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November 06, 2016

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Travel baby gear & what you really need

Traveling with a baby can seem daunting.  Will the baby cry on the redeye?  What about getting sick in a foreign country?  While some things are not fully in your control, you can at least be prepared by packing the right gear.

And, as it turns out, you don't need half the stuff you think you do. Packing up and moving along every few days is way easier with less stuff.    

We took our 3 week old baby from Oregon to New England, where we traveled around for a while.  When he turned 9 weeks old, we left for Europe and traveled for a month.  If we can do 8 countries, 86 restaurants, 5 flights, and over 35 different beds in just 2.5 months, so can you!  This list is not mean to be exhaustive or final, just a guide.  In the end, you know your baby best.  

For our full packing list scroll to the bottom of this article.

A car seat bag is an awkward piece of luggage that is no fun to carry anywhere.  It is meant to take your carseat and base and airlines will check it for free.  Turns out, they'll also let you fill it with "baby gear" - anything and everything related to the baby.  So, pretty much just fill it with as much as you think you can get away with.  

 

 

CAR SEAT

Do not travel without one unless you are sure you won't take a taxi or rent a car.  You can get away without one for buses, trains, and planes, but most taxi drivers won't even let you in without a car seat.  

BABY CARRIER

If you want to do any hiking or city walking, a sturdy carrier is worth the weight and bulk.  It's also perfect on long haul flights.   Many streets can be too bumpy and irregular for a stroller, and in the mountains on trails you are much more nimble without a stroller.  

 

CLOTHING

This is a personal choice, but if you overpack one thing, this should be it.  Baby onsies are small & they take up very little space.  Given how much babies spit up (or worse), having a stash is not a bad idea.  Also, babies grow fast, so have multiple sizes. If traveling to various climates, have an array of outfits from summer lightweight to wintery fleeces.

DIAPERS

We recommend a mix of disposables and cloth reusables.  The disposables are great for changing on the plane, the trail, at a restaurant.  But in general the cloth reusables are more absorbent and nice for nighttime.  Easy to clean if baby is exclusively on breast milk.  We brought only 5 reusables for 2.5 months, and then purchased disposables 1 packet at a time as we traveled.  

 

SWADDLES & BLANKETS

Swaddles are typically used to wrap your newborn tightly for sleep, to keep them cozy, but they can make excellent travel blankets.  Being lightweight, they are good for covering your baby in public (no strangers need to be touching!), laying on a bench or public changing table, keeping the sun or breeze off.  

We recommend traveling with 1 blanket for your baby - you never know when you'll need it, for padding, warm, or making a baby nest if a hotel crib is not available.  

 

 

MEDICINES AND MISC

Regardless of where you are traveling to, there are a few essential we recommend:

Children's tylenol - can keep a fever down as well as help with pain
Aspirator - this is an essential item to clear a clogged nose in case of cold, or throw-up that may get stuck in the baby's throat
Nail clippers - it is incredible how fast those little nails grow, so don't leave at home
Diaper rash cream - always a good idea
Pacifier - If you use one, don't forget to bring it, and a couple spares
Sunhat - they pack small and keep the sun off
Warm hat - again, they pack small.  

KEEP IT ALL ORGANIZED

You can choose to pack your baby's gear however you may like, but our 30L SegSac was a great choice for us - we were able to easily get whatever we needed, when we needed it.  We put diapers in 1 segment, then onsies in another, swaddles in the next, and leftovers (sunhat, warm hat, medicines) in the last one.   

 

BREASTFEEDING

If you are breastfeeding, don't forget your pump.  You'll probably need it.  Use a scarf to cover yourself if you feed in public, because, as it turns out, traveling means you'll be out and about seeing the sights, you may not always get back to the hotel to feed.  Bring a cooler to keep milk cold when transferring between hotels and on flights.  Don't forget your bottles with nipple-tops too. 

