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Have Pack, Will Travel http://www.havepack.com Travel tips and stories for backpackers, budget travelers, and those wanting to discover the world through something more than a simple vacation. Thu, 29 Aug 2013 16:21:20 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.2.10 A Regal Vacation at the Makadi Palace http://www.havepack.com/vacation-at-the-makadi-palace/ http://www.havepack.com/vacation-at-the-makadi-palace/#comments Thu, 29 Aug 2013 16:20:36 +0000 http://www.havepack.com/?p=2077 The Makadi Palace is a salubrious resort situated on Makadi Bay in Egypt’s fabulous Red Sea area. Featuring a private beach and just 30 minutes in a free shuttle bus from the Grand Mall in Hurghada, it’s the perfect place to while away a few idyllic days with the family.

1 There are 475 rooms on 5 floors in the Makadi Palace and each room has a balcony from where guests can enjoy stunning views of the resort’s gardens, swimming pools or the Red Sea. It’s easy to see why the resort is often compared to a Moorish Palace. Air conditioning, satellite television, minibar and safety deposit box are all included in standard rooms.

There’s so much to do at the Makadi Palace it’s no surprise that some people barely leave the resort for the duration of their break. With 4 large swimming pools, 5 tennis courts and a football pitch, the opportunities for engaging in sport are immense here. Other activities offered include beach volleyball, water polo, aerobics and aqua-aerobics.

2Apart from the feel good factor you get from all of the exercise, it’s a great way to meet and make friends with some of the other guests in the resort. And with a unique daily sports program, featuring lots of fun games and competitions, there’s really no excuse not to get involved.

However, if sport is too much like hard work to you, other ways you can spend your time at the Makadi Palace include getting a massage from one of the fully qualified masseuses working full time at the resort or enrolling in a free Arabic language course. The only stipulation for the language course is there must be enough demand from guests to run it.

3Dining in the Makadi Palace is one of the highlights of a stay here. Guests have a wide range of options available for breakfast, lunch and dinner. The Dome and Melange restaurants offer breakfast including American, English and continental style selections and both also offer full lunch buffets. Another option for lunch includes the Sunset Grill which has a mouth-watering menu of grilled dishes.

4For the main evening meal buffets are available from the Dome, Melange and Discovery restaurants. Aficionados of Thai food though will probably spend most of their time in the Thai Garden which serves delicious, authentic Thai dishes for lunch and dinner. And if you’re worried about what the kids will eat there’s no need to be, a children’s buffet is available daily from 10am to 5pm and includes all the snacks that kids love.

After the sun sets, the atmosphere at the Makadi Palace becomes more tranquil as guests enjoy a few drinks in the Piano Bar. Every night a different act performs live music and if you still feel like dancing after this, you can get your groove on in the resort’s nightclub, which is open until the early hours every night of the week.

5The Makadi Palace also offers an extensive entertainment package for kids. There are various kids’ clubs run by the hotel, including one at Sunwing Waterworld. And if the little ones need to practice their swimming for this they have their own designated swimming pool at the Makadi Palace. Selections of children’s movies are also shown throughout the day and an evening disco completes the entertainment package.

This post was provide by a site sponsor.

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5 Delicious Vegetarian Foods from Around the World http://www.havepack.com/5-delicious-vegetarian-foods-from-around-the-world/ http://www.havepack.com/5-delicious-vegetarian-foods-from-around-the-world/#comments Thu, 10 Jan 2013 20:28:19 +0000 http://www.havepack.com/?p=2054 Traveling as a vegetarian around the world has its ups and downs – but that’s half of the fun really. There are the fun and often ridiculous conversations as you try to communicate the delicate specifications of your diet without insulting the other parties involved, their quizzical looks, and then the food you are ultimately served…sometimes meaty-tastic despite your best efforts.

Though there are challenges, it’s also possible to eat some of the tastiest food of your life traveling. Dishes you could never conceive of, others you may already love but you’ve never had it quite like this.

So travel around the world with me as we look at five delicious vegetarian dishes even the meat-eaters will love.

Indonesia: Nasi Campur

Indonesia - Nasi CampurNasi campur is a rice based dish throughout Indonesia and even into Malaysia, Singapore, and other nearby regions. This is not an inherently vegetarian dish in all of these regions – the components of nasi campur vary widely.

