The Flashpacking Wife continues to amaze me. While raising two energetic boys and changing careers, she’s managed to get in a lot of travel on the side (sometimes even dragging me along with her).
And for those of you who wonder how on earth you’re supposed to change a baby in an airplane bathroom, wonder no more! She’s written a comprehensive survival guide for those of us crazy enough to board a plane with a baby in one arm and a carry-on stuffed with baby wipes and mum-mums in the other. And as her husband and rabid fan, I sincerely encourage you to purchase a copy immediately.
It’s called The No-Nonsense Guide to Surviving Travel with Baby, and actually, I’d buy it even if I wasn’t married to the author. Seriously, for the price of stopping at the Starbucks in the airport, you’ll get dozens of tricks that can save you hours of wishing you were dead while other parents give you pitying looks (and non-parents try to murder you with their eyes). Why wouldn’t you?
If you’re not the type to go throwing your money at things like eBooks (though seriously, why wouldn’t you? Do it!), there’s still hope in the form of a brilliant packing checklist for travel with baby that you can download for free. Free! Seriously, do it now.
That’s her, pictured with our son Enzo. Do I have a beautiful family or what?
Sometimes it’s hard to come up with superlatives on a long trip: best beach, best view, best hotel. But sometimes the best is just SO best that it’s undeniable — and Italy serves up just such a superlative experience for Lindsie and I when we arrive in Volpaia one stormy night.
We’re here on a mission, and Volpaia’s renowned La Bodega restaurant is our chosen battleground.
Ever since we arrived in Italy, we’ve marveled at the number of courses on the menus: antipasti, first course, second course, dessert. Throw in apertif, wine, digestif, and coffee, and you have a truly insane amount of food and drink to consume. Every time we’ve gone out, we’ve exercised restraint and ordered a single course — but tonight is the one night we’re planning to throw caution (and our waistlines) to the winds. Continue reading In Search of Tuscany’s Best Meal — and Best Olive
Today is the birthday of Lindsie — the flashpacking wife who has been my best friend, constant companion, shoulder to cry on, partner in crime, sugar mama, and often saviour on this amazing trip.
Lindsie and I got married last July, and after a three-week honeymoon in Costa Rica, we knew that we needed to do this for WAY more than three weeks.
Since then, we’ve been on a yearlong epic trip that has taken us to Thailand, Malaysia, Bali, Cambodia, Australia, Germany, France, England, Scotland, and Italy… and there are five sweet months to go.
Honestly, I can’t imagine anyone else in the world that I could spend every single day with for seven months. But Lindsie, with you, I wish every one of these days could last forever.
Seven months into this incredible trip, I’ve taken a lot of pictures of this incredible woman… so here’s a little retrospective of some moments I’ll always treasure.
Happy birthday, sweetheart.
Continue reading Happy Birthday Flashpacking Wife!
It’s a sunny Monday morning and I’m in a parking lot east of Sydney, crawling through a campervan with a bleary-eyed employee of Camperman Australia.
“Here are the towels,” she tells me, her voice set on a pleasant sort of autopilot. “Sleeping bags. Cushions. Bucket. Microwave only works if the van’s plugged in. Engine’s under the passenger seat. Turn the propane off when you drive. Always put the radiator cap on tight.”
“Under the passenger seat?” I ask, not sure I’ve heard right. “Really?”
“Okay then,” I reply.
“Here’s your keys. See you in two weeks.”
I test the key in the ignition and the van fires to life. A large yellow arrow mounted over the speedometer reminds me to KEEP LEFT. And moments later, after five sleepy weeks surfing and writing and sipping tea and watching DVDs, I’m westbound on the expressway back into Sydney at the wheel of a turtle-top Toyota Hilux loaded with gas, propane, water, bedding, pots, pans, and a vague smell of evil that I’m pretty sure is emanating from the mini-fridge. Continue reading Campervanning Australia: Holes in the desert, skulls in the outback, and the return of Captain Ahab
Photo by Gaetan Lee.
News flash: Lindsie and I have “champagne tastes.”
That’s according to Kate Scroggins, a reporter from Canadian Press who was kind enough to interview us via Skype while we were staying in Singapore a few days.
The story is out on the CP newswire and has already been picked up on Yahoo News, Canoe, MSN, Canada East, The Chronicle Herald, and a bunch of others. I’m enjoying being famous for a few seconds.
