Maintain Intense Workouts While Traveling With This Portable Exercise Equipment (That Fits In Any Backpack)
One of the more frustrating aspects of traveling for me personally – and I suspect many of you health nuts as well – is being able to maintain a workout regimen. The exercise part isn’t terribly difficult to muster but it’s cultivating a challenging routine in changing environments that often suffers from a lack of time, gyms, and equipment. Although body weight exercises like this 5 minute hotel room workout are effective at burning calories and slowing muscle mass loss (or fat gain) you’ll need some gear to push yourself.
Since packing dumbbells isn’t practical (just imagine the luggage fees you’d have to avoid) instead of gravity, these tools exploit leverage, pushing your muscles to grow without the benefit of heavy weights.
1. Black Mountain Resistance Bands ($35)
One of the best gifts travelers can buy before the end of 2013 are these highly durable Black Mountain bands that can give you up to 35 kilograms (~75 pounds) of resistance. Highly recommended by fitness expert Yasmin Al-Atrache in my September live chat, the kit also comes with ankle straps, door anchors and occupies only about 640 cubic centimeters (6 x 7 x 6 inches) just under 1 kilo (2lbs).
- Resistance Band Workouts – Men’s Fitness has an excellent full body workout (with video), Bodybuilding.com has two alternative routines, and Shape adds 9 low-intensity moves.
2. ProSource Dual Ab Wheel ($13)
Ab wheels are a somewhat neglected tool which provide an effective core and upper-body workout without the use of weights. For those of you unfamiliar ab wheel roll outs, this video shows a good example with proper form, and the clip below gives you an idea of possible variations.
The ProSource wheels are smaller than shown in these video examples (roughly 15 cm or 6 inches, across) and I prefer them because they can be quickly disassembled for packing.
3. Veloce Pushup Handles ($19.99)
The number of (proper) pushups you can do is a strong indicator of your overall fitness as well as a gauge of how well you might age later in life, according to most health experts. Using pushup handles can engage more of your chest muscles (since you can drop down further than a standard pushup) but a major benefit is strengthening your grip. And it’s not the guy or gal with the biggest triceps or bulging biceps that are the strongest in the gym, it’s the person who’s got the biggest forearms. I recommend the Veloce pushup handles because of their simple, light design that make them a cinch to pack clothes around.
Burn Calories And Ditch Jet Lag
I hate to break it to your friend who’s always going on about what a workout walking around a new city is but when you accurately calculate how many calories you burn sightseeing, it’s likely a lot less than you were hoping. Although any exercise is good exercise, the fact that you’re sore from walking for a few hours probably says more about what you need to be doing on a regular basis back home. (The browser plug-in FitBolt can help.) Aside from strengthening muscles, exercise 3 hours before you need to sleep can induce the right amount of cortisol to get you to dreamland, helping you get back on schedule in a new timezone.
Our bodies begin to lose maximum cardiovascular output after about 9 days and noticeable muscle mass after 3 weeks. The more in shape you are the faster it is to physically bounce back but to keep your motivation lifted at any level, don’t ever leave your workout (or portable equipment) too far behind.
Travelers can be a frustratingly fun bunch to shop for since there’s a lot to choose from and well, because there’s a lot to choose from. Whether you’re narrowing down the type of gift or a specific selection in a given category, let me help eliminate some of your choices while still giving you (and your budget) a lot to choose from.
The innovative dominance of Apple’s latest core products is debatable these days but when it comes to the Macbook Air there’s little question it’s the best ultrabook on the market others look up to. Unless the person you’re purchasing for is a die-hard Windows user or a serious gamer, your quest for a travel laptop should begin – and will likely end – here.
For larger laptops or smaller budgets you can browse the rest of The Best Travel Laptops of 2013 which includes the hybrid Lenovo Yoga 2 Pro (~$1,100) if you can’t decide whether to get a laptop or tablet and prefer a little of both.