The Balinese version I recommend for vegetarians can be found throughout Bali and consists of a skewered tempeh, tofu, a light tomato sauce and some flash-fried greens – all served over a fluffy bed of white rice. It’s so good I ate it nearly everyday – sometimes twice in a day!

India: Thali Sampler Platter

India - ThaliThe Indian thali is as diverse and varied as India itself and every version is worth a taste! The thali is like a sample platter of the best dishes from that region; you traditionally get small ramekins filled with little tastes of a curry dish, a dahl or two, some veggies, something spicy, and coconut paste (to cut the spice!). Add in a pile of rice, a chapatti, and a lime wedge and you’re all set for a filling meal.

Filling you may ask? Oh yes, the little dishes are a decoy– after you order the thali servers patrol the room with huge vats and offer unlimited refills! India is a mostly vegetarian country and that means the thali is inherently vegetarian unless you’re in the far northern areas of India.

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China: Delicious Dumplings

China - DumplingsChina is a difficult country as a vegetarian because the country really embraces a diversity of meats and thinks of some more as a seasoning than an actual animal product. That being said, it is possible to eat well in China and dumplings are the answer to your prayers.

Vegetable Chinese dumplings are stuffed with minced vegetables and garlic, steamed in wooden boxes, and served to your table piping hot – soy sauce optional since they’re normally well seasoned and tasty enough to eat without adornment! Make sure you know how to order vegetarian food, better yet, have your hotel right it down in Chinese characters, and you’ll be all set to enjoy some delicious dumplings in China.

Bosnia: Spinach Burek and Yogurt

Bosnia - BurekThe Balkans are not a particularly vegetarian-friendly region so this spinach burek is a tasty and timely option for vegetarians traveling through the region. The philo dough is light and crispy, the spinach insides seasoned and spread liberally throughout. The dish is a cousin to the Greek spanakopita but a lighter option.

Throughout Bosnia you’ll have the option of purchasing a small cup of plain yogurt to accompany the burek – do it! The tart yogurt flavor sets off the flavors inside the spinach burek and takes what could be a forgettable snack and transforms it into a tasty street eat you shouldn’t miss if you find yourself in the region.

Thailand: Pad See Ew

Thailand - Pad See EwPad see ew ranks in my top three favorite Thai dishes – and the good news is that it’s easy to make as a vegetarian staple while you travel through Thailand. The dish, which literally translates as stir-fried with soy sauce, features the wide fat Thai rice noodles and Chinese broccoli. Those are the basic ingredients and if you’re an egg-eating vegetarian they’ll add that in for a nice dose of protein and flavor.

A lot of Thai dishes can be made vegetarian as long as you can communicate that to the restaurant. If you’re traveling off the beaten path in Thailand make sure you have memorize some basic food words!

Traveling as a Vegetarian

These five dishes comprise some of my favorite memories from my foodie travels around the world. Being vegetarian is one of those things I have embraced as a way to enhance my travels – I often try out some dishes meat-eaters overlook and in a pinch I use my phrase-book to have the cook create something special out of his imagination – always something new and different.

Sometimes clear communication is simply impossible though, and if you’re hitting the road I recommend flexibility and a smile as your traveling companions as you sample these and the many other tasty vegetarian dishes the world has to offer.

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Safe and Discreet Camera Bags for Travel http://www.havepack.com/safe-camera-bags-for-travel/ http://www.havepack.com/safe-camera-bags-for-travel/#comments Wed, 20 Apr 2011 05:59:31 +0000 http://www.havepack.com/?p=2025 If you’re a photography junkie like me, you like to bring your camera gear when you travel.  Safety is always a concern though and personally, I stopped bringing my digital SLR because I was afraid I’d always be sticking out and a target for thieves.

Probably the most important thing to consider when traveling with a digital SLR camera is what kind of bag you’ll use.  Most camera bags stick out like a sore thumb and scream “I HAVE EXPENSIVE EQUIPMENT IN HERE!”  Whether you’re on the street or in a hostel, you should be careful with who letting people know what you’re carrying.

