Drive Nacho Drive: Bloggers Navigate China By VW Bus And Kickstarter Campaign

brad and sheena van orden with nacho the carWe’ve heard of camping excursions and perhaps the occasional extended road trip in retrofitted buses, but what about an around-the-world adventure? That’s exactly what’s planned for Brad and Sheena Van Orden, an Arizona couple who has already trekked from the United States to the southern tip of Argentina and are now somewhere in Southeast Asia, plotting their journey west towards Greece in their faithful Volkswagen Vanagon, Nacho.

Here’s the quick and dirty: Brad and Sheena wanted a grand adventure before settling down to live the rest of their normal lives together. They saw a magazine article that extolled the virtues of traveling the country in a van. They bought one – enter Nacho – and plotted out a plan to save enough money for the trip.

Why are they asking me for money now? Traveling through China requires a pricey guide and special permits, a cost that will total nearly $20,000. So they’ve started a Kickstarter campaign. Find it here.

Why do they want to travel through China? If they skip China they’ll need to head through Iran and Pakistan, areas that are known to be dangerous to foreigners.

What do I get in return? The couple has written an e-book, and their Kickstarter campaign, which already has more than $7,000 in funding, promises everything from shoutouts and postcards to a personal visit with dinner and drinks, plus your selection of stops along the route, if you decide to contribute $5,000 or more to their fund.

Thanks to Autoblog for the tip. If you have some time, take a look through the post and the associated audio interview.

[Image Credit: Kickstarter]

Route 66 Polaroid Project Aims To Capture The Mother Road The Old-Fashioned Way

Route 66, PolaroidThere have been a lot of cool Kickstarter Projects in recent months, but this one will warm the heart of anyone who likes a good old-fashioned road trip. The Route 66 Polaroid Project is just what it says on the tin: a plan to drive the length of the famous highway taking Polaroid snapshots all the way.

Eric and Sarah are getting married in June and they’re heading down The Mother Road for their honeymoon. They’re going to be bringing along several Polaroid cameras to document their journey.

As they explain on their Kickstarter page, “Over the past year, we’ve set aside our digital cameras in favor of vintage Polaroid cameras. These gadgets hearken back to a simpler time when you’d cock the camera, take the shot, yank the picture out of the camera, wait a couple of minutes, peel it, let it dry and then *presto* you’d have your photo! OK, maybe it wasn’t simpler, but there was a certain almost instant gratification to it.”

It turns out Fuji still makes film for the ColorPack Polaroid cameras, and Eric and Sarah want to share their photos with you. If you back them for $10, you get a unique Polaroid shot sent directly to you from a town along the road with a description of the place written on the back. Higher-level sponsors get more photos.

Eric also runs the Civil War Daily Gazette blog, an addictive site giving a day-by-day account of the war 150 years later. Route 66 passes by several Civil War battlefields and you can bet he’ll be taking snapshots of them.

[Photo courtesy Wikimedia Commons]

An iPhone Case Designed With Globetrotters In Mind

These days, a smartphone is an indispensible item on most travelers’ packing lists, but if you’re heading abroad you need to make sure your phone will work – and work cheaply at that. One idea we’ve suggested before is to switch out your phone’s SIM cards so you don’t get hit with massive international roaming charges.

That’s still excellent advice, but the problem many of us face is how to get our SIM cards out of our phones, and how to keep them safe when they’re not being used. This is the dilemma that two avid travelers are hoping to address with the SIMPLcase, an iphone case designed especially for international jetsetters.Unlike most iPhone cases where the focus is on the decoration or “bling” on the outside, what makes the SIMPLcase special is what’s on the inside. The interior of this durable plastic iPhone case holds a special tool that’s used for easily ejecting your phone’s SIM card tray, so you don’t have to mess around with pins or other pointy objects that might scratch your phone. There are also three padded slots to store spare SIM cards so there’s no need to worry about losing or damaging the delicate, fingernail-sized memory chips.