The camera I carry and highly recommend as do so many of you who travel with a model of Lumix. Alternatively the Olympus Tough TG-2 iHS (~$359) is perfect for adventurous-types who might especially appreciate a camera that is waterproof down to 15 meters (50 feet) and doubles as a baseball. Whichever camera and lens you settle on keep them clean with an iKlear Cleaning Kit ($25) good for all the digital screens you’ll be gifting.
- GoPro HERO3+ ($399) – The best selling camera in the world and a great gift for the skydiving, whale diving, off-roading, adrenaline junkies you want to surprise.
A very generous way to say keep in touch.
- Android: Nexus 5 ($349-$399) – Thank you Google, this is how a phone is done and priced to sweep the legs of the competition. Pretty screen on the outside with powerful electronics inside – plus an efficient operating system – the person unwrapping this gift should be quite happy.
- iPhone: Seriously Get The 5s ($699 Contract Free; $199 with Carrier) – The iPhone 5c is basically the old iPhone 5 with colors so I wouldn’t recommend getting it for someone who’s already got an iPhone 5 – unless they really like colors excluding gray, gold, or black.
- Windows: Nokia Lumia 1020 ($799 Contract Free; $149 AT&T US-only) – This isn’t the phone to surprise someone with unless they’ve already expressed a very strong interest and realize its limited base of apps… or want the most amazing camera in a smartphone available at any cost.
Wireless Backup Solutions
Data backup isn’t necessarily the sexiest gift but an incredibly thoughtful one you may be graciously thanked for long after its been received.
- Kingston Digital Wi-Drive (~$159) – Provides 128GB of additional storage plus wireless syncing of photos and files.
- Digital Foci Photo Safe II ($149) – Useful for travel photographers and enthusiasts who want to quickly backup photos on the fly without a computer.
In addition to these physical backup solutions there’s also the gift of a Crashplan subscription ($59.99; 1 year subscription) which can prevent your next vacation from turning into a disaster.
A Personal Technical Consultant For Only $9.99
I recently reduced the price of The Ultimate Tech Guide For Travelers Version 2.0, my 208-page living ebook that comes bundled with 6 months complimentary tech support and consultation. Here’s one of the latest reviews on Amazon:
“I travel constantly and work on the road. This book is the best tool I have found for learning strategies for traveling effectively, efficiently and securely anywhere in the world. The book comes with the ability to ask the author questions via email for a limited time. I read the book and sent Anil a detailed question on two occasions and both times he followed up with specific answers within 24 hours. I think this service really ups the value of the book.
I believe any traveler, from occasional to full time, will find this information useful and relevant, as well as time and money saving. I don’t know of another product like it. It’s far superior to searching the web for random articles on the subject. It’s well worth the price and Anil’s service is a unique bonus. Highly recommended. Enjoy the journey!”
14 Physical And Digital Books Nomads Will Love
You can browse through these selections of some of my personal favorites but if you aren’t sure if some they’re already been read by the person you’re shopping for, you can fall back on an Amazon.com gift card.
- 8 Great Motorcycle Books That Will Ignite Your Wanderlust
- 4 Powerful Books That Transformed The Travelers Who Wrote Them (And Will Change You Too)
Capturing The Journey ($10) - Written by friend of the site, Darin Rogers, who’s shared his photography tips 5 Ways To Take Better Sunset Photos When Traveling and Avoid Your Camera’s Black And White Setting To Take Amazing Monochrome Photos in two guests posts on foXnoMad. If you find those articles useful you’ll love his ebook.
- How To Live A Life Of Travel ($27) – The most comprehensive guide I’ve read for people who want to get out the door and travel more.
Speaking Of eBooks, Which eReader Should You Get?
The first decision is whether or not you want a color tablet or a dedicated e-ink device. E-ink may reduce eye strain compared to color screens but without a doubt their matte screens are easier to read in bright light (bookworms by the beach, this is for you).
Once you’ve decided upon a color or e-ink device, the next big decision is which model to go for and I can make this simple for you. Basically, if you don’t have a credit card with a United States billing address or live outside of the United Kingdom, go with either the Kindle Paperwhite ($139; e-ink ad-free) or Kindle Fire HD ($139; color).
