendations on their profile. Staying with a stranger can be nerve wracking, but couchsurfing.org offers recommendations. This means, people who have stayed there before write a little review on the host. This way you can guarantee a personality fit and your safety. Don’t stay with anyone who has negative reviews, or no reviews. Simple as that.
  4. Travel with a friend if you can. Traveling with a friend is a lot more fun, and also safer.
  5. Make sure to open your house to travelers as well.

If you have plans to stay somewhere else, you can also use couchsurfing.org for recommendations and to just meet cool people. When I was in Berlin, I met up with a couple people from couchsurfing.org, and they showed me a bunch of cool outsider art, graffiti and an underground culture that only Berliner’s typically visit.

Next time you are traveling, consider using couchsurfing.org to met new friends and find a great place to stay.

If you have any cool travel tips, I would love to publish a post about them. Here’s how to submit. Also, feel free to follow me on Twitter and Facebook.