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Millennial Nomad

How to Solo Female Travel Like A Boss

Traveling alone is an amazing experience, especially as a solo female. So pack your bags ladies – your dreams await.
While traveling alone may make you nervous, it’s totally worth it! The first step may be the hardest, but it is also the one that will spur you to make deep connections, experience the true ‘you’, and (I believe) become a better woman.

Why You Should Try Traveling Alone

Want to raise some eyebrows? Tell someone you want to travel alone as a female. Expect to immediately hear concerns about your safety.

Society doesn’t like a deviation from the status quo.

You know what I’m talking about: the traditional path of a college degree, marriage certificate, and birth certificates. For some of us, for you, for me; we want a little more. It’s not that those things don’t have merit or that they don’t provide happiness. For those of us whom the allure of travel is undeniable, the idea of settling down runs counter to our dreams.

Kayaking in Pai, ThailandKayaking in Pai, Thailand

Are you still not sure if this sounds like you? Let me tell you the three biggest reasons that traveling alone appealed specifically to me: freedom, self-exploration, and energy. When you travel alone, you don’t have to answer to anyone or explain your actions.

This results in control over doing the things that you truly enjoy (like spa days). This self-reliance, coincidentally, forces you to test the waters – sometimes literally. Once you start to focus on yourself, you find a certain energy. If you are naturally empathetic like me, stress or worry about others’ lives slowly drips away. It’s okay to be selfish sometimes.

One question you should expect to get more than any other as a solo female traveler: “Don’t you get lonely?”  And, my answer is a resounding “Absolutely not!”  Traveling solo is one of the best ways to meet people. Reflecting back on my experiences, I find I was more open and more approachable because I didn’t have my social safety net to find comfort in.

I was constantly meeting interesting people either from my hostel, tours or locally. I can truthfully say I never felt alone. If my newfound travel friends were getting a bit needy, and I needed some ‘me’ time, there was nothing obligating me to hang around anyone I didn’t momentarily want to.

If you’ve got to this point, I think this female solo travel thing is for you. Here are my top ten tips for how to solo female travel successfully as a young woman…

Do Your Research

Knowing what to expect when you step off the plane and feeling prepared will put you at ease before a solo trip.

From the weather, the local currency to safety tips, there’s an abundance of information out there make your trip better.  For international travel, start by entering your destination in the U.S international Travel page to find passport/visa requirements, safety information, local laws/regulations, and required vaccines.

It’s also a good idea to sift through blogs, forums, and social media because you can find a ton of great information from travelers who’ve been there. They can provide you with the positives and negatives and overall advice on almost anything you need about the destination. One resource that is extremely helpful is TripAdvisor forums. Travelers are constantly reviewing and answering forum questions to give the most up to date information.

When you have a specific activity in mind, be it sightseeing, scuba diving, or just bumming it on the beach, it’s a good idea to research your options beforehand that way you’re not spending precious vacation time trying to figure things out!

Additional information that is valuable to know prior is reliable and safe transportation modes, areas in the city to avoid and most importantly, the cultural etiquette of the respective country.

solo female travelImage: Unsplash Annie Spratt

Blend In

As a solo female traveler, it’s necessary that you avoid attracting too much attention to yourself.

It is crucial to know the social etiquette especially when it comes to what to wear. If the country you are visiting has women that dress conservatively, do the same, as this will help you to avoid being singled out as a potentially vulnerable target. The last thing you want to do is draw any unwanted attention to yourself or come off as offensive to the local culture. This also includes avoiding outfits that scream “TOURIST!” Warding off the pickpocketers and scammers is the goal.

You can keep your fanny packs at home!

No matter where you are or how confused you might be it’s important to always walk with confidence.

Even when you’re completely lost try not to appear as confused as you are. As a woman traveling alone appearing confused can attract the wrong kind of attention and put a target on your back.  Nobody starts out as a wonderfully confident solo traveler. As you become more comfortable finding your way by yourself and making your own choices, your confidence will grow. Don’t confuse cockiness with confidence; if you are in danger ask for help.

Cruising down the coast of Vietnam.Cruising down the coast of Vietnam

Be Aware

Being aware of your actions and surroundings at all times can save you from some major mishaps.

Be mindful of what information you give to strangers. Avoid saying you’re alone or exactly where you’re staying. You don’t have to be paranoid that everyone’s out to get you just use your best judgment and exercise common sense.

When traveling internationally, read up on topics of conversation to stay clear of in particular countries. You don’t want to offend anyone or put yourself in a dangerous situation because of something that you said.

Scuba Diving in ThailandScuba diving in Thailand!

Keep Your Valuables Hidden

Pickpocketing is a huge problem in a lot of countries.

To not fall victim to this crime avoid flashing your valuables in public. Be mindful of the attention you are attaching to yourself when pulling out your phone on the streets or carrying your camera around your neck. It is also smart to keep these possessions in your reach at all times, along with key documents such as your passport, visa, and wallet.

When you are traveling solo, you lack an extra pair of eyes on your belongings. Crossbody bags that zip or latch-up are recommended. And always keep it in front of you!

Ask For Help

There’s no way to be fully prepared, especially if you’re in a new country. Anytime you’re traveling, especially solo-traveling, you can expect something to go awry.

That’s why it’s important to have a plan B. Unfortunately that doesn’t always work out either. Don’t be afraid to reach out for help. Whether it be other travelers (which have surely gone through their own struggles) or the locals, someone will be bound to help you.

Book in Advance

You finally arrive at your destination… and now what? Even if you don’t have a strict travel itinerary and time frame, it’s always best to book your first couple nights beforehand.

You don’t want to find yourself in a situation where you can’t find a place to sleep before you get the lay of the land. Go into your trip confident and stress-free knowing that you have somewhere safe to stay upon arrival. In addition to peace of mind, booking your accommodations, flights, and tours beforehand is typically cheaper and again, won’t waste precious travel time on research and planning while you are there.

To avoid any mishaps, keep a copy of your booking confirmation numbers just in case something goes wrong. Consider consolidating all your information into the TripIt app. TripIt syncs with your emails and instantly creates a master itinerary for your trip that includes your flight info, confirmation information, emails, locations, and contact information. Among other awesome features, you will automatically get mobile notifications if a flight is delayed or canceled.

