As I mentioned last week, I'm about to release the book version of Life Nomadic! It's just over 150 pages of travel related awesomeness. Here are some of the many topics I talk about in it:
My goal when writing the book was to make it ESSENTIAL reading for any traveler or nomad, but also for it to be VERY valuable to even the casual traveler or for someone who doesn't travel at all (by sharing interesting stories and life philosophies). Some parts of the book cover topics I've covered here, but almost all of it is brand new.
Anyway, I'll go more into detail when I release the book on MONDAY 10/5. For now, enjoy reading the first two chapters. But first....
You can win a free copy of the book just by leaving a comment on this post. If you win, I'll send you:
All you have to do is reply in the comments with ONE of the following:
I'll pick two of my favorites and send the whole book on Friday to the winners.
You can download a PDF of the preview here. Or you can read it below in tiny font:
EDIT: Congratulations to Tim (duct tape pen) and Arun (Sex in the City infiltration) for winning! Thanks to everyone else for entering. It was really hard to choose winners because there were so many good submissions! Make sure to check back on Monday when I release the full book.
You SHOULD only be getting one popup once every five days. Please e-mail me if that's not the case (and you have cookies on), because I agree that every time is annoying.
The popup is there because it's very effective. Sixty percent of the people that visit my site on any day are new readers. When the e-mail form was on the right, .1% of them signed up to have posts mailed to them. With the popup, around 6% sign up.
That's a huge amount of people that I can expose to my material who may have otherwise just read one article they were linked to and then closed the window.
As for the sidebar, in order to make room for the products section, I removed the e-mail signup box (the popup makes it unnecessary) and the contact link (so many people contact me now that it takes up a lot of my time, so I moved contact info to the bio page).
Recent and Stories are pushed down a LITTLE bit, but not by much. Before making that change I ran some tests-- very few people use the recent links.
Right now I make very little money from blogging and product sales. It's not a purely financially driven use of my time (I'd blog even if I made no money), but making money does allow me to spend more time on the blog.
I agree that a balance has to be struck between making money, providing content, and making that content easily accessible. I think that my blog is EXTREMELY light on advertising and annoyances.
I have very much enjoyed your site, until just several days ago, when it has changed and no longer suits me (actually, annoys the hell out of me). You probably know what I mean.
First of all, the "subscribe to my list" popup. I infinitely hate push popups, but could understand you for setting one up, if only it was only shown once. But no, it annoys me every time I visit your site! I have a feeling that I'm not the only one that will soon delete your site from my bookmarks if it keeps this stupid useless popup.
And the other thing is the right column. I understand you need money, so you sell things, but please, the reason people come to your site is your content, and only by reading your content they will decide to buy your products, so you really /must/ keep the right column so that the Stories and Recent widgets are visible without scrolling.
Btw, I know this sounds like a hateful post, so I'd just like to say that I've found a lot of very amusing and educational stories on your site, and I'd like to read more of them. I generally love this site, and that is why I'm telling you this. I wouldn't if I didn't care about you.
Favorite travel gear: Deuter Future 32 Backpack. As you know, Deuter packs are awesome; everything on my trips revolves/relies on this thing, it would be a compromise to use anything else.
Travel Tip: When on roadtrips know where the large/major hostels are, they are great stops for using the kitchen (cook an awesome meal for 1/10th the price of a restaurant), or grabbing a shower (remember that microfiber towel!).. drive, sleep in your car, use the hostels en route, meet people there, continue. Obviously, it's not morally right to just use the facilities like this, but if you're traveling on a shoe-string you get creative ;).
If you're looking for adventure do you really need a map? I went hiking last month, I knew where I wanted to go, however unknowingly made a wrong turn and did some intense scrambling. I found a large cove in the side of a mountain. When I scrambled back down I couldn't make out where that cove was; I doubt I could ever find it again, there's something neat about finding a place that you know will only exist to you for the time you are there, I'd bet it will be many, many years before anyone else finds it... I should have chalked my name & date on the rocks!
Hey hope its not too late to enter, haven't done much traveling but will be next summer (I'm going to Denmark as part of my course). Having not really done any traveling I don't have any tips or stories (yet) but what I have done (holidays) I would have to say my favorite piece of travel gear is my ipod. Sorry for all the (...), even if it's too late for the contest I don't care, it's a pleasure to comment on a great blog :)
My gf and I are riding our bikes from San Francisco to Panama. Last night, outside Santa Barbara, we were camping on Refugio State Beach. I lit a torch (looked like a fat incense stick) to keep the bugs away. Later, I was walking around the campsite and kicked the cherry off of the stick. It got caught between two of my two, melted through my five finger shoes, and burned me bad between the toes. Theres no way it could have happened like that if I had been barefoot or wearing regular shoes.
My favourite piece of kit has got to be a Lonely Planet for wherever I just landed. It pays for itself within 24 hours.
I remember landing in Bangkok without one and spending way more money on hotel/transportation than it should have cost me.
When you're in a new country for the first time, you can't be sure whether ho(s)tels will be cheaper on arrival or if booking at the airport entitles you to a discount.
You can be overwhelmed with choices for transportation and you may not even be aware of what area of the city to stay in.
Every country is different, and a guidebook is your best friend when you don't have the time or inclination to do the research beforehand.