  

Our Full Baby Gear Packing List for 1 month in Europe:
Baby Bruce was 10-14 weeks old.  
Visited: Portugal, France, Italy, Austria, Switzerland
Transportation: 5 flights, 4 weeks of car rental, several trains, a few chair lifts

1 car seat
1 Ergo carrier
1 Segsac
10 onsies
5 BumGenius Freetimes
3 swaddles
1 Fleece blanket
1 cashmere baby blanket
1 sunhat
1 warm hat
1 quadrapus, 1 back-up pacifier
1 nail clippers
1 tylenol
1 Puracy baby wash
1 breast pump
8 AA batteries for the pump
4 glass milk bottles
1 mini-cooler
1 vitamin D drops
1 home-made diaper rash cream


Good luck on your next travels! 

October 19, 2016

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The best FREE camping across the USA

The internet is a great thing - and it's full info on where you can camp for free - all across the 50 states.  If you love unplugging, sleeping under the stars, and saving a buck, read on! 

National Forests, National Grasslands, and BLM Lands

If you are feeling adventurous, just head out to BLM land or National Forests & Grasslands.

Typically you are allowed to camp for free in US National Forests & Grasslands, unless otherwise marked. 

Experience: peaceful, remote, solo.

Amenities:  rugged to none, so you'll need to be self sufficient.  Adhere to "leave no trace", as in, pack it in and pack it out, everything from your water to your waste (yep, poop too).  Learn more about the Leave No Trace here.   

How to: You must camp outside developed campgrounds (to get the free camping); more than 200' from any stream or waterbody. 

Watch for: Cattle are allowed to graze in many of these lands, so please, be very careful. sometimes you need a permit to build a fire, and restrictions can change frequently, so check with the ranger office.  Seasonal closures - check ahead. 

How to find: Google Maps is a great start.  You can also use National Forest Map Locator, this Forest Camping site, or search state by state

 

Other resources on FREE campsites:
 
Here are some more great resources to find free campsites across the USA:
FreeCampsites.net - Enter your location or use the map feature; this resource is amazing.  It has short notes on what to expect and some of the more popular places have reviews. 
Ultimate Campgrounds - this site is very comprehensive, including everything from maps to apps, and even includes Canada as a bonus. 
If you are into RV'ing, this site called Boondockers Welcome is great for finding a place to park your RV outside of a mainstream, busy campgrounds. 
15 Great Campgrounds in the West
Gear Patrol has published this lovely guide to western campgrounds, including maps and quick descriptions on why you'd like to go there. 
Walmart Parking Lots 
It feels a bit different, but Walmart parking lots are a great place to rest your head for the night.  While not really considered camping, this sure can come in handy when on long road trips. 
Being allowed to stay overnight at Walmart is a offered as a privilege, but is no means a right.  So, be courteous. The general rule is to keep as low profile as possible. No tents, no chairs, no hibachi grills. Everything must be done within your vehicle. You will most likely be sharing the parking lot with long-haul truck drivers, who may need a good night's rest.  Be respectful. 
Get out there and camp!
June 30, 2016

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How hard is it, anyway?

Entrepreneurs are fascinating people who have great ideas and the motivation to bring new products to the market.  Without them, what would our society even look like? 

But what we are up against is another story.  There are numerous challenges and pitfalls that face small businesses.  

In essence, running a successful product-based business comes down to one thing: inventory. Without it, you have nothing to sell and no customers.  The more seamless this process appears to customers, the better.  

The Production Journey

So you have an idea for a product. In fact, you’ve been thinking about it for a long time. Perhaps you’ve already made yourself a working prototype. Now you are ready to share with the world.

You probably know it is going to be a lot of work, but that is okay - you are up for the challenge.  But some of the challenges you'll face are ones that customers will not understand, and you may not even see coming.

None of those steps are "easy", except for maybe #s 1 and 2.   

Depending on how complicated your product is and how many components it has, your path to perfection can be long and hard.  Do you know how many buckle choices there are out there, and that some have cold weather ratings while others do not? Do you even know where to source all buckle options so you can at least compare them?

The Journey, it's Challenges, and a few Solutions



Meeting Challenge #3 head-on

Dealing with Complexity.

Over the last 5 years, we have found a lot of great people to help us with sourcing, advise, and we’ve made mistakes that have taught us along the way.