Be Prepared

No matter how much you research and plan, eventually you are bound to experience a few unforeseen complications. When you’re traveling alone you don’t have the luxury of having someone to fall back on when disaster strikes. It’s important to have a backup plan for your backup plan. No trip is perfect (unless of course, you’re Beyoncé) so come ready.

As a female solo traveler, travel insurance is one of the most important things that you can purchase for an international trip. Travel insurance can cover everything from doctor visits, lost/stolen baggage, to cancellations or trip delays.  World Nomads Insurance is one of the most reliable travel insurance companies and covers all of your basic needs.

Along with having a copy of all your information somewhere online, also carry around a hard copy of your passport and travel insurance information in case of emergencies.

Natural infinity pools in Oaxaca, Mexico
  • Download Essential Apps that can help your trip go a little smoother. Maps.me is one of the most useful map apps because you can use it without having Wi-Fi. Whatever map app you use, be sure to download offline versions before departure. It’s also always good to have an app like Airbnb or Booking.com to book accommodation on the fly if need be.
  • Learn a few phrases in the local language for basic needs, like directions and how to ask for help. Not only will it help you during everyday activities, but it can also help you to avoid being ripped off. Many locals show more respect to visitors who make the effort to learn some of their native languages. For on the fly translations download the Google Translate app. It has a database of over 103 languages, can translate images, and work offline.
  • When it comes to your money, prepare a plan A, B, and C. What if you get pickpocketed or the ATM eats your debit card? The last situation you want is to be alone with no money or access to it. Unless you can breakdance or play the accordion on the side of the street, keep some emergency cash and an extra debit/credit card hidden. Also, don’t forget to make your bank aware of the countries you are traveling to beforehand to prevent them from freezing your accounts!

Let People Know Where You Are

While you’re off adventuring don’t forget to check in with your loved ones back home. Post pictures and send updates leaving a trail of where you are.

If constantly checking in isn’t your thing use the Find My Friends app so your friends can…..well…find you.

If you prefer to be in constant communication with home, purchase a SIM card so that you have internet access. This allows you to call and text your loved ones with either iMessage, WhatsApp or Viber! Be sure to unlock your phone before you leave, as this can take a few days to process and is more difficult once out of the country.

It’s also always a good idea to let the staff at your hotel/hostel know that you are traveling alone. Give them a quick update on when you intend to come back from a day of exploring.

In the case of an emergency, it’s always a good idea to enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment program. It’s a free service that allows U.S. citizens traveling or living abroad to enroll with the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate. The embassy will contact you in an emergency, whether natural disaster, civil unrest, or family emergency.

beach solo travel

Post on social media so people know where you are – Instagram your way to safety!

Be Mindful Of Where You are At Night

This is common sense, but as a rule of thumb, wherever you are you should be cautious about walking around alone at night.

Research what the safest and most reliable form of transportation is and spend the extra couple bucks on it to get yourself back home safely. Especially if you’ve been drinking!!

Don’t be Scared

It’s important not to let fear get the better of you and prevent you from exploring everything this world has to offer. This time in your life is about you – and you will be a much stronger, more independent person because of it.

The ways in which travel betters you as a person greatly outweigh any of the difficulties you might face.

Travel is a life-changing experience and one that anyone who wants to experience absolutely SHOULD. I hope these tips make learning how to solo female travel easier. And helped you make your decision a little bit more certain if you are still in that stage, or if you’ve already decided and are soon to be on your way, a little bit safer and a little bit easier.

Hanging on a ledge at the Horseshoe bend in Arizona.

 

Do you have any questions or comments? please comment below or message me on my Facebook. Like the article? Find more at my personal travel blog Catchmeifyoucam.

Interview: Riding a Motorcycle Around the World with Patrick Harris

Introduction

On July 5th, 2013 Patrick Harris left his home in Denver, Colorado heading east on a motorcycle; 636 days later he rode in from the west. He had just finished riding his motorcycle around the entire world stopping in over 25 countries.

From the canals of Amsterdam, to the grassy hills of rural Indonesia, and the aborigine tribes in Australia – almost no stone went unturned. An adventure like this doesn’t end without lessons learned, countless challenges, and the story of a lifetime. I sat down with Patrick to learn as much as I could about his journey around the world.

As soon as you fall into a mundane and repetitive lifestyle, that is when life will pass you by before you know it. – Patrick Harris

How to Ride Your Motorcycle Around The World | Riding a motorcycle around the world | the long way round | Motorcycle around the world | riding a motorcycle around the world.

Patrick’s route around the world. Click image for interactive map.

Interview

Life Nomading: How long did it take you to plan the trip?
Patrick Harris: The allotted time spent planning was a month. However, you need to start planning months ahead for visas and other paperwork. I had a few destinations I knew I wanted to get to, and it took a minimal amount of research to see how feasible various routes were.

I planned the specifics on the road, based on my own research, or the advice of locals or other travelers.

There was some light research on visa and carnet. A carnet is basically a passport for the bike, to make sure that it enters and exits the country with you.  I only left with a very rough route, and not too many specific destinations or plans.  I planned the specifics on the road, based on my own research, or the advice of locals or other travelers.

LN: What was your inspiration for the trip?
PH: My main inspiration was the book Jupiter’s Travels Full Disclosure: We earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase, at no additional cost to you. by Ted Simon. It tells the story of his four-year journey through 126,000 km across 45 countries. I can’t recommend Jupiter’s Travels enough, or his other books Dreaming of Jupiter, and Riding High.

Ted Simon, the author of Jupitor’s Travels

Question: What were some of your considerations before the trip? How did you mentally prepare?
PH:  The stuff I spent time on were the things that were in my control.  I researched route possibilities, visas, border crossings.  I studied up and practiced on the motorcycle maintenance aspect.  As far as mental preparation, I basically just looked at the risks – breakdowns, sickness, injury, theft, etc. and decided that they were worth taking.

LN: What type of Motorcycle did you use and why?
PH:  I rode a 2013 BMW F800GS.  Depending on who you ask, you’ll either be told that a BMW GS is the perfect bike for the job, or you’ll be told you should’ve picked a KTM/Kawasaki/etc.  In my opinion, the bike performed great…I still have it, and I still love it.  But at the same time, you won’t find me talking down about other bikes.

Ride what you find practical and comfortable.  Ride what you like.  Ride what you already have.  Ride what’s affordable.  Just go ride something.