Earlier this year I began to shop for camera bags that don’t obviously look like typical camera bags.  Here’s a few options:

Think Tank Retrospective

The Think Tank Retrospective series is very cool. On the outside it’s a plain, incognito messenger style bag. Inside, it’s a great camera bag with adjustable padded dividers.  There are several sizes available depending on how much gear you want to hold.  There aren’t a plethora of pockets but it has the basics and Think Tank’s quality is always in the top of the class.

The pinestone model looks like a typical canvas bag, though it feels just as high-quality as you’d expect out of Think Tank.  I like the pinestone since it doesn’t stand out.

The Think Tank Retrospective series starts at $129

Check them out on Amazon and come back soon for a full review of the Retrospective 20.

Tenba Small Messenger Bag

I got to test out the Tenba messenger bags while in a local camera store and I was pretty impressed. There’s a small and a large model available. Both will carry a laptop in addition to your camera gear with the small model carrying up to a 15″ laptop.  Not bad.

There’s a ton of pockets for your gear so you can stay organized. A feature I like is the top has a zipper where you can slide things in and out quickly. Nice when you want to grab something from the main compartment without opening it up and completely exposing your camera gear.

My only gripe with the Tenba messenger bags is that they look like laptop bags.  If you’re trying to stay a bit incognito, this probably isn’t the bag for you.

Amazon has them starting at $95 in a variety of colors.

Kelly Moore Boy Bag

The Kelly Moore Boy Bag may not be as functional as above bags but it’s definitely the nicest looking.  It’s not real leather but the quality is very nice.  The dividers are removable to fit your gear needs and it has quite a bit of room.  This bag definitely wins the “I’m just wearing a cool messenger style bag and there’s nothing important in here” award.

Cons? It’s a bit pricey at $199. They’re available on Amazon.

Kelly Moore B-Hobo Bag

Here’s another bag from Kelly Moore and it’s the reason I was comfortable recommending the Boy Bag without seeing it.  I bought the B-Hobo bag for the lady in my life and she loves it.  The photos online really don’t do it justice. The work that went into these bags is really top-notch.  She loves to throw a couple of lenses and her camera in it and carry it on her while she’s shooting kids or a wedding.

The pros should be obvious.  It looks like a stylish purse.  The cons are that it’s hard to hold a professional digital SLR body with a grip attached.

Kelly Moore makes a few other styles for ladies starting at $169.  You can check them out on Amazon.


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How to Make Money Traveling Around The World http://www.havepack.com/how-to-make-money-traveling-around-the-world/ http://www.havepack.com/how-to-make-money-traveling-around-the-world/#comments Mon, 07 Feb 2011 07:09:34 +0000 http://havepack.com.s114557.gridserver.com/?p=2001 One of the most common emails or questions I get from people is “how can I make money traveling?”

The answers are endless and most of them aren’t very practical.

Enter Nick Reese, affiliate marketing and Traffic and Trust.  Nick’s written an awesome guide that will teach you all about affiliate marketing, a great way to make money traveling. I highly suggest you check it out if you’re interested in that sort of thing.

In case you have no idea what I’m talking about…

Affiliate marketing is something that’s made me a bit of extra cash online for the last couple of years.  Essentially, you’re making a few bucks here and there off of sales you send to companies online.  You can do it occasionally like I do here, sending you over to Amazon to check out products I’ve used and enjoyed, or you can be a total sleaze bag like a lot of people who give affiliate marketing a bad name.  They’re out there misleading people left and right, pushing junk on them and using sketchy to make sales.

The truth is though, it’s not easy to make money traveling, but affiliate marketing can be a great way to earn an income.  Ask Nick, who I just talked to during his visit to Machu Picchu, or many others who are location independent.

Check out Traffic and Trust. You can get the first chapter free and I’m sure you’ll quickly see that this is an incredible guide.

By the way, it’s on sale for about 33% off until February 8th, so check it out ASAP.

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12 Hours in Paris – What to do on a long layover? http://www.havepack.com/12-hours-in-paris/ http://www.havepack.com/12-hours-in-paris/#comments Mon, 27 Sep 2010 15:29:15 +0000 http://www.havepack.com/?p=1970 What should you do if you’re stuck in an airport for half a day? Well, firstly, let’s dispel the myth about whether you can or can’t leave an airport during a layover. The rules are that unless you’re jumping from one plane straight onto another, all airports will allow you to leave their premises between flights.