The headline about “champagne tastes” is well timed, too, as we’re in France right now and just finished visiting the famous and amazing caves of Champagne. Total coincidence. Stay tuned for France blog posts.
And just for the record, I gave that quote about us being “less focused on drinking” shortly after a five-day bender in Queensland, Australia — a week like that would leave anyone in a… puritanical state of mind.
I’m happy to report that things are back to normal, though. We tasted fifteen French wines yesterday, including an astonishingly perfect Volnay Les Mitans Premier Cru. I’m changing this blog’s tagline to “Pack light and carry an aspirin.”
Returning to Bangkok for a five-day layover after four months in Asia is a great experience — we’re so immersed in the culture and rules of engagement here that we’re able to enjoy the town on our terms, rather than cower in fear at the mercy of the touts, hawkers, and scammers.
We dine on street noodles, get massages, and even brave a tailor’s shop to have a suit and a silk dress tailored, with great results.
This time around, my three favorite spots in Bangkok are:
- The Hotel Atlanta. Mad art deco hotel with zero tolerance for sex tourists, and it’s right in Sukhumvit. Amazing food too, and a pool, all for $25 a night. (It’s well hidden at the end of an alley; the sign out front says, This is the place you are looking for — if you know it. If you don’t, you’ll never find it.)
- Little Arabia. After a meal of butter chicken, I smoke a shisha, drink a lassi, and watch men walk past in sheik-style desert robes. Amazing.
- Mahboonkrong. MBK is the mother of all malls, though a big white guy like me has to shop around a lot to find anything that fits. But there are movies, food, clothes, electronics, books, and killer foot rubs. And air con.
And then, before we know it, our four months in Asia are finished and we’re on the red-eye to Sydney. Continue reading Sydney: giant bats, tiger pies, and the relentless pursuit of wifi
Photo by normalityrelief.
Want to quit your day job, work online, and travel the world?
Or maybe just step up your game from grungy backpacking or two-week vacationing to a lightweight, high-tech travel style that lets you work, play, and see the world with minimal burdens and maximum fun?
If you’re anything like me, of course you do.
And if I can do it, you certainly can. You just need the desire to see it through and a plan to make it happen. That’s what got me doing this, and it’s what can turn you into a flashpacker too. Continue reading Guide to Flashpacking — or, Who Wants a Flashpacker Book?
We step off the Air Asia plane onto scorching tarmac. Moments earlier, my first impression of Cambodia was of endless rice fields and scattered palms beneath the plane as we descended; now my second impression is of a blistering sun firing off waves of heat that bring beads of sweat to my skin within seconds once we’re off the plane.
Customs and immigration are surprisingly smooth and professional, and soon we’re walking toward the exit. As we pass through the glass doors, I brace myself for the throng of aggressive touts and tuk-tuk drivers I’ve come to expect outside Asian airports… Continue reading Cambodia: Temples, Graves, Monsoons, Snakes, and Fried Spiders
The minivan shows up in the parking lot of Green View Village at six in the morning.
This feels like a truly ungodly hour — we’ve been wandering and shopping a bit at night, sleeping late, spending mornings close to the fan in the bungalow, so we’re completely unaccustomed to an early rise.
We have a quiet breakfast of peanut butter sandwiches by ourselves on the steps of the restaurant, then dance around waving at mosquitoes until the van arrives.
Packed in with a sleepy, silent mix of travelers and locals, we doze and read and watch the scenery all the way to the (nearly) border town of Hat Yai, where we transfer to a bus. Hat Yai is bigger, uglier, and more raw than anything we’ve seen lately. Continue reading Mall madness in Kuala Lumpur! Balinese volcanoes! And… a smorgasbord of travel ailments!
Travel really starts feeling like travel after a month goes by. You wake up in a bungalow without that where-am-I moment and realize that this is home for the foreseeable future. It feels good.
Lindsie and I start feeling this way on Ko Lanta, where we pass an agreeable nine days or so swimming and wandering and watching tourists tan themselves to the colour of fried chicken. Sure, we spend time in the sun ourselves and are going a nice toasted-sourdough hue ourselves, but these people are fanatics. They burn hell out of their face and chest all morning, then flip over and somehow lie on the seared flesh while their backs cook. We walk by in awe and reapply sunscreen. Continue reading Ao Nang: Elephants, Waterfights, Thunderstorms, and Ear Trouble