Everyone else: you’ve got a few versions of Barnes & Noble’s Nook to consider and to be honest, I think their current line of eReaders beat the Kindle to varying degrees across several fronts. Those who enjoy reading in poorly-lit train cabins or hostel dorms will appreciate the crisp back-lighting of the Nook GlowLight ($119; e-ink) [engadget Review] and adding Google Play to the Nook HD ($129) makes it an alluring color tablet. Additionally the Nook HD+ ($149), which has a 9-inch screen, was rated CNET’s best tablet value.
Online store commitment isn’t what it used to be and both the Kindle Fire and Nook HD lines can run their competitor’s reading apps meaning you can read ebooks purchased from Amazon on the Nook and vice versa.
Stay In Shape For 2014
As the end of the year approaches don’t forget that plenty of travelers will be resolving to keep their bags light in January by ditching some junk in their trunk. Fitness expert and my September live chat guest Yasmin Al-Atrache recommends Black Mountain Resistance Bands (~$35) as the ideal portable workout kit for fit travelers which make a nice addition to the Micro Luggage Scooter ($299), the small suitcase you can literally add to your cardio routine.
As picky as us travelers tend to be, we usually have a mental list of goodies we’d love to add or upgrade in our backpacks at any given time. Slyly ask the right questions and you’ll probably be able to glean the information you need for the right surprise.
Whatever religion you practice or don’t, it’s likely you’ll be shopping for someone between now and the end of 2012. And, knowing you, some of those people are probably the cool, traveling type who can be hard to shop for since they like gadgets but don’t like carrying a lot of stuff. Fortunately though I’ve got you covered, with the best gifts, gadgets, and accessories for your vagabonding buddies, family members, and of course you sitting right there.
Laps And Tabs – The Best Computing Devices
Those of you having trouble deciding between between the two can take a look at my answer to the question, should I buy a tablet instead of a laptop for my travels? If you happen to fall on the laptop side of that argument, I’ve narrowed down your choices to my favorites.
- The Best Travel Laptops Of 2012- From netbooks and ultrabooks to full-sized 15-inch laptops, this collection of laptops should make your shopping decision a bit easier as I guide you to the right machine based on your needs and travel style.
As for tablets, you’re in a good time to go shopping for them, as there are great options and prices on the market right now. There are basically two varieties of tablets; the difference being drawn between smaller 7-inch and larger 9-inch screen sizes. Some of my favorite models on the available right now from both categories:
Nook HD (7 and 9-inch versions available) – In my opinion, the most underrated eReader/tablet competitor. It’s got powerful hardware (1.3GHz OMAP 4470) and excellent screen resolution (1440×900 at 243ppi) – those specs only improve on the 9-inch version of the Nook HD. Especially if you’re on the market for an eReader or deciding between a Kindle (or iPad mini for that matter), and aren’t tied to any one online store, the Nook HD is the one I would go with.
- Google Nexus 7 – Probably the least talked about 7-inch tablet on the market, which is surprising, since it’s simply solid overall.
- iPad 3 – Don’t get the 4, it’s pretty much a gimmick that’s $50 or so more expensive. Also, if you’re looking for a 9-inch tablet, get an iPad; they created the category and rule it for a reason. The iPad mini, not so much.
You can also take a look inside of my own backpack to see all of the tech gear and gadgets I travel with for some ideas. They’re road tested and traveler-approved.
Luggage That Moves With You (How To Pick The Right Backpack)
- Micro Luggage Scooter – There aren’t many bags out there that you can actually ride around the airport zipping to your gate whether you’ve got time to spare or are running late. Read my full review.
- Osprey Sojourn 25-Inch 60 Liter (Pictured above.) – This hybrid backpack-rolling suitcase is my main back I take with me everywhere and what I keep all of my worldly possessions in. I rarely find myself needing to use the backpack straps (which tuck away nicely when not in use) but the option is nice when, say, on the bumpy side streets of New Delhi.
- SwissGear Computer Backpack – The separate bag I use to keep my electronics in whenever I need to check or be separated from my main Osprey luggage. It’s got pockets within pockets upon pockets, perfect for any traveling techie.
