pacsafe exp45

Living in London vs. New York as an expat …

Hi guys if this is your first time reading this travel blog, you can read a bit more about it here, in my personal description. Ive only had the blog now for less than 10 days but have been a full-time traveler for about 30 months, more specifically I left JFK Airport at 12:10 AM, December 11, 2019 to Taiwan via EVA Air. Its now 2022 so that puts me gone quite awhile. That’s 76,204,800 seconds gone on vacation or 882 days.

So I have a lot of subjects to blog about … I just recently arrived in London from Morocco, here’s a partial intro. As mentioned I came from JFK airport and had previously resided in Manhattan and Brooklyn for many years. I’ll be describing some key similarities between New York and London. Let me tell you we get a lot of Londoners coming over there. I used to be associated with a transportation company in NYC, and it was like every other person who came to visit NYC was a Londoner. Technically its not that far for an intercontinental flight, about 7 to 9 hours depending on the winds and which direction that you are flying.

A neighborhood in North London

London is pretty straightforward as a city, its got a few central neighborhoods like Kensington and the city of London, I used Buckingham Palace as my central point of orientation, whereas in NYC you may want to use midtown Manhattan. One key difference is that London is WAY more green. It seems there are trees and parks all over the place especially as you get a bit further away from places near Buckingham Palace. For NYC the main feature is the skyline, I would say. Manhattan being an island filled with huge skyscrapers.

While they are both considered large, NYC is actually about twice the size of London. Technically the city limits house about the same 9 million or so, but if we count the metro areas, London is at 12 million, while NYC is now over 20 million (data courtesy of Wikipedia). One thing that I can recognize is that along with the high-rises, NYC is actually a bit bigger in the financial world, you just have a lot of companies that are over there, in both Midtown and Wall Street, while London does have finance and its own stock exchange, I can just tell its a bit smaller.

Both cities get a lot of tourists from god knows where, and they both house a lot of immigrants. London has a lot of residents of descents from India Pakistan, Africa, and the middle east, whereas NYC has a lot of Mexican, Chinese, Russian, and many other places. People from both cities are in a rush, haha, and there’s traffic in both, but NYC takes the cake again. Traffic there is really on the horrific side, whereas Londons is just moderate to bad.

Here’s a key difference you may be interested in. Londoners are a bit more laid back, conservative and polite, while still being in a rush. Now there’s a saying that one Londoner told me who I met in NYC. The food in London is more bland than in NYC because Londoners are more polite while New Yorkers are more direct… interesting point. The food in London is not that bad, there’s a quite a mix, but ill get to that in another post. I find Londoners to be pleasant, whereas once you get to know NYers they can be vicious, if you work with them or just a bit on the short tempered side, but it really just depends on the person.

New York is WAY more expensive. Some people think that London is more expensive, but i think the reason that they claim this is because perhaps they dont have experience living in both cities, or perhaps it is because of some level of ethnocentrism. Generally London is cheaper than most major cities in the USA. How do i know? i spent some time searching for the cost of housing both on major housing sites, and for hotel rooms and Airbnbs. In Manhattan you may find that its hard to find something below $1600 USD, there’s just no bottom end for housing. Around here in London you can probably get something a little further away from places like Kensington for around $700 to $900. I know because i found a few listings on Airbnb for monthly rentals. Secondly, a lot of the tourist attractions in London are free. I seriously had some trouble finding sites that i needed to pay for, museums, galleries monuments, and so on. Finally, for shopping for food at a grocery store I saw some items, quite a few that were for below 1 GBP. In the USA its hard to see anything for this price level, for example a can of sardines, package of cookies, carton of milk etc. If we go to restaurants, both London and NYC are expensive, but over in NYC they just like to charge tourists a lot more, and there’s nothing for free! Happy Travels!

Backpacker Essentials… packing lite, detailed item list!

packing lite

Hey fellow backpackers! Here’s my list of detailed items for one bag travel across Europe! In case you missed the summary list and groupings click here for the intro description. The base weight for the new list is 21.54 lbs, this excludes items that i wear while in transit, which as you can see in the summary is about 9.34 lbs. I used a digital OZ scale to weigh my items and plug them into Lighter Pack.

Category 1, Luggage: The first category includes my backpack which is my 3.5 lb. Pacsafe Exp 45 which is the heaviest item that i am bringing. Other items within this category are a 20 liter stuff sack which i can also use as a second handbag aboard the airliner at 5 oz. I also have two toiletry bags at 3 oz each, a disposable shopping bag at 2 oz, a set of laundry bags, and a drone case for my drone and controller. Finally I’ve got two luggage locks, one for my Pacsafe and one for the hostel locker. The total for this category is 5.41 lbs. These are basically containers for other items. Items list can be viewed here.

