Solar power travel gear reviews

One thing I seek as a Nomad is the sunshine, and with sunshine comes energy, limitless energy.

I sit at home now with my Powermonkey solar cell sitting in my window charging up my mobile device, cool eh! It’s actually charging it pretty fast too!

Oh how I wish such portable energy sources were available back in 2005.

The Powermonkey explorer was actually a birthday present from a great group of friends of mine, who obviously know me pretty well. The other part of the Powermonkey is the main charger that is a small unti with a tail (lead) that can store about enough power to charge an iphone 3 times.

The main unit can be charged by solar or from mains electricity. Charging it up by solar does take a lot longer but that’s to be expected with such a small solar cell.

The great thing is that the solar cell is easily attachable to your backpack and you could run a small cable into one of the pockets where your mobile phone or charger is. I am planning on doing the Camino Frances in Spain during late August and the solar cell will be providing my camera and phone with energy direct from the Spanish sun!

If you would like more details and where to buy the powermonkey then check out the link below.

PowerTraveller Explorer Solar Power Charger Device 

Four global hot-spots for real estate investment

The world has experienced a huge property bubble and in many cases this house price inflation has eased or in some cases crashed. If you have money to invest then real estate is still a great bet compared to other asset classes such as gold or stocks.

As a global citizen owning property can enhance your passive income and add further security for your advanced years but you must be careful where you choose.

To invest in countries like the UK, Australia, France you would be completely nuts as rental yields are generally under 5% and any income will be swallowed up by fees, maintenance and voids.

I am no expert but those that are suggest a minimum of 7% yield. My top four global hotspots are all up around 10%.

1. Indonesia (Southeast Asia)

Indonesia, the giant of SE Asia comes in at a nice 10% rental yield. This huge country of a thousand plus islands is well placed to succeed in the new world order, being placed well for India, China and Australia.

Indonesia, the largest Muslim country, is also a huge holiday vacation destination for people around the world.

Jakarta can offer yields up to 13% but ownership is not straight forward and one should approach Indonesia with a lot of research before diving in. Bali is also a good option as it has a well established expat scene.

2. Moldova (Europe)

Moldova is a small country with high rental yields. The capital, Chisinau, has very steady prices and offers up to a huge 13% yield on small apartments which is better than anywhere else in Europe!

If Moldova ever becomes EU members then there is the real possibility of capital growth too in the future.

3. Jordon (Middle East)

Apartments in Amman are good, at around 7.5% – 10%, with the expectation that this will grow along with the economy of the country.

There are some minor buying issues with Jordon but this is out-weighed by the low taxes available.

4. Jamaica (Americas)

Yields remain very strong, especially on apartments in Kngston, the capital. The year round sunny tropical climate also makes it a good bet for investment.

There are a couple of downsides to Jamaica with security and taxes being an issue so it would be quite a risky venture but with yields up and around %10 then it might just be worth.

If visiting any of the above locations then you should be looking at cheap airline tickets to keep your expenses down.

Perfect ingredients for a coffice

Working in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, back in the early days of 2006

The ‘Coffice’ is where a digital nomad might go to work. It’s a marriage of coffee and office that’s becoming a well used term in digital nomad circles and was first coined by the website

I have over 7 years experience of working from coffices all over the world and have compiled an essential list of things to look for in a potential work-space.


Good to have coffices near to where you live. I personally dislike having to drive to work or catch public transport. Having a coffice nearby that’s walkable saves you money, keeps you fit and helps the planet. After all, not having to spend too much time and money on a commute is one of the major plus points of being a digital nomad.


For me I look for a spacious property, somewhere that’s not full of prams where too many tables have been crammed in.

In a hot country I would look for air conditioning unless I can sit outside somewhere breezy. In a cooler climate then a comfortable level of heating is a must, but not too much.

Noise is an important factor too and I find that if a coffice is too big then noise levels can be intolerable! I was in a coffice yesterday and I actually downloaded an android app that measured sound and was shocked to see it was 80 decibels! That’s the same as being on a busy street with traffic roaring past.

3. CAFE TYPE – Independent v Chain

I tend to lean towards working from chain coffee shops rather than independent ones. This actually goes against what I usually do, in fact if I am meeting a friend for coffee I will go out of my way to avoid chains.

My experience is that chain coffee shops are usually staffed by students, part time workers and younger people who generally won’t mind you sitting there all day hogging the bandwidth and air conditioning for the price of a small Latte.

