Have Dental Floss, Will Travel

Mapping the world, one waxy strand at a time…

Adventuring on a shoestring…

When Brent and I first met (five years ago this week!  Craziness…), he wooed me with tales of international adventure.  He’d climbed volcanoes in Guatemala, taught SCUBA in the Caribbean, been stalked by hyenas in Kenya, ran the Inca Trail in Peru, dived along Australia’s Great Barrier Reef, Kibbutzed in Israel, ate schwarma in Egypt and ostrich in Botswana  – the list went on and on…

But the most amazing part of it all was his philosophy when it came to circling the globe: travel light, travel simple, and travel cheap.  As he once told me, beaming with pride, “I spent three months in Peru and Bolivia on less than $1,000, including my plane ticket!”

My own international experience paled in comparison to my new friend’s, but since we got together, I’ve wholly embraced this mode of travel.  It’s allowed us to backpack through parts of Europe on two separate occasions, spend a summer road tripping through New England, and conquer the Andes, often spending the same amount abroad that we would have in our day-to-day lives here in Philadelphia.

So, in honor of the eighth day of Chanukah, here is a rundown of eight holiday gift ideas for the adventurer on a shoestring in us all (um, just in time for next year’s festival of lights?)…

(1) Lonely Planet.  It doesn’t matter where you’re going or what you’re doing.  Lonely Planet travel guides (lovingly referred to by Brent and his old roommate as the “Helping Friendly” books – can anyone name the reference?) will get you where you want to go.  Designed for the independently-minded traveler, these books give you the lay of the land, and they provide endless food, lodging, and activity options for a variety of budgets.  We’ve found them better for international travel than domestic.

Check out a selection from our current stash:

(2) Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soap.  Save money, space, and weight by combining your shampoo, soap, and laundry detergent into one travel-sized bottle.  Rumor has it that Dr. B’s can also be used as toothpaste, but I haven’t ventured over there yet.  I will say that when we were hiking through the Dolomites, we swapped out this magic soap for dish detergent.  It served its purpose – though it left my skin a bit sudsy…

(3) A light-weight stove (and the requisite pot and fuel).  Sure, going out to eat is part of the traveling experience, but sometimes, it’s nice to cook a meal for yourself – whether on a guest house floor, on top of a mountain, or inside your tent…

For those feeling particularly creative, try making a stove out of an old tin can.  Just be careful – when it comes to tin-can stoves, not all fuel is created equal (as we learned this past summer when we nearly burned down a small hut on a three-day trek through the Andes).

(4) A headlamp.   Those spontaneous middle-of-the-night mountain summits are free and provide hours of quad-crunching entertainment…

(5) A light-weight pack, preferably no bigger than 3,000 cubic inches in capacity.  The smaller your pack, the less you can spend on souvenirs!  We made it through a month of Italian adventures with a combined 35-ish pounds on our backs (not counting the food and water we carried during our eight days of hiking).

(6) Ch-ch-ch-chocolate.   Don’t get seduced by those fancy, expensive trail snacks.  Jumbo chocolate bars turn into nectar of the hiking Gods when you’re out for a several-hour adventure.  We summited the highest peak in Germany on two chocolate bars, a few bananas, and a couple waxy bonbell cheese wheels from the neighborhood grocery store.

(7) A lightweight sleeping bag – just in case you find yourself holed up for the night on a bathroom floor…

(8) And of course, a trusty spool of dental floss.  You never know when it might come in handy…

Happy Trails!


10 responses to “Adventuring on a shoestring…

  1. Mallory December 8, 2010 at 8:59 am

    Cool entry! Sounds like you two have a lot of fun! Happy 5 years!!

  2. Mallory December 8, 2010 at 9:16 am

    Just saw your comment, thanks! Yes actually, I have two good ab exercises that I did last night. Hopefully I can explain them well enough because I don’t remember the technical terms 🙂
    1. Sit down with feet flat on the floor and knees together. Lean back a little and pick your feet up, keeping feet & knees together still and hold a medicine ball. Take the medicine ball from side to side, keep your eyes on the ball and do it for 30 seconds. Does that make any sense?
    2. (I like this one better!) Start in the plank position and then one hand at a time, push yourself into a pushup position, then one arm at a time, back down into the plank position. Do that for 30 seconds.
    He had me alternate the two going back to back to back to back and when I was done my abs were screamin! But I can totally see how it works!

  3. Laurie December 8, 2010 at 10:49 am

    This post makes me laugh because it reminded me of this: A few summers ago we went on a bike trip. We only took what we absolutely needed — I had a small backpack and a trunk rack, Bill got to pull a trailer, so we tried to lighten the load as much as possible. We mostly camped but stayed with a friend one night up near Scranton and thus got to do actual laundry. About 40 miles into the next day’s ride I realized that I’d left all of my stuff in the dryer, leaving me with the single set bike clothes on my person and bike shoes to wear. Eventually we made it to a town big enough where I got a second bike outfit and a shirt and shorts, but I remember pulling over on the road, tearing through our stuff, hoping, hoping that somehow my clothes had taken it upon themseleves to get up out of the dryer and into my backpack. At the time, I wasn’t amused, but now I am!

    • Abby December 8, 2010 at 9:59 pm

      Ha! I’ve never left a whole outfit, but I’ve definitely lost t-shirts and socks to hotel sink laundry days 🙂 I guess one of the risks of traveling light is needing to pick up replacements a little more than you might otherwise.

  4. denise December 8, 2010 at 12:22 pm

    love the ideas!!! i run with a woman from time to time who uses chocolate as her food choice during marathons and races. that might be worth looking into since i’m pretty sure i would never be too sick to eat a peanut butter m&m.

  5. janae@hungryrunnergirl.com December 8, 2010 at 1:12 pm

    I WANT YOUR LIFE!!! Brent is quite the adventurer (not a word, oops). Loved all the pics and awesome tips on how to save money. I need to start traveling more. Less than 1,000 dollars. That is awesome. P.S. glad you caught my sisterhood reference ha! How was your run in the woods?

    • Abby December 8, 2010 at 3:38 pm

      Other than some wheezy lungs (it’s COLD out there!), it was a great run! New running buddy, new combination of trails, all within half a mile from home – the perfect start to the day. Thanks for asking 🙂

  6. Angela Kidd December 8, 2010 at 5:22 pm

    So cool that you guys are able to see the world the way you are. David and I would kill each other if we were travel that way.

    And I loved your post about frozen yogurt below. I totally get it. For me, I have to go the grocery store every where we go and compare them. I love grocery stores.

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