‘Ok ok, to start off I have to be honest and admit that I really like gadgets… and I love good travels gadgets even more. But I also have to be careful because it can be like wanting to pack all of your favorite clothes into your suitcase; you just probably wont need them all!
So what is this little gadget I’m talking about? What does it do, how does it help me, and will this be a mainstay in my pack or a seasonal gadget? Let’s talk it through as Pack Like A Rock Star demo’s the Olixar Power Up Kit…
What it is: The Olixar Power Up Kit is a clever little pack with multiple travel adapters for when you find yourself touring/working/traveling, whether at home or overseas (or somewhere with a different power system) as well as a power adapter with 4 USB spots (I kid you not!) for powering multiple devices at once. Also included are a couple of retractable cables (both with Lightning OR Micro USB ends) and a super slim, portable power bank for charging on-the-go.
What does it do: Well that’s probably fairly obvious already, but, the reality is, that if you travel enough, especially outside of your country, then you really do need something special like this to power up all of your electronics. And if you have multiple devices, (ie. phone, iPad, e-reader etc.), then this is perfect for that. Having four separate ports for charging is great; It comes with two cables already, so if you have a few devices then you’ll still have to bring an extra cable or two, but you would normally have them anyway so think of these as an oops-forgot-my-charger-again backup plan…times 2!
The power bank included is ultra slim, which makes it easier to carry around with you. It’s not quite fit-it-in-your-wallet thin (unless you’re George Costanza) but you can definitely stick it in any one of your pockets without a whole lot of worry or discomfort – even with skinny jeans – so that says something right? The best feature about it is that it comes with a cable built into it so you don’t have to also port around a cable. It’s a short Micro USB end that pops out of the device, and if you have an iPhone, there is also a hidden Lightning adapter for you underneath the cable.
I have to be honest, it took me more than a second to figure this little sucker out, BUT when I did ha, I was pretty darned happy with it. With 2500mAh’s, it gives you a decent little charge for it’s portability: It charged my iPhone back to full from 5%, and the last time I charged the power bank was almost two weeks earlier, so it’s definitely got some pretty decent power.
Design: I have to say, it’s a great looking kit. Better looking than a power bar, that’s for sure. When I first got the Olixar in my hands I was impressed by the amount of time and energy that was clearly spent on the design. It’s sexy. And I like carrying around or traveling with items that not only impress me but also others who may see it. I also might add that over the years I’ve lost an international power adapter or two probably due to the fact that I kept them in a discreet black bag that you’d see diamonds held in… well in the movies at least. Any who, what I’m trying to say is it’s nice to have a good set, in a proper case, that I would care about, where everything in there has it’s own spot, making it obvious if you’ve forgotten to replace something.
Couple things that bugged me: Now call me old school if you will, but when I travel abroad, I almost always have my actual laptop with me, so a power adapter with only a bunch of USB ports and no actual plugin option for my computer power cable stinks… I’d have to bring a separate power adapter for that. And if it weren’t for my computer, then it may be for my flat iron…no, I’m not in an emo band, and I don’t actually have any hair except for my beard, but I do have a wife and she might need her flat iron. Again, point being, I’d probably still need a separate adapter even if I grew up and just used an iPad as an away work computer.
The other thing that kinda bugs me is the power bank… remember when I said it took me a sec to figure out how to make it work? Ok here’s why I’m an idiot, or why it’s a little goofy in design… one of these must be true. So I pulled out the cable from the power bank and noticed it was Micro USB, and having an iPhone myself I thought, crap, I’ll need one of the Micro to Lightning adapters from the retractable cables that come with the kit. Not a huge deal since the Power Up Kit comes with two. But then I didn’t like the fact that I’d have to carry this little adapter around separately… and that’s when I noticed that hidden under where the power bank cable had been was a Micro USB slot?! I plugged the cable into it (basically like I was trying to charge the device with it’s own power, which seemed dumb…) and then noticed a piece came out? I actually thought I broke it at first, only to realize that it too was yet another Micro USB to Lightning adapter, thus finally realizing I could charge my phone without having to borrow from another part of the Kit. Ok, so I am an idiot, BUT what I still don’t like, and why I actually thought I broke it at first is because the cable only goes half way into the adapter. I have a hard enough time seeing my drawers at home being left half open, and so this kind of thing, when cables don’t fully look connected, like puzzle pieces that “kind of fits together…?!” bugs me. That being said, it still works fine.
