Afterthoughts and a change - a five month assessment

Good ideas don't always work, even when they are plausible. After nearly five months away, I realized that there are some things which need addressing. This means a big change in journeys, kit and how I approach it all. So what will I do and why?

It all began in February 2016, when I jumped on a plane to Florence, Italy. To me it was just a dot on the map, my usual choice of a destination. Had I done a bit of research, I wouldn't have bothered with the place. I landed in a very serious tourist trap and spent over two months money in less than four weeks. Met some great people though, so that softened the blow.

A short stay at home, followed by nearly five months on the Iberian Peninsula really hammered some things home to me. Add it altogether and some serious alterations need to be made as well as mind set adjustments.

What I carry
There's no way I'm going to get around carrying in the region of 10 pounds and still have an effective travel writing kit. The rest of what's inside my bag is okay.

Clothing needs to be thought out better. This time I left my Orvis bush shirt at home and just wore T-shirts, not the thing to do—they are useless in hot humid weather and the bush shirt was not (I don't care what it looks like or what people think—it works).

How I carry it
Backpacks are very handy for getting around with, but—they do not hold stuff well and can be a pain to access.

My travel bag is a bit smaller, but: holds more because of its shape, does so in an orderly fashion, and it's a ton easier to grab something quickly when I need it. I can stick a karabiner over the handles, clip the shoulder strap through it and the thing turns into a backpack when needed—this will suffice until I find one with straps built in. It is also more convenient to place in luggage racks on planes, trains and buses. Doing short hops from London to somewhere for a few days, with a smaller shoulder bag, is all I'd need. Big enough for my camera and a few items.
The smaller shoulder bag. See what I've done with it.

Smartphone cameras and tablets suck
Using them, instead of a real camera and laptop is plausible, but there are so many factors which just do not work well, that it turned out to be very bad idea. Once back home, from short trips, the post would be written up on my main computer. On longer, multi-destination, trips, the laptop goes with me.

The only reason I will now use a smartphone, is for the odd text message and occasional phone call. Once in a while for a super quick photo (like my first view of the Alps en-route to Florence). Yes the fotos are passable and probably fine for people who are just on vacation, but for what I do they're just too limited. I would also use it to upload images from my camera to store on my server.

From here on I will carry my Leica/Lumix and use a small laptop. If I can find a laptop lighter than the semi-tough-book Lenovo that I custom ordered, then I will buy one, otherwise it's the Lenovo.

Cheap isn't always worth it
Trying to save a lot of money by purchasing cheap goods is a waste of just about everything. It's a lot more cost effective in the long run, to save and buy excellent stuff.

Where I go and how
Three months is just too long a time for me to be in one place. I was getting bored in Pamplona, not going anywhere and as a result wasted money. This has to change.

I like traveling, even though there can be some frustrating moments. From now on my visits will be shorter. If it is possible to rent a room for a month which is a lot less money than a hostel or BnB, then all well and good. However, that will mean much better planning an itinerary beforehand and probably not as much flexibility when I'm on location. I have found that a lot can be achieved in a shorter amount of time and still meet some great people—plus still have a bit of room to wing it.

The thought of flying budget airlines (eee gads) is a distinct possibility for less than two hour flights. So far, though, I've flown British Airways and managed to get me there cheaper than EasyJet (if I do it right). Asking if there are any promo's going has come into play, especially after the journey from Porto to Pamplona.

Earlier I mentioned short hop journeys. Done right, flights from London to, say Munich, are feasible. I could stay for a few days and return. This could work out cheaper than long term stays like I've done this summer. The only downside on some airlines, is where they fly from. Having to cross London can take up to four hours each way—often losing the savings made on fares. I'll try to stick with Gatwick and London City Airport, though for a couple of places I want to visit, Heathrow is the only option. Or, I could hopscotch across Europe by various means of transportation. My trip back to London from Pamplona, had me home within one day, for less than 125 Euros—by using buses, trains and a flight (but very tiring).

Changes ahead
The past 5 years has seen me blogging after closing down my business and getting out on the road. A change is looming and I'm not sure exactly where it will lead to. What I am not going to do is just stop, I'm not that kind of person. All I know is it will begin in Israel and after that—?

What about you?
Have you faced the same problem? What were your solutions?
Sep 01, 2016

latest comment at top
Dyanne Kruger
I'm presently in the same boat, Ted - i.e. just got back from 40+ days through 8 countries (with but a small rollie and a rucksack - 10kg max) and am reassessing everything. How I travel, where, what I take, technos, etc. etc.

I think that's one of the advantages to travel - returning home gives you a fresh new perspecive on EVERYTHING!

Like... stay tuned for a new TL post assessing my packing alone (i.e. 10 kg's and I could have left HALF of it behind) - listing what I didnt use at all, what I used but once or twice (though it still came in mighty handy), and what I simply couldn'

Also, note that I opted to leave the netbook at home this trip, and only had my phone (w/ as you know, a bunch of pre-pecked blog posts waiting in the wings, published via my WP app with a single click). In short - having just the phone (and a good camera) was the best decision I could have made. No more laptop, no matter how small. Imho, it's just not worth the trouble of keeping track of it, charging it, carrying it and - just another unnecessary thing to THINK about.
Peter Wrighte
Not sure mate. We are living in Cambodia still. Maybe China?
Good to hear from you Pete. Where are you guys off to next?
Hey Ted, great catching up with your articles. I’ve always fancied Israel. I hope I get around to it someday.
I was rocking about 10KG too until a few months back when I got into video editing.
I just got back from a short trip to Malaysia. I left most of my kit behind and really enjoyed getting back to lightweight travel. Now I’m wondering what I can dump before getting on the road again.
Take care

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