LN: Regarding your emotions: highest point? Lowest point? Did you come close to quitting?
PHI can’t really think of specific highs and lows (there weren’t any huge peaks or valleys, mostly, the whole trip was one big plateau).

The localized highs happened when I met and got to spend a few days with really great people (locals, or other travelers), and the lows happened when I had to part ways with those people.

It’s kind of sad to think of the great short-term relationships I had with people, most of whom I’ll never see again. I’m thrilled that at least I got to experience a few days with them.

Making friends in India while changing a tire.

LN: What was the most surprising aspect of a foreign culture you observed/experienced?
PH: India. Having lived my whole life in the US, India was the farthest from what I has previously experienced. Varanasi specifically was the most shocking to me. It’s an incredibly sacred city, and it was the most I had ever been exposed to a religion in that way.

In Varanasi, religion is in the background of everything going on, to such an extent that saying it’s in the background is a bit of an understatement.

The specific thing there that really struck me was the cremation of bodies on the banks of the Ganges river (where downstream, people are bathing, washing clothes, etc)

LN: Where was your favorite place to drive?
PH:
For me it was northern Thailand. The roads were winding and picturesque. While there was chaotic driving there at times, it was the right level of lawlessness in my opinion.

I still find myself day dreaming about driving through the roads in Thailand to this day!

Roads in northern Thailand. Image: 2livethedream.com

LN: Was there ever a time you felt in danger?
PH: I was most nervous was when a kid on a bike ran into me in Indonesia. He flew off his bike. I didn’t have any serious injuries. I stuck around to make sure he was OK, and some people crowded around me.

If it had got dicey, I would’ve left the scene, which is typically what foreigners are told to do when there’s an accident in a third world country, as things can sometimes get violent quickly and unexpectedly.

LN: How were the customs (immigration checkpoint; not culture) at Thailand, Malaysia and Singapore? Was it confusing to switch from driving on the left to the right?
PH: Customs were always pretty uneventful, except for getting my bike into India…that was a huge hassle The only time I ever paid a bribe was $2 to get out of Laos. Crossing between Thailand a Malaysia was easy as can be…got my passport and carnet (paperwork for the bike) stamped it and out and was on my way.

It was actually a lot faster than crossing from Canada into the US. As far as Singapore, I didn’t bring my bike in. It sounds like that’s a huge mess of paperwork and running around, so I opted to not bring the bike with, considering that I’d do all that paperwork just ride around the city for a few days.

I had a couple close calls throughout SE Asia, but they were really manageable after being in India. Close calls in India became a daily occurrence.

LN: What was your least favorite place to ride through? Any particular location make you think “I’m going to die”?
PH: The riding in India got fairly stressful by the end, and road conditions were rough at times. I loved most everything else about India, though. I had a couple close calls throughout SE Asia, but they were really manageable after being in India. Close calls in India became a daily occurrence.

Shipping a motorcycle in Indonesia

Lifting the bike onto a boat in Indonesia.

LN: How did you finance a 2 year trip?
PH:  Work a lot, spend a little.  There’s no inheritance from a rich uncle or trust fund from daddy behind my trip.  I just worked quite a bit (sometimes toeing the line of insanity) and didn’t put all the money towards instant gratification.

LN: What did your family think about your trip?
PH:  They were nervous for sure, but I think they knew it was coming a little bit.  In 2007, I quit my job to do a 3 month trip around the US and Canada.  I think that was a bit of a shocker for them, neither my parents or my brother seem to have my combination of wanderlust and irresponsibility.

I was planning to ride on the other side of the world in places I knew nothing about, so they were more concerned about me actually making it home. My mom has reminded me in numerous occasions that I’m responsible for every gray hair she has.
Motorcycle in ChinaI

LN: How difficult was it to ship your motorcycle from place to place, and was it expensive?
PH:  In regards to difficulty, it varied quite a bit.  The two factors that affected it were the countries being shipped to and from and how commonly that route was used to ship motorcycles.  My first shipment was from Canada to Scotland.  I found a company whose entire business is flying motorcycles between Canada and the UK, so they had the whole process very well set up. 

I cleared my bike through customs in Scotland in about 30-45 minutes.  In India it took 3 days and a couple taxi rides clear across the city to do various bits of paperwork.

On the opposite end of the spectrum was my shipment from Istanbul to Mumbai.  First off, that route doesn’t seem to be commonly used, so finding a shipping agent that would even work with me took a lot of time in itself.  Then factor in customs on both ends and it was quite an ordeal.

Just to show how much things can vary, I cleared my bike through customs in Scotland in about 30-45 minutes.  In India it took 3 days and a couple taxi rides clear across the city to do various bits of paperwork.

As far as cost, the flight for the bike was typically about 2x what my own ticket’s cost.  Going by boat is a bit cheaper but takes much longer.  Another note on going by boat…not only does it take longer for obvious reasons, but it also seems to be fairly common for there to be delays and route changes, making the timing fairly unpredictable.

Shipping the bike in India.

LN: We often preach that travel can change someone, and help them grow. What was the greatest lesson you learned?
PH: The classic answer to this is something along the lines of how great and caring everyone around the world is or freeing yourself from your material possessions.  Yeah, I can’t disagree with that, but everyone’s heard that so many times that you don’t need to travel to learn that, you just need to read a couple travel blogs.

I learned, and will never forget that challenges and discomfort are what make life interesting and fulfilling.  Pursue new interests, or take your current interests to the next level, and once you start feeling comfortable, repeat the process.  As soon as you fall into a mundane and repetitive lifestyle, that is when life will pass you by before you know it.  To put it simply, don’t live life casually.

LN: Did you go back to your old career afterwards or did things change?
PH:  I was going to, but plans changed about 6 months into the trip.  After quitting my job, my boss offered to let me take a one year leave of absence, which I really appreciated.

I started to realized that I still had no interest in going back to my own job.  I felt that as a trip of this magnitude could very well be a once in a lifetime thing, maybe I should extend it a bit, as that would be much more feasible than planning another trip like it a couple years later.  So, the 10 month trip turned into 20 months.

I’d taken up welding as a hobby and always really enjoyed it, and I had gotten bored of sitting at a desk in my old job. Upon getting home, I went to welding school and am now working in that field.

Just hanging out on a cliff side.