With this in mind, so long as you’ve got enough time to play with, there’s nothing to stop you heading out and enjoying some sights and sounds that don’t involve duty free shops and ‘last calls’.

Visitors with a long layover in Paris (the city has two international airports – Charles de Gaulle and Paris Orly) have an added incentive to get out of the terminal and explore. On your doorstep is one of the world’s most visually stunning and culturally captivating urban metropolises.

Of course, with such a limited amount of time, you’re going be on a tight schedule. So here’s my hour-by-hour suggestion for how to make the most of a long layover in Paris:

If you’re arriving into Garde du Nord, you will be in a plum spot to begin your whistle-stop tour of Paris, being within walking distance of many of the city’s main sites and attractions.

Hour 1

From Gare du Nord, take a stroll west down Rue la Fayette. This exclusive avenue is the perfect introduction to Parisian street life and its juxtaposition of traditional and modern architecture. Drop into Galeries Lafayette, a 10-storey department store, for a browse of the latest fashion fads in one of the word’s sartorial meccas.

Hour 2

Once you reach the end of La Fayette, head south and you will eventually arrive at a vast area of greenery called Jardens des Tuileries. This is one of Paris’s most important landmarks, with the world-famous Louvre Museum to the east, the River Seine to the south, and the Place de la Concorde to the west. Spend 45 minutes here, taking in the panoramic views and enjoying refreshments in one of the riverside cafes.

Hour 3 & 4

After that well-earned rest, you’ll be ready to enter one of the world’s most important cultural institutions: The Louvre Museum. Home to nearly 35,000 objects from prehistory to the 19th century, the museum could keep you captivated for hours, but with time of the essence, you’ll have to restrict yourself for just a couple on this occasion.

Hour 5

Walking west out of the Louvre and across the Jardens des Tuileries will land you at the start of the Champs Elysees. This wide and exclusive avenue, lined with fashion boutiques and the cafes that epitomise Parisian street life, is one of the most famous thoroughfares in the world. Here you can stop for food, though you will pay a price owing to the prestigious location. A relaxing amble will lead you to another famous Parisian landmark – the Arc de Triomphe, an imposing concrete arc that looms large over the Place de l’Étoil.

Hour 6

Walk south from the Arch de Tromphe down Avenue Kleber and you will get to Palais de Chailot, located in the Trocadero district. This is the famous back-drop to the Eiffel Tower, which you will now be able to view in all its majesty across the river. Take in the views and enjoy the wonder of the landscape before heading across the river (via the Pont d’Iéna bridge) for the main event.

Hour 7

No trip to Paris would be complete without a trip up the Eiffel Tower. The iconic structure is one of the most popular tourist attractions in the world, allowing visitors to take elevators to near the top for panoramic views of the city.

Hour 8 & 9

Now it’s time to experience Paris’ famous metro system. But not just for the experience. You should head north and get off at one of the following stops: Place de Clichy, La Fourche or Abbesses. This should give you plenty of time to explore the bohemian Montmarte district and the nearby Basillica Sacre Coeur.

Hour 10

And that will just about bring to an end your mini Paris adventure. From here you can catch a metro or RER high-speed service back to Charles de Gaulle.

Author Bio
Paul Joseph is a London-based writer and author. He writes for CharlesdeGaulleAirport.co.uk, a definite guide to Paris’s largest airport, including things to do, Charles de Gaulle Airport hotels and much more.

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How to Easily Pack Clothes in Your Backpack http://www.havepack.com/how-to-pack-clothes-in-your-backpack/ http://www.havepack.com/how-to-pack-clothes-in-your-backpack/#comments Sun, 27 Jun 2010 20:55:28 +0000 http://www.havepack.com/?p=1944 Packing your clothes in your backpack may not sound like the most challenging thing in the world to do, but ask anyone who’s done it and undoubtedly they’ll admit it’s one of those things that’s harder than you would think.

For the last couple of years I followed the methods on the OneBag site which worked OK, but not perfectly. The bundle method promoted over there is certainly effective, but I found that in a backpack, your bundle of clothes shifted around and made a mess of things.