My favorite piece of travel gear is the Eagle Creek Pack-It Cube (http://www.eaglecreek.com/accessories/packing_cubes/Pack-It-Cube-40152/). It's really easy to pack up to a week (and sometimes two weeks) of clothes folded very small and dense and keep it in my regular-sized backpack, while still leaving room for my laptop, and the smaller accessories I take with me when I travel. This enables me to go anywhere with only a backpack, like you Tynan, but without sucking the air out of my clothes.
My favorite travel hack is to get internet so cheap, it's almost free. Most places that have wifi charge about $10/day for internet - places like airports, Starbucks, hotels, etc. The hack is to get Boingo (http://www.boingo.com), because for only $10/mo, you get free wifi at most of the paid hotspots in the country. Even if you only use it for Starbucks, it's a lot cheaper than paying the $40/mo they charge.
My travel story is from when I went to Israel a few months ago. It was a two week trip, and I took only a regular-sized backpack and a garment bag, while everyone else I saw in the airport brought one or more extra-large suitcases. When I was leaving Israel and I was going through security at the airport, an airport employee said "Where is your luggage? Aren't you checking any bags?" and I said "This is all my luggage! Just this. I'm not checking bags, I just have carry-ons." And she was totally shocked and didn't know how to react.
My tool of choice for wilderness areas and third-world countries would be the SteriPEN Adventurer. It's a little UV light that sterilizes water by killing bacteria with the UV light. It weighs about 4 oz, sterilizes a liter of water in 90 seconds, and has a life span of 1250 gallons. It only kills bacteria though, and isn't much use against chemical poisons. If you want to turn lead into something other than lead, you need to invent cold fusion.
If that's not needed, I'd say a book on local etiquette. People usually buy a language book, but this is more important. People generally understand if you don't speak their language (except the French), but they tend to expect all cultures to share their rules of courtesy, and it's better to try to fit in than change everyone's egocentric bias. Besides, a lot of people around the world speak English nowadays (although the French will pretend they don't), so learning etiquette is a better investment.
Paracord belt - you never know when you are in a survival situation and you need some rope handy. Its also great for repairs and the like, now conveniently in belt form
Lifesaver Bottle - this was mentioned already, but its the bomb. Imagine being stuck in the middle of nowhere and you are thirsty as hell but all that's available to drink is a puddle of mud. This will clean that for you.
Jungle Gym - you don't need to carry around those heavy kettle bells with this bad boy. using this portable workout thing will certainly whip you into shape and it weighs less than a pound.
Zuca pro luggage - This thing is unbelievable. It fits carry on just like your backpack but this puppy is so well designed you won't need a backpack anymore. Watch the video for a demo
Ida's Ultra Soles - the Vibram FiveFingers are great but they can be a pain when passing airport security. Use these instead, slip them on and off. They are light and packable.
Find free wifi using FON:
Stay and eat at places for free and volunteer/learn at the same time:
http://www.workaway.info - you'll like this, lots of way cool interesting projects that are happening like organic gardening, eco housing, etc.
Since you mentioned Machu Picchu in your book, I just returned from there. I did the 4 day Inka Trail hike wearing my FiveFingers. My guide wasn't going to let me wear them saying that it was too dangerous and I would twist my ankle or something. I told him to give me a chance and let me prove myself. I blazed the trail a lot faster than the rest of the group, and unlike the others, never once complained about being sore or having back pain and the like. Downhill, in the rain was really tricky though, VERY slippery so be careful if you are going to try it. Vibram is coming out with new FiveFinger trekking shoes, so those might be a lot better.
I know you said one of the three but I felt like putting in more so I covered my bases :)
A week ago I was rooting through my projects folder and I came across something that I had somehow forgotten: a full length book I wrote about Life Nomadic. I gave it a quick read-through and thought, "man... there's some great stuff in here! Why didn't I release it?"
So, I'm going to release it soon. I've spent a good part of the last week doing some light editing, rearranging, and adding in sections that I hadn't quite finished.
The book has a lot of stories and anecdotes in it, but it's really a manual for the nomad or hardcore traveler. It talks about why to be a nomad, what it's like, what to expect, and how to deal with some of the challenges. About half of the book is dedicated to logistics: how to choose gear, how to pack it, where to stay, how to get there, etc.
Question from a reader -
You have maintained your commitment to being prolific which is made even more exceptional by the fact you are travelling around the world at the same time.
I realise your article on being prolific is about this, but accepting that I'm going to release a lot of crap before I realise something good is a tough wall to knock down. My biggest issue writing anything seems to be that it feel insufficent. Naturally no post I write has the length of Steve Yegge, the persuasiveness of Paul Graham, the content of Unqualified Reservations etc. etc. and while I can consciously accept this, there seems to be some mental block. How do you go "that's sufficient" and release it into the wild?
There's two basic approaches to being successful as a writer. The first, we could call the "Paul Graham / Derek Sivers" approach. This is where you explore a lot of ideas privately, go forward with the best ideas you have, and edit and polish the hell out of everything before you release it into the world. If you do this, and you've got talent as a writer, and you've got important ideas - then you're going to consistently only release masterpieces.
The second way is to just write a hell of a lot and know that a number of the things you write will turn out quite well, but your average quality level will be much lower. We could call this the "write every day no matter what" approach.