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Advice about traveling, backpacking, and life

The most popular question I get asked is: how can you afford to travel the world?

I had a controversial debate with a T-Rex about global warming, which led me to write some advice on what to do about climate change.

However, my most recent advice-related articles are below...

Do Not Hire Film and Video Editor Cynthia Biret

Cynthia Biret is an awful film and video editor and preditor (a producer-editor). In late October 2013, I hired her for my Africa TV show project. She was a $10,000 disaster. I considered just brushing this lousy experience under the carpet, but I’d rather help others from suffering a similar fate with her (or anyone). Therefore, in this article I’m going to share my horrendous experience with Cynthia Biret.

Summary: I hired Cynthia Biret to produce a 3-minute trailer for my Africa TV show and then a 48-minute pilot episode. She agreed to produce the trailer in 4 weeks. After nearly 5 months, $9,750, and listening to a dozen lies, she still hadn’t produced an adequate 3-minute trailer. She demanded another $1,750 for an additional week that she claimed she needed to finish the trailer. Instead of throwing even more money at her, I found another editor to complete the job.

What follows chronicles the disaster. I’m airing this dirty laundry to help others learn from my mistakes. Whether you’re considering hiring Cynthia Biret or some other editor, seeing what happened to me can help you avoid a similar fate.

Read more... [Do Not Hire Film and Video Editor Cynthia Biret]

How To Overcome Soft Addictions

Guest post by Ramya Raju:

Coffee and PhoneI recently came across an article on soft addictions. They are the seemingly harmless habits that we cultivate, out of necessity or to make a fashion statement, and they slowly become a part of our lifestyle. For instance – ‘drinking endless cups of coffee’ or binging every weekend to celebrate– sounds great in books, but what does it do to your body and your mind? Does it, in any way, help make you a better, happier, more balanced person? More often than not, it makes you irritable and upsets your tummy. It may also give you a rather unattractive appearance – and that in no way can be construed as a step in the direction of self-development!

These harmless habits often become obsessive and before we know it, they have invaded our minds and have nicely taken over our focus and concentration.

A culprit that is ‘trending’ these days is the mobile phone. From a convenient device that helped us connect in maybe a road emergency, saving a trudge to the nearest payphone, the mobile moved on to becoming a style statement to almost a life support system.

Read more... [How To Overcome Soft Addictions]

Five Tips on How to Save Money When Travelling


The following is a post contributed by site supporters of Francis Tapon:

Travel vanWhen times are tough you need a holiday more than ever and getting the most for your money is doubly important. As with most things in life, you pay extra for convenience, but by thinking outside of the box, there are five ways to make your finances, and you, go further.

1. Last minute bookings

The simplest way to get a low price holiday is to leave booking to the last minute, well, eight to ten weeks before you leave at most. 2014 bargain holidays are the way to go for travellers who want to enjoy their vacation to the highest level without breaking the bank. Package holidays are based on bulk bookings of hotels and flights, if there are still vacancies close to the date the holiday companies would rather get something for them, than nothing. The draw backs are that you have to take what is left, and you might have to grab a bargain quickly without doing research.

Read more... [Five Tips on How to Save Money When Travelling]

Lessons Learned from Wet Weather Hiking Mishaps

Guest Post by Stratton Lawrence

StrattonThere's much to be said for the old Boy Scout maxim, "Be Prepared." But being prepared doesn't necessarily mean that you've got every piece of gear in your pack you could ever need. Sure, it would be nice to have an ax when you're 50 miles into the 100-Mile Wilderness and wanting to build a fire, but carrying the ax may actually leave you less prepared for the 5,000 feet of elevation change that you plan to traverse the following morning.

Figuring out the give-and-take of what's appropriate to bring along on an extended trip is always a work in progress, but it's one where paying attention to those who have gone before can truly payoff. That holds especially true when preparing for wet weather conditions in the wilderness. Nothing spoils a trip faster (or forces a premature return home) than extreme discomfort caused by wet conditions.

Despite a childhood spent backpacking and traveling (including several Scout weekends spent hunkered down in driving tempests), I've still had to learn a few of these lessons the hard way. Even worse, I've watched fellow travelers that I'm responsible for ignore my admonitions, leaving me to pick up their slack (or carry their stuff) when the going gets tough enough to prove me right.