Just a small sampling of the decisions we needed to make for the Hoboroll:

  • thread thickness
  • thread color
  • stitching width
  • single or double box stitching
  • fabric type, coating, thickness, waterproofness, durability
  • buckles (plastic vs metal)
  • buckle thickness
  • buckle style and shape
  • buckle color
  • drawstring cord thickness
  • toggle strength
  • inner pocket location
  • inner pocket size
  • zipper – single sided, or spend more $ on a DUA puller?
  • Curvature of the yoke
  • Bag colors (although luckily, my Kickstarter backers chose one color scheme for me, the uber-successful Midnight Lava!)

Are you bored of reading my list yet?

You can imagine as the complexity of components grows this task gets harder. Making a mug with 1 material (ceramics) and some paint is easy. I cannot even imaging trying to design and make a pair of binoculars!

These seemingly small things are the decisions that HAVE to happen before the rest of your business can even start. That meaning graphic design, packaging, creative marketing, and of course, selling!

By hiring the right people and asking the right friends for advice, we were able to get through all those “little” decisions and start finding a system that worked for us. We decided to use the same fabrics and components across our stuff-sack line, as that is easier on manufacturing. We decided to perfect the Hoboroll before introducing new products.

Defining our market. 

For us, it is the REI world. We want quality products that last a lifetime. We want a brand that will continue to grow and help bring adventure to travelers.  We want a brand you can rely on, no matter where you are.  

We need to compete with serious quality players to even get noticed. The bar is higher, and it means we need top components, top construction, yet still be price competitive- it's almost an oxymoron. 

Gobi Gear has been in business for over 5 years now. Through hard work and paying attention to our customers, we have #1-3 pretty much figured out.  And we thought we had #4 and #6 figured too... until this past spring.  

 

In theory, once you get your business to #4, things should get easier. But in practice, they can actually get much harder.

It is the first time things are no longer in your control. Up until this point, you have been able to make changes, tweak designs, and have had the freedom to pick whatever factory and vendors you wish.

But once you have a factory, and send them a down-payment, it becomes a lot harder to maneuver.  Then once production starts, you are really not in control anymore.   If all goes well, it is smooth sailing and you can sit back for a little bit while other people go to work for you. But if not, the headaches are yours.  

It sounds like we know a lot about this stuff.  After all, we have 5 years of experience to lean on, from making the wrong decisions here and there, having industry experts helping out, to having this summer be our 3rd production run, you'd think we'd have it all figured out.  

But we still get thrown under sometimes. Remember I said that the more seamless all of this appears to customers, the better?  Well here I take a gamble and lift the veil.  I would like Gobi Gear's story to be a cautionary tale to others.  

A Case Study - When #4 and #6 Fall Apart

Two large issues came up for Gobi Gear late 2015/early 2016, just as we were ready to place the order for our 3rd production run and fulfill our successful Kickstarter Campaign for the SegSac, our latest product.  

All good at first

I thought I had a great factory. It worked for the Hoboroll Kickstarter production run in 2015. The owner lives here in the USA, so I can call him during working hours and speak English (this is a huge plus, just trust me).

They delivered on time, their price was decent, and the quality was what I considered to be excellent.

A bit downhill

Then they delivered some shoulder straps to us and the packaging was a complete mess. The cardboard sleeve was not adhered to itself correctly, and that meant hours of manual labor for us to fix.

Warning bells going off. I then got another price quote shortly after and it was half of what our factory had charged us.

Then I couldn’t get a solid price quote for the SegSac (or new Hoborolls) for months. I do not know why it was so hard. There was lots of “tell me what price you need”.

Also, I kept asking for things in writing, so I had proof of it later and could remember all the details. The owner liked to call me instead of replying in an email.

Finally we did get pricing, and that is when we ran the campaign, figuring that at least if we had agreed on pricing and specs of the bags, we would be all set, given some personality differences (it happens in business).

The final blow

This factory took another small business/entrepreneur to court and sued them. Not the other way around. The factory sued the entrepreneur. There apparently were some miscommunications between who was paying for what, goods not being released from the Port, and I don’t know all the details, but it was enough for us to say, NO WAY. That is not cool.

