Gift Ideas - Some Stuff

Everybody Needs Some Stuff – A Few Gift Ideas

Derek Travel Gear 42 Comments

Gift Ideas - Some Stuff
Everyone needs some stuff. You don’t need a lot of stuff, but it would be quite difficult to go through life without any stuff at all. And while my goal is still to travel with under 10kg of stuff as often as I possibly can, that still means I own at least 10kg worth of stuff.

George Carlin said that “A house is just a place to keep your stuff while you go out and get more stuff.” Luckily, I don’t think that applies to those who live out of a backpack.

During 2013, I continued using some stuff that I have been using for a long time and I’ve also discovered some more stuff that has made my life a little easier or more enjoyable. Again, it’s not a lot of stuff that I own, but it’s some stuff.

And since the holiday season is now here, right here in fact, I figured I would share a quick list of some of that stuff just in case you need any gift ideas for someone you know who likes to travel, which might even be yourself. Certainly we should give ourselves gifts from time to time, right?

I just bought myself a gift here at the Los Angeles International Airport. It was a burrito, one last taste of Tex-Mex food before I board my flight to Romania in a couple of hours. And since it was a special ‘end of the year’ gift, I even paid $1.79 extra for guacamole. Actually, that’s complete nonsense. Well, I am at the airport about to board my flight to Romania and I did just eat a burrito with guacamole, but the new phone below was the real ‘end of the year’ gift for myself. The burrito was just something I couldn’t stop myself from buying. It’s tough being a burrito addict.

Here’s the list…

XShot Camera Extender – I’ve mentioned this brilliant camera tool quite often over the past year and I’m still using my Pocket XShot all the time. And with their new XShot Pro version that’s coming out, which is even sturdier, I’m excited to give it a try and continue taking unique photos (such as these photos from my travels) that wouldn’t be possible to take without it.

Eagle Creek Load Warrior Wheeled Duffel 22 – Here’s the thing…I realized recently that sometimes I need a different type of luggage instead of a backpack for those shorter trips where I don’t really have a need to carry my things on my back. And as I was thinking about that, I was contacted by Eagle Creek, and they offered to send me one of their suitcases to use. So I chose the Load Warrior Wheeled Duffel 22 and it’s turned out to be quite a neat little piece of luggage. It’s lightweight, it can be taken as a carry-on, it has 45 liters of space and it has just the right amount of compartments, at least for me. I’ve used it over the past three weeks here in the US and it’s been quite an excellent travel companion I must say. It’s nothing flashy but it’s practical and that’s exactly what I need. (*I accepted the Eagle Creek luggage on the condition that I would give it an honest review. I would never accept anything if a positive review was either required or expected.)

Panasonic Lumix ZS20 – I haven’t changed my stance on this one. In my opinion, the Lumix ZS20 is a perfect travel camera for those who don’t take photography too seriously. Excellent photos, solid video, small size, 20x zoom, ridiculously low price for what you get…not a bad combination. There’s the newer Lumix ZS30 as well that also gets excellent reviews.

Telecomsquare Mobile Wifi Router – Yes, it is a bit pricey to carry around one of these devices (about $13 USD per day), however, if you are going on a shorter trip and need to make sure you have access to the internet at all times, this tiny mobile Wifi router from Telecomsquare is an ideal device. I’ve now used it in several countries, including twice in India, and it’s worked in every city and town that I’ve visited, as well as in the middle of nowhere. This has allowed me to work at any time and in any location without worrying about finding a reliable Wifi signal.

Macbook Pro w/ Retina Display – Yes, as I mentioned earlier this year, I made the switch from a Windows laptop to a Macbook Pro. The post I wrote about the change turned out to be one of the most controversial posts I’ve ever written, with readers weighing in with all kinds of thoughts. While it might not be for everyone (and I understand every reason why people argue against buying one), I personally love my Macbook Pro as I get a lot more work done on this machine and I enjoy doing that work a whole lot more as well. And to me, that makes it worth every dollar I spent on it.

Google Nexus 5 Smartphone – My older Nexus S phone died about a month ago and so I picked up a new Nexus 5 from the Google Play store. It’s a fun phone to use, it’s an ideal size for me and its features are very impressive, with incredibly accurate results. And at $349 for an unlocked 16 GB version, it’s an excellent value.

Crocs Modi Flip Sandals – I still love my Crocs, more specifically, the Modi Flip Flop. Super lightweight, comfortable and durable, it doesn’t get any better than that for someone who wears sandals often while traveling all the time.

