Tabah lot, Bali on the cheap cover image

Bali on a Budget: Living on Less Than $800 a Month

Bali offers a delightfully low cost of living and high quality of life. This being my fourth trip in as many years, I figure I’ve got enough spending data to do a decent breakdown of my expenses.

I’ve tracked every last rupiah during my time here, and crunched the numbers on my spending. What follows is a full cost-of-living breakdown including all the nitty-gritty stuff (like insurance and bank fees) which most reports seem to forget or ignore.

The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up is Batshit Crazy, and I Love it

The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up is Utterly Deranged, and I Love It

Marie Kondo—queen of decluttering, bestselling author, empire-builder—hears voices in her head. They spoke to her one fateful day, as she kneeled in supplication on her bedroom floor after another failed attempt at tidying up:

“Look more closely at what is there.”

Most people who start hearing strange voices might take it as a sign that maybe their obsession is getting a little bit out of hand. For Kondo, it was a divine epiphany. This event set her down the pathway to developing her famous ‘KonMari Method™’, which she has used to help thousands of clients organise their homes. Her book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up,  has sold more than four million copies, propelled her into superstardom, and attracted admiring hordes of Konverts.

I’ve been meaning to read this classic of the genre ever since I first got interested in the minimalist lifestyle, and conducted a great big dreamy purge of my own possessions. Now that I’ve finally got around to reading it, let me tell you, it was… not what I expected. To be completely blunt, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up is certifiably, lock-’em-up-and-throw-away-the-key, batshit crazy…

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…

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.

The best things in life are free essay cover image

The Best Things in Life Really Are Free

In my former life, I enjoyed a great deal of schmoozing. There were many long lunches at fine restaurants, champagne in business class served by the CEO of the airline, and corporate boxes at the sportsball. I’ve also spent weeks barely moving my carcass from a tropical island hammock except to skin up a joint or get another bottle of wine. I would be lying if I denied that all of these things are tremendous fun. On the other hand, they don’t tend to lead to much lasting satisfaction, losing their flavour as quickly as an over-chewed piece of gum. The best things in life really are free…

Throw Away Your Television

The only thing more banal than rappers spitting rhymes about their new 50” plasma screen is smug hipsters who won’t shut up about the fact that they don’t even own a TV, man. I apologise in advance for the sanctimony you are about to receive. Like so many clichés, if you dig deep enough, there’s a lustrous pearl of truth nestled amongst the old shellfish guts. So, here goes: I haven’t ‘watched TV’, in the conventional sense, for about five years…

Cheap Chiang Mai: Frugal living guide and spending breakdown

Chiang Mai on the Cheap: Living on Less Than $500 a Month

The first time I visited Thailand, I couldn’t get over how cheap Chiang Mai was. In my Day in the Life post, I guesstimated my monthly expenses might come in as low as ~US$500, and committed to tracking every last baht to find out the actual figure. Finally, the deed is done! After spending a cumulative six months in this city across three separate visits, I’ve crunched the numbers on all my spending. What follows is a full breakdown of costs across every category, including all the strategies I’ve used to save money.

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…