Independent places tend to be staffed by the owner(s) and therefore one might not feel so comfortable as presumably they care more about you taking up a seat, and I don’t blame them either.

To sum up

Wifi for me is no longer a consideration as I travel with a mobile phone that can act as a hotspot via 3G. Eventually this will be 4G which I found extremely fast while in the US recently.

I once rented some shared office space that was pretty cheap but I found the problem was that no one ever seemed to use their desks so I would often be sitting alone – something I could do from home for free!

I have noticed recently that many of these shared offices have closed down recently in my home city perhaps partly due to the rise in coffee shops.

In my home country of the UK coffee shop culture has well and truly taken hold and that bodes well for the growing number of digital nomads.



Interesting documentary on American Nomads

I watched a very good documentary last night entitled ‘American Nomads’ following various groups of Americans who can all be referred to as modern day nomads.

What I particularly found fascinating was the range of people who are living this alternative lifestyle, from cash rich ‘snow birds’ who plough the Interstates in their huge RVs (recreational vehicles) to young people barely out of college who live on the very edge of mainstream society existing on handouts and temporary work.

The snow birds are an interesting breed. They are usually retired and have lived a normal 9-5 life up to the point where they have sold their home and most of their possessions and have invested a great sum into their mobile homes.

It’s a particularly attractive retirement in my opinion. They follow the seasons like a flock of birds, heading south in the Winter and north for the summer. They live a very free and easy lifestyle.

Oddly enough on the same piece of free camping land can be found the younger generations who only really share the freedom aspect of the lifestyle. They don’t live in expensive vans fitted out with all the modern trappings, in fact they often only have what’s carried on their back and their transport is usually hitching.

I once picked up one of these nomads on the Big Sur in California. She was only with me for 20 mins or so before I dropped her off at some other beach where she planned to camp the night.

I kind of felt sorry for her at the time. She was from the East coast and had wanted to escape the drudgery of a normal 9-5 existence. But after a few more miles I considered that I shouldn’t really feel sorry for someone who was clearly happy with her life despite her scruffy appearance and lack of material possessions.

Indeed most unhappy people I have met in my life have been the ones trapped in a job, a mortgage etc and not the ones who are following their dreams.


If you are planning a trip overseas you’ll need insurance for independent travel to ensure you are covered for any medical emergencies. This is particularly true if visiting North America where medical costs are very high!

Technology is making a Nomad’s life a joy

The backpack that I now pack for trips looks very different to the one I packed back in 2005. It also contains a lot more technology than it ever did as well as more expensive items for which good insurance is now an absolute must!

Things have certainly moved on. I no longer have to hunt around for wifi hotspots and internet cafes or carry flash drives to tranfer data from laptop to web.

As I sit here now I am connected to the web via my mobile phone which is acting as a wifi hotspot using my 3G mobile account.

I have visited a number of countries this year, such as Thailand, Indonesia, Spain etc and managed to buy a 3G simcard on a prepay basis allowing me to use the web on the move.

So things have certainly moved on.

More technology has also meant I can travel much lighter these days. The best example of this is the Kindle ebook reader which has been on the best gadgets I have ever owned. So instead of having to carry around numerous books to read and lonely planet giuides to refer to I instead have one kindle!

My next trip I will be trying out a rather cool birthday present that was bought me, a powermonkey for storing power as well as a small solar panel. This is expecially useful for multi day hiking meaning I can recharge ipods, smart phones, kindles etc

So being nomadic now and being able to stay online has never been easier and I can’t see that trend ever reversing!


I apologise for disabling blog comments on this site, but I am getting hundred of spam comments everyday and don’t have the time or inclination to go through them all!

Young People of Britain – Look Overseas!

I promise not to allow this post to descend into a ‘lets have a go at the UK’ but I have been thinking a lot about how many young people in the UK (those not from a priviledged background) are faced with a pretty bleak financial future compared to their parents / grand parents and surprised no one has written much about this

So I have listed a few very good reasons why young people should think about spreading their wings.


I was very lucky to come out of University with  small debts in the 90s and to have fees paid for by the local authority but this will possibly never be the same again now the government have allowed the Universities (and Old Polys) to hike fees to a staggering £9000 a year!

As expected many of the universities have indeed chosen to max out their fees demand. Why pay £9000 here when all over Europe courses are being offered in English for less than a third of the cost. Add in the opportunity to escape the UK’s relatively high living costs and the challenge to experience new culture and a language.


Young people are the priced out generation and unless there is a huge drop in house prices then some may never own their own home. In London this is unlikely to ever happen mainly due to masses of overseas money propping up prices in the capital.

