10 Backpacking Hacks: Travel Like Indiana Jones

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By Joshua Harper

Everyone loves to travel. You see spectacular places, meet amazing people, and make memories you’ll never forget. As it turns out though it’s a pretty expensive hobby to have. After an accumulated one year abroad spanning some twenty-one different countries I’ve learned a few things about traveling and how to do it right, but more importantly how to do it cheap. Being homeless for two weeks in Northern Europe and sleeping on beaches across Southern Europe are great character building experiences but my tips will help you avoid them.

Disclaimer: Backpacking is not vacationing. Anyone that’s ever properly backpacked knows you’re in it for the experiences and not the comfort.

1. Travel Light

If you go two weeks without touching something in your bag, take it to the nearest lake, river, or ocean and throw it in (please don’t actually do this). You’d be surprised how many people lug around a 62 liter backpack while also wearing another small backpack backwards. This is WAY too much. It’s a fact you’re going to be doing a healthy amount of walking during your trip so do your shoulders a favor and stick to a 42 liter backpack and one other small bag for easy access. If there’s no way you can fit everything you need with this setup then take less. You want to be prepared but don’t over do it. You probably don’t need the fifth snap back or more than 2 pairs of shoes and don’t take camping gear unless you think you’re actually going to camp. Remember you can always buy most anything you’ll need wherever you are. For those that still can’t make it work stop reading and go buy a suitcase. Here’s a list of a few useful items to take:
-Norwood mini LED flashlight
-REI Multitowel Quick Dry Towel
-Alpine Collapsable Spork
-Travel Journal
-Simple first aid kit

2. Airports=Cheap Hotels

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You have a flight from Heathrow airport to Istanbul leaving at 7:30 AM. You could spend the night in an expensive hostel just to wake up at 3 AM and pay an exorbitant rate for a forty minute shuttle ride, or you could just sleep at the airport. You’ll save on transport, you won’t have to pay for a hostel, and let’s be honest you really wouldn’t have gotten much of a last night in with that 3 AM wake up call anyway. You can attempt the party all night, crash on the plane method but weigh the consequences, missing a two or three hundred euro flight when you’re already broke could be detrimental. Besides there’s nothing like getting drunk with your travel mates in an airport (Again I’m not officially advocating this). It may not be the most comfortable night but then again you’re backpacking not vacationing.

3. Exchanging Currency is for Rookies

Never…Ever…EVER bring all your money planning to exchange it upon arrival. Besides not wanting to carry that much cash you’ll get taken over the exchange rates offered by most banks. Travelers check are a thing of the past and prepaid cards are the worst of all because if they’re stolen and you’re having trouble reporting it, the process is difficult, you often can’t get the money back. They also have the added handicap of not being as wieldy as cash. Whenever travelling take two debit cards so you can incrementally withdraw local currency from ATM’s. Sure, most banks charge a withdrawal fee if you’re out of country, but it’s usually pretty comparable to the fee you pay for exchanging anyway. Also you only have to withdraw as much as you need so you won’t end up in Thailand with one hundred thousand Cambodian Riel. As a backup take a credit card and one or two hundred US dollars that should only be exchanged in case of an emergency. Oh, and it should go without saying but notify your bank that you’re leaving so your cards don’t get cancelled the first time a charge from Phnom Penh, Cambodia shows up.

4. Kindle for the Win

You might think you’ll be too busy trekking through jungles, taking in the culture, and meeting interesting people to read. You’re wrong. While you’ll do all those things the truth is there will also be endless hours of transit and more than one night where all you’ll want to do is curl up in bed and take it easy. Traveling is one of the best times to catch up on your reading because that’s just what you have, time. A thirty-six hour trans-mediterranean ferry provides a great opportunity to finally read Game of Thrones like you’ve been saying you want to do since season one. Most likely the one book you thought would get you through six weeks will be done in three days and you’ll be stuck deciding between the Hunger Games in Turkish or an an abandoned copy of Crime and Punishment to occupy the rest of your trip. Just bring a Kindle and have access to as many books as you want while taking up barely any space in your bag.

5. Negotiate!

Don’t underestimate how much money you can save by negotiating and I don’t just mean over souvenirs in a market. Negotiate for everything from tour guides to renting rooms in a hostel. Maybe you hate it and think your chances of success are low but you’ll get better and find that more often than not people people would rather drop the price a few euros than see you walk away. Getting better at this process is essential to backpacking especially in certain countries like Morocco where everything is negotiable and simply saying “no” to vendors sometimes feels like it requires a business degree.

