Cycling Uganda: Finding a Bike

Meet Victory

On the busy, sloping streets of central Kampala, near the old taxi park where all forms of transportation come crashing together in a kaleidoscope of wheels and potholes, multiple level shopping centers offer hair extensions, electronics, or local food. In the basements of many, one can find dozens of bicycle shops, jammed with tires, selling the magnificent machines in all conditions, shapes, and sizes

I came around looking for a bicycle solution. Men in greasy jumpsuits waved their wrenches and beckoned me downstairs to see their selection. I complied, happy to be out of the sun, and to peruse through the many junker machines available. I needed one which could bear me around Lake Victoria. Continue reading

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

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

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