Monday, December 22, 2014

Leave That, Take This

It's finally here, the day you've been waiting for. Your stuff is all there, ready to go, it's been checked, and double checked, and unpacked and repacked 100 times in the last month, trying not to forget anything. You're about to leave but your your backpack wont shut, somethings wrong, shoot it just closed yesterday, you've got to leave something, but what?! Well you've got to bring your laptop, that's obvious, and your boom box, 7 pairs of shoes, duh. What about the comb, I could always get a new comb right? Ya leave the comb, take the shoes it'll all  be good, now if I could just find some place for this acoustic guitar...

When you're getting ready to travel, one of the biggest obstacles to figure out is, "Exactly what the f$%# am I gonna need?" You may be only leaving for a few months, or maybe even a few years, but the struggle is always the same, unless you travel like the Kardashians you come to the conclusion that you need to carry everything you own, in one backpack. So how do you do it? Can it even be done? Obviously theres no right, perfect way to pack, it's different for each person based on their needs and how long they're going for, but there's definitely a WRONG way to pack. So heres my little list from experience of what is absolutely essential, and what you should just throw back in storage. 

Don't Bring: A Computer
Before I left for Australia I was considering bringing my brand new Macbook Air with me, though I miss the large spacious keyboard and the sexy sleekness, it would have been a terrible mistake. Though most of the people you meet while traveling are friendly and inviting, there's always bound to be some rotten eggs, and nothing gets scum bags frothing like that little white apple. It's also a matter of convenience, ya it's great to have your computer, but when your constantly moving around and staying in different places all the time it's just one more thing to keep track of, and one that you definitely wouldn't want to lose. When it comes to electronics and travel my rule is if losing it would make me cry, probably don't bring it. 

Do Bring: A Tablet
The irony of this is of course now that I'm blogging for Elite Daily it would be 1000 times easier for word processing purposes if I had my laptop, but assuming your just traveling and blogging for fun, tablet is the way to go. I purchased my refurbished Ipad Mini for about $200 and bought a bluetooth keyboard on groupon for another $25. That being said I would still be pissed if I lost it, but not to the extent of heartbreak with my Macbook Air. Tablets are super cheap and affordable these days, and with wifi compatibility, its all you need to skype family and friends back home. Plus they are small and pretty durable depending on the brand, I carry mine with me in my day bag and it barely takes up any space at all. For some great places to get a cheap tablet check out the groupon app, or visit (, they always have great deals on tech. 

Don't Bring: Your electric toothbrush
I made this mistake of originally bringing my $150 cybersonic, gum disease controling, 1000 rpm, tooth whitening system, with a total of about... one replacement head. My thought process was, "I'm going to a first world country, it'll be super easy to find replacements and charging will be a breeze." There's a few problems with that:
1. You never know where you'll be staying, I lived in a small beach town for two months where the closest grocery store was 30 minutes away.
2. Depending on where you stay you never know if you'll even have access to an outlet to charge that bad boy, and even if you do you'd probably risk infection by leaving it out in the open.
3. The rest of the world seemingly doesn't give a damn about dental hygiene. This is not a stereotype if it's true, yes the UK has the bad reputation but pretty much all of Europe needs to learn what floss is. So even if you do happen upon a bigger pharmacy or store, odds are they might not have your brand of 3000 watt replacement brush heads anyway.

Do Bring: Floss, mouthwash, etc. 
I didn't realize how important dental hygiene really was until I started traveling. This has nothing to do with the awesome people you meet and how great of human beings they may be, but for some reason the rest of the world doesn't seem to care about having pearly whites. Say what you will about Americans, we may be fat, dumb and lazy, but we paid $8000 for braces and another $2000 to get those SOB's bleached whiter than Michael Jackson! But in all honestly seeing the lack of care people give to their teeth that I've met, I'd implore you to stick with the basics but make sure you use all of them. Everyday I brush, floss, and use whitening mouthwash, and trust me, it makes a difference, and those throw away toothbrushes are cheap.