Overall: From the design to all the features, it’s a pretty great kit with a lot of very useful and usable parts. It’s perfect for a device-friendly traveler, which is most of us these days, isn’t it? Would I use it every time I go away? Maybe not. But then again, maybe I would? I know I’d use parts of the Kit for sure on a regular basis… but as much as I praised the design and look of it all, for an everyday use or travel kit, it’s pretty large. Not overly heavy, but still a good size which would take up a bit if extra space in your bag. If I’m being honest with myself, I might even be inclined to bring a simple powerbar with me along with my normal chargers if I were on a shorter trip in North America (no need for all the power adapters…). Maybe a power adapter and a powerbar, ha. But then again, the order and tidiness of the Olixar Power Up Kit is what I was first drawn to, and keeping things need an orderly is what I preach with all my, How To Pack Like A Rock Star, stuff, so in that sense I would bring this along with me. Less mess, more order is my jam. It’s the reason I “file” my clothes into my suitcase vertically like a filing cabinet, for a more accessibility and more efficient way of packing; to alleviate the extra time and energy wasted from rummaging through your bag each and every time. And It’s not like I can’t find more space in my suitcase for a simple-shaped case such as this one, that’s what the Rock Star pack is all about. So, it turns out, I do like this sexy Power Kit and I’m ready to show her off to all my friends. Or make friends with it ;)
And until next time, HAPPY TRAVELS MY FRIENDS!
In case you weren’t aware, How To Pack Like A Rock Star is on Instagram and Tumblr with new(ish) instagram and tumblr accounts! At the moment, this is the best way to keep up with our quick travel tips, so please give us a follow! I’ll still keep writing longer posts on here but they aren’t near as frequent as we would all like, so… check out the fun pictures and quick tips on Insta or Tumblr (besides, who reads more than 144 characters anyway these days, it’s all about the photos, ya?). But also, please do check back here from time to time for the longer and in depth posts about the best traveling tips… or just really, really OCD packing stuff we all love :)
www.instagram.com/packlikearockstar or http://blog.packlikearockstar.com/ (tumblr) if you didn’t click on the links earlier ;)
One more thing… you can still get your own copy of the limited edition, How To Pack Like A Rock Star, book while it still exists (or if you are sick of waiting for tips or just want an insanely great gift for a friend who already has everything, and yet nothing without this book)!! Get it from me here, or check out Amazon if you don’t trust me :P
I was recently looking through a bunch of old writings and I came across these Top 5 Tips for Travel I wrote for another company (and or blog), to which it dawned on me… I didn’t even post this on my blog?! So here it is, my thoughts and top 5 tips for travel.
1. Pack with a Purpose
It’s about time we start looking for a new way to pack, a method more conducive to travel. Try folding your clothes and placing them into the suitcase vertically, as if you were filing them in a cabinet. You should be able to see every article of clothing from the moment you open your bag. If it helps, view packing as a game of Tetris, ordering ordering your clothes in the most logical and efficient manner. I even fold my clothes so that the most distinguishable part is visible and facing upwards, like the the back pocket stitching of my jeans or the middle crest of my shirts. What advantage do you have by being able to see everything in your bag all at once? Well, the way I see it, the less time you spend searching, sorting and sifting through your clothes, the more time you’ll have exploring the sights. Efficiency* is the key.
*Rolling is not efficient. I don’t roll for the same reason bricks aren’t round… they don’t stack well. FYI, rolling also creates more wrinkles.
2. Heavy to light
Make sure you place your heavier items like jeans, toiletries, shoes, etc. are on the side of the bag where the wheels are, this way they don’t put extra weight on your other items while in the upright position. Packing with this in mind helps to prevent unnecessary wrinkles, and needless to say, less wrinkling = less ironing, meaning (that’s right), more time exploring.
3. Wet Pockets
Whether you travel with just a carry-on or full size suitcase, make sure it has a waterproof external pocket, also known as a wet pocket.* A wet bathing suit from your last minute swim in paradise, sweaty workout gear, shower sandals, various liquids, or even a few goldfish can be thrown into this pockets last minute… and remember, we want to make the most of our time away, so if we can save ourselves from having to do laundry before we start heading home, then great!
*If your bag doesn’t have one, try bringing a few large ziplock bags instead.
4. Flip Flops
Being a musician, my work lends me to traversing though many a great cities, however, it can also include some very dark and dirty music venues with dingy showers. Cheap flip flops have saved me on numerous occasions as I’ve had to explore (this time not in a good way) the history of a building through the age of her showers in a sad attempt to maintain proper hygiene.
*Afterwards, slip them easily away into the wet pocket I just spoke about.
5. Pack Lighter
My last tip is a common one, I know, but here’s my take on it:
Learning how to pack lighter can be difficult, but it’s a lot like trying to quit smoking; You may have to start cutting back slowly, but eventually you just have to stop. So leave that extra shirt or blouse you “think you might wear” behind. If you don’t believe me then at least try this: Make an itemized list of everything you’ve packed and at the end of the trip place a checkmark beside each item you actually wore… I’m willing to bet there are items you didn’t touch, isn’t there? Again, next time leave them behind.