6. Live Together, Die Alone

If you’re traveling with friends for any extended period of time you’re going to get sick of each other eventually. If you travel alone you’ll get sick of the alternate personalities you make up to keep yourself company. Either way, other people are going to be your saving grace. Not only will you get to spend time with anyone other than who you’ve been stuck with for the past five weeks but you’ll save money too. Group rates are very real and it’s a lot harder for a hostel owner to say no to your negotiations when there are five rooms on the line instead of one. Most importantly traveling is all about meeting people and sharing your cultures and experiences. Dont be shy! Go make new friends and build that international network so you’ll have a couch to crash on no matter where you go.

7. Bread for Days

One of the best parts of visiting somewhere new is trying the food and restaurants know it so anything even remotely related to the local cuisine is going to be sky high expensive. You need to come to terms with the fact that every meal in Italy won’t be gourmet pasta or pizza. Allow yourself one nice meal a day and scrape by the rest of the time on freshly baked bread. It’s dirt cheap and made fresh every morning, so learn to love it. Oh, and don’t forget to eat fruit every few days. You don’t want scurvy.

8. Planes, Trains, and Automobiles

You’ve probably heard that a Eurail pass is the best way to traverse Europe. This is definitely true if you know the exact countries you plan to visit and order the pass months before you leave. If you’re like me and travel more spontaneously (or anywhere other than Europe) you need to master the art of finding cheap transit. This might mean cramming shoulder to shoulder into a rickety bus, praying it doesn’t topple off a cliff as it chugs along winding roads through the Luang Prabang mountains in Laos. Your wallet will thank you and if you survive you’ll have a great story to tell. Talk to the locals and find out what they use to get from place to place because though it can be tough to find it’s almost always going to be cheaper. For example MeinFernbus is a bus company in Germany that offers rates at nearly one fourth the price of trains but can’t be easily found in a Google search.

9. Go With the Flow

Things are going to go wrong. That’s the nature of traveling so you need to be ready to pivot and make the best of a bad situation. If you’re island hopping in Greece there’s a decent chance you’ll stop somewhere for a day only to learn the ferry to the next island you want to visit doesn’t leave for a week. If this happens don’t get caught up trying to stick to your plan. Go with the flow and pick a new destination even if it’s only to connect somewhere else. Maybe you want to go North but you meet a cool group of backpackers heading East. Be flexible and don’t live or die by your plan so you don’t miss out on an unexpected, spontaneous adventure. If you planned to spend five days in Athens but feel like you’ve seen everything you wanted, talk to people and pivot, you might end up trekking to the clifftop monasteries in Meteora.
10. Timing and Planning

In essence this tip boils down to being knowledgeable about where you’re going and what’s happening while you’re there. A few friends and I planned a four week road trip through Morocco and upon arrival learned that Ramadan had just started. For those of you that don’t know, Ramadan is a month long holiday where members of the Islamic faith fast while the sun is up. We could eat but it made finding a meal during the day more difficult. Normally bustling streets looked like a ghost town during the day as everyone, not eating or drinking, took shelter inside to avoid the blistering heat. Where once we would have seen many backpackers we only met a handful for our first few weeks there. Although I enjoyed the cultural experience it was a very different trip than we had planned and it would have been tough to do alone and nearly impossible, or at least quite expensive, if we hadn’t rented a car. Don’t give up your spontaneity just do a little research before you leave. Trust me, you don’t want to miss a full moon party in the Thai Islands by a day because you booked your trip months in advance without ever looking into it.

Bonus Tip – Put the Camera Down

Pictures are a great way to remember the amazing experiences you’ve had while traveling. Despite this it’s important to remember you still need to live those experiences. With so many social media networks we spend a disproportionate amount of our lives being social online rather than in the real world. Take advantage of down time to send pictures and give updates but don’t try to instagram every photo you take as soon as you take it. Don’t view the world from behind the lens of a camera.

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Growing Up: 21 Things I’m Still Working On

At 21, I’ve learned some really good lessons so far! But there are also a lot of things that are still uncertain, or that I simply don’t know. I’m workin’ on them; here are a few…

1. Going to bed early.

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I try so hard every night. It never happens. 2016 maybe?

