Madness of crowds: Mona Lisa scrum at the Louvre

The Madness Of Crowds

I propose this general principle of travel:

If you skip the top-tier or ‘must-do’ attraction, you will usually have a way better time at a fraction of the price.

I’ve noticed this more times than I can count, but was too scared to say anything out loud in case I looked like an uncultured idiot. Privately, I think of most of these brand-name experiences as expensive box-checking exercises: been there, done that, bought the T-shirt. I wonder if we’re trapped in an Emperor’s New Clothes situation, where everyone is secretly underwhelmed, but no-one wants to defect from the agreed-upon narrative. Instead, we post up our happy snaps and loudly reassure each other how great it was…

Minimalist packing list for women

A Minimalist Packing List for Female Travelers

After I posted my ultralight packing list, I got a few queries about what a similar set-up might look like for female travelers. I was kind of curious myself, so I asked my friend Rebecca Da Silva – a long-term traveler and small businesswoman (seriously, she’s tiny) – to unpack her own bag and share some tips for the ladies.

What travel teaches you: sometimes you have to swallow dead rats

Life Lessons on the Road

I can’t get a replacement ticket without selling my firstborn child. I fly to a border town instead, but the last bus just left. The airport WiFi isn’t working  – an immutable law of the universe – so I have to try and wing it with one of those old-timey maps made out of dead trees. It’s one Hail Mary after another: Over 16 hours, I take two taxis, a crowded minivan, two planes, a train, a ferry, a motorbike, and do plenty of walking, often in circles. I’m pulled aside at the border for questioning. An ancient vending machine swallows my last banknote. It’s think-on-your-feet, sprint to catch the last train stuff; an accidental one-man homage to the Amazing Race.

With exactly one sen (0.3c) to my name, I trudge the final stretch to my lodgings. It’s 11pm, and everything that could go wrong, has gone wrong. I’m soaked in sweat, desperate for the loo, starving, and absolutely knackered.

And I wouldn’t have it any other way…

How to Make Friends as a Solo Traveler

The first stage of being a solo traveler is fear. I flew into Bangkok in the middle of a thunderstorm. Sheet lightning and flickering neon signs threw the grimy streets into sharp relief as I took a cab through the pounding rain. The driver dropped me in the vicinity of my hostel, overcharged me for the fare, then pretended he didn’t have change for my fresh banknote. When I finally found my accommodation, soaked to the skin, I realised I was the only one staying there. There I was in a megacity of eight million people, and I’d never felt more alone…

Minimalist travel packing list

Ultralight Travel Packing List: 10 Countries, One 7kg Bag

I’ve been bouncing around Asia and the Indian subcontinent for almost two years now, with a pack that weighs in at 15 pounds (7kg). This minimalist travel setup has served me well through monsoon season, snow and ice, storms, jungles, mountains and deserts alike.

After the Pizza Diet: Losing 20kg and Readjusting to Life as a Skinny Guy

After the Pizza Diet: Losing 20kg and Readjusting to Life as a Skinny Guy

This is not you, the border control officer says. It’s true – the clean-shaven, crew-cut, slightly pudgy face in my passport photo bears no resemblance to the scraggly scarecrow leaning in front of him, all sharp angles and facial hair. Yes it is, I squeak. There’s a long silence. I, uh, lost a lot of weight. How much? he asks. Almost 20 kilograms. He tilts his head. You got sick? Uhh, no. I rack my delirious brain, and try to figure out how to explain…

Living On Less Than $10,000 a Year

At the start of 2017, one of my goals was to try and maintain a flâneur lifestyle while living off less than US$10,000 (or NZ$15,000).
I’ve logged every rickshaw ride, every water refill, every bowl of noodles. Nothing escaped the merciless conditional formatting of my spreadsheet, which blazed a furious red whenever I overshot my daily or monthly spending targets. Now, with an entire year’s worth of spending data in front of me, it’s crunch time. Here’s how I did…

A Sense of Perspective: The Time I Received Five Marriage Proposals in One Day

The Time I Received Five Marriage Proposals in One Afternoon

That fateful afternoon in the slums of Jakarta is seared into my memory forever. No ego-boost here – just people desperate to escape from grinding poverty. Travel is a uniquely powerful way of broadening your perspective, but talk is cheap. No amount of sanctimonious think-pieces and gratitude journaling will put food in hungry bellies. The good news is, we have an amazing opportunity to actually do something…

Hiking the Himalayas in Flip-Flops

My broken jandals are dangling by a thread; one solitary scrap of medical tape holding them to my filthy and blackened feet. They’ve carried me for 150km, over ice and snow and scree, across the highest pass in the world. For every gauntlet the Himalayas has thrown down – insomnia, gastro, altitude headaches, frozen toes – they’ve provided a constant rubbery reassurance. Now it’s all falling apart at the seams…

Introducing the deck of cards workout.

The Portable Travel Gym that Fits in Your Pocket

Staying fit on the road is a challenge, especially when your entire life has to fit into a 22 litre day pack. While I stretch the carry-on limit pretty far, I suspect the cabin crew would object to me stuffing an Olympic barbell and a couple hundred kg of plates into the overhead lockers. Fortunately, I’ve found a way to cram an entire gymnasium into my pocket…

Getting rid of all your stuff: Minimalism 101

Getting Rid of All Your Stuff Feels Like Taking a Big, Dreamy Dump

Taking a big dreamy dump is the best way I can describe how it feels to get rid of your possessions. See also: Rasping the dead skin off your feet, taking a tactical chunder during a big night out, or achieving inbox zero. It’s the same sense of deep satisfaction. The deadweight is gone, leaving you feeling all shiny and streamlined. That’s why culling my entire life’s belongings down to the contents of a 22 litre day pack felt really fucking good.