Category 2, Electronics: The heaviest category of items that I have packed and most expensive is electronics. Ive got a 14″ Acer laptop that weighs 2.7 lbs it fits in the computer pouch of my backpack. I have a mousepad, mouse, AA battery, laptop charger, and a DJI mini 2 drone that weighs 1.5 lbs. I have a phone charger that weighs only 1 oz, and 2 USB cables that are roughly 1 oz each. My google pixel weighs 6 oz but i keep this in my pocket so it doesn’t affect the base weight of my bag. The total weight of this category is 5.11 lbs. Items list can be viewed here.

Category 3, miscellaneous and toiletries: This set of items includes just about everything besides whats in the other categories; things like my toothbrush, toothpaste, deodorant, tape measure, and scale. It includes 2 pairs of eyeglasses, 2 eyeglass cases, a bottle opener, a wallet, a passport, waterproof bags, reusable utensils, and beard shaver (my beard grows really fast). The weight for this category is 3.04 lbs. The list of these items can be viewed here.

Category 4, camping: I will admit that camping is not for everyone, but i was able to successfully fit a tent inside my 45 liter backpack along with the other items. The tent is a NatureHike Cloud up 2 person that I bought from Its small enough to fit rolled up and weighs 3.6 lb. It includes a ground cover, outer shell, inner tent, close pins and a tent frame. This category also includes a mini lantern for the inside of the tent. The total weight is 3.75 lbs. Items list can be viewed here.

Category 5, clothing, pants: I have to admit I’m still a bit undecided on whether to include a pair of blue jeans for my summer trip. I may go with polyester pants instead and just leave the jeans at home. Otherwise, i’ll take 2 or 3 pairs of shorts and my current pair of McKinley pair of hiking shorts that weigh 8oz. The total weight here is 3.44 lbs. Note: Individual items list can be viewed here

Category 6, clothing, shirts: Here im taking 2 to 3 polyester T shirts, at 3 oz each, 2 tanktops at 2.5 oz, and 3 to 4 lightweight summer overshirts that are button down at 7 oz each for a total weight of 2.56 lbs. items list can be viewed here.

Category 7, clothing, underwear: This includes 6 pairs of polyester boot socks at 2.5 each, and 3 pairs of polyester boxer briefs from Decathlon, weight is 1.15 lbs. Items list can be viewed here.

Category 8, 9, & 10, clothing, footwear, hats, outerwear: I will be taking a pair of flip flops and a pair of water shoes, as well as one pair of boots, but this wont be counted towards the base weight since i will mostly be wearing my boots the total weight here is 4.5 lbs. For outerwear ill be taking 1 light jacket and one pair of tops for long underwear (ill be in Scandinavia). The weight here is .94 lbs. For hats, I’ve got several. These are one bucket hat, another beanie cap for chilly weather, and a baseball cap, as well as a canvas belt and a leather belt, the total weight here is 1.44 lbs. The list of items can be viewed here.

Wild Camping … on Tenerife, Canary Islands

Looking for tips on wild camping or backpacking tents??!?! You have come to the right place to see advice on camping! I am a solo vagabond/traveler who does some camping across the globe, although by no means a professional or full-time outdoorsman.

Why wild woods camping and which brands? I came up with the idea to cut down on my spending for housing on my world tour and also because i dont mind the outdoors versus a crowded hostel. Previously, I did not own a tent so this is my first time camping as an adult. A few brand choices for the tent that i considered, Big Agnes, Nemo, MSR, REI and Kelty. Some of these brands have some fantastic lightweight bikepacker and backpacker setups, but most these are hella expensive! Kelty is a brand that is a bit less expensive but also a bit too heavy for my requirement. The volume was also a consideration.

What did I choose? Instead of the high end brands, I settled on buying a Naturehike Cloud up 2 person tent from that weighs only 3.6 lbs and is approximately 17 inches by 6 inches in volume, priced at $120. I ordered this while I was staying at a hostel in Valencia, Spain and it arrived in 2 days. The tent is small enough to fit inside the 45L Pacsafe backpack – space is at a premium! It is also budget-oriented so the price is low enough just in case I change my mind and buy a more expensive one! See some more of my story down below…

NatureHike Tent

What is included in the NatureHike 2 person tent setup kit? Tent stakes, a ground cover, the inner tent, the double shelled outer tent or rainfly, some guidelines, two small stuff sacks, and pre-attached tent poles. As I said the total weight is only 3.6 lbs so this is just perfect for a two-person tent (I am solo but needed some extra space for gear). Now the material is a bit on the thinner side, however it is waterproof and does hold upto the wind, strong enough to withstand one month’s straight camping. Setup takes around 7 to 10 minutes time and condensation is minimal. Good luck out there!