Finally, the last backpack I carry actually sits inside of my bags, tightly packed into a ball as it’s designed to. The REI Stuff Travel Pack makes a wonderfully portable daypack, holding about 22 liters of your exploring essentials, like your camera when you’re out and about trekking around the mud volcanoes of Gobustan.
Boom, Snap, And Shot
For all of your traveling music lovers, help turn noise into sound, without the humming engine background.
Headphones: V-MODA Vibe In-Ear Noise-Isolating Metal Headphone – I’ve had my particular (red) model of these V-MODA headphones for 4 years and can’t recommend them more for sound quality, durability, and noise reduction.
Monster Inspiration Headphones With Active Noise Cancellation – Earlier in the year I traveled for 3 weeks around Asia with these headphones snugging caressing my ears. They’re high-end headphones but the sound quality is exceptional and any traveler who takes their tunes seriously will enjoy a pair of these.
Your travel memories are only as good as your travel photos and if you disagree with me now, just wait until you’re 80 years old. Arm your loved ones with the best digital cameras to get the job done.
Camera: Panasonic Lumix DMC-ZS10 – The camera I’ve been using for the last 18 months or so and if you wander through my archives over that time and browse through the pictures, you’ll get an idea of what this camera can do. Check out my Photo Essay of The Alhambra in Spain or my Birthday Pictures of The Hagia Sophia in Istanbul, Turkey. Since I picked up my DMC-ZS10, Panasonic has released an upgrade, lighter model, the Lumix ZS20.
- Inside I’ve got a 32GB SanDisk SDHC memory card and use my old 8GB card as a backup if needed.
xShot Camera Extender – This is easily one of the most useful and used items I carry in my backpack. The xShot not only lets you get photo angles you couldn’t otherwise without growing an extra meter in height, but makes it simple to get group or self photos without having to stretch your shoulder clean from its socket. The xShot fits standard on most camera types and is one of the best ways to take better travel photos without getting a better camera.
Save Money By Gifting Your Frequent Flyer Miles Directly
You can be generous and share you own miles, which makes for a great, inexpensive travel gift. But rather than outright transferring them to someone else’s frequent flyer account, you can save on fees by simply booking the flights directly for your friend or family member. Also, if you end up purchasing frequent flyer miles to gift them, try to keep them on one of these 3 alliances to maximize their usefulness for whomever you’re giving them too.
eBooks – The Best Is Now On Sale
The Ultimate Tech Guide For Travelers Version 2.0 – Become a tech-savvy traveling digital ninja by learning the hacker secrets and tricks to make your gadgets versatile tools on the road. Save more that $100 within a year and get 6 months of free technical support by me (where else can you buy yourself a personal traveling tech consultant?) to help you with any topics covered. You’ll also get 3 months of free updates learn more than you ever knew possible about your laptop. Oh, and it’s on sale, 30% off right now!
Discovering The Hidden Europe With Author Francis Tapon – It’s rare to find a book that’s as educational and entertaining as this one is. I thoroughly enjoyed reading. The Hidden Europe: What Eastern Europe Can Teach Us, and comparing notes from my own travels there.
I read often and a few good books I’ve recently enjoyed – that blend travel and tech – to add to this list are: The Pirates Of Somalia, A Little History Of The World, and The Signal and The Noise: Why Some Predictions Fail But Others Don’t.
Giving The Gift Of Geek
Please excuse me while I turn the geek dial all other way to its highest setting for the combined enjoyment of those nerdy travelers you’re shopping for right now. Ka’plah!
- Here’s my list of all the latest recommended models.
Tickets To Geek Events – There are all kinds of conventions, fairs, and festivals for your nomadic geek buddies to attend. First though you’ll have to narrow down what kind of nerd you’re shopping for by checking out my list of the best places for nerds to travel.
Albert Einstein Mouse Pad – He goes with me everywhere, providing a smooth surface for my scrolling and offering a bit of wisdom and happy smile as needed.
