So a couple more products were sent to me just to round out my Olixar experience, one of them being the X2 Pro Bluetooth headphone set and the other a waterproof case for smart phones. Both of these seem quite practical to me, the headphones because they’re one less item to plug into my computer or phone while traveling, and the waterproof case because who has the time to stop texting during your shower, right? So this week I’m going to talk about the headphones, the good, the bad, and how I can or cannot live without them.
The first thing I noticed after opening up the package and holding onto the headphones was the weight. Super light. I’m fairly old school at times, so i get nervous when I expected things to be heavy and they aren’t, but in the case of headphones, things that sit and weigh down your head, this is a really great thing. You have to remember that I’m a musician first and foremost and a bass player at that, so my amps I play through are massive, and only recently have I been excited to shed those large suckers for a more portable little guy… for a smaller local show at least. Back to the headphones. So aside from being light, the wireless/cordless function is pretty nice. How many times have you had headphones on and forgot to unplug them before you get up and almost strangle yourself or better yet clothesline yourself as you’re about to jump out of the tour van. It’s a rhetorical question, but just for the sake of it, it’s 17 times and counting for me. So yes, it’s a definite plus for me to go wireless. They also come with an 1/8th to 1/8th inch cable to plug it in still, for when you actually want to go old school.
Aside from good looking, another nice feature is the built in microphone for receiving phone calls. One click of a button on the side of the headset and you are good to walk and talk away (assuming you were hooked up via bluetooth to your smart phone to begin with that is :) Plus, the fit and comfort is pretty good; I’ve had them on my head listening to music the whole time I’ve been writing this blog and I’m not getting that itch to shake my head and remove them… like I get while wearing hats at times. Also going back to the buttons on the headset, they work well for a simple pairing with your device also well as work to skip back and forth between songs. Oh, and they also fold up nicely so needless to say I like that feature for the sheer sake of portability and travel.
So how is the sound quality? First of all I must remind you again that I am not your average consumer of headphones. I don’t often by generic headphones and I don’t even think I’ve used the classic white iPhone headphones. Maybe cause those white headphones don’t fit my ears and hurt me, but more likely because I have a couple different pairs of special, custom-fitting in-ear monitors from some really expensive companies that I needed for touring. My first pair cost me $1200 back in the day. Yikes. They’ve come a long way since then and there are some pretty decent sounding headphones for much less these days. These ones, the Olixar X2 Pro Bluetooth Stereo Headphones, aren’t too bad. Definitely not the best sound quality I’ve heard, but for their price, not too bad. There’s a fair amount of bass and it’s a decent warm timbre overall, but I wouldn’t use them to master an album. I find that a lot of headphones companies try and sell you on big lows and some highs and forget about the mids. I just want a nice balanced mix. But again, for just a casual listening while walking around or commuting downtown on transit, they’re totally is passable.
So overall, I have to admit, despite the many features I enjoy, I’m still not in love with these headphones. I think there is a lot to like about the X2’s, including the weight, the headset buttons, and of course the wireless option with the built in mic, but overall as far as main functionality goes (headphones that play music, remember) I’m pretty sure I’d miss a better sounding set of headphones still. I’ll use them still, just not as my main set. Now maybe it’s a little unfair that I’m comparing them to my really nice pair of professional in-ears, but at the same time, it’s totally fair since anyone can also buy customs, they’re not exclusive to me! And I do also have a pair of (somewhat) cheaper earbuds that I pack with me when I don’t want my really nice ones and I feel I’d pull those out too before this headset. That’s me though, always preferring to be a bit more inconspicuous with a hidden pairs of earbuds rather than have a bigger set of over the ear headphones. So maybe a different argument here, but for me, I still prefer to choice my headphones based on sound quality first and then maybe style second.
But how do you feel about headphones versus earbuds? What do you travel with? Do you need the big bass and the big headset or do you care more about portability? Or sound quality tops all that? Let me know your thoughts!
Happy travels my friends,
What on earth is a Day-Off day shirt you might ask. Well let me first tell you what it is and then the importance of it will start to make sense…
When you are on a long tour, or even a work trip, you look forward to your next day-off, logically. These are your new ‘weekends’, but they are more than that to those on the road. Road life can be long and tiring and although there’s no 9-5 that we are following, there is still a 10am-2am, or 3am, or… that we are having to be “on” for. Most of that time is spend doing nothing. Then again, a lot of that time is doing everything. You never know, each tour is different and every season of touring changes as well.
All this being said, the day off shirt is important because it separates this day from tour life and there’s nothing better than a clean, fresh shirt that makes you feel good about yourself. This shirt is special. It could be your favorite shirt all time, or it could just be your goto, your, “this is truly me” shirt. The only stipulation: You CANNOT wear this shirt on work days, you cannot wear this shirt on stage. It is simply there to make you feel great on your days off. A good day off can recharge you for quite a while, so do all you can to help that be a great day. Add a special day-off day shirt to your suitcase and see how it can help you.
As an extra trick, keep this shirt tucked away and out of sight underneath your row of clothes. If you really want to differentiate it from the rest, put it in a large ziplock bag so it can keep its “fresh laundry scent”… or if it’s a dress shirt, keep it’s plastic bag on after picking it up from the dry cleaner? Either way, hide it from plain site so you even forget its there on the work days, BUT then when your day comes, lift out the entire row of filed clothes and reveal your special day off shirt. Take it out, put it on, and live it up!
Ok so here it is, a free travel gadget giveaway that you’ll actually want! It’s an Olixar Worldwide Adapter that will plug into any power source in the world world! I got one myself the other day have brought it around to a few places and have found it to be pretty dang useful, especially with the 2 USB ports on it as well. It’s basically a clever 4-in-1 power adapter so you don’t have to worry about losing individual power adapters, or especially if you are traveling between countries with different power sources. Oh and also, it has 2 USB ports, so not only can you click a button, and the UK power supply plug pops out for you to plug in your computer, but at the same time you can charge two of your devices! Maybe you could even charge your friends device at the same time… either way, if you win this, you’ll have the choose to be nice or not to your friends ;)
OK so ALL YOU HAVE TO DO TO ENTER THE CONTEST is either reply here, or on instagram, twitter, facebook or email firstname.lastname@example.org, and tell me where you are from, where you are going (maybe who’s going with you?) and why this would help you?! Also, it wouldn’t hurt if you were familiar with the Pack Like A Rock Star book and methods and wanted to add pictures of you packing BUT you definitely don’t have to!
Contest only runs until Sept 15th so reply, spread the word to your friends and let’s see who’s gonna win this sexy little travel gadget giveaway
BONUS: ALL entries will get a PDF of the book, How To Pack Like A Rock Star, (just make sure to ask and supply your email address so I know where to send it!)
‘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! :)