In short, think about what you pack and think about how you pack. Try and have fun with packing and make a game out of it. Again, the more time you spend with your head in your bag the less time you have to explore the beautiful sites and sounds this wonderful world has to offer.
And as always, if you need more of these tips, then help support an nerd/artist and buy my book! :)
Also check out the new Pack Like A Rock Star Tumblr page!
Rolling your clothes sucks.
There, I said it. And I said it not because I don’t ever do it (though I rarely do nowadays) but because it isn’t a very effective way to pack your suitcase. Well, it’s about as effective as the way your parents taught you how to pack your bags; stacking your clothes one on top of each another, each piece covering up the next. And although I will give some points to those who “roll” over those who pack in the generic… or dare I say geriatric way, I still want you to understand why Rolling Your Clothes Sucks… and why my Filing Method rules.
1. Rolling Creates more wrinkles.
Don’t just believe what everyone tells you, and do a test for yourself and you will find that even if you take your sweet ass time in doing a perfect t-shirt roll, you will still end up with more wrinkles than you would have folding your clothes. Fewer creases, potentially yes, but significantly more wrinkles.
Proper folding is the key to a perfect pack. Items should be folded in order to reduce the number of wrinkles or creases, and should be folding specifically for each suitcase you are using. Less movement is always better so having a nice snug fit is best, and that’s why I believe people like the idea of rolling, cause you can put them together so nicely, or so it seems…
2. Circles don’t fit well into squares.
Think of it this way. What could you fit the most of into a square suitcase (assuming they were contained the same volume): A cans of coke, or a square juice-box? Juice-boxes, right? The cylindrical shape of a coke can leaves way too much space left open in the corners. Have a look at my excellent drawing skills for my example of this idea and how you might lay them in your suitcase…
So understand that you are not saving space by rolling your clothes into round cylinders. And by squishing all your rolled items into your bag you are actually squishing them into pseudo-squares (as they are being pushed in an attempt to fill in those empty corner spaces), so in reality you might as well make them into a square like shape to begin with! Compressing your clothes is what saves you space… and there are many more efficient ways of doing that for a suitcase, like my method, the FILING (CABINET) METHOD.
*I do, however, understand that there’s an argument to be had if you travel with a duffel bag, some rolling can be beneficial, but then of course you still have to deal with this issue…
3. It hides what’s what.
By rolling your clothes, you are hiding away all the key differentiating features to your clothing. A t-shirt logo will be hidden, the back pocket stitching to a pair of jeans, hidden… aside from color or wash, you don’t know exactly where the clothes you plan on wearing are without a little trial and error; pull this one out, unroll it, “oops, wrong one…”, now you kind of take the time to re-roll, half-ass of course, cause you’ll redo it better later (classic); put back in, disrupt your pile again and pull out the other one that looked like the shirt you wanted…
You should be able to see everything you have from the moment you open up your bag! Save time and energy while also saving your pack from being pillaged each time you pull something out. The Filing Method makes this easy; you see it, you pull it out. No moving things out of the way just to get at the one item you actually want.
Don’t understand how the Filing Method works yet? Let me explain the basics: Think of packing like you are filing paperwork in a Doctors office… open the drawer, File Vertical, close drawer. Basic. The other files there will keep it condensed and upright and easy to find when you need it without having to look through the other papers first.
Your packing method should be a good combination of all things that will enhance your traveling experience, not hinder it. More time digging through your clothes is more time wasted while you could be out enjoying your vacation. And although attempting to arrive with the fewest amount of wrinkles and creases is good, it always helps to understand that no method will eliminate them altogether. Learn to be OK with that cause
There’s more to packing then just reducing wrinkles and creating more space.
You have to be practical. Packing in a way that helps with only issue isn’t a great plan either. Have you ever seen or heard about the “Engineering or Bundle method“? The one which involves laying your pants down first so they extend outside of your bag, then you place your shirts in a similar fashion but 90 degrees to that… blah blah blah… then you fold it all up into a wonder (and completely impractical) bundle of joy (that will take 20 minutes to dismantle when you want something from there) that will save you space (maybe, if you do it well enough and have enough clothes the exact dimensions of the suitcase or shove socks into random empty holes) and free from wrinkles (except all the ones that will come from bag slumpage when you place your bag upright and tote it around). Sound like a good and practical way to pack? Not for me.
By Filing your clothes, you will gain ALL of these pros at the same time, instead of just one or two of them:
– save space
– stay (relatively) wrinkle-free
– be able to see all your clothes from the moment you open your suitcase
– become overjoyed (and wowed) by your new sense of order in life or on the road… or at least in your suitcase!
– impresses your friends. Especially your OCD or nerdy friends, and especially your mom.