I’m getting ready for another trip to Morocco and during a trip to my local REI I came across the Eagle Creek Pack-It Folder.  I had walked by them before and passed them as nothing more than a gimmick, but after one too many trips with my clothes stretching out because I packed them too tight, I decided to give it a shot.  It had great reviews online and was on sale for about $20. Score an REI coupon code for further savings on this pack and other great finds.

I’m hooked.

The concept is simple.  Pack your clothes neatly inside the folder and fasten the sided down to smash everything together tightly.  The key, of course, is to fold and pack your close neatly which everybody knows is no easy feat.  The Pack-It folder makes it pretty fool proof though.

Fold your pants in half on and lay them on the bottom of the folder.

Use the included folding sheet to fold any shirts or tops you have neatly.  It’s just like the stores do it.  Lay the thin plastic card on the back of your shirt and fold the sleeves over the sides.  Flip up the bottom of the shirt and remove the card.  Lay the shirt on the top of your folder and repeat until you’re done with all of your clothes.  The card even has directions on it in case you can’t figure it out.

Finally, lay the card on the top of your pile and fold the sides of the folder over.  You can cinch them down and fasten the velcro to keep it all tight.  There’s even a handle to carry it easily if it’s not going inside a backpack or luggage.

The benefits

If you’re familiar with the bundle wrapping technique, you’ll notice this isn’t too far off. The main difference is that the folder keeps the clothes together rather than wrapping them around each other.

Your clothes will be neatly packed in a considerably smaller space than you are used to.  The folder isn’t much larger than a laptop (depending on what size you purchase) so you’ll be saving a lot of room in your backpack.

The drawbacks

As with anything that helps you fit more things into smaller spaces, you’ll be tempted to pack more than you need.  Fight the urge and take only what you need.  You’ll have extra room in your backpack if you need it for other things while traveling and you’ll save some strain on your back.

The other minor (and I mean very minor, to me at least) drawback is that your clothes will not stay wrinkle free.  Wrinkles will be minimized but they will get minor creases from the folding but to me that is not a big deal.  They’re much more wrinkle-free than if I were to fold and pack them myself.  So far this doesn’t bother me at all.

Some people may complain about paying for another piece of gear, but at around $25, I think this is well worth it.  I can enough to last me for two weeks in less than 5 minutes and into a convenient size that’s not much larger than a laptop computer.

The Eagle Creek Pack-It Folder comes in three sizes: 15, 18, and 20.  After trying all three, I found the 20 too large and the 15 too small and the 18 just right.  I packed one pair of pants, two pairs of shorts, 2 dress shirts, and 5 t-shirts in the 18 with room to spare.

Where to purchase

You can probably find an Eagle Creek Pack-It Folder at your local outdoor retailer, but you can also order them on Amazon for around $25 depending on the size.

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Big Bad Quito http://www.havepack.com/big-bad-quito/ http://www.havepack.com/big-bad-quito/#comments Mon, 21 Jun 2010 14:46:10 +0000 http://www.havepack.com/?p=1916 “You’ll get robbed” they said.
“Quito is a hell hole full of mugs, low life’s and degenerates.”
“You’ll be lucky to leave with both kidneys intact, let alone your laptop.”

Everyone seems to have an opinion about Quito, and it’s generally not pleasant. ‘The most dangerous place in South America’ had been bandied about while I was in Ecuador, and based on what I had heard, I was pleasantly surprised to get out alive.

I was working at a hostel in Quito last year, and it seemed that every second day a backpacker would return distressed after being mugged while sightseeing. Laptops, iPhones and Cameras were the most thieved items, but it wasn’t unheard of for someone to be held up for their money or passport.

What did most of those victims have in common? They flouted their (comparative) wealth; Camera’s dangling around their necks; they wore expensive jewellery and designer clothes; they explored unsafe areas by themselves (despite being warned not to). They didn’t use common sense.

There’s a fair chance we’ll all run into a bit of strife on the road. You can be the most cautious traveller, but if you’re in the wrong place at the wrong time, or just dead out of luck, even the most fastidious of us can get caught out. But it was astounding the amount of backpackers that were bewildered about their mugging after so blatantly advertising their wealth.