Don't Bring: A whole mess load of clothes
On the day I was leaving for my trip I felt pretty darn proud of myself. I had narrowed down my entire wardrobe for the next year (or more) to just under two dozen clothing items (between mostly shirts, jeans, shorts, jackets, etc.). I had read a lot of blogs about how to back, what to bring and what not to bring before hand and I thought I was pretty spot on. Five months later I've almost doubled my wardrobe, but I've been living in the same house so I haven't had to worry about stuffing it all back in my bag (it's not all gonna fit incase your wondering). The bottom line is no matter how little you bring, it's almost always too much if your bag is full when you walk out the door. It's super easy to find cheap clothes and cool tshirts in markets that you might have to turn down otherwise because you know you won't be able to fit them. My advice take half of what you think you need, wait a couple days then half that again. 

Do Bring: A whole bunch of undies (and socks)
The complete opposite of this holds true for underwear and socks. Not that it's impossible to find underwear and socks overseas, but I'm very particular about my underwear and socks, and just like back home they have a strange knack for going missing. Also, you'd be amazed how much wear and tear you can put on some undies and how many holes you'll get in your socks when you don't have a few dozen to "share the load" if you will. On a personal note I love atheltic briefs, they give you some breathing room, they're super comfy, and they dry extremely quick (something you take for granted until you have to use a clothes line.)

Don't Bring: Fancy hair, face and body products
Now I can't speak fully on this topic because currently I look like a hippie-jesus, cave man, but there was a time when I put a lot of thought and effort into my appearance. If you're only traveling for a few weeks or a few months, you can probably mostly ignore this advice, because you can probably scrape by using a little less makeup, or hair gel here and there. But for those of you going for the long haul I would advise that with the unpredictability of traveling, the desire to be perfectly quaffed and groomed, usually starts to fade away pretty quickly when you're on the road. This is not to say don't stick to the essentials (i.e. deodorant, maybe some foundation for the ladies) but realize in the grand scheme of things nobody really cares but you that you haven't washed your hair for a week. 

Do Bring: Sunscreen, bug spray, and first aid kit
If you are planning on traveling to Australia especially this first one is a MUST! They have a freaking hole in the ozone here (like a real one not an Al Gore one), and they charge $16 a bottle for sunscreen because they can. I was outside riding my bike one day for about an hour in a tank top, and I couldn't fully move my lobster arms for about 3 days. The other ones are just convenient because it's not something you ever think about until you need it. You never agree to take a weekend camping trip and your first thought is, "Oh I better pick up some OFF!". No, you get out to the bush and if no one has any to spare you become a human buffett.

Don't Bring: Thick Winter Gear
Now obviously Australia doesn't have a "Winter", like we know back home (I grew up in Chicago), but it still gets pretty damn cold, cold enough you want more than a hoodie. The thing is coats take up a lot of space in a bag and even if you do show up in the middle of winter they are only of use to you for a couple of weeks. The better thing to do is start familiarizing yourself with online community trading sites (kind of like craigslist, but less creepy). In Australia there are a few but the main one in Gumtree. Basically when you start to travel you realize there are a lot of other people out there just like you, who are willing to sell you slightly used goods for a fair price simply to break even. None of us are here to make money but I make a couple extra bucks for my travels to asia, and you get a sweet discount on a coat to go snowboarding with, easy. There's no reason to lug that stuff around with you for a whole year, when odds are you'll only need it for a small portion of your trip. 

Do Bring: Layers
When I originally flew into Sydney it was cold and disgusting out, I didn't have a proper jacket, but what I did have was a long sleeve shirt, a hoodie, and a windbreaker. Each individually not all that warm, but together their powers combined to be a perfect "make-shift" jacket for whenever the cold got a little out of hand. The  key here is trying to find stuff that's really all weather, so instead of one huge down jacket I could only use in 40 degrees or less, I had a big fluffy hoodie and an all weather wind breaker. Combined they basically turned into a full down coat but take up only half as much space. If you want other travel light ideas like this I'm a huge fan of REI stores ( They got me setup with a lot of travel gear and the staff is extremely helpful if you give them a general idea of where your going.   