They are already being labelled ‘generation rent’ by the mainstream media. The good news is that most countries around the world have governments that have allowed their housing bubble to deflate naturally and perhaps with the exception of Australia, affordable housing is usually available, not just in depressed areas with little work.

The double edged sword is that rents have gone up to due to general lack of new supply and the wealthy hoarding portfolios of property.


According to the OECD the UK has the worst social mobility of all western countries. Highlighting the UK’s lack of social mobility, the OECD said chances of a young person from a less well-off family enjoying higher wages or getting a higher level of education than their parents was “relatively low”.

From my experience of living abroad I have found countries like the USA, Australia, NZ to have much less of a class driven society where anyone can get on in life, not just those who were born to the right family.


I have always believed that for anyone to go abroad there should be pull factors as well as push. People that leave the UK just because of immigration, over-crowding, tescos etc are often the ones that end up back where they start (1/3 of all Brits return from Australia).

I believe if the destination has pull factors, perhaps a little more than just a ‘nicer climate’, then there is a much better chance of it working out.

People from English speaking countries in particular are very lucky as there is a wealth of opportunities abroad for Englsih speakers due to the promotion of English as the business language of the world.

I think young Brits should take an advantage of this and will be richly rewarded for their skills if they get out into the big wide world.

Secrets to Making Money Online – B.U.I.L.D

How do you make money online is something I get asked a lot so I have decided to let you into some secrets which can be summed up nicely in one word: BUILD

B – Business
U – Useful
I – Interested
L – Long term
D – Diversify


You should always treat any money making venture as a business and running websites and selling online should be no different. This means having a business plan, registering with the relevent tax authorities and if your idea becomes successful then look at incorporating.

By treating your idea as a business you will also be in a stronger position to negoatiate with suppliers or partners too. So from day one, get respect and remember your idea is a business!


If you are going to create a website or an online product then ensure it is useful. For instance, if you are going to start a blog, make sure the subject area has a decent following and that the information you will provide is actually of use.

If you idea is useful to your site visitor, then they will do your marketing for you, and recommendations is very much the thing in a world of social networking.


I have always been interested in travel as its a big passion of mine. Therefore creating sites on the subject of travel has always come easy to me and I rarely struggle to come up with new articles and ideas.

My readers are also hopefully engaged more as I have attempted to become an authority on niche areas of travel, so through my interest I have gained online respect.

Had I created a site about flower arranging I would not have been able to engage people who know about the subject purely because I have no interest, and that would have been obvious.

Having to write about a subject you have no interest in is very tiresome and not fun, so its unlikely you’ll be able to maintain the site.


It took me over 6 months to really make any significant income and probably over two years before I was earning a decent wage so you should never expect riches overnight because this will not happen unless you are lucky on the lotto!

So be prepared to go in for the long term. Thats where its at.


Once you have a successful website(s) or product then you should always be looking at diversifying. The reason is if your website suddenly loses all its traffic overnight then you are likely to lose all your income.

If your interest is broad, such as travel, then consider other areas of travel to get into. You can still stay within the main interest and diversify.

Its no different to putting all you money in one investment. Clearly no financial advisor would ever advise you to do that so look at alternative markets and products and keep

Five ways to get your site back after a google penalty

One year ago one of my best perfoming websites took a hit from Google, meaning that it once featured on page one for some nice keywords and then suddenly no more. Some kind of penalty hit (I think because someone hacked into blog and added Pharma links!) and the site was gone, even when you entered the exact domain in google.

So I could have abandoned this site but it only costs around $10 a year to keep the domain name registered and much less than that to host on a ‘no limit’ hosting package.

I didn’t abandon and I am happy to say that the site is alive again and is creeping back to it’s former glory. The money generated from the site in the last few days has already more than covered the costs of hositng, domain and my time keeping it updated.

Here are five things you should do to help get your site back after a penalty.

1. The number one recovery strategy from any Google penalty is to  familiarise yourself with Google Webmaster Guidelines and then act upon them. Look and see if your site is following the guidelines and remember the golden rule of making a website for the human visitor, not the google bot!

2. Check for duplicate content around your site and most importantly do a search to see if anyone is stealing your content. If you find someone has copied you then put a complaint into google and email the site owner threatening to do this.

3. Now check to see if Google has blacklisted your site as unsafe for browsing. Go to with the domain you suspect is being penalised.