Summary: Packing methods, other than the Filing Method, make life on the road more challenging and time consuming. Or if nothing else, give filing a try and challenge yourself to learn a new method! If it isn’t for you, no problem, do what works best for you and your suitcase! I just wanted to you to have the facts :)
The end. Rant, over.
(And as always, if you need more of these tips, then help support an nerd/artist and buy my book! :)
I just wanted to take a moment to say Thank You to Chris Walla. If you haven’t heard, he recently played his last show with Death Cab For Cutie at a great festival in my hometown of Victoria BC called, Rifflandia. Chris was a huge part of Death Cab, but he was also a huge part of helping me get this How To Pack book off the ground. Chris was the second artist willing to be a part of the book, second only to Tegan and Sara. Chris and I spend a morning taking a few pictures before a good long day of pre-production for Tegan and Sara’s Sainthood album and I couldn’t have been more thankful for it. Some of my favorite photos for the book came from this shoot, including my handmade/hand-sowed sock-wing suit that allowed Chris to take flight… well when jumping off a fridge at least. In fact I’ll add a couple never seen before shots just below here, after all, that the whole reason to come to the site right, special content?! Chris produced Tegan and Sara’s, The Con and Sainthood albums if you weren’t aware, so yes, he’s a true talent that man. On a side note, Chris has a lot of really great socks. And this was before it was cool to have cool socks. He’s the cool sock originator i feel.
So to Chris, Thank you to for being a big part of my book and thank you for the great music you made with your bandmates for over 17 years! You are a wonderful person and I look forward to seeing what’s next for you my friend.
*photography by my good friend Rob Campbell.
Infomercials. We’ve all seen them, we can all recite them, (think “sham-wow!”, “linguine-bikini”, or “wow that’s a big schticky” and that’s all from just one pitcher!) and yes they are extremely annoying so I’ll stop talking about them BUT I would love for you to imagine just for a moment that this next paragraph is done in that style of voice!
“Have you ever struggled to get all your clothes into one suitcase? Now imagine how much fun packing would be if you got to play tetris with your clothes? Image how simple it would be if you were playing with all the same sized objects? Now what if I tell you that this can all be done and that you, yes even you, could actually learn to enjoy packing your bags?! That’s right, it can be done and I can show you how! But just wait, that’s not all! I can even show you how to save precious space and learn how to pack more into your suitcase! With just one simple payment of $14.95 you’ll be able to learn not only all my tricks, but also those of all your favorite rock stars!”
See how fun that was? Well either way, the reality is that packing with the rock star method, (or the filing method as I like to call it these days) can actually be much more fun than the normal methods like rolling or the other traditional one… and way more fun than imagining me with an infomercial pitcher voice, that’s for sure! The key is in the folding. Find a way in which the depth and width of each clothing item is the same… I can get more technical if you like but I can’t iterate enough, packing should be fun. Make an art out of it. Learn to pack your clothes vertically and treat them like files in a filing cabinet so you can see everything you brought with you from the moment you open your suitcase. Or have a little more fun and make shapes or patterns with your clothes and tetris it up! There are enough things to worry about before and during your travels, so don’t let packing add to that stress. Have fun and safe travels!
here’s an old series of shots I was doing for an animation showing how easy it is to fill a suitcase and see what all is in there as well as remove and replace items while you travel… Oh and ya that was also an attempt for subliminal messaging and a link to my book on amazon talking more about all of this, including tips and tricks from some pretty cool musicians. Here’s one more link :P
Suitcase Packing Expert, c’est moi?
Last december I was invited to be on a national television show (CTV’s The Social) to teach the shows hosts how to pack a suitcase. In short, it was a lot of fun and I thoroughly enjoyed the experience (despite feeling like a bit green for tv and sounding like a bit a bumbling goofball). Actually I loved everything about it, from flying out to Toronto to being my quirky self on the show. But the part I loved most was just before I was about to go on… I was backstage in my little green eating cantaloupe and asking the show producer how she first heard of me. Her answer was the best I’ve ever heard.
“I was just Google-ing ‘packing experts’ and I came across your name…”
So with that new jump in my step I went on to fumble my way through the show… no I’m kidding, I did alright, ha. I don’t like talking too much about myself and what makes me an expert (which I understand is important, society likes to see framed papers on the wall or at least ‘cool’ street credit like playing playing bass for a popular band) but once we got past that and into the straight packing facts, I was golden! That’s where I hit my stride. Less self talk and more nerd talk is what I always say. The point is, I actually do know my stuff and I really am here to lead this new suitcase packing style revolution! So who will join me?
Here are a couple pics from a magazine spread that I was asked to write… I called this shot the How To Pack Starting Point. (The First image above has the final packing pic on the right)
Talk soon. (And PIN away all you Pinterest friends and fans :)
Don’t forget to check out the book for more tips on packing!