Life Nomadic: Traveling without Planning

Ahh, and we’re back. After a semi-hiatus of a few months, Todd and I are back to the full nomad lifestyle. I say semi-hiatus because within those four months we both spent a good amount of our time traveling around the US, Mexico, and Canada. And even when I was in Austin, where my family and most friends are, I lived in a 21′ RV on the side of the road.

Once a nomad, always a nomad?

Our trip this year is going to be very different from last year, but our first stop is the same as last year’s first stop: Panama.

I’m not sure why exactly we chose Panama last year, but this year we chose it because we’d fallen in love with the country. The people are universally friendly and warm, as is the weather, the food is dirt cheap and amazing, and there’s no shortage of adventure to be found.

Not to mention that Todd and I are both nearing fluency in Spanish and Panamanian Spanish is actually known for being very clear.

One hallmark of our trips is that we usually don’t plan much. We often go to a city with no place to stay and no plans, assuming we’ll figure it out once we get there. That’s probably where our mantra, “everything always works out” comes in.
When our flight landed in Panama, it was two in the morning. We have a few friends in Panama from last year, but imposing on them to sleep on their couches at 3am seemed a bit cruel. Getting a hotel was an option, too, but it doesn’t make much sense to pay for a hotel you’re going to be in for just eight hours, even at Panama’s bargain rates.

And so we chose the third, less obvious option. In our backpacks we cram in luxury-lite cots, giving us the ability to sleep in perfect comfort just about anywhere.

(side note: if you have the foresight, check before deciding to sleep in an airport. They have a good database, though most of the complaints people register are negated with a luxury-lite.)

We headed upstairs to the waiting lounge, where a dozen or so fellow travelers were awkwardly sleeping on the hard tile floor or slumped over in chairs. I hate to admit it, but I felt pretty smug knowing we were about to rest in perfect comfort in an otherwise inhospitable environment.

And we did. A security guard gently woke us up at 7am, we packed up our cots, and headed in to one of our favorite cities in the world with no plans or accommodations to speak of.

Gadling Gear: Luxury Lite Cot

It was a crazy couple of days. We returned from trekking in Yakushima, Japan with just under 18 hours to find a condo for the next month in Taipei, pack, and get on the plane to go there.

And that’s how mistakes happen.

My friend and I booked a great little condo in downtown Taipei. I could have sworn that it said there was a bed AND a sleeper sofa in the condo.

After two nights on the 3 foot long sofa, I caved. I’d been eyeing the Luxury Lite cot for years now but just couldn’t justify buying it. I didn’t do much (any) camping, and I lived downtown.

Time to pull the trigger. My friend was so impressed with the pictures and stats of the cot that he decided to order one as well.

There’s a lot to be impressed with. The cot is full length, keeps your entire body off the ground, yet it packs up to a tiny 2 pound 2 ounce package that you can fit in your backpack.

When the packages came (remarkably quickly, especially considering we were on the other side of the globe), we tore into them. We’d been waiting around all day because we knew that if we didn’t answer the door for the delivery guy, we may never get the package (this already happened in Panama).

In my excitement I tried to build the cot without the instructions. No dice.

Thirty seconds after reading the one page instructions, my light-as-a-feather cot was fully assembled.

The inventor of the cot is a Texan named Bruce. What I love about Bruce’s inventions is that they are supremely versatile and functional. The cot, for example, has several configurations that you can easily put in, depending on whether you need to be higher off the ground, have more support in a particular area, or want to pack as light as possible.

Despite simultaneously testing plastic bags as pillows, which is a story for another time, the cot was very comfortable. It’s not soft like a bed, but instead cradles you like a very taut hammock.

If a good bed is a 10, broken glass and nails are a 1, and a bad bed is a 6, I’d give the luxury lite an 8 for comfort. Impressive considering how light it is and how tiny it packs up. In fact, if the Guinness Book had a record for most comfort per ounce, I think the Luxury Lite would win.

I’m looking forward to taking the luxury lite with me next time I go camping, but until then it will make a perfectly acceptable replacement for a bed. When two friends stayed too late at our hotel and didn’t want to walk home, we broke out the cots for them. When we have sleep in an airport next month because of an overnight stopover, the cots will be deployed

My friend sleeps on his instead of his bed, although he has to put it on top of the bed because the apartment is so small.