LN: What’s your next big project? How can our readers support you?
PH:  Right now I’m trying to spend my time learning more about welding and metal working.  Maybe that’ll turn into a side business in the future.  Next big project will probably be building a motorcycle, and a few years down the line, I’d like to build a cabin in the mountains.

Conclusion

Pat finally made it home to Colorado.

Challenge yourself. Conquer the challenge no matter the difficulty. From riding a motorcycle around the block to riding one around the world. Keep setting goals and knock them out. Never be comfortable. See the world and take it all in. There is one life to live, and there are opportunities everywhere. Pat saved up and looked towards the future, then when after his challenge. He went around the globe, and learned that being behind the desk isn’t for him. The difficulties are what make this life interesting. Good luck…..

Interview: Tom Burden on Launching the Grypmat and How to Launch a Product

Tom Burdon On Launching the Grypmat

UPDATE: The Grypmat Kickstarter was a success. They raised over $100,000 and made it into the top 1.5% of all Kickstarter campaigns

These days the average American home has 30,000 to 300,000 items in it (La Times) – and almost all of them are products (Unless you hoard raw materials??).

“There will be many sacrifices to make, as with any independent venture, but the opportunity could be large.”

We buy tons of products and launching a product could be your key to success – or failure (more on this later)! We wanted to learn more about launching a product so we talked with some pro inventors – no not Al Gore!

Al Gore Invented the Internet

Don’t be Al Gore! Launch a product for REAL like Tom Burden Did.

Tom Burden and Lucas Williamson have been inventing products for years and have successfully run numerous Kickstarter launches.

Tom works as an F-16 mechanic in the Airforce and invents crazy things like red dot scopes for rifles with the rest of his time.

Lucas is an experienced inventor and kickstarter expert. He has the design savvy to solve any problem and marketing know-how to sell ice to an eskimo.

It's called the Grypmat for a reason

It’s not called the Grypmat for nothin’

Q & A With Tom Burden and Lucas Wiliamson

Tom Burden Pictured far right and Lucas Williamson one to his left.

Tom Burden Pictured far right and Lucas Williamson one to his left.

LN: What were the biggest objections you faced while trying to strike it on your own with your products? How did you overcome the doubters?

“I talked to over 10,000 people about the product at that point, if we have to use the word “Luck” I would say that sounds like bad luck.”

Tom: Biggest obstacle has been getting the chemistry and manufacturing. I have a mentor that has been in the manufacturing world for the past 30 years and has 15 products in Walmart. A lot of ppl say, “Wow! you got so lucky meeting him!” Honestly I hate it when people say that.

It was two years before I met him and I talked to over 10,000 people about the product at that point, if we have to use the word “Luck” I would say that sounds like bad luck.

Life Nomading: How many products have you Launched? What did they do?

Tom Burden:

  1. The Hitch Pad –  At the base we have a hitch that is spring loaded that hit a guy in the face and put him in the hospital for 2 days, so I made a pad for the hitch (fail)
  2. The Grab Cain – a Cain plus a grabber, someone patented it 6 months beore I finished my prototype (fail)
  3. Custom cellphone cases with greek letter cut outs for fraternities and sororities (fail)
  4. RSAC – Red dot Scope Ammo Counter, a red dot scope for a gun that changes from green to red to notify the shooter they are low on ammo (still in progress)
  5. The Grypmat – the first Grypmat sold was the 11th generation, the ones for the kickstarter are the 12-14th designs (Selling now)

LN: How have you found time to develop, and now launch a product – all while working a full time job as an Air Force mechanic?

TB: I am in the Air National Guard which is a department within the AIr Force. I would work at the base one weekend a month while a full time student.

I get excited off of developing a product, any extra time I had I would spend time in making the product better.

A lot of times my college studies would suffer due to working on my products. Once I skipped a college exam to attend a meeting with a potential distributor.

LN: What is the perception of entrepreneurship in the military? How have your colleagues reacted?

Tom: Some support, some criticize. Always going to have fans and haters.

15259781_1288316474523261_3230009421969407730_o
LN: You have been developing products for years now – what started this passion?

TB: So this is a weird question that I think about a lot. Why do I do what I do? Why do I wake up at 4am to start my day working?

If you had a superpower that no one else could do, would you use that power? Let’s say fly, would you fly (answer: Duh of course I would fly)? What if you had a friend that could fly but they said that it’s really hard to fly so they don’t do it, how would that make you feel? It would make me resent them and mad that they don’t use their unique gift.

My gift is to be an inventor. The thoughts I have, have never been thought before, and my power is that I can bring ideas/inventions into existence that no one has ever thought of, and If I don’t then they may never exist. Inventors and startups create the future, they are the cutting edge of the future, my job is to create the future.

“Inventors and startups create the future, they are the cutting edge of the future, my job is to create the future.”

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LN: What have you had to give up to make this dream a reality [Launching your own product]?

TB: Two biggest things: finances and confidence through trials. There has been a lot of hard times financially to get the product where it’s at. Finances are much better but still not out of the woods.

There have been a lot of times that I have wanted to quit, once when I was going to stop everything I called my cousin and she said, “is this something that you need to stop? Are you to the point that you’re not paying bills or feeding yourself? Or is this something that you’re going to look back on and regret not seeing what was around the corner?”

That is something that has kept me going, not wanting to regret quitting.

“There is a lot of leg work that can be done on your own for free instead of paying a professional.”

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LN: What’s your methodology for innovation and how do you come up with your ideas?

TB:

  1. Identify the problem
  2. Think of the most simplistic way to fix it, think of ease of prototyping/manufacturing.
  3. How many people have this problem and how big of a problem it is? Think of the market size and how big of a pain point it is.
  4. Prototype & test with users, with this info figure out how to make your product better for the end user.

Tom Burden with Grypmat

LN: How has bringing on veteran product designer/marketer and kickstarter expert, Lucas Williamson, helped you shape this product launch?

Tom: Working with Lucas has been very complimentary to my skill set. We are have very similar visions but are skilled in different areas of bringing a product to life, I feel we are a very balanced duo.

LN: How many successful kickstarter campaigns have you a been a part of and have you been a part of any that failed?

Lucas: I have been vital part of 2 successful campaigns, and 1 one that failed. I have consulted high level on a handful of other campaigns some failed some succeeded.