For this last one I don't really have a don't bring to go along with it. But having bounced around from some hostels and share houses while traveling I can tell you this is one that no one ever mentioned when I was reading travel blogs and is highly underrated. 

Do Bring: A set of travel plates/utensils
Before I left I was in that same store (REI) in the camping department and I saw this really cool whole set of collapsable utensils, plates, bowls etc. that you could easily fit in your bag. I thought it looked great but was a little impractical, unless you were well... camping. This is the one thing I most regret not buying before I left!!! If you're traveling for a short time you'll be staying in hostels and silverware and plates are like gold! If you're traveling for a long time at some point you will probably have roommates who are disgusting and dont wash their damn dishes and having your own set would be priceless! Again this seems like something you might never need but I assure you anyone who's traveled long enough has probably had to eat a steak with a spoon, and it's not until you do that do you realize how nice it would be to have some cutlery of your own.

The point is there's no right way to pack for long term travel, but there can certainly be a wrong way. To anyone who's already on the road, or planning on going back soon I hope maybe you picked up a pointer or two you hadn't yet considered. For anyone thinking about traveling for the first time, consider this a starting point, keep reading and discovering more, and remember no matter how much you plan at some point in your trip you will say the magic words, "Why the F%$& did I bring THIS?!". But  that's more than alright, that's exactly how it should be. Safe travels everyone and if you liked this and want to read more follow me on my blog ( If you want to help boost my twitter rank (@logansdownunder), do that too, also there's instagram (@logandownunder), facebook (Logan Emmett), etc. Bon Voyage!!!!

Thursday, December 18, 2014

6 reasons to quit your job and start traveling... now!

When I told people I was leaving the country to work and travel abroad in Australia for a year (maybe longer), most people were very encouraging. A few thought I was crazy, but the majority simply said something to the effect of, "that's so awesome, I wish I could do something like that". Well after 6 months of being on my own down under, I'm here to tell you, YOU CAN and YOU SHOULD! The only thing holding any of us back from globe trotting, and following our wanderlusting hearts is ourselves. So I present to you: "The 6 reasons to quit your job, and start traveling... now". 

1. Time is Our Only Real Asset:
I know a lot of people I went to school with have been fed the same garbage I was, since I was a small child (not by my parents but by society as a whole). "You can be whatever you want to be... until you realize that you can't and now you need to get a real job and start making a living for yourself". While obviously it's true that most of us will not be movie stars, and astronauts, and at some point we have to accept this inevitability; it doesn't mean we can't lead lives outside 9-5, 401k, and social security. As we start to grow older and come to the conclusion that maybe our childhood fantasies aren't realistic it seems a lot of us unfortunately settle. We don't realize that we can adjust our dreams, we don't have to give up on them all together. Now this is not to say my lifestyle is glamorous, and I have a lot more I want to do and accomplish, but the first step was breaking away from where I was. That doesn't mean you have to move to another continent, but move somewhere. If you've been with the same company for ten years and you see another 30 in your future and that scares the shit out of you... quit. Money isn't everything and saving a bunch of it won't make you happier. You can buy almost everything you want with enough money, but you can't by back your youth. You can't take back the time you spent in the office instead of on the beach, or in the mountains, or kayaking down the river. The key is having enough faith in yourself and your skill set that you are confident you can get work elsewhere. You may have always wanted to live in Colorado in the mountains, but you've got seniority at your office. I implore you take the pay cut and take a chance to go somewhere new. That way when you do get to spend your free time, you're doing it somewhere you love (and weed is legal there so, bonus!). 

2. Traveling Helps You Learn About Yourself:
"You think you know, but you have no idea." Anyone from my generation knows this iconic line from the Real World, but nothing makes life more real than venturing out to find yourself. You think you love chain restaurants and comfortalbe seating, until you've pushed your way through a eclectic night market shoving food into your mouth off a paper plate trying not to get knocked over. You think you know your coffee of choice, until you come to a place where coffee is an art form. A place where no one drinks "drip", and you are quickly educated on the subtle yet vital differences (and not everything is fucking pumpkin flavored). Most importantly, you think you know who you are and have some idea of your boundaries. That is until you start to say yes to things, and end up on a back alley adventure, or stumble into a random bar to see ten trannys walking around in Christmas attire, with one lip synching Maria Carey's "I don't want a lot for Christmas". You think you know, but you have no idea...