Back to the drawing board

This happened as our campaign ended.   Naturally, we scrambled and kicked it into high gear to find another factory. We interviewed 3, came up with the best one.



While that process went very smoothly, to be honest, it still took almost 3 months of back and forth. Remember, I do not have someone on the ground in China. So I send samples snail-mail. Then they have to get made into what are called “counter samples” - essentially their version of the sample, and sent back to me. Then price quotes. Then negotiations, as always. Good thing I had most of my specs picked out, from thread stitching spacing to fabric.

If I thought the factory issues would lose me some sleep, I had no idea what was coming.  

Choosing fabric – took some time, but not a big deal.

We spec’ed out the fabric we wanted: Cordura brand, ultralight, ripstop 30D nylon with a slight waterproof coating. This is the MOST important thing about our bags is the fabric. I was very serious about this.

This fabric is expensive, and I was told that “we can find something cheaper that is not name brand but of equal quality”. As a maker, you always need to watch the bottom line. Since the new factory’s prices came in higher than my previous one’s, the thought of some savings was very appealing.

However, the samples that were sent missed the mark. The first bag ripped right away, and the other swatches were just not up to par. We chose Cordura.

 

So, another month gone by now. Okay, worth a try through! I do not regret that month delay. Eventually we did get comparable samples, but the price was either the same or higher than Cordura, and thus again, happy with our choice in fabric.

Choosing the fabric mill – when the trouble really started.

We choose the mill that had the best English, pricing (after much negotiating), and communications. They sent us samples when asked and gave pricing when asked.

Typically, fabric griege is 45 – 90 days in the making. So you place your order, it can be up to 3 months wait to get the fabric (then the factory has to make the bags, so you can see, this takes a while). Given the delays due to factory issues, we wanted a fast fabric turn-around.

One of the biggest draws to using HMG was:

We jumped on this opportunity:

And then they give it away….

And so there we were. Thinking we were going to be just a 2-3 months behind schedule – not bad given the issues, and now it was looking like a lot more.

Problem Partially Solved

Remember I said I like to point out when it’s embarrassing for a producer to not keep their promises? Well that is what I did, and reminded them of our growing future.

More pressure, more back and forth, we were able to get an advance of 5000 yards, which will take 45-days instead of 3 months. So, bags will be late, but not as late as we originally feared. They are doing a small production run JUST for Kickstarter backers and those pre-order website customers. The rest of the product gets delivered in October.

So, we worked hard, accepted our fate to some degree, and will continue to push forward, knowing that these issues arise for us.  The best we can do it hope our customers understand that we are only human :-) 

Thanks for reading!

September 03, 2015

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4 Clever Products that Simplify Your Life

 

As summer wraps up and fall sweeps in, we'll all be looking for ways to grab the last good days outdoors before the weather turns.  Regardless of if you're hitting the trail or the gym, simplifying life will give you more time to do what you love.  

Here are 4 products aimed at making your life better by keeping it simple and helping you out a little.  


Key Caddy by Liquid Co.

The Key Caddy is a key organizer with a similar style to a swiss army knife, designed in Melbourne, Australia. 

Right out of the box it can hold up to 8 keys and additional extension posts can be purchased to add on as many keys as needed. Car keys and remote fobs can be attached onto the keyring loop on the side.  Transform your keys into a fashion statement and conversation starter instead of fumbling around for an unruly, jingling set of keys in your pocket.  

 

 

So stop getting poked in the balls (55% of males) and having your pocket linings torn (67% of people) by your keys*.  The Key Caddy comes to the rescue by keeping keys neatly organized and compact.  *survey of 1005 people

  • Compact and beautiful
  • Eliminates key jingling and potential tearing of pockets
  • Holds as many keys as you need
  • Additional accessories such as USB, bottle opener and a pen (coming soon)

Specs: 3.15" x 1.06" x 0.39".  Weighs 23 grams.  Aluminum grade 6061 material. $47

Liquid is offering $10 off your order just for Gobi Gear fans!  Use code GOBIGEAR at checkout

What Chez says:  I own a Key Caddy, and I was immediately impressed at the concept and execution of such a great idea.  It keeps my keys in a neat little package, and it really does look like a beautiful pocket knife.  With all the add-ons, you can indeed build the perfect key caddy for your lifestyle.  