Here is a list of the products I have worked on:

  1. Juiceboxx, a case for your macbook charger to keep it from breaking/fraying – Save Your Macbook Charger – Get A Juiceboxx (Selling Now)
  2. Spoolee – An awesome solution to store your earbuds and keep them from tangling- Spoolee – Have fun managing your earbuds! (Selling Now)
  3. Nikola Labs – Nikola Labs: Leading the Charge in Wireless Power (Failed)

juiceboxx

LN: Lucas – Could you share one of your Kickstarter secrets with us –  or would you have to kill us?

Lucas: Employ thy GOOGLE. When I started out I knew nothing about crowdfunding. I dug in and began researching to educate and collect the resources and skills to be successful. Mostly from the world wide web. Hustle and perseverance goes a long way.

LN: What is one of the biggest mistakes you see first timers on kickstarter make?

Lucas:  The Kickstarter community has evolved into it’s own animal. A realm different from that of e-commerce or big box retail. It’s much harder to get a consumer to loan you cash upfront, and wait months to receive it, rather than just ordering something on Amazon Prime and getting it 2 days later.

Newbies need to really nail down their target customer and have a solid plan of action to market to them.

“It’s much harder to get a consumer to loan you cash upfront, and wait months to receive it, rather than just ordering something on Amazon Prime and getting it 2 days later.”

Grypshon Grypmat

LN: Lucas and Tom – A lot of our enterprising readers have product ideas of their own. What is the first step they should take?

Lucas: Get the product in front of customers. Confirm there is a pain point and a demand for said product. Make sure you can make it with the proper margins to run a viable business. Then, come talk to me to help you launch it.

Tom: First step is make a prototype, an MVP. Minimum Viable Product, make it yourself, do not pay someone to make it, not the first one, maybe not the first 10.

So what happens is that when people do not have experience and want to pay someone else to do everything they waste a ton of money paying people to make mistakes.

There is a lot of leg work that can be done on your own for free instead of paying a professional.

LN: How can our readers support your kickstart campaign? When is it launching?

Tom:  Our campaign is running for 30 days from January 3rd – February 3rd. on Kickstarter.com

Here are 3 ways you can help support our campaign:

  1. Share this link: PRESS.FND.TO/GRYPMAT on Facebook, Twitter and Linkedin.
  2. Check out our Kickstarter campaign and support by backing
  3. Know of a mechanic, trade professional or anyone that loves tools? Tell them about the Grypmat Kickstarter!

Grypshon Grypmap

LN: Is there anything else you would like our readers to know?

A Few Pro tips from Tom and Lucas:

  • If it helps to explain your idea with a picture make that picture the wallpaper on your phone so you can quickly access the picture when talking to people.Thing is people will always try to zoom in but it is well worth the sacrifice to hook the attention of that person within the initial 10 seconds.
  • Something that helps me is listening to motivational speeches on youtube. Find one that gets your blood boiling and makes you feel like you can rule the world. You can convert Youtube URLs into MP3, putting that into your Itunes will allow you to set that as your alarm clock.What you listen to in the first 20 min of being awake is very important, this will kickstart your day every time.
  • Need someone to help you? Before asking them for a favor make sure you help them in some way. I’ve done this to get really good mentors.
  • Need an intro? Who ever you want to give you an intro, type out an email of how you want introduced so they can copy and paste it and will save the introducer a ton of time.

Conclusion

At the end of the day building a product is a lot of hard work. However, launching a product can create immense value and help you realize the dream of working for yourself.

There will be many sacrifices to make, as with any independent venture, but the opportunity could be large.

When launching a product, remember you need to solve a problem and the more people with the problem you are solving  – the bigger the opportunity for profit. Now go out and turn those ideas into a reality!

 

Do you have any questions, or comments? please comment below or tweet me @marekjmichalski.

Change

changeishappening

Change is hard.

Hear me out.

Figuring out new norms is a difficult task to bestow upon just about anyone, even me. But the truth about life is that change happens and it’s inevitable. You can’t control that even if you desperately want to.

For me change happened this past week. I had a wakeup call and it turned into an opportunity for me to reflect on who I am, what I wanted, and what the point of this whole life thing is (in a healthy way of course). I ended up taking the week off from most work to figure out what this all meant.

Sure, I didn’t discover the meaning of life, but I figured a few smaller things out.

It’s no secret I haven’t written much on this blog lately, hell for the last year and a half Life Nomading practically fell silent. I got deep into my business, slogging along just trying to figure out a way to make it as a business owner at age 23. To be honest, every day is a struggle but that’s not what this post is about. Even more importantly, is that I felt like I was posing to you all. I wasn’t practicing what I preached.

Why I’m writing this today is that this recent change I’m experiencing has been equally painful as it has been eye opening. I’ve preached so many times for you to follow your passion, to take the unconventional path, and to explore the world. Yet I failed to follow some of my own fricken advice.

That’s why I just need to explore.

Not to runaway from my problems, not to mask feelings or delusions, but just for myself.

I need to take some time to work remotely AROUND our nation, I want to meet all you fellow Life Nomading explorers, and I want to take in the beauty of what a well rounded nation has to offer my soul.

But this is where I make an ask to you to help make this possible.

If you enjoy what Life Nomading means to you, and you live somewhere in the U.S. with an extra couch or a few square feet on the floor, I’d love to barter with you. I would love to help with chores (I’m not afraid to clean toilets), buy you a beer or two, or three, go on a photo adventure and get you some epic new photos, or anything else in exchange for a few days of a roof over my head as I experience your wonderful city.

I don’t have a set plan yet. I’m still figuring this all out as we head into the holiday season. Expect to be updated with a general plan once it’s all “sorted” out in my own head first.

With a new camera in hand and no agenda in mind, I just want to explore this nation, work remote (for real), meet remarkable people from all walks of life, and capture the beauty to share with you all. I believe that I will share my adventures on this blog once again, but there’s no commercial intent I have. I just want to see the world more and reflect.

But I could use your help, advice, I could even use your winter travel packing tips for a prolonged wondering session.

Cheers and I hope you follow along… or don’t and go do your own thing,

Ian

Chasing a Waterfall in Columbus : VLOG (#002)

“Don’t go chasing waterfalls”  – TLC

Sometimes you just have to go against the wise words of TLC to discover fun things in your local area. In our case it was about discovering a waterfall in Columbus, Ohio.