Let’s face it – quite a few Ecuadorian’s are considered ‘poor’ by western standards. In fact 35% of the 14,791,000 people in Ecuador live below the poverty line. That’s over 5 million people. So yeah, sometimes people will try to mug you, but that’s going to happen in many developing countries.

It’s frustrating when a country is written off because of someone’s bad experience being on the ugly side of a mugging. Bad news travels a lot faster than good news, and while you would hope people take many factors into consideration when deciding where to visit, word of mouth can be a massive persuasion. It would be a shame for travellers to miss out Quito due to the bad experiences of others.

I found Ecuador to be once of the most fascinating countries I’ve had the pleasure of visiting. The locals I met where so welcoming and engaging, and it does seem a little bit forgotten when it comes to South America; Peru has Machu Picchu, Bolivia the Salar de Uyuni and death road, Columbia is the new ‘must visit’ destination and I don’t need to go into Brazils draw cards. But Ecuador has the goods; The Andean highlands and the Cotopaxi volcano; the beautiful spa’s of Baños, the vibrant university town of Cuenca and the chilled out Pacific coast beach towns like Montañita are all worthy of a spot on any itinerary, not to mention the Galapagos Islands. Also, don’t forget that you can stand right on the Mitad del Mundo (that’s the middle of the world… also known as the equator) -not an hours drive out of Quito (which itself is a vibrant bustling city full of history and culture). There’s so much going for Ecuador, it would be a shame to miss out, which is why I’ve put together the following tips for a visit to the capital of this underestimated country.

The standard traveller musts apply, but are worth mentioning again;

  • Leave the valuables and money you don’t need at your hostel. There’s probably a safe you can use, at the very least padlock your locker.
  • Know and avoid the most dangerous areas (In Quito these are; El Panecillo, and for that matter anywhere in the old town after dark, especially near the market).
  • Be alert, especially in crowded spaces or when people invade your personal space.
  • Dress inconspicuously so as not draw attention to yourself as a ‘gringo con dinero’. Leave the Ed Hardy shirts at home (if only to keep the respect of your fellow travellers).
  • Leave whatever money you don’t need back at the hostel, and split up into different pockets whatever you have on you.

What to do if you’ve been robbed in Quito

  • Head straight to for the estación de la policía . Explain to someone what happened and they’ll more than likely take you right to the station. You might be hard pressed getting the police to fill out a report but persevere, you’ll need it for your insurance.
  • I needn’t go into the necessity of having travel insurance. So assuming you already would have taken this out (which of course you would have) give them a call as soon as possible and let them know what’s happened. World Nomads has an online claim system, which means you don’t have to spend half an hour on Skype trying to get through to someone only to have the call drop out halfway through.
  • If you stay at a well-known and recommended hostel, like The Secret Garden in Quito, speak to one of the many Ecuadorian staff and they’ll be more than happy to help you out with getting in touch with your embassy or insurance. Tell you’re sob story to one of the foreign gringo volunteers and they might even poor you a cerveza gratis so you can down your sorrows.
  • Once you’ve reporting your loss to the police and contacted your insurance head for the black market (mercado negro) and see if you can spot your stolen goods. A guy from my hostel found his camera there, the thief forgot to take out the memory card so all his photos we’re still in the camera. He just showed the photos to the nearby Police officer, who allowed him to take the camera back and be on his merry way.

Above all, don’t freak out about a trip to Quito. It’s an amazing city full of history, lots to see and do, plenty to great clubs and bars, and full of friendly people. Just take care when out and about, don’t flash your iPhone about, and enjoy what this amazing city has to offer.

Follow Shane on Twitter or read more on his travels at sanchezjalapeno.com

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Digital Nomad Lifestyle – Can you work & travel? http://www.havepack.com/testing-a-digital-nomad-lifestyle/ http://www.havepack.com/testing-a-digital-nomad-lifestyle/#comments Mon, 31 May 2010 21:06:58 +0000 http://www.havepack.com/?p=1890 It’s 7:30am and the town of Boquete, Panama is just starting to wake up. But there I am, first up in the hostel, sitting with my MacBook Pro on my lap in the open-air dining area. I’m enjoying the refreshing breeze coming through the walkway, but more importantly I’m writing a client back in the states who has no idea I’m in Central America on a what I call a semi-holiday.

