Tools Of The Trade: Working On The Road Like A Boss

1000 600 Matt Griffin

Pamplona“How the hell do you travel so much and still stay on top of things?”

I get this question all the time. Nothing beats sitting at your desk with big screens and meaty hardware, but it’s totally possible to keep the swelling inbox at bay, communicate with the team, and generate content in a compact kit. If you haven’t done so already, listen/read the Four Hour Work Week by Timothy Ferris. The whole concept is BS because I work now more than ever, but the scenery is great. Use technology to your advantage, learn to disappear, and live the life you want. So here is how I do it  …

Connection
If you’re going to bounce around and be productive, you need to be connected. As much as you think you’re going to be in BFE, there is cell phone coverage just about everywhere now. Do your research, talk to your carrier, or find one in country. If you look at your historical domestic data consumption, you can pick a domestic or international carrier that will affordably enable you to bugger off for weeks at a time. Yes, you may spend $300 a month on international phone and data fees, but you’re typically going to save that money in living expenses and quickly generate memories that won’t have you think twice about that automatic payment.

Combat Flip Flops Claymore BagThe Bag
I carry the Waxed Canvas Claymore. Yes, I’m partial because I make these, but I also made them for this purpose. The Claymore was designed around my mobile kit and it has yet to fall short in the Middle East, Africa, Central America, U.S., or Asia. When you read the kit below, you’ll see that the bag isn’t a clunker and has room to spare.

Computer
iPad 2 64G with Zagg Profolio Keyboard.  This is my primary work/comms/photo editing device.  With all of the apps, easy access to wi-fi, and ability to type–this machine has been a workhorse since June 2013.  Haven’t even looked at another option as I haven’t felt shortchanged by its capabilities.

Working from the road 1Voice
Get a Skype account with a local area code. Even though you’re in board shorts, on a beach, and hydrating with a bucket of cervezas, outbound calls look like you’re at home. Plus, any inbound calls with voicemail generate an email for you to sort through when you hit the next wi-fi spot. For this reason, I don’t upgrade my phone to international roaming because it’s the most cost-effective way to work abroad. Schedule your calls around your wi-fi hotspot availability. If you have an emergency that requires immediate voice comms, use your cell phone and pay the roaming fees.

Phone
iPhone 5s. iPhones are global. You can swap out SIM cards anywhere, pick up new carriers, and take fantastic photos.

Camera
iPhone 5s. 95% of people who buy DSLRs can’t use them to their ability. Take a course from the iPhone Photography School and save yourself the money, weight, and space. The best camera is the one you have on you. Work that cell phone like a boss and it will deliver. Use the iPad camera connection kit to push photos over to the iPad.

jobyTripod
Get a Joby MPod Mini Stand.This is my new favorite piece of kit. It is so freakin’ simple and compact that I find it’s a part of daily life now.

Writing Utensils
Moleskin Notebook, Medium point sharpie, 2 ball point pens, and a mechanical pencil. Sharpies are awesome for a variety of reasons, but ability to write on skin is highly important. As a method of measuring infection or insect bite size, a sharpie can help you track swelling, movement, or importance of a skin based medical emergency. Seriously, carry a sharpie.

kensingtonCharging Gear
First, please read up on 120V vs 240V.  Most of the world is 240V, so learn how to read your equipment to see if it can handle the load. Everything thing I charge comes of a USB port through the Kensington 4 port USB charger. This thing is money. Under most conditions, you’ll need an adapter for every piece of electrical equipment. Screw that. One adapter and one plug that charges everything.  If you are going to charge an iPad off the Kensington 4 port adapter, make sure you have a step up dongle to account for the required voltage. Cars always have a cigarette lighter – carry a plug!

LED flashlightFlashlight
A buddy of mine at Leatherman gifted me a LED Lenser P3BM. I love this thing. It’s not an uber light, but bright enough to light a dim hallway, alley, or help with an off-road tire change in a pinch. It’s clipped into the claymore bag clip at all times and now a PCC item before heading out.

Lighter
I always carry a good old-fashioned Bic wrapped with a few layers of gorilla tape. You always need a lighter and you always need duct tape.

Smokes
I read lots of Kerouac growing up and this is what I learned: “You can go anywhere with a pack of smokes, lighter, and a smile.”  I’ve found this to be true. For that reason, I carry a fresh pack of Marlboro Lights or Dunhills. Yes, smoking is bad for you. No, I am not telling you to habitually smoke. I’m simply stating that cigarettes come in handy when you need directions, getting hassled by a customs agent, or have the desire to not look like a standard healthier-than-thou Westerner.

pear sports trainerHealth
Go figure that I post this one right after smoking. Since I’m on the road a lot, I like to have a digital training buddy to keep me in shape. My two favorites are the Bluetooth Pear Sports Trainer and the Pocket Yoga HD app on the iPad. Both have fantastic workouts, enable you to track your progress, and don’t have a monthly subscription fee for the gym you can’t physically reach.

Organization
The bag covers most of it with integrated storage, but I have an Arc’teryx mesh harness bag to carry chargers, adapters, cables, and the mess of whoa. 

That’s it. If you don’t think it’s possible, try it at home for a week to shake out any bugs. You may need an additional cable, mobile app, or external battery to cover extended durations between reliable power. Again, you’re not going to be as productive as you are in your cubicle, but the view is much =better. If you want to see it in action, check out my recent trip with Team 5 Foundation and Expedition Overland on our mission to Guatemala on the Combat Flip Flop’s blog. Everything was shot on an iPhone, edited on the iPad, and uploaded through YouTube and WordPress mobile apps.

Be moved.  Be Stirred.  Be Inspired.  Be MOTUS.

AUTHOR

Matt Griffin

Former Ranger, current HMFIC at Combat Flip Flops, and future space traveler. #GetAfterIt

All stories by: Matt Griffin

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