Useful pdfs for travel

Wrap-up 2021

My target for this year was to finish a first edition of my travel book, which I posted a few weeks ago. You can download it here.

Towards the end of the year, I launched an Indiegogo campaign to try to fund a print run. The campaign was not successful, alas, but I’m still pretty happy with the book and the year generally. I acquired a lot of rudimentary skills in areas I’m interested in – survival skills for the survival section, cooking skills for the recipes section, etc. I learned a lot about history in drafting the history section. I’m also still using the workout I came up with, which I like for its simplicity and thoughtlessness. Other projects have stalled, of course, like trying to learn the basics of Chinese, but on the whole it’s been a good year for picking up skills.

As for the book itself, I’ve printed a couple test runs with printers I found on the internet. The first one was a very rough draft with a wire binding.

Wire version

The second one was pretty much the version I wanted to send people in the Indiegogo campaign. Not every section was finished but the printing specifications were what I wanted more or less. I sent a few copies out to shill for the Indiegogo campaign but I still have a handful in my closet – let me know at if you’d like a copy.

Layflat version

I’ve been carrying it around for a few months and I do use it all the time as I hoped I would. I’ve put everything in there – my finances, my shopping lists, key phone numbers, etc.

I think that’s probably it from me this year but looking forward to seeing you again in 2022. Thanks for reading and all the best for the holidays and new year!

Useful pdfs for travel

Free ebook for subscribers

I’ve finished the rough draft of the book that I started at the beginning of this year. There are still a few things that I would like to include – especially a first aid guide – and plenty of improvements to make. Still, it’s pretty much what I had in mind when I started: a simple reference manual with maps, cookbook, phrasebook, survival guide, etc.

If you’d like a free digital copy of the book, please subscribe on the contacts page. I’m working to put this into a nice physical book, which I hope to launch on Kickstarter in November, so stay tuned.

Useful pdfs for travel


Here is a one page pdf guide to self-defense:

My goal with these pdfs is to include materials that I think will be helpful to travelers. It seemed to me that self-defense is something that should definitely go in, even though I’m not hugely into it on a personal level. A little self-defense training is good for everybody and you never know when you’ll be in a tight spot when you’re traveling. By the end, I felt a little more secure and I was glad I spent a few hours looking at these things.

As always, what I wanted was the most minimal essentials, the barest bones. For this, I think the best discipline to follow is Krav Maga, rather than karate, or boxing, or another martial art. Krav Maga was developed by the guy who trained the Israeli army in the 1940s. As a discipline, it’s supposed to be very basic and effective, drawing the best techniques from other martial arts. At some point, I’d like to take a self-defense class or two and I think it will probably be a Krav Maga class.

Another simple and effective source is the US army’s field guide to combatives. There is also a related series of YouTube videos. I like the videos because it’s kind of hard to visualize everything just from the field manual.

The problem with the army manual and Krav Maga are that they’re geared to fights where the fighters are pretty evenly matched – that is, a couple soldiers facing off against each other. For my pdf, I wanted it to be useful for everybody, including for instance a smaller woman facing off against a larger man. There are also plenty of guides like that on the internet and, in the end, my pdf looks more like those guides than the Krav Maga guides.

Useful pdfs for travel

Survival guide

Over the past few weeks, I’ve been publishing pieces of a survival guide. I’ve now assembled all those pieces into one single pdf:

In addition to the recent pdfs that I’ve published on the blog, this also includes new sections about shelter, distress signals and a few preliminary sentences of general advice. It’s 16 pages long, so shorter than the dedicated survival books, like the SAS Survival Handbook or Bushcraft 101, but longer than lots of the best internet survival guides, like The Urban Prepper’s Survival Cheat Sheet.

The most important thing I haven’t included is a first aid section. As you may know, I’m no stranger to publishing things that I’m not an expert in or somehow the opposite of an expert in. Still, for first aid, it seems kind of irresponsible for me to write and publish anything. For first aid, you should get a professional guide like the Johanniter International European First Aid Guidelines, the John Furst Guide or the European First Aid Manual.