Here are a handful of my most memorable learning moments when it comes to staying dry outside:

Read more... [Lessons Learned from Wet Weather Hiking Mishaps]

Keeping it Clean: 4 Tips for Properly Storing Your Gear

Guest post by Jessica Johnson

Keep pack cleanStoring camping gear is like going to the dentist. After a visit, we may be prone to slack off on flossing for a little while – perhaps even bail on the next visit...and the next. After a couple of years we have a conundrum on our hands: we know we really should go in, yet we fear the inevitable discovery of cavities. If only we had brushed regularly and gone in every six months!

The same goes for outdoor gear. After a couple of days in the backcountry, our mind is set on a hot shower and a cold beverage. The gear often gets wadded up and thrown in the basement – out of mind, out of site. As the days go by, we know we should tend to it, yet the fear of what we might find grows deeper. Until it's time for the next camping trip. Now we have a moldy, unorganized mess to deal with.

Whether you are a seasoned outdoor enthusiast or a once-in-a-while car camper, properly storing your gear is crucial. All it takes is a little know-how and a little more discipline. Here are a few simple tips to consider after a few days in the great outdoors.

Read more... [Keeping it Clean: 4 Tips for Properly Storing Your Gear]

Where Should You Be for New Year 2014?

Guest post by Sarah Hendricks.

Around the world, the New Year is seen in with a range of interesting and unique celebrations. This means that the arrival of 2014 is a great time to take a trip. It might seem a little late to be planning a trip abroad for the New Year, but last minute deals can make this the most affordable time to think about booking. The four most interesting places to go for the arrival of 2014 are:

HerryLawford fireworks 

Read more... [Where Should You Be for New Year 2014?]

10 Reasons to Go Hiking and Backpacking with an Umbrella

Umbrellas provide protection from the sun and rain while you examine your map

When I'm backpacking, hikers often ask, "Why are you carrying an umbrella?"

What they're really thinking is: "Hey moron, what's with the stupid umbrella?"

An umbrella seems out-of-place in the wilderness. It's for city folk, not for macho backpackers. However, hiking with an umbrella is not as foolish as it looks.

I've used umbrellas on the Appalachian Trail, Pacific Crest Trail, and Continental Divide Trail. An umbrella has protected me also during treks across Costa Rica's Osa Peninsula jungle, Slovakia's Tatra Mountains, and Ukraine's tallest peak. They've also served me well during by trek across the Pyrenees and El Camino de Santiago. Lastly, I've been using umbrellas extensively during my 4-year trip in Africa.

I've also used rain jackets. Indeed, I adore my awesome ExOfficio rain jacket. However, in general, I find an umbrella superior for most backpacking and hiking adventures. Here are 10 reasons why . . . 

Umbrellas are useful in the Sierra Nevada

Read more... [10 Reasons to Go Hiking and Backpacking with an Umbrella]

3 Tips On How To Take Great Travel Pictures On Your Phone

Photo by gabrielsaldanaThis is a guest post by Jeffrey Ferraro.

Vacations are expensive. After budgeting for hotels, airplane tickets, rental cars, restaurants and all the other major and minor costs of travel, there's typically very little money left over for a fancy new camera to document the trip.

Luckily, the cameras built in to today's smartphones are of such high quality that you may not need to buy a new point-and-shoot or even an SLR.

Lately, even journalists and newspapers are turning to images taken with cell phones to document their stories.

The key to great vacation photos is knowing how to make the most of your smartphone's camera.

Not only are there apps and accessories you can use to take your shots to the next level, but there are also some simple compositional techniques that will ensure that your pictures are eye-catching before you even take the shot.

Tip #1: Take Advantage of Cell Phone Apps

Popular applications like Instagram allow you to apply filters to your pictures and correct flaws like inadequate lighting. The filters allow you to choose a look for your picture so that you can accentuate the colors or give it an old-fashioned "postcard" sort of look, or even make it look like it was taken on film.

