Roam Office

My office is wherever I find the best wifi.

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I always dreamed of a job that took me all over the world, but the opportunity to go after it didn’t really come up until halfway through college. I worked as the prose editor for a local literary magazine published through my university, and leveraged that experience to find a job as a freelance writer, producing content for websites and online publications like eHow, The Houston Chronicle, Synonym, Livestrong, and more. This job lets me run this blog, travel, and keep my bike in one piece without relying on anyone else’s income. I don’t think it’s a permanent lifestyle, but at 23 and less than a year out of college, it’s absolutely ideal.

My “Roam Office” is a list of the stuff I carry that isn’t essential to camping, fixing the bike, and riding across the country. A lot of this stuff does, however, make it much easier to transition into a working mindset for a few hours.

Without further ado, my mobile cubicle:

1. 11-inch Macbook Air

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This tiny powerhouse of a computer comes in at just under 3lbs, which makes it one of the lighter (though not lightest) computers on the market. Over a PC, I value the Mac interface for simplicity. I don’t need to spend as much time playing with updates and virus protection. I turn it on, and about 15 seconds later, I’m working.

The 10-hour battery life (a bit more on the 13-inch) gives me a lot of time between rest stops. I almost never plug into an outlet unless I absolutely have to. What’s more, I can fully recharge in about an hour and a half, so I’m never tied down to one spot for long. Finding an outlet while eating lunch keeps me going all week. I also use the computer’s battery to recharge my phone, my camera, my headlamp, and my bike lights; all use a USB cord to get back to full.

Here’s where I really love this setup:

My iPhone 5 on Verizon can work as a mobile hotspot. I use a killer app called FlashFrozen to automatically stop any advertisements and videos from playing on my laptop. Then, I load my work sites and all my research on my 3G phone network for no more data than if I was googling something or checking my email on the iPhone. I can work for hours and use only a few MB’s of data in total. Even without wifi, I’m still able to get a lot done.

2. Ricoh GR 22mm Camera

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I wanted to replace my trusted Nikon D7000 with something that I could really paint with; I needed lots of customizeability and control over the nuance of my photos, and I still wanted that huge sensor. With only one lens, though, the Nikon D7000 was overkill.

Enter the mighty Ricoh GR, recipient of a gold rating from dpreview.com and almost universal acclaim. This is one of three newer compact cameras to pack a powerful APS-C sensor, so it shoots an incredibly high quality image without the bulk of a full-frame body and lens. I love this camera, and it fits seamlessly into my travel kit with a customizable interface I’ve already spent countless hours mastering. For the traveling blogger, a good camera is de rigeur, so I’m glad I didn’t have to make any sacrifices to open up some room in my bags.

This Lowepro case fits it like a glove. That little pink USB drive is a USB card reader for transferring files to the computer.

3. iPod Shuffle and Audio Technica Ear-Fit Headphones

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Getting off the bike with my adrenaline pumping and sitting down in a crowded Starbucks to write a synopsis of biomass energy generation is akin to swimming with a weight vest. I need to make things easier on myself by cultivating a good work environment, and part of that is through music. I’m more than a little bit of an audiophile, but my on-ear studio headphones are unwieldy for touring. These super-light headphones can be worn for hours without any discomfort or the violation of an earbud, and they only weigh an ounce or two. They’re like 2-3mm thick.

4. Moleskine and a Lamy Safari Fountain Pen

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Not that Moleskine is the only game in town for a high-quality soft notebook, but I like this one and I’ve used it on two tours now. It’s starting to fill up with notes and hand-drawn maps in case I lose service on my phone. I have to admit, I don’t journal like most writers, and I find that the tiny Moleskine Volant is far more useful as a quick reference for a recipe or a street name, not to mention lighter. It fits in my wallet, so I always have it on me.

5. Wallet Kit

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I’m forgetful and often find myself needing things at hand, and this kitschy-looking wallet has been a godsend. Besides my license, debit card, and health insurance, I keep a small kit in here for daily use. The wallet is a Tom Bihn, which is holding up perfectly in my front pocket after almost a year. Dyneema is a strong fabric.

The ever popular combo of a Fisher Space Pen and a pocketknife is a staple of a good American consumer’s everyday carry. I use a Leatherman Micra because the most useful tool on my pocketknife is a good pair of scissors, and I find the Victorinox scissors to be lacking a bit of actual usability for tougher things like duct tape or cable housing.

I also slip in the aforementioned Volant Moleskine and a Park Tool Super Patch Kit, because the last thing I ever want to be is stranded. This is my backup patch kit.

6. Build Thyself

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These end up sticking with me, although I got into both for reasons embedded in romanticism and, well, maybe narcissism too. The Mala bracelet has come in handy in my worst moments; I use the Buddhist principle of the mantra, repeated 21 times (once for each bead) to calm myself down when I get stuck in a thunderstorm, with no place to camp, or when I’m lost in a city. In other words, I use it in high-stress times where keeping my head is imperative.

The bamboo copsticks are a nice way to feel the warm, fuzzy sensation that comes with reducing your disposable utensil use while simultaneously mastering the coolest utensil there is. I’ve been doing it for years, and I’m getting good.

7. Cleanup Kit

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Even though I’m touring, I try to be courteous. I clean myself up in the men’s room and often switch my pants before sitting down to work for more than a few minutes. This little kit all lives inside a Granite Gear Air ZippSack, and they come in packs of two (the other is my first aid kit). Only now do I realize the sheer volume of lip balm I carry.

The Rest:

The 3M Safety Glasses are a sunglasses variant of the clear ones I raved about in a past post. I picked these up for $4, and they’re tinted, UV resistant, and —get this— fogproof. Yes, the coating works. Who needs Oakleys?

I also carry a small, very sharp knife because I hate sharp objects, and I want to carefully control what I’m cutting. That’s a Kershaw Ken Onion Chive. My watch is a very cheap, very simple Casio Analog.

6 thoughts on “Roam Office

  1. You’re a trendsetter! I checked out the chive knife, and I like it very much. BTW, is that a tyvek groundcloth everything’s spread out on?

  2. Ahh, so jealous of your lifestyle. I’m just starting off as a freelancer myself and I dream of being able to pack up and travel while writing. Alas, can’t pay rent quite yet with my income.

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