thou shall covet thou neighbors wifi!

I’m sure everyone can relate here.

You check into your hostel/hotel/guesthouse which proudly proclaims it has wifi, only to find out that it sucks. And you just paid for the next four nights here. Damn.

But there is hope. Although your guesthouse has a wireless connection akin to tin cans on a piece of string, the hostel or hotel next door also has wifi. Could it be that their wifi trumps majorly over yours? Maybe. If it does your in luck, because your getting full bars from their connection from your room. And you get an inkling feeling that a hotel which looks as good as it does from the outside must have a fast connection…hmm. What to do?

Well, obviously you’re not happy paying for the $80 a night rooms next door, as much as you love wifi. You much prefer your $8 four post bed and four walls. But, if only there was a way one could tap into that sweet, sweet connection without needing to pay for the room?

Well, there is.

I came across this strategy of sorts whilst staying here in Unawatuna, on the South coast of Sri Lanka. I didn’t personally partake in it, but I was told all about it by the friendly owner of my family-run guesthouse. And if I’m ever in a such a similar situation again in the future I know I’ll try this.

My situation down here is not exactly as I’ve described above, purely for the fact that my guesthouse never claimed it had wifi. But it does. You’re confused.

Basically, my guesthouse doesn’t have wifi, in the sense that they own the wifi connection.

But the hotel next door does. And we can pick up on the signal here. And we know the password. And man is it an amazingly fast connection!

How did we get the password?

Well, a couple of guests a couple of years back cooked up a nice strategy, executed with finesse, and passed on the fruits of their exploits to the owner of the guesthouse, and him to me and everyone who ever stays here. They basically went to the hotel next door for a drink or two. Being patrons of the establishment they then inquired as to the wifi password. The password given graciously. After sipping forever on their $12 drinks they then paid their bills and left. But they took something with them back to the guesthouse next door. Specifically the wifi password.

Two years later the password still works. And boy am I glad. “The wifi here is the fastest in Sri Lanka”, is what you’ll often hear me tell people that ask me where I’m staying. And I stand by that. I do.

So next time you are in a similar situation do as these guys did. Go to the establishment for a drink or meal and ask for the password. Then write that bad boy down somewhere. And share. Good karma awaits.

Hopefully the signal is still strong enough from your actual hotel to allow you to connect. And hopefully they don’t EVER change the password.

Luckily they haven’t down here. And that’s why I can talk to you….And I Tho…………………..

Yes, I’m still here! Just fooling. See you next time!

shave off your underarm hair and say bye bye to the smelly backpacker within you.

A word of warning here: this backpacking tip is quite personal in nature. But I want to share something with you that has helped me in the hygiene department. I hope you don’t get too grossed out! On to the tip…

As any backpacker knows, hygiene is important on the road. Nobody wants to smell. But long term travel, hot and humid conditions, and traveling light can make smelling like roses not as easy task indeed. Personally, I only travel with about five different t-shirts in my carry-on sized backpack. And although I try and wash my clothes every week or so, the reality is that sometimes I do not. I am pretty much a lazy guy most of the time – it’s okay, I’m trying to work on this!

smelly armpits in the bus

And to make matters worse, I sweat. Sometimes a lot. Especially in hot and humid places like South East Asia where I have been traveling in for the last eight months. And most of the time me and sweat, well, we don’t get along…

I am reminded at this point of a Seinfeld episode where Jerry rightfully asks – paraphrasing here: “Why must our bodies punish us when we work out? We exercise, we stink. We exercise, we stink.” Our sweat is not kind to us indeed. And for backpackers traveling around from place to place sweat can be our worst enemy. I don’t want others to smell me. It’s not good for me, or for them, or anybody. Smelling is just bad. And for me most of my smell comes from deep under my arms.

But what if there was a way to limit the amount of body odor that exuded from that patch of hair under your arms, that was backpacker friendly?

Luckily, there is.

I stumbled across this fine nugget of backpacker wisdom from fellow travel blogger Wandering Earl. You can learn all about him at his website here.

Wandering Earl – who has been traveling around the world for years and years – used to suffer from the same “smelly armpit” condition as me. That was until he heard from a friend, who presumably heard from a friend that shaving your underarms can actually help in reducing your odor problems. He has since been a massive fan of bi-weekly armpit shaving.