Hydaway

A pocket-size water bottle fit for any adventure.  

Hydaway's mission is to reduce the 50 billion plastic water bottles that are thrown away each year.  Hydaway offers a durable, reusable water bottle that can collapse to fit into your pocket, meaning you can take it anywhere you go.

 

  • Compacts easily to fit in your pocket
  • Certified 100% BPA free
  • Taste and odor free
  • Clips to a bag or backpack
  •  Easy to clean - just throw on the top rack in your dishwasher

Specs: 21oz, 600mL.  6" x 4.25".  $20

Hydaway is offering FREE SHIPPING on all pre-orders, no code needed. 

What Chez says: Even though Hydaway is in its presale stages, I have personally seen and used a Hydaway.  Its function is incredible and once mine arrives, I am going to take it everywhere I go, doing my part to keep it simple and help the environment. 

 

Hoboroll.  

Pack like a boss.  

Too many times we set out on a hike or adventure, only to waste time fumbling around on our bag for items instead of enjoying the sunset or hiking another mile before setting up camp. 

The Hoboroll empowers you to find exactly what you need when you need it, without having to dishevel the entire contents of your bag, giving you more time to do what you set out to do.   Attach the shoulder strap and turn your stuff-sack into a day bag, because, why not?

  • 5 internal compartments separates items
  • 2 compression straps lock gear in place
  • Removable shoulder strap turns your stuff-sack into a day-bag
  • Zipper inside pocket for stashing smaller items
  • Fits in your hand when not in use

Specs: 30D ultralight, ripstop nylon + anodized aluminum buckles. 20L capacity, 3.5oz in weight.  $39.99

15% off all orders with code FALL15 from Gobi Gear's website.  

What Chez says: as the creator of this bag, I obviously love it and use it everywhere I go.  But being a user of my own products has another benefit - I demand the highest quality in my gear, so you know that you too are getting something made with care, attention to detail, and love.  

Ring Thing Bottle Opener

Okay guys - this is something I hold dear to my heart.  I love this ring.  Its brilliant.  It's a ring that can open a beer bottle.  How do I know about this?

Griffin had been given one by his dad.  When Griff and I got married, I was sad that he was going to need to remove this functional ring and replace it with a wedding band.   But after some thought, I figured, what if this ring could be his wedding ring? Well, yes indeed it could!  We made him a custom tungsten-carbide bottle opener ring, the only one like it on Earth. 

 

 

That is how cool we think this ring is.  You should have seen the face on the Vietnamese lady on hour honeymoon when he opened a bottle right in front of her.  Not seeing the ring, she almost fainted, assuming he had done it with his bare hands.  

The best news is that you too can easily get one, for less than $10 in stainless steel, from Amazon.com.  

 

Enjoy :-)

July 30, 2015

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5 Tips to Make the Most of Your Weekend

  1. Plan 3 - 5 anchor events for your weekend.

    Plan and schedule a few key events to structure the weekend around.  They can be large (an all day hike), or small (picnic lunch, reading a book), but either way, its a great way to keep yourself moving during the weekend - and perhaps more importantly, from slipping into the house chore or email routine.   If you are married or have kids, tell them about your plan – it will help you stick to it as well as help you pick the best time for the activity.

    We like planning because its fun, and the anticipation accounts for a large portion of our happiness, according to Harvard psychologist Daniel Gilbert.  Meaning that as we make plans and look forward to them, this anticipation brings us joy as we count down until the even itself.   Fulfilling our plans also brings happiness, giving a sense of accomplishment.


    Relaxing by the river in the afternoon

    Just be careful not to plan every hour of your weekend. You want a few anchor events, but should also leave enough flexibility for spontaneous fun. 

    1. 2. Make a dream list, and identify what you can do in 1- 2 days.

      Bucket lists are great, but when “visit Machu Picchu” or “see the northern lights” top the list, it can be daunting, and instead of tackling weekender or day-trips, we may end up on the couch instead.  