And how about some book stuff…these are my four favorite reads from the past year:

The Pirates of Somalia by Jay Bahadur

Incognito: The Secret Lives of the Brain by David Eagleman

Predictably Irrational: The Hidden Forces That Shape Our Decisions by Dan Ariely

Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption by Laura Hillenbrand

Have a wonderful, and safe, end to 2013! And as always, I truly appreciate you following along with this blog during the past year, whether it was for the whole year, a few months or even if this is the first time you’ve ever visited. I am already looking forward to more interaction with all of you next year!

(I’ll be back after New Year’s, ready to announce the dates and destinations for a few more Wandering Earl Tours.)

And I’m curious, where are you spending the final week of 2013?


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Comments 42

  1. Slappy san

    Why don’t you just shoot pics with your smartphone? It would would mean one less thing to carry. I also hope you updated it because it fixed issues the camera had at first.

    1. Wandering Earl

      @Slappy san – My camera is quite small and fits in my pocket, and since I love the photos it takes and videos as well, I prefer to travel with it.

  2. Victoria

    Great post as always Earl. I’m really looking forward to your 2014 trips and insights. I’ll be in Berlin for the New Year but a day or two after, I’ll be going to Amsterdam. ‘Haven’t been there for years so should be interesting!
    Have a great New Year festivity yourself and “see” you in 2014.

  3. Sergio L. Romero

    Kudos to you and your progress! I love reading you blog, sometimes I take long hiatuses but I always come back for more and authentic WanderingEarl news and inspiration. I read your blog for a year and used to day dream about quitting my day job which sucked the creative and necessary energy out of me day after day. After another year and a better paying job later which also sucked the life out me I decided to quit and begin my travels the way I see fit. I now live in Rome, Italy and frequently travel. It’s been a beautiful four months and I’m just getting started! Thank you so very much for you sage advice for writing your blog, you’re a big reason I’m on the road now. And, to answer your question, I’ll be spending New Years Eve 2013 in Syracuse, Sicily! Maybe one day our paths will cross, ciao for now and Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year, auguri!

    1. Wandering Earl

      Hey Sergio – That’s really great to hear and it seems that you made the right move in life! I will definitely look forward to crossing paths somewhere and hearing more about your travels. Until the, continue enjoying your travels and beautiful Rome!

  4. Ryan

    I was with 100% you until the Crocs. However functional they may be, I can’t get over the look of them!
    Spending my last week of 2013 with family in British Columbia Canada after 4 months in Asia. Good to be back to the snow for a while 🙂

    1. Wandering Earl

      Hey Ryan – Ha…well, considering that I’m usually wearing them on the beach or in a beach town, or in a country like India where they instantly get dirty, I guess I haven’t noticed their lack of attractiveness 🙂

  5. debbie ann

    we are on Reunion Island from dec 22-Jan 1, then to Mauritius and then to Perth (to find out if we can get perm res in Australia) and then hopefully to Chengdu.

    Reunion Island is so French – so we are enjoying some very good food. Staying in airbnb places and some hostels.

    Enjoyed your list of stuff – very tempting. Mostly we buy sims in various countries, but sometimes that does not work. Often we stay at places with wifi.

    Love reading about your travels.

  6. Grace Q

    Safe travels Earl. You will have to come back and visit us peeps behind the Orange Curtain next time you are in my neck of the woods. Merry Christmas.

    1. Wandering Earl

      Thanks Grace! And yes, what I need to do is figure out a way to visit the US for more than a couple of weeks at a time so I don’t have to run around and I can actually visit more people. Hope you have a great start to 2014 and looking forward to seeing you again next year!

  7. Chris P.

    Hey Earl,
    I have been researching Backpacks for more than 3 months now. Everytime you give a review on those things I instantly love the posts.
    I ve been researching Carry On vs Suitcase Travel for 3 months now, so your suggestion of the eagly creek is greatly appreciated.
    Question is.. Backpack vs Rolling Carry on and then the Why´s ?

    http://www.amazon.com/ALLPOWERS-50000mAh-Android-Cellphone-Samsung/dp/B00FDLPMH2/ref=sr_1_6?s=electronics&ie=UTF8&qid=1387920159&sr=1-6&keywords=power+bank&tag=s601000020-20

    this is a power bank, it can recharge most of your USB devices a few times while on the go… I think I will def. get that for my next travels

    1. Wandering Earl

      Hey Chris – It’s not much of a question. In my opinion, you should just go with whatever you are more comfortable with as they both work in just about every situation. It’s definitely not something to think too much about. Just try out each one, see what feels better for you and there you go!

    1. Wandering Earl

      Hey Gary – Well, if you get into trouble with that diet, just find a way to get to Goa and you’ll be all set again!

  8. Erin

    I can’t wait to get my hands on a Pocket XShot next year, I really wish I had one on this trip! I’m spending the next few days in Hakuba in Japan and then heading to Seoul for New Years, my first white Christmas!