As was the case this past weekend when my girlfriend and I decided to head out into the good ole’ outdoors on a day in February where the Ohio weather decided to peak in the mid 60’s. After we got over our amazement of this weather phenomena was providing, we decided on a whim to go adventure a bit. Her and I have been wanting to find a waterfall that was supposed to exist in Columbus, Ohio for a while. Mind you, our state is very flat even in Columbus. So the thought of a waterfall being in our city made little logistical sense to me. I had to see it to believe it.

Regardless, we did what any millennial couple would do when venturing to a new place… we Googled it. We found the park on Google Maps and proceeded to get lost even with technology at the helm. (and I’m a pilot)

SPOILER ALERT: We found it, like you see in my second (yes I said second) vlog, above!

The waterfall was surprisingly larger than I imagined. It was very cool and dare I say beautiful. Once we took the required Instagram photos and soaked in the beauty a bit, we decided to head on home.

waterfall in columbus ohio

 

But wait there’s more. We were near the Ohio State University airport (KOSU) so as any true #avgeek would do, we had to make a pit stop. I’ve been dating my gal for a while now, but I had yet to show her one of the biggest aspects of my life… aviation. I think this was a small sneak peak into where most of my life is spent during work and play. She was actually somewhat interested in how the airport operated as we stood face against the fence watching airplanes. She even watched airplanes fly off into the far distance long after their departure (all signs point to good). She may have been just putting on a show for me, but I’d like to think she is taking to the airplane thing. 😉

Anyway, it was a great outdoors day in the middle of a midwesterner winter. Back to hibernation and winter activities for a bit longer.

How I Went Around the World for Less Than $3k

cheap way to travel around the world

*Disclaimer: I graduated from college in May 2015, and traveled until September 2015. I had one last “summer break” before starting work, so I spent as much time abroad as I could.

If you look at the places I went to (below) during the past 4 months, they were all very specific and planned out.

I either…

1. Had a friend there

2. Had family there

or

3. Had a friend who had a friend there

I never just showed up in a city and planned to crash at a hostel or hotel. Instead, I travel for a reason; I’m on a mission, and that mission isn’t to see the Eiffel Tower – that mission is to reunite with my old friends, engage with locals, and of course, eat good food.

And that’s what I did. After 4 months of traveling, I’m ready to say that I want stability again. I haven’t worked out at all (besides walking in the cities that were cold enough to walk in). I haven’t had a healthy diet in a while (I lack vegetables). I didn’t make an income (but that’s ok, because my focus was to just relax.) The travel bug is out of me for now, but who knows when it will strike again!

Below is the money I spent on transportation. My housing costs were $0!

Tip: Before staying at a friend’s house, I would always bring them a gift (usually food) from the country I was in previously! Small gestures like this are always appreciated. 

 

Transportation Expenses

New York > Boston (bus) ($15)
Boston, Massachusetts > Kefvlak, Iceland (KEF)($149.90) (cheap tickets to Iceland)
Kefvlak, Iceland > Reykjavik, Iceland (bus)($26.09)
Kefvlak, Iceland (KEF) > Hamburg, Germany ($80.69)
Hamburg, Germany > Amsterdam (bus)($10.15)
Amsterdam > Cologne, Germany (bus)($10.15)

…My cousin then bought my train ticket from Cologne to Bremen…

Bremen, Germany > Tallinn, Estonia ($79.84)
Tallinn, Estonia > Hamburg, Germany ($107.15)

… My friend’s mom picked me up when I landed in Hamburg…

Flensburg, Germany to Berlin, Germany (bus)($21.20)
Berlin, Germany to Lille, France (bus)($41.80)
Lille, France to London (bus)($16.94)
London St Pancreas to Kettering day trip (train)($29.84)

Bus to Gatwick ($5.47)
London Gatwick > Moscow, Russia ($150)
Moscow, Russia > Taipei, Taiwan ($239.7)
New ticket from London to Taipei ($780)
London Gatwick to London Heathrow ($15.47 + $9.28)

Taipei, Taiwan > Singapore ($93.28)
Singapore > Bali, Indonesia ($80.37)
Bali, Indonesia > Taipei, Taiwan ($106.06)
Taipei, Taiwan > San Francisco, California ($500)

So if you’re looking to take your travels around the world, I have some final words of advice. Take time to tap into the network of who you know, and travel to the places where you have friends! Not only will you get to explore a new place, you’ll get to create memories with a friend and have a free place to stay. For those who are thinking “I don’t have very many friends around the world”, start making friends today!

Feeling Low Just Isn’t Happening

Feeling good | Ian Hoyt

Usually articles on here stem from a mistake or a mishap I had that caused me to learn something and then in turn write about it in great detail for you to potentially learn from.

But lately, I just haven’t been having really any major “downs” or “lows”. In fact, I have been having what I now consider as highs! That’s why I wanted to reflect on it for anyone else that may be feeling the same way or is looking for someone who has been through the rollercoaster of business building/work emotions.

So recently I made the decision to turn my freelance branding and marketing into a full fledge big boy pants agency (I even have a name and everything now). Sort of crazy, very scary, but really really fun. I will elaborate on it more in an official article in a few short weeks so keep an eye out for that.

But anyway, usually in the past when I start a new venture it’s highly stressful and comes with a lot of difficulties that can get any normal Joe Smo down. But currently… I feel really good. Like almost too good. I’m certainly not comfortable (will never be possible), not “successful”, not “accomplished”, but just really in a good place. Things are growing, our clients are happy with the work we do, and my personal and professional lives seem to be fostered better than ever.

This weird state of “good” got me wondering. I began to reflect on how I manage my life, and how I have been able to keep a more positive and happier state during this growth and start of a new business.

After many 2 mile runs in the morning and a few bowls of ice cream, I realized it really came down to a few key things that I have fundamentally changed in my life…

1. I stopped reading “self-help” business blog articles

The biggest thing for me was cutting out my content consumption. While websites like Entrepreneur.com and the likes are good for some things, they hurt my perspectives in most aspects. I realized consuming all of this information was actually making me subconsciously feel inadequate and unproductive. I would read articles like “5 Ways to be as Productive as a Millionaire” and think that it was almost like it was the correct answer to “success”. Which is anything short of the truth.