      So rather than letting yourself get overwhelmed by big dreams and ideas, break down your list and set aside some smaller dreams that can be accomplished in a day or two.

       
      Cape Cod is a great place for a weekend summer sail. 

      Great ideas include taking a cooking class, skydiving, getting a boater’s license or learning to scuba dive, a weekend camping trip, a white-water rafting trip. 

      And don’t be afraid to find something you haven’t done in a while.  Maybe a walk on the beach collection seashells is exactly what the weekend is calling for.

                  3Get the “life chores” out of the way during the week.

      It might be hard to come home after working all day and then scrub the bathroom floor, but because you have less time during the week, you’ll get it done faster. 

      There is no limit to how much time house chores can take, and it’s easy to let the weekend slip away, starting another house chore before you have finished the first one. 

      Be disciplined that you are either not going to do house work on the weekend, or, if you must, that it goes on the schedule and it too has a set start and end time.

      Also, take the time Friday afternoon to prepare for Monday.  This will prevent you from having the Sunday-evening slump, where you start thinking and worrying about everything you need to do to get ready for Monday work.  By taking care of this on Friday, such as scheduling emails and preparing a Monday to-do list, you'll free up your Sunday night. 

      1. Take a break from media

      Unplug from social media, email, and phone calls for at least a few hours each day on the weekend. Whether is your sacred morning hours or evenings that you prefer, be sure to unplug for a bit.

      Easier said than done – you plan to meet a friend at 7pm for dinner, and they are late, so you check your phone (just for a few minutes), and before you know it, 10 new things are on your “must do tonight” work list.   Instead, to help resist the temptation, travel with a book or magazine at all times, so you can dive into that instead of your cell phone while waiting. 

      1. Don’t forget to exercise

      If your weekend plans don’t involve much exercise, try to find a place to fit it in. Just 5 minutes of walking in the morning can jump start your metabolism, and studies show that those who walk outside before starting their day are happier and more alert for the rest of the day. 

      Alternatively, plan an anchor event or two that involves exercise, like an afternoon wildflower hike, a swim in a mountain lake, or, in the winter, get some friends together for a game of squash or a gym workout.


      Attempting aerial-yoga for the first time at the beach

      Worst case? Even if exercise is not possible, try to avoid sitting, which has been shown to slow your metabolism and change your body’s physiology. For example, if you are painting, do so standing up, or invite friends over and prepare a feast – moving around the kitchen can burn a lot of calories and keep your body active!

       
      Image from Kalev Fitness Solutions

       

      Most importantly, don't forget to RELAX.  Its what the weekend is for. 

      Why I turned down Wall Street

      Read about how founder of Gobi Gear, Chez Brungraber, turned down a big finance job in NYC to follow her dreams.  

      I just finished hiking 436 miles. I have been going almost nonstop since March 1. This is my job, and I love it.

      Even when my eyes sting from the sweat, my feet are bruised, and I am so tired after a day of hiking that I literally cannot stand anymore, I still want more.

      I search for wildflowers and wildlife during the spring months as an environmental consultant.  I spend my time outside, getting paid to hike around the wilderness, looking at nature.

      The journey and data collection along the way are what matters. There is no end destination.

       

      This is my job, and I love it.

      Dream jobs are a big thing these days. Chris Guillebeau is searching for people who have their dream jobs. And with the ability to telecommute, its becoming more of a reality to at least travel and work at the same time.

      But it wasn't always this way. 

      Growing up I was groomed for Wall Street. I had a path laid out for me.  I looked forward to the day I would have a big career, making "big" decisions in the city.  

      When I was in high school and then college, I ran my own landscaping business.  It didn’t matter so much that it was landscaping, but rather that it was any business.  Or at least, that is what I thought back then - business is business.  

      It would be a simple transition, then, from college to Wall Street.  I knew the right people, who interviewed me and offered me great positions in their firms. I had business experience and a drive to do well in business, so why not?  I couldn't run a landscaping business forever, I thought.   

      From finance to… botany?