Despite the internal storage, the SIMPLcase still has a sleek profile, which is great for minimalist travelers. Another bonus is the ability to turn the iPhone case into a phone stand by slotting a credit card into the groove on the back of the case. Propping the phone up this way makes skyping with friends back home or watching videos that much more comfortable.

If you’re interested in the SIMPLcase, you can pick one up for $12 by jumping on board the company’s Kickstarter project. Right now, the case is only available for the iPhone 5, but if there’s demand, the company also plans to make cases for the iPhone 4 and 4S.

This is just another one of the many great travel innovations we’ve already seen come out of Kickstarter. Click to check out images of the SIMPLcase below.

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[Photo credit: lgcldesigns]

Gadling Gear Review: Poüch iPad Case From Tabü

The Pouch iPad Case from TabuLet’s face it – iPad cases are a dime a dozen these days and owners of Apple’s tablet have more options to choose from than they ever thought possible. Most of those cases are fairly generic looking and bring very little to the table beyond providing very basic protection to the device. But occasionally a case comes along that does stand out from the crowd and offers some unique options that make it noteworthy. The Poüch case from Tabü happens to be just such an option, paring simplicity of design with some handy features.

The first thing that struck me about the Poüch was just how thin it is. The case uses a special anti-shock memory foam that manages to both provide protection for its contents and remain rather svelte at the same time. The iPad is a thin device, which is part of what makes it such an attractive option for travel, but when you slide it into a bulky case it loses some of that appeal. The Poüch manages to not only keep your tablet safe from harm, but it does so without adding undue weight or thickness. That is much appreciated by those of us who like to travel light.

Unlike some cases I’ve tested, the spacious interior pocket of the Poüch provides plenty of room for the iPad even if it is outfitted with an Apple Smart Cover. Similar products from other manufacturers sometimes have a too-snug fit, which makes it a challenge to actually get the tablet inside, but I was pleasantly surprised at the ease at which I was able to get my tablet in and out of this case. The pocket is also nicely lined with a very soft micro-fiber liner that both protects and buffs the iPad’s screen.The Pouch iPad Case from TabuIn another nice touch, the designers of this case eschewed the use of a zipper on the main compartment so as to provide yet more protection to the device inside. They chose instead to incorporate a series of surprisingly strong magnets into the fabric, which seal the case very nicely. This approach means we don’t have to worry about our devices getting scratched by the zipper when taking them in and out. It also makes it far easier to quickly access the pocket as needed.

There is, however, a single zipper that runs down the front of the case, which is used to seal a second pocket on the exterior of the Poüch. This pocket is designed to carry cables, earbuds, a cellphone, mp3 player or any other small items you want to take with you on the go. I found this extra storage space to be a nice addition and very helpful for staying organized.

Overall, I was impressed with the quality of the Poüch. It is made from durable, yet soft, fabrics and its construction is solid on all fronts. It feels like a product that will hold up to the rigors of the road and keep its contents safe and secure at the same time. This is an excellent case that does exactly what you would want – namely, provide protection for your iPad and add convenience when traveling.

When it officially becomes available, Tabü will be selling the Poüch for $39.95, which makes it more than competitive with similar iPad cases on the market. But in order to fund the initial design and production run, the company organized a Kickstarter campaign. That campaign continues through Monday and if you contribute to the cause before then you’ll be able to pick up a single case for as low as $25. Not a bad deal at all.


Photographers Launch Postcards Across America Project

Going Nowhere postcards projectIf you think postcards are a lost art, you may want to follow a photography project covering America this summer. Starting tomorrow, two Brooklyn-based photographers will set off on a three-month road trip across the country, sending original postcards with their photographs from each state. Going Nowhere was originally a project to visit all 48 lower states, sharing their experiences via photographs and hand-made postcards.

Funded through Kickstarter, backers could pledge as little as $2 to cover the cost of printing and postage (the trip itself will be paid for by the photographers themselves), but after reaching their original $7,500 funding goal, they decided to hit up Hawaii and Alaska too. Original backers will receive a postcard created, self-printed, and mailed from each state, and box sets of 10-50 postcards will be available after they finish the trip in September.

Follow the journey and photo updates, or buy a box set of the postcards on Going Nowhere.