Packing List for Indefinite Leave

I will be gone a long time, probably a minimum of two years, and a maximum of forever. What does one bring on a trip which potentially lasts a lifetime?

He's got everything he needsI like monks. I have heard and read stories about traveling monks who go around with little more than what they are wearing and a small kit of personal care items: things like a razor and toothbrush. Anything else they may need can be bought, bartered for, or is provided by monasteries or friends they will visit. This is admirable! How simple your travels would be! It is true that the majority of things people pack can be seen as luxuries, conveniences, or time-savers. Travel shops are full of travel-sized crap to make travel a lot like living at home. Fun-size hair dryer? A monk just shaves his head and is done with it. Someday I hope to reach monk-like packing thrift, but that day is not today. My goal is for my full pack to weigh less than 25 pounds. Continue reading

Migrant Medicine: Vaccines and Pills

Drugs, Chemicals, Bandages

Part of going to faraway, perhaps less civilized lands, is the need to prevent contracting a whole bunch of diseases. Where water is cloudy, where insects bite, where food is prepared with the same hands that wipe butts are places where harsh bacteria, viruses and other parasites concentrate and try to kill us all. Fortunately, this age where equally harsh drugs and a bit of mental preparation can be employed to see a traveler thrive in a less-than-health-conscious place. Continue reading

Driving Abroad: International Driving Permit

"I can drive" in 11 languages!

During my past summer in France, while the grape harvest was winding down, those of us who remained on the vineyard were loading sticky buckets and hand tools into caravans for transport back to home base, about an hour and a half freeway drive distant. The main man noticed there were more cars than Frenchmen. How would we get all of these vehicles back home?

He turned to me and asked if I could drive. Of course I can, but in France this is a valid question to ask of a 24 year old. The French (and many other peoples, I suspect) do not necessarily gain their drivers license at 16 as a sort of automatic coming of age thing (the French balk at the idea that we Americans let prepubescent 15.5 year-olds tear around in huge American cars). First off, driving age is 18. Secondly, cars, their fuel, and their insurance are all astoundingly expensive. Third, public transportation around the country is fairly good, and cuts out the need for a car for most people. Thus, the French only own and drive cars if they really need to, if you live in the countryside and can actually afford it.

“Sure, I can drive,” I said, “but I don’t know if I’m allowed to drive here…” Continue reading

The Cloud: Web Tool for New-Age Travel

The Cloud goes wherever you go!

“The Cloud.” It is mysterious. It is useful. It is, perhaps, a bit intimidating to some. But just what is it?

To be perfectly honest, I am not entirely sure, but I have an idea. It seems that ‘the cloud’ means ‘computing service’, where users (you, me, businesses, etc.) can store, crunch, organize, and monitor their data on the web. For example, a person can store music files on an online database rather than physically storing it on their own hard drive. A business can upload sales data to an online data analysis service and interpret the results, rather than doing it in-house on their own computers.

So why is it such a big deal, and what use do travelers have for such abstract technology? Continue reading

Australia Work Holiday Visa 462: Secured.

Gonna need a good hat. Though maybe not so newfangled and stereotypical.

Visa Grant Confirmed. Proceed with PLAN A(ustralia).

Checked my email today and finally found that I was granted my Australian Work and Holiday Visa. This visa application process, being performed electronically in this information age, is supposed to take no more than two weeks, so they say. NO SUCH LUCK during holidays, so keep this in mind if you wish to apply. After sending a document they had requested regarding my legal history, I received an automatic reply email which said, in effect, “Don’t expect us to contact you at all because we’re out on holiday. Got a problem with that?”

So it took a little longer for the papers to be processed, emails to be exchanged, and my nervous upwelling to subside. But hey, everything’s dandy now. Continue reading

Choosing a Backpack: A Guide for Vagabonds

My Golite Pinnacle, complete with a mysterious strappy thing which I can only assume is for holding my slingshot

Backpacks are an essential tool for the most mobile of travelers. Ever since mankind’s materialism revolution (beginning with simple stone or wood implements, or perhaps a garment or two), there has been need for people on the move to bring their things with them. There are limited ways for modern international travelers to haul things, the most popular categories being backpacks and suitcases. If you are trying to decide between backpacks and suitcases, try this simple guide. Otherwise, what follows is help on choosing a backpack, because backpack is my method. My means of marvelously moving my materials.

I’ve been doing backpacks since forever. In fact, I never have done any kind of travel with a suitcase as my primary baggage mode, save for when I was too young and stupid to effectively pack and lug my own gear. Having done all kinds of backpacking, camping, and international travels, and having used many varieties of backpack, I feel I have a thing or two to say about them. Indeed, I often find myself orally ranting reviews of my current backpack situation when riding alone in a train compartment, or while killing time at the airport.

I believe that to find a good backpack that truly fits you and your needs, you must see it for yourself. Touch them, feel them, carry them around. Ask the sales people a million questions, their preferences on brands, their personal opinions, and tell them what you need from a backpack.  Ask your friends about their packs, what they like and don’t like. Asking people is a great way to learn about what things matter in a backpack, and traveling types are always excited to talk about their gear. Continue reading

A Traveling Computer for People on the Move

My stay-at-home laptop

Something I have been considering seriously for the travels that lay in the future is how I will execute my computing needs while I’m out and about. Email is a powerful tool which I use frequently, and I will certainly need some kind of word processing ability If I wish to keep my travel blog rolling while I travel. What good is a travel blog if the traveler is incapable of writing in an electric format, or incapable of internet access? No good.

There are a number of things to consider when choosing how you will manage your electronic life during your travels. Fortunately, if you have need of a portable device for travels, your choices are narrowed to: Continue reading

Australia Work and Holiday Visa

Plans are materializing. After spending an indefinite length of time (max. 4 months) in Fiji mucking about, enjoying beaches and jungles, making friends, and living, I will head to Australia. Why Australia? Because the whole point of this escapade of mine is to go other places and live and work and be merry. Also because there is growing economy, industry,  and demand for people who have intellect to offer. It is fact that the country is actively reaching out and recruiting people with technical skills to support this growth and keep it going strong! How do I know? I read about it in some magazines. More on that later.

For now I want to explain Australia’s Working Holiday visa. The Work and Holiday Visa Subclass 462  (Subclass 417 for non-Americans, but I will not bother with that) is designed for those  who want to travel around Australia with the option of working to support their travels, and to encourage cultural exchange. The idea is that this gives the traveler a good idea of the country’s aura, culture, way of life, or whatever, while visiting for an extended period. With this visa, like any other, comes limits and regulations. Important such things follow: Continue reading

Work Exchange as Lodging

Now that I know my destination, I need to find out where I want to sleep. Before this happens, I want to lay out a few of my travel-personality traits which will help explain my choices.

  1. I am allergic to hotels/resorts and the tourism industry in general.
  2. I would rather pull weeds or clean dishes than pay for lodging.

That said, here are my personal favorite avenues for finding shelter on the cheap:

Continue reading

Fiji Visa and Permit Preparations

So where will I go? Fiji.

I’ve been there twice before with my family, and only when I was very young. All I can seem to remember is a large hermit crab, the Sigatoka market, and a nice man who busted open my coconut with a machete.

Again, I will be going there with my family, who will be staying for a week or so. Once my family leaves, however, I will stay behind, as I plan to stay around the fine Fiji island nation for a few months. This raises questions! How long can I stay? Can I work? Time for research!

Continue reading