Behind the scenes in the Round The World travel machine

So what will you do when you get back?

I’m going to collapse in exhaustion – and turn 40. – Rolf Potts

Gadling Labs was in Cairo for much of last week, helping out on the Herculean effort of developing, shooting, narrating, editing, blogging and publishing the internet travel phenom known as the No Baggage Challenge. The journey, set to prove that luggage can be as much physical as it can be psychological is about 1/3 complete, with the team crossing the northern shoulders of Africa and heading south to Johannesburg.

I met up with Rolf and Justin at the Cairo Marriott late one evening, a sprawling, beautiful property at the edge of the Nile on Zamalek, the leafy island at the center of the city. With few hours of sleep and a bad case of jetlag, my condition was actually pretty similar to the travelers, and as we ate dinner at the edge of the property they caught me up on their day-to-day and future activities. We would be spending the next two whole days filming and editing here in Cairo and there was a lot to do.

Like on most days of production, my time with the team was action packed and exhausting. Each morning the team met for breakfast at Omar’s Cafe at the hotel, discussed strategy, gathered our bearings and polished plans made earlier for the day. On the day that we shot Giza Plateau footage, we were out the door by 8AM, deep in camel negotiation by 9 and wrestling with a crowd of touts and salesmen before lunch – all before heading back to Zamalek, barreling through the city streets and shooting b-roll and side-story footage for later episodes.

Only after returning to the Marriott could we consider lunch (or at that point: dinner) but it was time for post production, so offset in two opposite chairs, Justin and I worked on blog and video content from his room while Rolf compiled dispatches from his tiny keyboard and iPod across the hall. For the two travelers, dinner in greater Cairo wasn’t an option, so I took some time to walk down to a local haunt, pick up some shish and some stuffed pigeon and bring it back to the starving lads. Wrapping up late in the evening, we made plans to meet for breakfast at Omar’s the next day and retired to our rooms in exhaustion.

Twenty-four hours after departing the lush Midwest, the process of planning, shooting, editing and posting a round-the-world travel series was nothing short of exhausting for me. The two days of involvement in the No Baggage Challenge left me completely drained, dirty and sick on my return to Chicago a few days later – I’ve no idea how these two guys can continue to do it around the clock. As I write this from the leafy suburb of Evanston the boys are currently roughing it through Johannesburg — check out their progress at and wish them luck.