2. How to talk to people.

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I’m not going to say I am THE awkward penguin, but making conversation with someone can definitely stress me out.

3. What good wine is.

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They’re all delicious and heighten my hopes and dreams…Am I missing out on some big secret?

4. Laundry.

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Let’s get real. Do I really have to separate my darks and my whites?

5. Why are there different kinds of forks at a nice meal?

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One is enough isn’t it??

6. What is stock and how do I do this thing called investing?

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Thank god I learned Hot Cross Buns on the recorder and how to locate a library book using the card catalogue system though…whew.

7. How to spend money on things that matter.

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Should I buy those boots that I don’t need and look strikingly similar to ones I already have? LOL probably.

Which brings me to my next point…

8. How to save money.

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Is there maybe a formula someone could give me? That’d be great.

9. How to say no.

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This is a hard one for me. What can I say; I’m a people pleaser.

10. What my political viewpoint is yet.

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Growing up in a lower middle class family, and then being taught and molded by (mostly) wealthy business professors tends to pull you in opposite directions…

11. Who I am.

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Ok. I know this may sound a little cheesy, but I really don’t know all there is to know about myself yet. What makes me tick? What stresses me out most? What kind of ice cream is my favorite??

12. How to be flexible.

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Nuff’ said Lorelai.

13. What my strengths/weaknesses are.

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You can’t really Google this one yet…

14. How I have become so much like my parents in so many ways??

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Seriously tho. How did this happen?

15. To love the parts of myself that no one claps for.

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Still learning this one.

16. Taxes.

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How do I even…?

17. How to stay positive and look for the good.

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This line made me rethink my entire existence.

18. Accepting disappointment.

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Disappointment is such an uncomfortable feeling for me; I often let it get in the way of my moving forward.

19. Letting go of control.

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Let’s just say Monica from F.R.I.E.N.D.S. is basically my spirit animal.

20. Putting myself first.

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People pleasers generally struggle with this.

21. Eating Well.

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Kit Kats and ice cream are wonders of this world and why can I not eat them all the time?!!

Did you like this?? Check out my first post: 21 Things I do know to be true

Sports Comebacks You Probably Never Heard About

In the sports world everyone loves to hear about a comeback, the miracle play, a team going against all of the odds and getting the win. We have all heard about the Red Sox coming back against the Yankees in 2004 to win the ALCS, and the Steelers and Giants Super Bowl winning drives. Here are a few comebacks you probably never heard about.

Capital High School v. Billings West High School

After a first half that saw Capital chasing the West offense up and down the field, Capital came out guns blazing in the second half. Starting with a 15 yard pass from Matt Reyant to Matt Miller, Capital dropped the lead to 14. Capital tacked on another touchdown with a 15 yard run by Matt Miller giving Capital hope. As time expired in the 4th quarter quarterback Matt Reyant found receiver Josh Dirks in the corner of the end zone. 20-21. Capital coach Pat Murphy has been known for being ambitious which he showed by going for 2 instead of kicking the PAT. Reyant takes the snap, fakes the give to Matt Miller, and takes off. The outcome? It’s good! Capital got the win and kept the perfect season alive with a 22-21 final score.

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Capital High v. Billings West

 

Watford v. Leicester

What’s on the line? The winner goes to the FA Cup final at the Wembley Stadium. It was the 96th minute with only 4 minutes supposed to be added on but a penalty kick for Leicester kept the clock rolling. Leicester was losing 2-1 but because they won the first game 1-0 AND had the away goal rule on their side, (The away goals rule is a method of breaking ties in soccer and other sports when teams play each other twice, once at each team’s home ground. By the away goals rule, the team that has scored more goals “away from home” will win if scores are otherwise equal), they would advance whether they made or missed the penalty. Anthony Knockaert steps up and takes the shot…save by the keeper Almunia! The rebound shot…SAVE BY ALMUNIA! With a stadium erupting from the outcome of the penalty Watford started their counter. Watford pushed the ball down the right side of the field. A cross comes into the box, the ball is headed back into the middle where it meets the foot of Watford striker Troy Deeney. The result? Absolutely pandemonium. The ball is smashed into the back of the net and fans storm field, Watford players and coaches celebrating their monumental comeback, and Leicester wondering how they let the opportunity to play in the FA Cup final in Wembley slip through their hands.