I had been wanting to visit Panama for a while but this trip was designed to be equal parts enjoyment and work. A test, of sorts.

My freelance business is doing very well. Good enough to live off of, but I’m still working for a small company in California. I’ve been blessed to have a great job with some decent travel benefits for the better part of a decade, but I’m trying be proactive.

We are in a recession that isn’t just changing the way people live, it’s changing the way businesses operate. There are cutbacks everywhere and small businesses are realizing they can still manage to operate with fewer employees. Give more work to who is leftover after a round of layoffs and it will certainly get done.

This isn’t just a trend. It’s the new way to do business. Frugal and efficient.

That doesn’t mean I’m worried about being unemployed any time soon, but the writing is on the wall. I’ll be safe for a while, but I don’t have high hopes for my job to take me all the way to retirement.  Not to sound like a pessimist, but this probably holds true for most people.

And let’s admit it: who wants to wait until 65 to retire? I’d rather travel now.

Testing the waters

I had a plan for a while about the type of life I wanted to lead in the near future, but was it realistic?  Could I continue to work while traveling the world for months on end? Was I really cut out to be a digital nomad?

As I mentioned, this trip to Panama was a test.  I wanted to see if I could enjoy traveling while continuing to focus on my work.  With about two days notice I booked a rewards ticket to Panama City without a plan.  Upon arrival I hired a rental car and drove up the Pan American Highway towards Boquete.  A small town known for its coffee in the northern highlands near the Costa Rican border.

Each morning I hopped on the computer for an hour or two and took care of all immediate business requiring my attention.  After the important tasks were taken care of I made a to-do list for the evening and then headed out to enjoy my day.

Can you really find the time?

I found it easy to find the time to continue working while traveling.  While I sure didn’t want to spend the entire day indoors working, there was usually plenty of time to relax on the computer and get some work done.

For instance, one day after I took care of my morning tasks I went white-water rafting.  It was an exciting and tiring day so when I was done and returned to Boquete, I welcomed a comfy hammock and my laptop and had a few hours before dinner to get things done.

Will you have the discipline?

Assuming you have accommodations that offer internet service there is plenty of time available to focus on work.  That said, you will still have make the time.  That means partying all night and sleeping in is probably out of the cards unless you want to neglect your business.

In my case, I’ve found I can get more work done this way as I am forced to focus on the task at hand.  Also, while there are plenty of things you’ll want to get out and do, when you’re indoors and working there will likely be considerably less distractions than at home.  No TV, no DVDs, no video games, etc.

I’m also amazed at how much writing I can do while on an airplane and cut off from the internet.  It’s a blessing in disguise.

Discipline is definitely the most important factor for success as a digital nomad.

Headline photo courtesy of Rita Willaert

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The Benefits of Travel Clothing http://www.havepack.com/travel-clothing/ http://www.havepack.com/travel-clothing/#comments Tue, 25 May 2010 00:55:27 +0000 http://www.havepack.com/?p=1857 Something I avoided for far too long was purchasing any clothing marketed for “travel.” I found it quite silly that a shirt or pair of pants could benefit my comfort while traveling and laughed when I looked at the prices of most of them at the local outdoors store.

With every trip I started to realize how uncomfortable I was though, whether it was sitting on a plane for several hours in jeans or stretching out a cotton t-shirt while wearing my backpack.

Not to mention how bad my typical t-shirts started to look and smell after a couple of days of use (and rinsing in the hostel shower).

My jeans were the first pair of clothes to get nixed for travel.  I love wearing jeans day in and day out, but let’s face it, they’re not the most forgiving pair of clothing while sitting in a airplane seat for hours on end.  They’re also quite heavy in your backpack.

Before my trip to Argentina I purchased a pair of REI Adventure pants for $50.  It was definitely more than I typically spend on a pair of pants but their versatility sold me.  They’re light and comfortable, breathe well, have concealed zipper pockets for your wallet and passport and most importantly, look good.  They’re nice enough to wear with to work with a nice shirt, but casual enough to wear with a t-shirt and pair of sneakers.

Finally I bit the bullet and purchased a couple of pairs of shirts made for travel and adventure.  One by REI and two by The North Face.  I’m not here to review the specific products though, so let’s look at the big picture.