  9. Matthew Maggy

    I’m spending Christmas in Sihanoukville, Cambodia. I found some work at a hostel through new years. I think it’s nice to spend Christmas with a group of people you know a little better, so I’m spending it with the crew that works here…. Sometimes it’s nicotine have a small sense of stability in relationships while traveling.

    1. Wandering Earl

      Hey Matthew – That should be a great New Years….have a good time over there. New Years on the beach is always my favorite way to celebrate!

  10. Gina Nitschke

    Under 10 kilos! I am impressed 🙂
    I’ve really enjoyed your travel tales over 2013, and your honest reviews on products and places, keep up the great work! I’m spending the last week of 2013 with my family at home in Adelaide, Australia before we hit the road next year.
    Merry Christmas!

  11. Michele

    Patrick and I have quite the extended family, so we will be spending the last week of the year with them. My paternal grandma’s Christmas party is on the 24th. On Christmas day we’ll be with my mom and my maternal grandparents. Our 21st wedding anniversary is on the 28th, so I’m sure we’ll go somewhere to celebrate. I’ll be taking my baby brother and sister (I think I told you about mom adopting two little ones last year) to see Frozen 3D on the 30th. Then we have our Christmas party at Patrick’s dad’s on January 3 because so many people are already rushed to visit on the 24th and 25th, and my mother-in-law loves to include everyone. She’s pretty awesome that way.

    Just to add an affordable camera choice to your list: Canon PowerShot AS2300IS Looks like it is marked down to just below $100 right now. I absolutely love the quality of the pictures. It doesn’t zoom that well, but is a great little point and shoot camera with high quality pictures.

    Your Android tablet should be fine for updating your website while traveling. I haven’t had any problems with wordpress on my tablet, and I’ve been testing it pretty thoroughly preparing for our trip. Yes I realize it’s still several months away 😉 I bought a bluetooth keyboard for mine in attempt to make typing easier. It’s ok, but it doesn’t keep up with my typing speed that well. I wouldn’t necessarily recommend it, but I wouldn’t talk someone out of getting it, ya know.

    Speaking of our trip!! Try to keep a day or two open to visit us in Romania in May 🙂 (Or in The Netherlands during the first five days of June. We should have an empty sofa in Dordrecht! haha)

  12. Cheryl Cholley

    Great take on the issue of stuff. Tom and I have now officially left our home behind and are in the process of weeding out the stuff we brought that we don’t really need. Like twelve pairs of socks, etc. I knew this would happen, but we just couldn’t resist hauling along all that stuff. Cross your fingers and hope we manage to reduce the load of stuff soon…very soon.

    1. Wandering Earl

      Hey Cheryl – For most of us it takes some time to reduce stuff. After all, we spend so many years with so much stuff that it’s hard to just snap our fingers and make most of it disappear instantly. It will happen over time!

  13. George Bezushko

    Earl, just wondering, although you’ve written about it before: At $13/day, how often do you use the Telecomsquare Mobile Wifi Router?

    1. Wandering Earl

      Hey George – It depends but for example, when I was leading a tour across Mexico for 14 days, I used it for that time as it was important for me to get my work done wherever our group was during that trip. So usually for periods of around two weeks where I really need to be connected.

  14. Scott

    I have the Panasonic ZS30, love it….had the ZS20 before it, also love it…took all my recent pics from Bavaria/Austria/Slovakia with it, and am really happy that I didn’t have to drag along my big Panasonic…excellent choice!
    Also, have to say that I used my iPhone 5 a lot for pics, and was just as good…for most

    1. Wandering Earl

      Hey Scott – Glad to see another fan of this camera series…I’m not sure I’ve ever met any owner of the ZS20 or ZS30 who doesn’t love it!

  15. Katie

    Witches Rock Surf Camp in Tamarindo, Costa Rica for the last week of 2013! I leave tomorrow and I’m so excited! My fourth trip there. I highly recommend it if you are ever in Costa Rica 🙂

  16. Dominic Cowell

    I very nearly bought a Nexus 5 myself for my trip that starts in 4 days. I ended up deciding against it merely to save some money. I’ll be bringing my Android tablet with me to update my website, which I’m hoping will work fairly well. I hope to receive an xShot camera extender for Christmas (they are not as well known in the UK, by the way!)

    Also happen to own a Lumix TZ40 camera (ZS30, to you) and it is definitely an excellent piece of kit, although the WiFi feature could be better executed. The GPS feature is particularly useful though (at last, I know WHERE I took that photo!)

  17. wong kae chee

    Hi ..I have enjoy all your musings and picked up lots of sound advice. I am heading for Kerala, India this year-end into early 2014. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

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