4. Correct the problem and then apply to be re-included in the Google index by submitting a re-inclusion request from your Webmaster Tools account (you should all have a webmaster tools account).

5. Now the important bit, you should keep your site going, even if it involves a fair bit of work to keep it updated. Do not let it sit and rot! Keep applying it with good content that can attract links, all the usual stuff.

If you follow this then there is no reason why your site shouldn’t claw back it’s rankings. It has happened to me more than once and I have always managed to get the site back into google. Never give up!

Location will not matter in the future of work

Some of you may not know the reason I ended up working for myself as a location independent professional. My previous job was outsourced, a term that we have all become familiar with, and I saw this as an opportunity to do something for myself.

I could have retrained, updated my skill-set and got back on the wheel but I felt I was losing a fighting battle (being at least 10x more expensive than someone in India / China in my industry for instance).

The irony is that I now outsource work myself.

The future of work is thought to be flat, where location is not the key factor but communication is. Competition for your job will be global, but the opportunities will be vast for those who embrace the future.

It’s pretty scary really. What’s stopping someone in Vietnam competing with me for my advertising revenue? If I can go and work in Bali for six months and run everything from there, then why can’t a Balinese compete too?  The web is enabling that.

It has got me thinking about what can I offer in the future that would be hard to replicate elsewhere. Working online leaves me pretty exposed but I have been thinking more local, where I have the knowledge, contacts and emotional ties. This could be my value add over someone from the Far East.

Much of the work and business today that’s conducted online is not reliant on being local or having local knowledge.

I wonder how many people are only living in London because of work? I moved there for work in the late 90s and at the time work was my only motivation. London of course is a fantastic city to live (if you have money) and many choose to live there simply because its so vibrant and exciting, but how tempting would it be to take your job and salary to a more affordable part of the country or another country altogether?

The future of work might well be that location is not longer a factor*. If that’s the case then will businesses still locate to expensive cities with expensive work forces?

There is a little video linked at the end and its worth watching for the 6 minutes as it is pretty thought provoking.

* Of course some jobs, such as those that involve physical work will always be local.

If you are looking for travel insurance for over 85 then consider some of our partner sites. If you travel abroad you should always ensure you have a good level of cover.

Three social ways to market your business

I must confess that I was a little on the slow side when it came to using social media as a way of marketing businesses online but with the recent news that Facebook is overtaking Google in terms of popularity, no business can ignore this way of marketing now.

With this in mind I have picked out the 3 essential social media tools.


Love it or hate it, FB is here to stay, for now anyway. Personally I am pleased that there is serious competition to Google now and while you might not think of FB as a search engine, increasingly people will use the search functionality within to find stuff their interested in (e.g. your business or website link?).

I think it is vital to have a Facebook page for your business and to be clever with it. Once you have 25 fans you can choose your own facebook URL. So instead of having ‘Mike’s Guitars’ you could use ‘London Guitar Shop’ which could help more people find your page.

Ensure you have an enabled wall on your business page and think of it as an opportunity to provide some sort of utility to your visitors, whether it be information or entertainment. Use it to publicise news or events relevant to your business.

Make sure you keep your wall lively so people keep coming back (and help spread your word for you).

FB really is the new word of mouth too and if you have a localised business then it can be a really powerful way of getting your message out locally and even help you expand beyond.


I have mentioned video quite a bit and the importance of youtube for marketing your business.  Youtube is fast becoming only second to Google in terms of search engines.

People spend hours on youtube casually surfing around for stuff and doing searches so why not tap into this and get your business / website under their noses?

For instance, if you ran a blog about recipes / cooking etc then why not make a short video presentation to accompany one of your ideas? By having a youtube account that is linked to your business you could then reply to other peoples’ videos with useful comments that could prompt people to check your offerings out.

Also consider that you could use Youtube for more than marketing and advertising. You could perhaps make a video presentation that covers a FAQ page you have that can act as a walk through guide.

For instance, as a musician, you could provide some basic information about the equipment, or even how to tune your instrument in 3 easy steps etc.


Is Twitter a fad or here to last? Well the jury is out on this but everyone seems to be tweeting so it makes sense to jump on the bandwagon.

Most people consider Twitter as a broadcast medium but it’s real usefulness can come when you engage in conversations with others, rather than just using it as a soapbox.

Also, don’t just start tweeting assuming that everyone is going to listen you. It’s important that you spend some time just listening and observing the behavior of those that you want to engage with.

There are lots more tools out there of course but these three are the key ones to focus on for now. Ignore them at your peril people!