Where to camp? Wherever, but make sure its a hidden spot away from too many buildings or roads.

Tenerife seemed like a great place to start camping due to the weather and also the natural areas of the island. It is very warm there. During the month of March the nighttime temp was somewhere between 58F and 65F, so plenty warm enough – I wanted to be comfortable while sleeping outside. I also brought a coat and a hat, and bought a small blanket that weighed 11oz, and all 3 were needed. The NatureHike 2 person cloud up tent setup was just about big enough to fit myself inside of plus my backpack, shoes, and some food. They do offer free spots to do wild camping on Tenerife, but unfortunately these were still closed due to Coronavirus restrictions. Instead I found a wild spot, near to El Medano, Tenerife, Adeje and Tenerife Airport south. Some people do go up to the mountains or near to Mount Teide forest to camp but up there, it is much colder so its necessary to take some winter gear.

montana roja wild camping
Montana Roja on Tenerife near my spot

The spot I chose was hidden so it was hard for passers by to see the tent. I was a bit concerned for my safety but this is where the security features of the Pacsafe bag came into play. When i was asleep I had the Pacsafe steal cable security to my pants and my wallet and phone locked inside, but the good news here is that I didn’t have anyone bother the tent while I was asleep. The oddest thing that happened was that a woman was calling out to her dog that had wandered away, it was about 4am, and she was speaking a language besides English, so at first i didn’t know what she was saying. Other than this nobody came by the tent at night. It was perfectly safe.

A few tips for wild camping…

Over in south Tenerife, there’s a lot of wind, so I decided to use some extra rocks to weigh down the tent rainfly and straps to keep the windy conditions from blowing it away and if you need even extra wind security, you may buy some extra safety pins to secure my tent for camping. The wind can get pretty bad down there; upto 30 mph. The Naturehike is also really easy to set up and take down. Heres a pic of myself enjoying my hike and camp time near Montana Roja near El Medano, Tenerife… good luck! questions welcome.

wild camping tenerife
wild camping on tenerife

Backpacker in Spain …

backpacker in barcelona

Looking for a backpacker who traveled to Spain? That would be me! I am US citizen who flew/bussed it/ hitchhiked and camped around Spain! it was a lot of fun! I visited the cities of Barcelona, Valencia, Malaga, Madrid, El Medano, Tenerife in the Canary islands and a few others on my backpacker tour of Spain…

My overview of Spain: Spain is a very safe country and very well organized. The weather is also warm and more on the moderate or temperate side, so its great for backpackers in Spain! I have a backpack, the Pacsafe EXP 45 which is a carry-on size medium backpack that i used on Ryanair. It also fits my small 2 person tent, the Naturehike Cloud up. I’ll be doing a separate post on that tent, but it is very compact and weighs only 3.6 lbs. It was small enough to carry around the country of Spain as a backpacker in Spain. See more info below about my trip.

An American in Barcelona

Accommodations and Price: I started my trip by flying from a second home base in Albania to Barcelona Spain via Wizzair. The cost was very cheap with my backpack it was only $30. I then took a city but from the airport in Barcelona to central BCX where i walked to my youth hostel, The Loft Hostel in Barcelona. The Loft was a standard hostel with beds covered by curtains. The price of the hostel is moderate, about $15 to $25 usd or about $13 to $18 euro. They also have a courtyard where you can sit outside and enjoy the moderate weather and a kitchen where you can cook your own food to save money. I usually bought a potato that cost less than 1 euro and also bananas for 20 euro cents. There is a store where you can buy cheap packaged foods in Barcelona, its called Coaliment…

Sites: Barcelona is a fabulous town with a lot of panache, let me tell you. Above you can see my photo of the fantastic church, Familia Sagrada, which is a church designed by the architect Gaudi. The architecture is one of my favorite things about being a backpacker in Barcelona. The second is the parks, you can check out the most famous Parc de la Ciutadella. Make sure to check out the fountain at the center of the park.

About 2 miles away from the park you can take a city bus for a cheap price of under 2 euros to the beach! The beach is close and pretty nice. It has benches, and some buildings, playgrounds, swingsets, and plenty of sand! The temp is also pretty good for December. i even took a swim as it was around 60 to 65 F, other people were swimming in wetsuits.

Make sure to check out my packing list for backpackers in Spain in the site here!

Here’s a video on Youtube, A walking tour that filmed of the Gothic Quarter in Barcelona, which is something else let me tell you! Its very narrow medieval looking street and buildings with no cars, and some interesting looking boutiques! Enjoy the tour here on Youtube.

Safety Tips for Travel and One bag backpacking

Hey travel guys and girls. Here are a few tips ive discovered in my travels around the world.

