Packing is not the same as re-packing

I have a pet peeve that I know is totally trivial and shouldn’t annoy me, but it just does. It’s essentially this: for some unexplainable reason, I have always been kind of annoyed by “how to pack” articles that include the  little bit about “rolling instead of folding” and things like that. I know, I know, it’s totally trivial. I warned you.

But today, I finally discovered why these articles annoy me.

As I was glancing over this infographic about packing efficientlty (HT: TravelBloggerBuzz), I realized that these articles are annoying to me because all the little details that are helpful for packing more things into your bag, are actually unhelpful for unpacking and repacking frequently, a necessary part of pretty much all of my travels.  In other words, these tips may be great for someone who needs to pack once, unpack once, and then stay put somewhere for a long period of time before repacking and heading home.

But for someone hotel hopping, it’s just not helpful. At least not in my opinion.

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The myth of the “off the beaten path” destination

While checking out some of the (non miles and points) travel blogs that I follow this morning, I realized how hard it actually is to travel somewhere that is actually off the beaten path.

In surfing through About Me pages and blogrolls I realized how many of the “off the beaten path” destinations are more realistically, “second on the beaten path” destinations. Places that casual vacationers may not squeeze into a two week trip to Europe, but people backpacking for a longer stretch of time likely will.

For example when we traveled to Slovenia, I had just barely heard of Ljubljana, the capital, and had never really heard of Bled. Still, somehow, (through Drew’s research most likely,) we ended up in Bled. It was the dead of winter so there were hardly any tourists and the place had this magic floating about in the form of low-hanging clouds. Everything was shrouded in mist, mysterious and completely novel. I felt like we’d found that hidden gem of a place.

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Destination superlatives

I have always wanted to do a “travel superlatives” post to honor some of the most defining features of the 60-ish destinations we’ve seen so far.  I mean, I don’t know how many times Drew and I have been bored on a bus or walking down some foreign city streets frivolously exchanging our various judgements of the places we’d just seen and how they compare to other places we’ve seen. 

For some reason it has always been one of those running conversations that just pops up at random times.  Perhaps you and your travel companions have had these little “superlatives” conversations too?

So finally I decided to get these little thoughts into a post. I know some of you may disagree with my judgements and opinions, or some of you might be offended when you find your favorite country slotted into an unfavorable slot, but remember, these are just my opinions. If you don’t like them, you can make your own opinions. Nice how things work out like that.

Where it makes sense, I’ll add little stories or notes. Otherwise, I’ll let the lists speak for themselves.

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The non-foodie’s guide to eating while traveling

Ok this title might be a little sensationalist, but…let me explain.

This post is not for someone going on a 5 day vacation. On a short trip, you can afford to break your rules. (Regarding both calories and budget.) So, sure, you can go all out.

But this post is for people traveling “long term.” When you travel long term, your travel IS your lifestyle, so you can only “splurge” as much as you would allow in your normal lifestyle.

For me, that means only occasionally indulging my inner foodie. A few special meals where the goal is to really have a culinary adventure, and otherwise a priority for healthy and affordable food. In cheap destinations, this allows for lots of foodie meals! But not everywhere.

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Myanmar snapshots and thoughts on travel

A few weeks ago, before Drew and I headed to the States for the holidays, we made a highly anticipated detour to Yangon, Myanmar.

I always love visiting places where we have friends. It just makes the visit a bit richer to be able to see what a “local”, or rather an ex-pat has learned to love. Often it leads us to either unique destinations or unique experiences.

So even though we didn’t get to leave the capital city this time, we had the kind of visit that makes you determined to return for a more thorough exploration.

We didn’t stay in a points hotel. We stayed in our friends’ apartment down a little alley a minute’s walk from a street market. Every morning around 6:00 am various harbingers made their way down the street, shouting a sing-song chant to announce themselves. The milk man. The trash lady. The recycling lady. Each had a unique chant. In a strange way, it reminded me of the old-world habits of the Amish. It reminded me of watching the ice-man carry a giant block of glassy ice into my grandmother’s freezer box before making his way down the dirt road to the next Amish family.

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We would make an awesome commercial for T-Mobile

As a nomad, sometimes you find yourself frantically calling local taxi services to figure out if someone- ANYONE- will know how to get scans of your passport filed with the tourism bureau in time so that you can make it to Luxor for your next night’s reservation. (Ask me how many times I spelled “bureau” before I got it close enough for spell-check to recognize what I was going for and recommend the correct spelling.)

And at least a dozen times a week you find yourself needing to use Uber to avoid the local taxi scams. Or needing to check your email in the Uber on the way to your AirBnB to ask the hosts why the address shows up as somewhere completely different once plugged into GPS.

True stories.

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A delayed review of our Egypt trip

I always feel like I need to write posts that incorporate broad themes, pulling from experiences across multiple countries and the overall experience of being a nomad, etc. I don’t know why I have that mode of thinking, but I’m trying to break that habit and remember that readers may be interested in the isolated destinations themselves.

For instance, I find myself thinking about Egypt a lot. It’s odd, because so much of my time there, I felt like I wasn’t seeing anything. But in hindsight…well…let me explain.

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Destination highlights from 2015

Tomorrow we head for Myanmar- a place we’ve both really wanted to go for a long time. And I just know it will be really unique. But many of our other destinations this year have been quite unique too.

Again…it pains me that I won’t be able to cram this post full of photos, (because I dropped my hard drive.) *deep breath* </exhale>.

But I’ll just have to turn the descriptive, writing magic up a few notches and try to paint these pictures for you.

Here are some of my favorite destinations from 2015.

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1 Photo from every country I’ve been to…

Guys. I broke the external hard drive that stores our photos.

Not to sound over dramatic or anything, but that is the nomad’s equivalent of a house fire.  Ok, ok, that’s probably over dramatic, but seriously. I don’t buy souvenirs. I take photos. I don’t keep journals. I take photos.

If past me was wise and backed up my photos on my back-up hard drive in Ohio in the Spring, then that means I’ve lost 9 months of travel photos and design work. (If past me wasn’t so wise or if my back-up hard drive ran out of space…than I’ve lost 4 years of travel photos…  I can’t remember which is the case, and I’ll find out when I’m in Ohio next.)

I’m not going to make this a rant about how sad I am or how frustrated, (and please keep the “you should’ve backed up your hard drive on the cloud” comments to a minimum.) In this post, I am going to do a project that I’ve wanted to do for a long time (and should’ve done earlier). To make myself feel better.

One photo from every country (or more accurately, from every “place”) I’ve visited. Scrounged from the various places they’ve scurried off to on the internet or on other harddrives or old emails. I think there are 4 or 5 countries I won’t be able to supply photos for, but let’s see if I can cover most of them…

Because it was my dream to have one photo from every country I’d seen printed into a book one day, and I want to show myself that it’s still possible.

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An open letter to creeps

Male or female, sometimes we travelers encounter creeps. People who wear their impulses on their sleeves so to speak, and do so in exchange for respectfulness.

While I’ve been very fortunate in my travels, maintaining an almost empty list of “creeps met while traveling”, it sucks when it happens. Any kind of creep and any kind of creepy deeds. I’m being vague on purpose because I want to eradicate the notion that a person who has been disrespected needs to quantify to what degree, in order to validate the way they feel. If someone was a creep to you, it sucks and it’s not your fault, and you’re allowed to feel whatever you feel about it. So I don’t want to be specific.

But I will say this…

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