You can also use these apps to:

  • Add more light to make the details easier to see
  • Change the focus of the picture by adjusting the depth of field to highlight a person's face or emphasize a particular aspect of the landscape
  • Geo-tag your photographs with your GPS location so that your "followers" can know exactly where the photo was taken
  • Share your photos immediately with friends and family not only through the app itself, but also through other social media sites like Facebook and Twitter

If you're concerned about privacy issues relating to putting your pictures online, you can set your profile to private so that only people you know can see them.

Read more... [3 Tips On How To Take Great Travel Pictures On Your Phone]

Backpacking in Nevada

VegasThis guest post is by Shirley James.

Contrary to popular belief, not everybody goes to Las Vegas to party. There are other activities in the city to be done too like museum browsing and watching various shows. This place is also perfect for backpacking because of its close proximity to the desert mountains.

Even the Brits have shown much interest in Las Vegas because of its diversity. Getting to the city is easy because of dialaflight.com’s direct flights and affordable air fares. The flight duration between London and Las Vegas is approximately 11 hours. Before beginning your backpacking adventure in Nevada, here are a few things that you ought to bear in mind to make you look back on your experiences fondly:

When backpacking in Nevada 

If you're planning on going backpacking through the desert outside of Las Vegas, bear in mind that you'll need plenty of water in your backpack, a hat to shade your face, plenty of sunblock, the common sense to stop and rest frequently and a sense of adventure. Backpacking in desert conditions isn't for everyone though, so don't force your friends into it. I mean sure, it's not like you're running the Marathon de Sables, a six day marathon which takes place in the Sahara desert and is the length of five marathons, but it's still a challenge for novices. Read up on your survival skills before leaving the city,and enjoy the stunning views of Nevada. 

Read more... [Backpacking in Nevada]

8 of the Most Remote Places On Earth

This is a guest post by Miles Young.

The main purpose of a vacation is to get away from all the troubles and hassles in your daily life. To truly get away from these, you have to travel as far as you can to places you wouldn’t have otherwise thought about visiting. Of course, with some of the most remote locations, half the effort is finding the place and getting there. Here are eight of the most remote places on Earth.

1. Oymyakon, Siberia

Oymyakon, Siberia

Image via Flickr by Blogpaedia

Siberia itself is well-known for desolation and cold temperatures. The tiny town of Oymyakon, which is home to about 472 souls, is the coldest inhabited spot in the world. On February 6, 1933, the temperature dropped to a deathly -96.2 °F. Aside from its extreme weather conditions, this area is known for being an air route during World War II and having unbalanced days and nights throughout the year (3 hours of daylight in December and 21 hours in June).

Read more... [8 of the Most Remote Places On Earth]

You Will Want To Live To 120 Years Old

Old person among young. Photo by vintagedep on FlickrOne of the challenges about seeing every country in the world is that we don't live long enough to cover all that ground. It sure would be easier if we lived to 120 year old. But would you want to?

Most Americans would rather not take medical treatments that would allow them to live to 120, according to poll data that Pew Research just released. Specifically, 56% said that they would not take such treatments, while only 38% said they would.

Meanwhile, the majority of Americans think that they're in the minority, because while they said that they personally wouldn't want such life extending treatments, 68% thought that "most people" would take them and only 27% would not. In other words, most Americans thought that most people would not behave like they do.

Nearly 7 in 10 Americans would like to live between 79 and 100 years old. Their median ideal life span is 90 years, which is about 11 years longer than today's average U.S. life expectancy (78.7 years).

Photo by taitetsu on FlikrSome may this finding counter-intuitive: nearly twice as many people would rather die before 79 years old than live to be over 100 (14% vs. 8%, respectively).

Although only of a quarter of Americans think that by 2050 the average person will live to 120 years old, they are optimistic about future medical advances. For example, 7 out of 10 believe that we'll cure most forms of cancer by 2050 and that artificial legs and arms will perform better than natural ones. Twice as many Americans think "medical advances" are "generally good" rather than "interfere with the natural cycle of life" (63% vs. 32%, respectively).

Still, let's suppose that three-quarters of Americans are wrong and that people really will be able to live to 120 years old with a bit of medical help. Now let's analyze the findings.

Read more... [You Will Want To Live To 120 Years Old]
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