      How does one groomed for Wall Street end up covered in sunscreen, dust, and sweat in the California deserts? And, why, oh why, turn down the big bucks for a meager biologist’s salary?

      Traveling.  Seeing the world. Being outdoors. 

       

      See, I always loved being outside, and enjoyed all the traveling I had done with my family.  But I figured that was play time, and later would be career time.  

      In college I took a semester abroad in Kenya.  Learned about wildlife and studied the African grasslands from a fire ecology and botanical perspective.  After returning to the USA a different person, I realized that I wanted to see MORE of the world, EXPERIENCE more of it.  

      But I knew I needed a job after college, and I knew that traveling the world would not be free for me, so I maintained the idea - I held on so tightly to the idea -  that a finance job to fund the lifestyle I wanted.

      After graduating from Bucknell in 2004, I pursued the path laid our for me and received not one, but two, really great job offers on Wall Street. Big salaries, even bigger bonuses if I did well.

      This was exactly what I thought wanted – a big job, with big money, to fund the lifestyle I wanted. 

      And then I bailed.

      Talk about impulsive decisions.

      Something just wasn't right.  It wasn't adding up.  If I wanted a life outside, where I could travel, why go into finance?  And where did I think the vacation time would come from?  I felt a bit like this guy, walking head first into a disaster.

       

      I took a year to think it over. Called it a “sabbatical”.

      I lived out of my car, couch surfing across America, meeting new people, visiting all the national parks in the west that had always intrigued me. Flew to Hawaii, Costa Rica, and other places to surf. Stayed in Colorado to ski.  Took this time to ground myself, prepare mentally for a "real career" - meaning less playtime and more serious, working, making money time.  

      I went into debt for all this traveling, but hey, I had a big job lined up so that didn't bother me.  

      But it was too late to turn back

      I’m sure many travelers will agree, cross one place off your list, you add 10 more pop in its place. I had visited Zion National Park in Utah, but now what about Arches, and all the other parks I didn't have time to see yet? 

      You'll recognize the travelbug, the wanderlust, the insatiable appetite to meet new cultures, see now places. The world is so HUGE. Its so DIVERSE.

      I realized any job I took would have to give me the freedom to travel. Without that, I couldn’t do it, even for the money.

      The good news is that I already had a few years experience running my own business at this point, and figured I could probably make ends meet.

      And found my dream job

      I moved to California, went to grad school, got a Master’s Degree, and continued my business of working outside. 

      I became an environmental consultant, specializing in botany and wildlife. Not only does this job put me outside when I work, but it also gives me the freedom to take several months off each year.  

        

      (I work here - above: Catalina Island; wildflower field in eastern San Diego County)

      I choose the path of more freedom, because that was how I measured happiness. 

      In my spare time I travel a bit less these days, and work on Gobi Gear a bit more, but I enjoy every second of that as well.  Someday I hope it can pay my bills, but for now, we reinvest to keep bringing you new products and better quality.  

      Backpacker Magazine just made a list of some great ways to work outside, so be sure to read up on it if its your thing! 

      What's your dream job?  Please share with us here!  

       

       

       

       

      June 04, 2015

      2 Comments


      What it's like to be rich.

      Perhaps you can go anywhere, but you cannot go everywhere.  

      Source: Zhangjiajie National Park, China.  Johnny, One Step 4Ward

      Some of us might have the opportunity to travel all around the world.  And a few might even make it to every corner of the Earth. 

       

      Source: Deb and Dave of the Planet D, in Zambia at Victoria Falls 

       

      But even so, there is not enough time in the human lifespan to really experience everywhere.  

      If time is at a premium, where do you go?  If you could only go 1 place per year, or per decade, where would you go? How would you decide?

       

      Source: Igazu Falls. Photo Source: Flickr CC User SF Brit

      These bloggers below are very wealthy when it comes to travel experience.  They've been all around the world, and while it was hard for some of them to pick their favorite spots, here is a list they made just for you:

       

      PERU

      "I fell in love with Peru long before I visited; and my love of the place only continued to deepen while I spent three months living in the Sacred Valley, near Pisac. So I’m going back for more…." continue reading here.

