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Since I sold my home in 2007, I have spent the vast majority of my nights in hotel and hostel rooms around the world.
I spent almost 9 years traveling around the world non-stop, even after I stopped traveling full-time, the better part of each year was spent on the road. Even in 2020, I had spent about half of the year traveling before everything around the world started to shut down in early March.
Since 2007, my identity has pretty much been intrinsically tied up with being a traveler. The vast majority of people who know who I am, know me for being a traveler, or a travel photographer.
In the last month, the entire global travel industry has disappeared like it was taken up in the rapture. Cruise lines, airlines, hotels, restaurants and tour companies have all gone from being viable businesses to nothing almost overnight.
Not only is no one traveling, no one is really interested in traveling. Traffic to every travel website I know of has dried up. Travel companies aren’t buying ads. People aren’t buying travel products.
Basically, there is a whole lot of nothing going on in the world of travel, and it doesn’t look to change any time soon.
So, what do you do when your livelihood depends on travel, and. you and everyone else can’t travel?
If I’m going to be stuck inside for several months, I might as well get something out of it. As I’ve been saying for over a dozen days now:
Never waste a perfectly good pandemic. This is a once in a lifetime opportunity to better yourself.Tweet
Here is how I’m using this time to better myself with things that have nothing to do with travel.
Clean My Apartment
But tonight, I’m cleanin’ out my closetEminem
I know I’m the only person doing this, but this has been a great excuse for doing a thorough spring cleaning. I’ve cleaned up my workspace, vacuumed every surface I could find, cleaned my shower, and scrubbed everything in my kitchen.
I’ve organized the materials I’ve gathered over the years, including hundreds of brochures and pamphlets from world heritage sites and national parks from around the world.
I’ve gone through my closet and packed up bags full of clothing that I haven’t worn in years, much of which doesn’t even fit anymore. (I have no idea where or when I’m going to be able to donate all this stuff, but it is ready to go for when I figure that out. I’ve read that most charities do not want people to donate things right now.)
I’m probably going to throw out even more clothes and maybe even some kitchen equipment that I never use, which are holdovers from my pre-travel life.
I spent over a decade eating in restaurants for almost every single meal.
Over that decade I gained about 50 pounds (22.5 kg). My weight would fluctuate depending on what country I was in and how active I was, but over time a constant diet of prepared meals caught up with me.
Even after I stopped traveling full-time, I still ate out for every meal just out of habit. I probably ate 95% of my meals in restaurants for a year after I got a permanent place.
Last year I lost about 20 pounds, but this last month I’ve really put things into overdrive. I’ve lost another 20 pounds so far in 2020, the majority of which has come in the last month.
My immediate goal is to get to where I was back in 2017 when I started traveling. I’m about 15 pounds away from that right now, and I hope I can reach that point in about a month.
My building has a gym and a pool, but unfortunately, both of them are closed right now. Thankfully, I purchased a kettlebell last year and I’ve been using it daily. The exercises are very easy and can be done in a very small space. I tend to do short reps throughout the day.
My hope is that the kettlebell will get my arms developed enough that when the gym opens back up again, I’ll be able to start doing more proper workouts.
My goal is to have no one recognize me at the next travel event I attend :)
Setting Up Video
A fact which few people know is that when I started traveling back in 2007, my intent was to do video, not still photography. The problem was all the video cameras back then used tape. Even though the tapes were much smaller than the big VHS tapes from the 80s and 90s, they were still tapes I had to carry around.
After trying to edit video on a laptop in various Pacific islands, and carrying around a stack of video tape, I threw in the towel and focused on still photography.
However, the desire to do video never really disappeared. My background is in public speaking, and I’m far better at talking than I am at writing.
I determined to use the month of March to get my video set up so I could start doing some live streaming and producing YouTube videos. I could have done videos with my built-in desktop camera, but I’m a bit anal about quality.
I had most of the gear I needed, but I needed a few bits and pieces.
Just yesterday I got the final (and critical) piece I needed to tie everything together. Here is what my setup looks like:
- Sony a6000 as my webcam. I had a Sony a6000 which I carried around as my backup camera body. I did some research and found that it can work just fine as a webcam, assuming you buy a few parts for it. This camera is several generations old, but it’s cheap and works just fine for what I need it to do.
- Meike MK 25mm F1.8 APS-C Large Aperture Wide Angle Lens. I have a 16-36mm wide-angle lens that I use for my still photography, but it isn’t quite fast enough. My wide-angle lens is also pretty big for the small body size of the a6000, so it would really make the camera imbalanced.
- AC Power Adaptor. This was really key. I didn’t want the camera to burn through batteries, which can happen quite quickly when doing video. There isn’t an AC adaptor that comes with the camera, so I needed to buy a 3rd party one.
- Micro HDMI to HDMI cable. The a6000 has a micro HDMI adaptor and I had no cables which allowed me to connect the camera to the computer. Thankfully, Amazon has a basics cable which was pretty cheap.
- Elgato Cam Link 4K. This was the key to the whole operation. You can’t just stick an HDMI cable between a camera and a computer to use it as a webcam. You need a video capture device. There are many fancier ones out there, but this was the best, simplest one I could find. It was also a pain to actually find a company that had them in stock. It took me about a month to get it, but it finally arrived.
Books and Podcasts
I get most of my podcast listening done when I’m traveling. Road trips and long flights are excellent opportunities to catch up on my podcasts. I don’t listen to podcasts quite as often when I’m home. I’ll usually listen when i’m out for a walk or going to the store.
I’m more apt to listen to some podcasts now when I’m at my desk. I’ve subscribed to a few podcasts, mostly nutrition orientated, and unsubscribed from a few as well.
I also had a backlog of books I had purchased but hadn’t read. I’m making my way through those, as well as rereading (for like the 6th time) Dune in preparation for the release of the movie later this year.
I’m trying to spend a few hours reading on my Kindle each day and away from my computer screen.
Making the Most of it
The current situation sucks, but it will end. I’m personally using this as an opportunity try and better myself so when it is over, I’ll be in a better position than I was when it started.