Commuting: Take back your time

Commuting is probably the biggest time-suck in the modern person’s life. Currently, I can work remotely a day or 2 a week, but otherwise need to be in my office or my client’s office. When I was using the GO train to commute into Toronto everyday, I was losing about thirty, 24-hour days a year. I was throwing away a month per year (and this is all awake time, so really it’s about 33% more)!

Each day it would take 1 hour and 20 minutes on the train, and another 40 minutes walking to/from the office from Union station and getting to the station from my house. 2 hours each way, 5 days a week, 48 working weeks a year. 1200 hours a year on a train.

I have since moved closer to work. Now I walk an hour a day, during that hour I can listen to music and explore the city, something you can’t do while seated in a train for hours (after being seated in the office for hours).

What is your time worth? My freelance rate is about $100/hr, so commuting was costing me about $120,000 a year not including the cost of tickets. I’m not going to spend that much time freelancing, but you get the gist of how valuable your time is. Please, move closer to work. You’ll get time back in your day to do the things you want to do.

If you must commute, find ways to do less desirable tasks while travelling, catch up on reading, and use that time as effectively as you possibly can.

Take back your time.

-Mike

Documentary: Without Bound

One way you could describe early retirement is that it is an alternate lifestyle. That is, a lifestyle different from what is normal. Vandwelling is another alternative lifestyle. It is a fascinating, unique, and beautiful lifestyle in my opinion and if you haven’t heard of it, I urge you to look it up.

Whether you’ve heard of van dwelling, vannin’, overlanding, van living or not, you should give this documentary a watch. I won’t go into much detail, other than what you’re about to see is an incredible example of human nature, living life, and freedom. Enjoy!

-Mike

Travel Smart – Weigh Your Things

When I begin packing for a trip, these are some of the things I consider when choosing the contents of my backpack:

  • Weather for the time I’m there (temperature and possible adverse conditions)
  • Different activities I may want to partake in
  • Will I need clothing to enjoy the nightlife
  • Am I doing any business there?
  • Transport methods I plan to use

There are a lot of factors, but one of the most important ones for me is weight. Sometimes when you pack a bag, you try to fill it to ensure you have everything you could possibly need to meet all of the above scenarios.

Before you know it, your bag is 20kg and you have to hike 5km to your hostel from the main transit hub. You’re going to be sore, tired, and possibly injured by the time you make it there. Do yourself a favour and weigh your bag before you leave. Look at all of the things you’re bringing, and see if there is any easy weight you can drop.

A 25 gram keychain, a 125 gram portable speaker, a 350 gram book may not seem like a lot but leaving them at home will save you from carrying around a half of a kilogram. Leave out a couple t-shirts, your 3rd pair of shoes, and bring a smaller camera and you’ve saved 3kg. Reducing weight will make you more agile, and leave you in better shape to go further on your travels.

Personally, I like to use a food scale to check the weight of all of my items to see a better breakdown of what the total weight of my bag is made up of. Most of the weight so from clothing, so ditching a heavy pair of jeans and a sweater for some layers and chinos is an easy way to have more outfits with less weight.

Protip: Bring one beat up shirt with you that you can leave behind if you need some extra room on the way home. This also comes in handy if you’re going on a hike/need to get dirty.

-Mike

Exercise – Cycling

Recently at work I was assigned to a new account that requires me to work on-site at the client’s headquarters. Unfortunately, this happens to be twice as far from my place as my home office. Frugal me was angry; now I’m going to have to pay for this? I’m not a fan of city transit, why pay for something you don’t like? Well, I could always ride a bike there.

Now I ride my bike to work daily. It’s only been a couple weeks now, but I can feel a difference in my legs and my energy levels. Biking to work isn’t so bad after all. I was fortunate enough to inherit my bike from my father’s friend, who recently left the country for retirement. I had a helmet from childhood; this will need replacing soon. I was also gifted a lock, a rear light, and a front light from my father. It never hurts to see what your family has kicking around before you go out and buy something. Thanks, Dad!

I did have to buy one thing to improve my bike’s security. I picked up a pair of Rockbros Antitheft Skewers to prevent my wheels from ‘walking away’. They were super easy to install with the provided tool and they feel very robust. Worst case scenario, I have to pack my seat when I park my bike at my home office, but otherwise, everything else detaches or is locked together.

The City of Toronto also offers some great resources to cyclists. You should check them out!

Be safe, secure, and pedal hard. These are the keys to a happy commute.

-Mike

Travel Smart – Compression Bags

Compression bags are a total game changer for the frequent business traveller and backpacker. I’ve had the same pair of compression bags for the last 3 years, and they have saved me at least a dozen times. Why are they so useful you ask?

  • Dirty and wet clothes can be sealed in these bags, preventing them from smelling up your entire backpack. I can guarantee that compression bags will delay your need for laundry for at least 3-5 days; a godsend on the road.
  • Compressing your clothes before a trip make getting on your first flight painless, as your bag will appear smaller.
  • Compression bags offer a nice method to divide up your clothing for a trip.
  • Compressing clothes around fragile cargo keeps everything nice and tight. This is useful for bringing your new found treasures home.
  • Compression bags are, well, bags! If your bag is overflowing, you can toss some things in these bags to drag around with you until you can lighten things up.

The only bad experiences I’ve had with compression bags are as follows: Having one come open during transit and smelling up my wardrobe. Bad timing as I needed clothing for a night out. The other, is actually allowing me to pack too much stuff. I filled my bag so heavy that it would have been uncomfortable to carry for almost a month. I ended up reducing the amount of clothes I had by opting out of the bags on the way to my destination. I used them during the trip and on the way home though!

Reminder: Pack light. Your spine will thank you!

-Mike

Travel Smart – One Bagging

In 2013, I took my first trip to Europe and it changed my life. I fell in love with travel of all forms and I haven’t stopped since. During my sedentary days, I spend a lot of time researching travel and hunting for my next great adventure.  My favourite podcast has to be the https://indietravelpodcast.com/ .

From the indie travel podcast, I heard all of the benefits of travelling with a single bag and I have followed through ever since. Currently, I am using a Venturesafe 45L GII and I absolutely love it.

I can use my backpack to haul groceries, as a weekender and, of course, as the best travel pack money can buy. The security features alone are worth the money. You can’t put a price on piece of mind. Seriously, if you’re going to spend money on something, spend it on your mental well being.

You’ll end up washing clothes more often, but travelling with less is amazing. Less things to lose, less stuff to lug around a country, and you always have hands free. The money you save on checked bags will pay off your backpack in no time. Create a list of what you need, now look at that list again and be truthful, you probably don’t need all of it. I’ve travelled for 3 weeks with my bag, and managed easily. I’m leaving for a month at the end of the year, and have no doubt it will work just as well.

If you want to learn more, from more qualified people, my friends at /r/onebagging are a great resource to learn more.

-Mike