3. Traveling Opens the Boundary of Your Comfort Zone:
Believe it or not I'm not much of a risk taker and I happen to like my little safety bubble like the rest of us. But when you travel you meet people who will change your perspective on life and how it is meant to be lead. You realize there are things more important than money, and security, like adventure and experience. These people are the 20-somethings, who lead a life of invincibility, to them there is no tomorrow, no bad decisions in the past, only the present. I still struggle to live my life in the moment as much as some people I've met, but you can be sure I'm doing a lot better than I was before. 

4. You Never Know What Opportunities May Present Themselves:
When you make a decision to stop leading your "normal life" and start traveling you open yourself up to a world you never knew existed before. If you are usually not so great in social situations you can start to push the boundaries of the norm. Any kid who's ever moved as a child knows, that it's kind of nice to be able to push the reset button on who you are. You can reinvent yourself into the type of person you've always wanted to be. Well take that, and multiply it by a 1000 when it comes to traveling. Not every person who sets out to see the world is an adventurer, but when you talk to people on the road you see who they really are, not who they've been trained to be by habit and circumstance. And by opening yourself up and communicating and meeting as many new people as possible you never know what could happen. I've met so many people from around the world out here I have places to stay all over Europe should I ever chose to backpack my way out there. I've also met people who've gotten jobs, started exciting new relationships, and made tons of new life long friendships, it's all out there you just have to be open to it. 

5. Worst Case Your Job Will Be There When You Get Back:
Obviously this isn't always the case, but for most of us in our early to mid-20's right now is the time where if you do have an office job you will be starting to work your way up, which basically means you're at the bottom. And while experience is good, don't take for granted the fact that some employers value life experience just as much as work experience. Best case scenario, you have a year or two sabitcal and come back to your old job where your boss loves the fact that you've seen the world and wants you to lead his/her new division. Worst case, you get a job doing the same thing you were doing before you left, but now you have some life experience under your belt. You have a better understanding of people and the way the world really is. You can then use all this new found practical knowledge, and you make your way up through the ranks faster than if you had stayed put in the first place, and you got to see the world. 

6. The Future is Uncertain: 
Every day there is another engagement or baby popping up on my Facebook feed. Everyday someone has passed the Bar Exam, or gotten their real estate license, or got that promotion. From what I've come to realize the two biggest things that hold us back from packing up and going, are fear of the unknown, and complacency/success. Fear of the unknown obviously being, what will happen if I leave all this security behind, I have a good job, making decent money and potentially a bright future. Complacency and success aren't usually used together, but this would quantify a number of things from promotions, to engagements, to babies, whatever comes along in our life that makes us feel as if we need to be complacent where we are. 
"Well I can't leave now I'm up for that promotion." 
"We've been dating for three years, it's probably time to get engaged, but I can't travel and be worried about a wedding."
"O shit, we're pregnant."
Now where the last reason may be a valid reason to stay put (or in some cases to get the next plane out of town), there's a number of reasons we rationalize why we have to stay in our current situation. But the future is uncertain, your company could fold, your significant other could leave you, and maybe that baby doesn't look very much like you. The point is if you keep making excuses about what could happen you will miss opportunities to make things happen yourself. 

So get out there! If you've always wanted to hike K-2 go for it, if Australia is your dream destination, meet me here and we'll go for a drink. If you have no idea where you want to go, spin a globe put your finger down, and book the next flight out of dodge. The longer you wait the more things you will accumulate that will be harder to leave behind. It's easy to break a lease, it's a lot harder when you have a mortgage. Just take a risk, fly by the seat of your pants, and know that everything you leave behind will still be there, if/when you choose to come back. The world is out there for you to explore, you just have to go... now!