Most travel clothing is made from nylon or polyester.  These materials are generally lighter than cotton and do a better job at moisture-wicking.  They also dry very fast so you can wash them in a sink or shower and hang them to dry overnight.  That means you can pack much less than you normally would.

Many are treated to be water resistant, block the sun’s evil SPF rays, and some repel insects as well.  I’m clumsy, pale, and mosquitoes love to suckle my blood so I’ll take them all – thanks!

Most travel and adventure clothing are made to be more durable than your average article of clothing.  Many of the brands that specialize in this type of gear even offer lifetime warranties.


The biggest negative to dedicated travel clothing  is the price.  There’s a premium placed on most travel clothing but be sure to check out when things go on sale for the best deals.

One way to offset the cost is to find things you can wear for other uses than just traveling.  Everything I’ve purchased so far can also be worn to work back home so I can get more use out of it.  That being said, some much of the stuff you’ll find at your local outdoor retailer just looks silly.  I don’t like to walk around looking like Paul Bunyan.

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Your Path to Earning Serious Airline Miles & Free Travel http://www.havepack.com/how-to-earn-free-airline-miles/ http://www.havepack.com/how-to-earn-free-airline-miles/#comments Wed, 12 May 2010 20:48:53 +0000 http://www.havepack.com/?p=1834 Frequent Flyer MasterHopefully you’re familiar with super-traveler & blogger extraordinaire Chris Guillebeau but if not, now’s the time to start.

But this post isn’t just to kiss his butt, it’s to share his great eBook titled Frequent Flyer Master.

I don’t buy many eBooks because I’m one of those stubborn fools who would rather spend 30 hours researching things myself than pay somebody $5 to teach me them in one hour.  Silly, I know but I’m starting to open up to the idea and have purchased a few products like this over the past few months.

Despite thinking I knew all there was to know about mileage programs and reward travel I went ahead and ordered Frequent Flyer Master after reading Chris’ 25,000 mile (one domestic round-trip airline ticket) guarantee.  Earn an extra 25,000 miles after reading it or he’ll gladly refund your money.  That’s a good enough guarantee to me and 25,000 miles is well worth the cost of the program.

Within two months of purchasing it I’m due to receive about 90,000 frequent miles and have only taken one flight (which I ironically didn’t earn any miles on due to my poor attention to booking details).

What can 90,000 frequent flyer miles get you?

  • How about more than three round-trip domestic tickets in the USA?
  • Or almost two round-trips to Europe.
  • And my personal favorite, two round-trips to Central America with enough left over for a domestic trip.

What did three years of constant business-travel get me?

  • Around 20,000 miles on Delta
  • Around 13,000 miles on American Airlines
  • Around 4,000 miles on United
  • Around 2,000 miles on US Air
  • A sore back

I’ll take the 90,000 frequent flyer miles for almost zero work!

Even a stubborn guy like me still has a lot to learn and Chris is the MAN for teaching me that.

One of the bonuses that isn’t exactly advertised is the Frequent Flyer Master email list.  If you’re on any of Chris’ other email lists you’ll know he loves to send great info out to his readers (he’s about the only one who doesn’t drive me crazy with spam – every email is worth reading).  Well if you purchase, you’ll get an early, or sometimes exclusive, heads up on promotions and info regarding adding up even more miles.

Of course your mileage may vary (no pun intended) but for me, it has already paid for itself tenfold.

How much does it cost?

I guess it’s time to talk dollars and cents (or sense, if you have any).

The Frequent Flyer Master eBook / program costs just $49.  If you read it and earn a quick 25,000 miles, it’ll be the cheapest airline ticket of your life!

You might also consider bundling the Becoming a Travel Ninja guide for a total of $79 which I also found extremely useful.  Some of the knowledge on Round-The-World (RTW) airfare in that guide alone is worth its weight in gold.

Full Disclosure

The links on this page are affiliate links. I’ll earn a few bucks if you decide to purchase any of the Unconventional Guides through my links.  I joined with Chris to promote this after I bought and read both guides on my own dime, without any plans to sell them to anybody.  After spending the time to read them though and earning some serious frequent flyer miles very quickly, I realized this stuff has to be shared!

If you end up purchasing them through this page, please leave a comment below.  I’d like to send you a special thank you in the near future.

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