Tip #1: make sure to get references for every service you hire to avoid scams. For example, hotels check the reviews online and book through major sites you should stand to avoid any overcharges at your hotel. You can also book through Airbnb long term lodgings because they protect both the tenant and landlord.

For taxis, my advice would be to book a private vehicle from the airport if you have a lot of luggage as many cabs are rip off artists, especially for tourists. They may attempt to negotiate a rate that is above the metered rate. For me in Bangkok my cab driver tried to charge me 3 times the metered rate. I decided to take a bus from the airport to center city. In Belgrade i got a private driver who was a bit more expensive but worth it given the peace of mind.

Tip #2: Use a lockable backpack. i personally own the Pacsafe exp45. It has a cut proof zipper and fabric. it also has a lockable zipper. I sometimes put my wallet and valuable items like passport and cell phone inside to avoid theft. I also can use the steel cable to secure my bag to a bedpost or my belt while im sleeping for example inside a hostel. This a good idea for being near to people you dont know or trust or for example leaving your hotel room for a little while to go out.

tip #3: I usually put a shirt over my waist to cover my pockets in a crowded area to avoid pickpockets. While i do choose to leave my wallet in my back pocket i still cover and make sure its still there as im walking. i also like to watch my surroundings to make sure nobody is following too closely. THis is especially a good tip for places like a public bus or subway transportation system.

Tip #4: I purchased a Hikvision security camera for my hotel room. as a fulltime traveler i wanted to have a way to keep an eye on my suitcases while i was away from the room. the security camera can go over the Wifi for the hotel and connect to my cell phone so i can see what is going on there from a remote location.

Tip #5: I personally choose to avoid cities and locations that are listed as high crime. My advice would be to check the USA Embassy sites and check to see which are listed as having high street crime. A few locations for example, Venezuela, Colombia, many places in Brazil and Mexico. I have chosen not to visit these locations because of the relatively high crime. In the future I will try to minimize my time spent at these locations. one recent example, Casablanca, Morocco.

Packing Advice, One Bag Travel for carry-on size EXP 45

Hi traveling guys and girls! In this post I’m going to offer you some advice on how as a man I packed my one bag Pacsafe EXP45 carry on sized backpack for months of travel! I am currently on month 4 and will be headed back to home base soon! I am particularly interested in “ultra-light” items! I am not a long distance hiker per se, but am a long term traveler with some occasional outdoor stents and having a light bag just makes things easier.

Here you can see what I am wearing and what is packed inside my Pacsafe EXP 45 cut proof bag. My bag when packed weighs 21 lbs whereas i am wearing 11.29 lbs worth of items, including my shoes which weigh near to 3 lbs, a pair of jeans that is about 1 lb 12 oz, an undershirt, and long sleeve button down shirt – for these items of course i would be wearing them regardless of whether i was traveling or not.

The Pacsafe bag itself weighs 3 lbs 6 oz. Inside the Pacsafe bag, ive got 1 stuff sack from Decathlon that is 20 liters and it helps to squeeze down the size of clothing items. ive also got another packing cube that is in the shape of a rectangle. Ive also got two toiletry bags for holding tools and items, such as a toothbrush etc. Granted these items could have been better planned as well and i may change them in the future.

For electronics I have a laptop which is a 14 inch Acer Swift that weighs 2.7 lbs. They do manufacture more lightweight laptops that are smaller for example tablets and the Microsoft surface pro. The Swift has been a great machine its slim and compact as well as reliable so i decided to go with it. You can see that my electronics weigh a total of 5.79 lbs, this includes a DJI mini 2 drone, cords, cases, and a charging brick of 23,000 mah by Anker that i can use when i am away from an electric outlet.

Next you can see that i packed a two person tent for camping. Ill get into where I use the tent versus stay inside of hotels, Airbnb’s and youth hostels. The tent weighs 3.6 lbs and takes up a space about 16″ by 5″ so maybe about 20 % of the inside of the inner portion of the bag.

Lighterpack export

For clothing, I am particularly interested in replacing my cotton shorts with blended or strictly polyester/nylon manufactured clothing because these items are slimmer as well as more lightweight. I currently have one pair of nylon shorts that weigh 8 oz with a belt attached, these are by Mckinley. Jeans tend to weigh much more than shorts, around 1.5 to 2.5 lbs. I would recommend packing these sparingly. I also wore a winter coat because I left for Spain in December. When I return to Albania I’ll trade in this coat for a lightweight jacket. The winter coat is bulky and weighs 3.3 lbs. One plus of having the stuff sack from Decathlon is that my coat can be rolled up into a small ball and compressed in the sack in about the size of 6″ by 8″ or so.