By the way, I also turn off my newsfeed on Facebook and only allow myself really 30 minutes of consumption in the morning while in bed to “catchup” with social media for the day. All else is usually just me posting during the day. #consumptionHack

2. I made a schedule that worked for ME

I am terrible when it comes to long term concentration. I can’t justify it in my head, and if that is considered a bit A.D.D. so be it. For me, I work well in small stints with personal breaks in-between. Although I may work from around 7AM – 9PM most nights, you can usually find me taking an hour or two here and there for breaks that include practicing the guitar, going flying for an hour, going to the store, and just being away from the computer and phone.

This is crucial for me personally.

As you read this you may already be thinking that this way of working kills productivity and wastes time. That’s your predetermined definition, and I would challenge you to reflect on if your hours of work are REALLY conducive to your personality. For me, I believe that my hyper focused small stints of work end up being more productive than wasting billable hours at the computer for clients when I can’t be at my peak perfomance during the day.

3. I began investing in myself again

Like a good friend of mine told me recently…

Don’t let the money creep in and take over your entire mind, it will eat you alive and burn you out too quick

What he meant by this is, as a business owner its almost impossible to stop yourself from constantly crunching numbers in your head about potential deals and projections for growing your businesses revenue. Its just something innate in business owners. Trust me, my white board is filled with numbers.

But when this happens, you quickly lose sight of spending time crunching your own personal life revenue goals. What does this mean? Well, for me I realized I needed to start crunching more things in my head like taking time to workout and eat healthy, perhaps be fortunate enough to take an awesome girl on a date or two sometime, oh and also to just have pure relaxation time alone or with friends. These were “crunchings” that were very hard to fathom prioritizing in my previous state of workaholism.

Now I am proud to say I am getting better at most of this, I can say that I am happier and more creative for my business in result. Care about you and your community of friends, family, and significant others and it really will help in all aspects of your growth.

Lows are often what people that start businesses tend to have the easiest time feeling in the beginning.

Certainly I have them all the time, but this article is intended to help remind everyone that in your ventures through life, there really are highs.

However if you aren’t trained to appreciate them, the highs are usually the toughest to find and experience. This is because highs are often when you aren’t experiencing a low. To most this would be considered just a middle of the road moment. But I challenge you to see how the little things, the monotony, the self improvement, and even the routine sometimes can just be a small reminder that you actually are experiencing a life high.

I’m so fortunate to be able to sustain myself through my ventures, and even help other creatives get a bit more work too. Those are highs for me, and it may take more training to appreciate them more over time, but trust me I’m working hard at it.

If you feel like you’re experiencing a good time in life, don’t be afraid to admit it. You don’t need to be wealthy, famous, or goal achieved to experience a high you just need to accept that you are working towards something.

I think Caisey Neistat said it best in his video:

So at the end of the day, I’m experiencing this state of “good”, its not great and its certainly not a low. But I am realizing that it certainly is it’s own state of being. I have no comfort but I have happiness, I have health, and I have a balance that allows me to grow my business but most importantly grow myself and my relationships with people.

Prioritize, set standards for yourself and not for anyone else, and live a life that keeps you fighting for more but allows for happiness during the fight.

Done. 😉 Oh… and side note, I hate the word good so this article was a challenge for me.

My Gut Check, The College Dilemma Revisited

Lately, I have been trying to figure out the perfect path for where to go in the next stage of my career. On one hand I could go back to college and pursue the pilot program to get all of my pilot licenses, but on the other hand I could focus on growing my business as I have seen happen in the last few months.

This internal struggle of deciding what I really want out of my life has had me stumbling lately. I have asked my close friends and family for advice, and every single person had a different thought.

I quickly realized that to feel confident in my choice, I had to look deep within myself. Ultimately, this is my life and whatever I choose will shape my future in a dramatic way. My gut has been telling me that my business is onto something, my gut says don’t go back to college, my gut says that I need to continue to pursue my passions and business goals just like I did when I first dropped out of college in 2013.

This is a difficult decision, I hate school but love learning. I am terrible at school because I can never prioritize it over other more interesting and opportunistic things. It’s just not part of who I am.

So ultimately, this internal struggle and debate came down to a pro’s and con’s list. The three largest factors about college are the time requirements, the location requirements, and the debt responsibility.

  1. I am in the services industry, my time is the most valuable thing to me. Having to pay a school thousands for them to take my time is so difficult for me to comprehend. Even if the end result is some type of diploma.
  2. The Location requirement makes me want to vomit. Although, there are plenty of online schools, I would decide to do a location dependent college since I would go into flying. This makes me sick to my stomach, not having the freedom to go anywhere at anytime is a huge problem to me.
  3. Debt Responsibility, the nail in the coffin. I HATE DEBT. May sound juvenile, but it’s true. Ever since I was a kid I set a goal to never take on debt in my life. Obviously, school is a bit expensive. Seriously, lets just round it off at 80K in education that I would need to fund with loans and blah blah.

This is a huge moral dilemma for me. Like I said, I never want to accrue massive debt like this.

So what is the final result?

Well I have decided to do something crazy in today’s day and age… afford college. (sarcasm)

Instead of hitting it hard for a few years to finish, I have decided to do a pay as I go concept. I will take a class here or there, because I don’t have the time, location dependance, and money to drop everything I have grown to this date just so I can sit in a class listening to a snobby professor (I stereotyped, so I apologize to all the cool professors out there).

So does this help my life vision? Well as most of you know, I have but a few big time goals in my life:

1. Start a successful business

2. Fly airplanes everyday

This decision about my future allows me to work on #1 and in result accomplish #2 through financial freedoms.

But remember, things in your life will change. For me, I am going to focus on the services business that I have been able to grow. Who’s to say in a handful of years I wont go off to Alaska and fly in the Busch, or go overseas and fly missionary flying. Your life doesn’t need to be 30 years of servitude to any one thing if you have multiple things you want to pursue professionally. Don’t be ashamed of a liquid lifestyle, embrace it.

Just as I feel confident in my direction, if you are looking at your options be sure to take the time to weigh them. Take everyone’s opinions as helpful insight, but know that not one single person can have the correct answer for how you should pursue your life. Don’t ever settle.

Sure, I may not get my degree for another 5-6 years. But by picking a method where I will limit my debt responsibility and increase my time and location freedom, I can be happiest in my own desires and pursuits.

You can’t have it all at once, but work on refining a life that gives you the most satisfaction with the least amount of clutter.

So yeah, that’s what I’m up to and there are even bigger announcements coming soon. Stay tuned my friends.