Belkin Mini Surge Protector Dual USB Charger – Much like bandwidth, you can never have too many good electrical outlets. A sight that’s not incredibly common in many parts of the world or cafes either, so a Belkin Mini Surge Protector can help you make the most of an outlet when you find one.
Apps The Translate: SpeechTrans – You can combine the speech and text translating apps using SpeechTrans (Android and iOS) for $14,99. If you want to covert the functions of the other major translation apps into one, SpeechTrans may be a good fit as a gift.
High-Resistance Workout Cables – Your friends are probably not burning as many calories as they think sightseeing but these cables can help tip the scales in their favor. I travel with them for the days here and there I can’t make it to the gym, and turn any hotel into a gym with these quick 50 calorie killers.
And Finally, Gifts For Your Travel Blogging Friends
We’ve covered pretty much all kinds of techy travelers here but it would be a bit ironic for me to neglect the many other travel bloggers out there sharing their adventures with family and friends. They’re likely to appreciate a few new additions to their digital worlds and you can do that by gifting a SmugMug subscription for your photographic friends, purchasing some of their online hosting costs for the upcoming year on Media Temple, or surprising them with Aweber’s newsletter service for their fans. Additionally you can check out the blogging services I use on foXnoMad and consider one or some part of them for your travel blogging buddies, or self, as you shop into 2013.
For many of you around the world, the holiday shopping season is upon you and due to their size and weight, you may be considering purchasing a tablet for your traveling loved one (or self). Tablets have been increasing in power and options over the last 18 months but can they completely replace a laptop for you on the road? There are advantages to traveling with both, still, in terms of a total replacement, there are a few important caveats to keep in mind before ditching a full-fledged screen and keyboard.
Your Programs Will Be Limited By Apps
Most of the major tablets on the market right now (Windows Surface, iPad, Nook HD, Google Nexus 7) and their respective operating systems (Windows RT, iOS, Android Ice Cream Sandwich, and Android 3.0) have apps that can comfortably replace many of the laptop programs you’re likely to use. Web browsing, email management, and media consumption (e.g. watching movies) are all very intuitive on tablets. The larger 7-inch variety also make short-form typing easy enough, despite the lack of tactile feedback from physical keys.
However, common computer-laptop tasks like serious document editing (not to mention video and photo preparation) are limiting on tablets because of inadequate apps, screen size, and lack of a mouse for better cursor control. You should also keep in mind that unless you go through the effort of jailbreaking or rooting your tablet, you’re generally going to be limited to their app environment. So a great iPad app may not be available for Android or Windows RT… so on and so forth.
Repairs And Upgrades Are More Expensive; Harder To Find Outside Of The Developed World
For the most part, tablets are fairly hardy gadgets – as is the general rule of the universe – the less complex something is, the less there is to go wrong with it. (A lack of moving parts is also a huge part of that equation.) Yet things can and do go wrong, and if you’re not in a major, developed, city somewhere in the world, the chance of you getting it repaired is next to zero percent. Also, you’re bound to the tablet hardware, unlike a laptop, most tablets don’t make memory or processor upgrades feasible. Although some tablets do have data storage expansion slots for microSD cards, generally speaking, you can’t extend the lifespan of a tablet with upgrades like you can most laptops and netbooks.
Tablets Can’t Replace Laptops Yet But Might Not Need To For You
There isn’t a single tablet on the market right now that can replace a laptop and honestly, probably never will be in their current form; simply because they’re physically limited in several key ways. Those limitations however are their strongest assets – reducing their size – making them ideal travel companions if you don’t need a laptop replacement. Checking emails, surfing the Internet, booking travel reservations (some of the best flight search engines make the best tablet apps), and catching up on the latest episodes of Dexter are convenient on tablets. Not to mention your sore back – in case your bags need to go on a holiday diet.
Those of you traveling longer term (more than 3-6 months at a time), working from the road for a company back home, or want expansion room should look into some of my best laptops of 2012. Though the time may come when fully-developed, laptop-replacing, operating systems are available on tablets sometime in 2013 or early 2014, we’re not there quite yet.