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Watford v. Leicester, FA Cup

 

Montana Grizzlies v. South Dakota State Jackrabbits

An absolutely awful, and I mean AWFUL, first half almost lead to an early exit by the Griz faithful. I was there and I considered calling it a day with how bad it was. Down 27 points with 5:40 left in the 3rd quarter things started clicking for the Griz as Marc Mariani took a kickoff back 98 yards started a comeback for the ages. 48-27, the Griz start the 4th quarter with a 15 yard pass from Andrew Selle to Mariani, the score now 48-34. 7 minutes left, Chase Reynolds looks for a hole up the middle but is forced outside where he scrambles to the corner for a Montana touchdown. A miracle looks possible now with the score 48-41. Only 3 minutes later Reynolds runs it in from 4 yards, which along with an extra point TIES the score 48-48. With only a minute left, quarterback Andrew Selle fakes the handoff to Reynolds, rolls out to the left and finds a wide open Mariani for a Montana touchdown. The Griz down by 27 at one point now LEADS 55-48, but that isn’t the end of the story. SDSU had one more drive….which was shut down by an interception by Griz lineman Severin Campbell who turned that into 6 points. The final score: Montana Grizzlies 61 South Dakota State Jackrabbits 48.

Montana Grizzlies v. South Dakota State Jackrabbits 2009
Montana Grizzlies v. South Dakota State Jackrabbits 2009

 

Clinton LumberKings v. Burlington Bees

When you think of a baseball comeback you probably think about 5, 6, maybe 7 runs. Well the Clinton LumberKings made a 16 run miracle. 16 RUNS!!! Top of the 6th inning, Clinton down 17-1 are able to find 6 runs to at least make a probable loss look a little less worse. With the help of some quality pitching and 5 runs in both the 8th and 9th innings, Clinton was able to send a game that should have been over, into extra innings. After a scoreless 10th and 11th inning for both teams, Kyle Seager of the LumberKings was able to get the go ahead run in the top of the 12th. Shutting out Burlington in the 12th gave Clinton a 20-17 win. “That’s one for the ages for me, for sure,” Burlington manager Bill Richardson said, according to The Hawk Eye newspaper. “You just give credit to your opponent for flipping the game on us. We just gave them a little life in that sixth, and they kept running.”

Clinton LumberKings v. Burlington Bees 2014
Clinton LumberKings v. Burlington Bees 2014

Duke Blue Devils v. Maryland Terrapins

The Miracle Minute. A comeback that most Duke fans consider the famous minute in Duke history. Maryland leading 90-80, Duke guard Jason Williams finished a layup to shave the lead to 8. Maryland inbounded the ball which was then stolen by Williams who put up a 3 pointer to trim Maryland’s lead to 5 with 48 seconds left. Duke foul Maryland on the inbound who were in double bonus. Drew Nicholas of Maryland misses the first free throw…and then the second. Duke takes the ball down the court where Williams sinks another 3 leaving 40 seconds on the clock. In a matter of 20 seconds Duke cut Maryland’s lead from 10 to 2. Maryland inbound the ball, Duke put on the trap and strip the ball away giving them 34 seconds on the clock, the ball, and a shot at the win. Duke put up a 3, no good, but they get the rebound and are fouled on the put back. With 21 seconds, Nate James steps up to the line for 2 shots. The first….good. The second….GOOD. The game was sent into overtime where Duke would prevail 98-96. Leave it to Coach K to pull off the impossible.

Duke v. Maryland 2001
Duke v. Maryland 2001

 

Miracles are the best part of sports. We love seeing a team make the seemingly impossible comeback by giving everything they have to get the win.

“It’s not whether you got knocked down; it’s whether you get back up.” – Vince Lombardi

Written by Zachary Clinch

The Best Public Golf Courses in Montana


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Montana is known as an excellent destination for a plethora of outdoor activities but little is spoken of the amazing golf course offerings. Though numerous golf courses across the state are private, there are many public courses that include fantastic amenities’ along with sprawling, scenic views. Here is a short list of the top public golf courses that capture the beauty and value of Montana’s golf scene, Enjoy!

 

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Northern Pines G.C. – Kalispell, MT
To kick off the best public courses in Montana I am featuring the Northern Pines G.C. in Kalispell. This par-72 link-style course is set along the Stillwater River just North of Kalispell. In the past 5 years Northern Pines has received numerous awards from Golf Digest including #7 Best Public Course in 2013 for Montana. The course was designed by Andy North and Roger Packard in a stunning fashion that illustrates Montana’s vast beauty.