After reading his post and hearing his testimonial of sorts, I became interested. Reflecting on my own “odor issues”, and embracing an open mind and my shaver, I decided to try this out myself. I shaved my underarm hair right off. First the left, and then the right.

And the result?

I am proud to say that my odor levels have reduced majorly. I can honestly say I do not stink half as much as I used to. In fact, I can now say that I hardly stink at all. TMI warning: I really need to stick my nose in there under my arms to get a good whiff. This is great news indeed!

Not only do I smell less now with my shaven underarms – which makes me feel more confident, but I no longer have to impress my bodily smells on the olfactory organs of all those who come in contact with me. This is great for Australian and what-ever-country-I-am-now-traveling-in relations. Like it or not, I am a representative of my country. Not only do I need to be on my best behaviour: I should smell good, too. I am sure the Australian tourism board would support me on this!

But apart from just smelling better than ever before, shaving your underarms also has a lot of practical use to the backpacker.

I have found that I can now wear my t-shirts for way longer before I need to wash them as they do not smell half as much as before. So instead of only wearing the same t-shirt once or perhaps twice without washing, I can now go three or four days before washing. Great for lazy travelers like me!

Before you all jump up in arms and call me “Stinky Seany”, notice that I said “I can” go three or four days. My usual practice is still to get one or two day uses out of each t-shirt. But if I cannot for whatever reason do a wash – for example, if I run out of shampoo which I usually use to wash my underwear and sometimes other items of clothing when backpacking, I know I can still travel around without leaving a trail of stinky-ness in my wake.

Try giving this backpacking tip a good go and see if it works for you. Surely myself and Wandering Earl are not alone in singing the praises of shaven armpits?

So remember: shave off your underarm hair and say goodbye to smelly armpits and embarrassing confrontations. Wear your t-shirts longer and make less frequent trips to the laundry, saving you time and money.

Until next time, happy traveling!

Preparing For Hiking the Appalachian Trail

appalachian trail backpacking

If you are planning on hiking from one end of the Appalachian Trail to the other you must be properly prepared. Walking on the appalachian trail is something that individuals dream about. Indeed, many make this dream a reality. Others, find there attempt to accomplish their goal nothing but a nightmare. Many people have watched a video or read a book that has described the joys of such a trip, only to find themselves cold and hungry when they attempt this adventure themselves.

Hiking the trail can be incredibly rewarding. There can be times of great peace. An individual can learn things about them self that can change the rest of their life. Without proper planning for this type of excursion they may not have a life to live.

Preparing for hiking the Appalachian Trail needs to be well thought out and well planned. I have spent many days on the trail and it can be both physically and psychologically demanding. Hauling a heavy pack through steep and rough terrain can become quite a burden. I suggest that you take a pack that weighs twice as much as you would normally carry on a practice hike. Hike through the most strenuous terrain that you can find for several days and nights before you think about doing it for several months. If you have a difficult time traveling 30-40 miles you will not make it the 2000+ miles that is required to complete the trail.

app-trail-map

There are many questions that you need to ask yourself while planning this trip. You first need to figure out what time of year that you will start. This question is answered by determining which end of the Appalachian Trail you are going to start from. If you are going to enter at Springer Mountain in Georgia I would suggest starting your trip in early March. If you start in Georgia you will finish in Maine at Katahdin in the September. If you are going to start your journey in New York I suggest that you start in June and finish at Springer Mountain in November. The reason for this is simply because of the weather, hiking in the heat is miserable. Parts of the trail at Baxter State Park in Maine are closed from October 15th to May 15th, so plan accordingly.

You also need to ask yourself if you have enough money. The trip can cost in upwards of $5000 to complete the 2,000 miles. You will need the proper equipment. You will need food sent to different pick up points along the way. There are several towns that you will pass through and I suggest you stop and have a steak, six months is a long time without a steak.

You have to plan all of this before you leave. Still, 25 percent of the people that plan to walk-through make it the entire way. Although, most people only make it the first week and many only make it the first thirty miles or so. Planning ahead for hiking the Appalachian Trail can be part of fun. Plan the right way and the entire trip will something that you will enjoy the memories of for a lifetime.