If you are having a similar internal dilemma, I would love to help in any way I can. Leave a comment below or email me anytime.

The Coffee Shop Beauty

Death to Stock Photo | Life Nomading

You are sitting there at your favorite coffee shop…

It has been a very productive day and you are working so feverishly hard on your client’s work that you are totally zoned in.

Coffee shops are a part of your freelance lifestyle and without them you have no clue as to how you would get all the stuff done that you get done in your day.

For the small price of a chai tea latte (in my case) or a tall cup of coffee you can pop a squat at any coffee shop and get your freelance work done as long as you would like during your day.

Are there a couple of added benefits to working remotely at a coffee shop? Of course…

There is the possibility of running into your friends…

Endless sights, sounds, and smells keep your creative senses rejuvenated…

and the motivation to look half decent during the day instead of boxers at your home desk is always in effect…

These are all aspects of the coffee shop freelance lifestyle that keep us coming back for more, but did I forget one? No, no… I am saving it for last.

Every now and then, your razor like focus on your client work is interrupted by one thing. No, not the smells, the sounds, or even your friends entering the shop.

That interruption is what I like to call the Coffee Shop Beauty. As if sitting in a coffee shop isn’t already a perfect setup for an artistic poetic story about a beautiful girl sitting in silence alone, I feel it needs a bit more explaining.

There are plenty of beautiful women in the world (duh), and no I don’t just mean how they look on the outside. Instead I mean how they act and hold themselves and the aura they give off when they enter the freelancer’s workplace.

It’s a distraction that if you ask any dude freelancer, they will nod in secret agreement. Secretly, we want to approach these almost figment like characters of our imagination. Perhaps we could muster up the courage to strike up a conversation and then be the lucky one that gets a phone number or even a date. Maybe it’s the coffee roast smells going to our hearts, or the romantic aspect of a coffee shop love story, I’m not exactly sure. But there is something about this place that makes us hopeless romantics for a beautiful creative woman.

But then again, a part of us just loves to leave these special beautiful people to be in their element. Almost as if the potential of interaction should be left to our imagination. It’s like our little mystery that we don’t want to be solved, really ever.

I too get distracted by beautiful creative women in coffee shops. I can’t help it. (I can only speak from the male perspective, I’d love to hear a female’s point of view).

Maybe it’s just the style that I’m into. Perhaps, it’s the fact that they are coming to a coffee shop to work, be inspired, to learn, or create. There is something really artistic about it all, and I think that is why I may be so enamored.

One of my good friends once approached one of these figments-of-beauty coffee shop girls. He ended up getting her number and actually went on a few dates with her before it was destined for no more. This all happened only after he left the coffee shop only to make a U-turn in mid traffic to go all the way back just to talk to her. What a dude with some big kahunas. See this is what these beauties do to us!

See I don’t know what it is about them, but I don’t know if I will ever approach one of these coffee shop beauties like my friend did. First, because I am not one to approach women in such obvious ways (although I hope to try and step up my “game” one of these days). Secondly, because I honestly think it’s just part of the freelancing lifestyle and is to be expected.

This tale is from an overwhelming amount of experiences of seeing so many beautiful people and souls in coffee shops as a freelancer.

Can you relate?

An Ian Hoyt PSA: I’m On That Edge

Ian Hoyt | Life Nomading

This past week I reflected on how I really wanted to focus Life Nomading.

I have been writing on here for about seven months now, and while it has been awesome I feel like I am really spanning the wide breadth of topics on here. You can find articles about creating blogs to relationship talk, and even how to save money. While writing about all these different topics has it’s place and while it can be good for a blog, in all honesty it makes it a bit difficult when you start out (I feel like this blog is still very much a baby).

Incase you didn’t know, before I began Life Nomading I had a blog called “Writings for the Soul“. It was all about soulful stuff. I really niched down into emotional writing about what it means to be self aware of who you are. I talked a lot about passion seeking, relationships, morals and such. It was fun and it was great, but I got burned out. The moral of this little story is that the “Writings for the Soul” blog was only around for a few months, and although short lived I had started to build a really great following of diehard readers (crazy I know).

This was AWESOME and made my heart extremely happy! It was great being able to talk to all my readers and help them stay positive.

But then I abandoned them for a few months. No one heard from me and I just stopped writing.

Long story short, like I said I got burned out of what to write about.

Learning a lot from that blog, I regrouped to start this! Now I managed to bring some of those previous subscribers over to Life Nomading, but it just hasn’t been the same since. I think it has a lot to do with my focus here. Did I lose sight as to what I was really good at writing about? Did I shoot or aim too high at first? I’m not 100% sure.

That is why I really want to bring back my unfiltered voice back into this blog. Don’t get me wrong, all of the articles and podcasts I have created up until this point are totally me. But instead of writing for what I think people will love, I am going to begin anew writing what I love. I hope in return to bring you back, the one that once loved reading my stuff because of how it made you feel.

This being said, the other piece of the pie is to FOCUS on what I intended this blog to be about in the very first place. This is a place to document my remote working lifestyle.

The bi-product of this lifestyle can be adventures, travel, business building, etc, but at my core I want to provide insight into the life of a remote worker. The ups and downs and all-arounds so you can hopefully grow from it as well in your life.

So what does being on the edge mean, Ian?

Glad you asked my friends.

The grux of it is that I make very little money in total right now (You can see this in my January 2015 Earnings Report). However, I am fully remote in my work. Trade-offs.

As it stands now, the next two years I will have one cost that I hate: rent. When you factor in other stuff like food it ends up being: my revenue ≤ my costs.

What the hell am I getting at?

I am on the edge of having to give up a little of my remote working lifestyle in order to make ends meet. Recently I began searching for a part-time job, but in the midst of my frantic search online I realized I was giving in to what I hate. I was taking the easy route. Why would I do such a thing!

This remote lifestyle isn’t meant to be easy and fun all the time. It’s just meant to be an alternative. In the end, I forced myself to close the job application tabs on my browser. Fuck that.

If I want to show the lifestyle of a remote worker and be at least one real documentation for all, I must stick to my guns. The reason I quit my job in the first place was because I hate scheduled work.

So I am on that edge of barely paying my bills. I will do everything in my power not to take a part-time job. I know I can do it, and if I can do it you can too.

This was a PSA from Ian