Monday, December 1, 2014


I don't know if I should write anything about this, actually I definitely shouldn't. I'm a white middle-class American, I may not have ever won the Powerball but I definitely won the genetic and origin lottery. When you grow up in a white middle-class suburb it's almost impossible to imagine people aren't privileged in the same way you are. Alll of your friends are from a similar upbringing, all of their parents live little cookie cutter lives, and it's easy to get lost in the safety and simplicity of suburbia. That being said once you've moved or experienced something outside this existence it's easy to see that you are in fact in the great minority. 

Now I truly believe America is the land of opportunity and no matter where you are born or what circumstances you are born into you can make it out and be a success. It's just a lot, LOT harder for some people than others. We've come along way in the last 50-60 years and we like to think of ourselves as extremely tolerant and understanding now, but the truth is not too many generations ago the world was a very different place. And while technology and inter connectivity have expanded our lives and our understanding and appreciation of different cultures and people, it's impossible for people to change over night. We still live in a world filled with racial intolerance, and hatred towards those we may deem immoral in their practices, and this goes both ways. Black people can have just as many prejudices as whites, who can have just as many as latinos, but we're starting to move away from it. The key with evolution is passing along traits, birds didn't evolve into flight from one ancestor to another, it took years and generation upon generation of mutations passed down. That's what we need to continue to do with our youth and continue to instill in ourselves and maybe someday we can truly live in a world without preconceived notions and ideals. (hopefully the world will not be destroyed of all natural resources by then). 

I read something interesting today, and it's basically what spawned this desire to write something outside of my normal travel blog. Chris Rock recently did an interview in which he stated that Black People aren't now accomplishing more, White people are simply nicer now. It's a pretty dramatic statement but not to far from the truth. Basically what he was getting at was in our society, in White American Society, whites have held all the cards and controlled the playing field for, while, forever. He was saying that many who see having a Black President as a huge step forward for Black Americans are missing the point. He's saying we`re finally letting them have a President. There were plenty of qualified Black political leaders in the last 100 years (Colin Powells almost campaign comes to mind), but from Rock's perspective it wasn't that they weren't qualified to hold the position, it's that those who were, and are in control, wouldn't let them. It's a double edged sword, it's not exactly a total shot at White Americans but it's definitely not a compliment. But in this interview I can see the silver lining, and I think because I was born with the priviledge, and skin color that Mr. Rock was not, I think I can say certain things he might not be able to get away with. Basically we are on the cusp of crossing a momumental boundary. There was a lot of things wrong with the baby boomers, and Gen-X, and by no means are we "Millenials" any better, but what we are, is progressive. Some people take that as a negative stereotype, "those kids don't care about anything", but really it means we've become open to more. We didn't live the hard knock life of the depressions, and World Wars, and Vietnam, and we've had time to dwell on things that aren't a focus when life is in turmoil, and society is challenged. 

That's why our generation is worried about Global Warming, and animal cruelty, and probably even part of the reason we like terrible, crappy, CRAPPY music. But overall it's a good thing, it's given us time to care about those less fortunate than us, to believe in something other than religion, and patriotism (cornerstones of a country in war, or economic distress), it's given us time to care about people. More and more of my friends have slowly moved away from organized religion and pre-selected notions we were taught as children, not because the pride comes before the fall, but rather because without troubles in our lives to worry us we've had time to puzzle other deeper questions. We've examined what is inherently right and wrong, and we've come to the conclusion that people, shouldn't be judged because they're different, because they're gay, or poor, or black, or brown, or purple. This age of technological freedom has opened the doors for discussions that in the past would be pushed behind closed doors. You  can now reach the world with the click of an "Enter" key, and for all the negatives placed upon my generation, the one thing they can't argue with is we've created a voice. I just hope we continue to use it for the good and betterment of the world we live in, as we have children of our own, and pass down our beliefs and ideals we will see the departure of the previous generations. Those who were close-minded who came before us, and created this world that Mr. Rock was referring too, soon enough they will be gone. It will be up to us to continue to carry that torch in the right direction, so someday it won't be an issue of "white people being nicer now", that will simply be the way society is. Or not, we could definitely fuck this whole thing up to... but here's hoping, fingers crossed!