Tagged ‘planning‘

How to travel like you can’t afford it.

Taylor and I have managed to do a lot of traveling. Enough so that our friends are always asking us how we make it work. Even now, as I wrap up the fourth week of a rural psychiatry rotation in Southern Oregon, we’re planning the final details for flying to Japan next week.

I think travel is pretty awesome. It expands your world. It expands your comfort zone. It brings you in touch with people and cultures that expand your appreciation for the human race. In the interest of persuading you to travel like we do, if only once, I’ve compiled a list of tips, hacks, and philosophies that make it possible to put together amazing travel experiences with less money than you’d expect. It’s not definitive, but it works for us. Over and over again.


This adorable hut on the amazing Bomber traverse would never be here on this page if it weren’t for a half-cocked dream turned into reality by unbridled optimism and half-sane planning.

Read on →

Choose Your Tools: The Seven Needs of Backcountry Skiing

This is Part 3 of the ‘Choose Your Tools’ series on Gear Selection for Backcountry Skiing. See also Part 2: Avalanche Hazard and Safety Gear

If you were ever a boy scout, or made fun of one, then you’ve probably heard of the 10 essentials. Though beloved by those scarf-wearing hikers, the ten essentials were actually invented by the Mountaineers, the Seattle-based club-cum-Company which now publishes the book that everyone recommends, and no one reads:

You haven’t read it all, though perhaps you’ve glanced over it.  Or if you have read it, do you remember anything particularly useful? The reason that the Mountaineers other series is much more popular is that each volume is tailored to different sports and their needs. The ten-essentials list has the same problem: by trying to do everything for everyone, it does nothing of use to anyone.


Even at my local mountain, Mt Hood, a sign implores climbers to take the ten essentials along, and then the wilderness permit form asks you to check them off of a list before heading out to climb. It’s the old-school mentality that you should never go on a day hike without ’em.  However, even with small maps and bottles of sunscreen, the 10 essentials are going to weigh you down with at least five pounds of extra nonsense that most likely you don’t need.

Still, the boy scouts were onto something. Their list is too specific to be useful, but the abilities that they suggest remain important to backcountry travelers.  Here, those abilities are distilled into a systems approach that I call the Seven Needs. Read on →