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Wilderness Club- Eureka, MT
Located in the Tobacco Valley near Sophie Valley, the Wilderness Club boasts a large expansive course with tree-lined fairways. This Nick Faldo designed course has been awarded #1 Best Golf Course in Montana by Golfweek and Golf Magazine in 2012 which speaks to its true natural beauty.

 

Canyon River (9)
Canyon River- Missoula MT
A local favorite in Missoula, Canyon River lies within a golf community on the eastern edge of town. This course totals 6,395 Yards along the Clark Fork River with fantastic views of Mt. Sentinel boasts large undulating greens that will assuredly require you bring your best golf game.

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Whitefish Lake G.C. (North) –Whitefish, MT
The Whitefish Lake G.C. includes the North & South Course for a total of 36 holes. The well-flowing North course is considered the location’s top course, with its signature par 3 hole #4. This hole has a pond front and left, with pines guarding the right with fantastic views of Big Mountain’s peaks in the backdrop. Not an overly difficult course, just over 6,800 yards, this course is a must play if you are in the Kalispell- Whitefish area.

 

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Old Works- Anaconda, MT
One of Montana’s highest rated public courses, Old Works sits within the confines of the town’s old coal mines, also one of America’s largest superfund site. This beautiful Jack Nicklaus designed course is 18 holes and 7,211 Yards from the gold tees and regarded as one of the top Public Golf Courses of 2015 by Golf Digest. One of its most notable aspects in its design is its black sandtraps that reflect Anaconda’s coal producing history.

 

Written By: Kyle Curnow

Photo Credit: http://blog.myovision.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/12/golfer.jpg

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People Who Shouldn’t Buy the Apple Watch

One of the tech and fashion world’s hottest topics right now is the Apple Watch. April 24th will bring back a style that has been forgotten with the use of clocks on all of our technology. The Apple Watch, due to its price and the appeal of the company, should appeal to a lot of early adopters and innovators, generally the people that Apple targets.

But there are people that should never, ever, own one. I’ve compiled a list of those people:

People Who Religiously Break Their Phones

Broken Apple iPhoneI’ll bet several friends in your network religiously break their phones. You probably wonder how they manage to do so, or more likely, how they can afford to get the iPhone 6 a hundred times. Or it gets lost, stolen, dropped into the toilet, run over, hacked, cracked, chipped, or thrown. This all happens with a device that can be stored in the pocket. And now they want to put a device that’s out in the open? These people should be given a line they can’t cross at the store. They couldn’t touch the display case without cracking it.

Helpful broken phone tips can be found here.

65+

Shouldn't Own Apple WatchIn total, I have personally spent days of my life explaining to an older generation how to click on folders, what a virus is, or the reason behind constantly renaming folders is a 30-second double-click rate. Sound familiar? I hate to pick on your favorite people. Let’s face it, grandparents are the coolest people in the family. They gave you candy when parents wouldn’t, helped you realize the way things really are, and tell the longest stories ever. However, you will be approaching 65 years old after you’ve given the last piece of advice on the Apple Watch to granny. Besides, the last thing they should be doing is reminding themselves of how quickly time is going by. They should be saving their money: you’re their favorite grandchild, right?

For info you’ll need to train your grandparents, click here.

Anyone Younger than 18

young girlThere are parents that are thinking about whether their child would want an Apple Watch for Christmas this year. All of those children would probably love to take it to show and tell. Those parents should be asking if they’re ready for their child to be grounded all next year due to slipping grades. The Apple Watch is meant to give notification of upcoming meetings, incoming text messages, etc. In other words, rather than paying attention in school, they’re going to be checking Facebook updates. And I’m sure eventually there will be games. Parents: give your kid a chance.

If you can’t resist your kid just losing their minds on Christmas, buy the Apple Watch.

Phony Techies

Phonie TechieThere are people who have no clue what they’re talking about, but they’ll purchase all the new gear and tell everyone about its features and how cool it is. What they won’t tell you is how they know so much about the product they bought or where their information came from. The information probably doesn’t exist.

I didn’t provide a link for Phony Techies. The Apple Watch will scratch when their arm comes down on their cellphone belts.

 

Written By: Austin Walker