      "This leads me to the idea that travel is much more about the people you are with than the places you are visiting." from My Favorite Place in the World

      Nora Dunn, of The Professional Hobo

      Traveling for: 8 years
      Countries visited: 50+  

       

      Galapagos Islands

      "The water off the beach forms an expansive shallow enclosure, completely protected from the choppy waves, which meant wildlife was waiting for us everyday – and so amazing was the experience we went back 3 days in row.   We snorkeled close enough to touch enormous sea turtles, were slapped around under water by playful sea lions, and swam through schools of sharks, rare coral, and colorful fish while blue footed boobies and frigatebirds circled overhead." 
      read more about Megan's sea turtle adventures here...
      Mapping Megan
      Traveling for: 8 years
      Countries visited: 37

       

      Bangladesh

      "I taught English in Chiang Mai, Thailand for a year after graduating university and leaving Ireland, I was broke but it was an adventure. I worked double hours in my last month to scramble together a couple of extra hundred dollars, with that money I booked a one way flight to Bangladesh - the nearest country off the beaten path.  Arriving there was perhaps my best ever experience. I had no idea what language they spoke, what the currency was, the name of the Capital, what I was gonna do, where I was gonna sleep. It was real travel, the start of the lifestyle I now live, and it was perfect. I ended up sleeping in a collapsed hotel in 'Old Dhaka', it was manic, the next day was a Friday, the Islamic Sabbath, which at the time I knew nothing about. Being in the traditional part of the city and waking up late after my journey from Thailand there was literally NOTHING open, no food, no water and it was forty degrees celsius+. Welcome to your new life Johnny boy."

      Johnny Ward, of One Step Forward
      Traveling for: 9 years
      Countries visited: 170 (no that is not a typo, he is going everywhere!)

       

       

      Skiing in Japan

      "Skiing in Japan was amazing. If you have the time I’d recommend trying out a few resorts like I did – I heard Hakuba was good too – but if you want all in, guaranteed awesome ski / snowboard time Niseko is the number one choice."

      Read more about Japan skiing adventures here 

      Vicky, of Vicky Flip Flop Travels
      Traveling for: 5 years
      Countries visited: ~50
       

       

      Puerto Viejo

       You'll just have to read this beautiful post, but it goes something like this:

      "everyone
      no matter who they are
      no matter what they do 
      is not only tolerated
      is not only accepted
      but is celebrated." 

      Camille, of This American Girl
      Traveling for: 3.5 years
      Countries visited: 27

       

       

      New Zealand

      "It’s no secret whatsoever that New Zealand is my favorite place on earth. If I could move there tomorrow, I probably would. I love everything about the South Pacific nation, from its landscapes to its laid-back vibe, to how beautiful and remote parts of it still are."  

      Read Amanda's Bucket List of amazing things to do in New Zealand here

      (you'll want to see how much fun zorbing is on her post!)

       Amanda, of A Dangerous Business
      Traveling for: ~ 4 years
      Countries visited: 35+

       

      Wisconsin River - USA

       "... the river affords the best river camping in the state, the Midwest, the country, and arguably the world.  From Sauk City to the confluence with the Mississippi the bottom of the river is almost completely made up of sand; the river is a 92 mile beach.  Wisconsin’s leading voice in conservation opined eloquently about the wonders of this area yet few heard then, and they are not listening still as the area remains relatively untouched."

      Read more about what makes this river so incredible here

      Ted, of Traveling Ted

      Traveling for: on and off since 2005
      Countries visited: 24

       

       

      Greenland - Kayaking

      "There is nothing more wondrous than being surrounded by giant glaciers calving in the distance as you float through a thin veil of ice crackling beside your kayak."
      "Each day was completely different from the other. From exploring tributaries to paddling through ice, circumnavigating islands or taking in the scene along the coast, we never had one paddle be like the next."
      Read more about this adventure here.  
      Deb and Dave, of The Planet D
      Traveling for: 6-12 years, depending how you count it
      Countries visited: 100+

       

      WHERE IS YOUR NEXT ADVENTURE?  Please share your favorites with us!