I’ve also skipped anything about how to find food in a survival situation, which most survival guides cover. Again, I’m a little more reluctant to wade in as an amateur here for fear of killing somebody with the wrong berries. Also, you have a while before you die of starvation and I really intend my pdf for short-term emergencies. So I think a food section was beyond the scope of this pdf anyways.

Finally, the section on distress signals doesn’t include Morse code, which it maybe should. I made this decision partly because I already included Morse code in Alphabets. My plan is to eventually lump all these pdfs together in one longer, all-purpose book and I didn’t want to duplicate Morse code in two different sections. So I guess if you find yourself shipwrecked on a deserted island with no chance of rescue except a radio beacon and my pdf survival guide, then, you know, my humblest apologies.

Useful pdfs for travel

Basic navigation

Always know where you are and always look good. And if you don’t know where you are, always look good.

– from the US special forces

Here is the next installment of this blog’s pdf survival guide, navigation:

I’ve chosen all the easy techniques that give you a broad idea of north and south, assuming that you don’t have GPS or a compass – looking at the sun or moon to find the directions, for instance.

I didn’t include a couple more complicated techniques. One is making a compass by magnetizing a needle. Another method is to use the shadow cast by a stick to track the path of the sun (or moon). The shadow method takes a while but gives you very accurate directions. I wanted to keep the techniques in my pdf really short and basic, even if they’re not 100% accurate, so I didn’t include these more complicated techniques.

As I was doing the stars, I downloaded the Night Sky app to try to familiarize myself with the constellations a little bit. I liked it very much. If you’re looking to get in touch with your primitive ancestry and commune directly with nature, this is one of the best apps out there.

Useful pdfs for travel

Water purification methods

Another pdf in my series of useful pdfs for travel is a little survival guide which I am working on. It’s a longer chore and so I thought I’d post it piecemeal to keep myself on track. The first item is water purification methods:

There are a few methods: water from plants, chemical treatment, solar still, filtration, etc. I’ve been researching online and trying these out in person. All my sources generally agreed with each other on these techniques, so there doesn’t seem to be too many controversies here.

1. Solar still

Solar stills turn out to be really hard work and the water you get out of them is kind of meager. Maybe it would have worked better in a hotter part of the world. It was good to do the experiment because if I ever actually need it, it will take some investment of time and work.

2. Chemical treatment

My primary source for this was the EPA guide but, again, everything I looked at was in broad agreement on dosages and method. It was all pretty straightforward but probably a good use of ten minutes to see that I had these chemicals and to test them out one time. The chemicals are iodine (2% tincture of iodine) or unscented bleach (6% or 8.25% sodium hypochlorite) or of course made-to-purpose water purification tablets. Probably it will never come up but you never know.

3. Water from plants

I didn’t include any specific guidance on what plants you can get water from and what plants will kill you. There are some general principles in other survival guides and here are a couple useful pages. I did include the method of tying a plastic bag around a branch which worked pretty well for me.

4. Filtration

I made a few water filters at home, using the things recommended in the survival guides. As you might expect, using actual things from nature like sand and stones resulted in pretty murky water, although it got clearer the more times I ran it through the filter. Water filtered in this way should still be boiled or otherwise purified to kill off the microorganisms.

Useful pdfs for travel

No-equipment drinking games

The next pdf in my series of useful pdfs is a handful of no-equipment drinking games:

Regular readers of this blog will know that lack of knowledge has not been an impediment to my project as I just bang on with these pdfs regardless. With drinking games, however, I like to think of myself as something of an authority, having devoted a lifetime to the topic.

For this pdf, I’ve avoided all the complex drinking games and also all those drinking games where you have to reveal your innermost secrets. Those games are good too but I want this pdf to be for emergencies only: you’ve just met your new housemates and you have nothing to say. In those situations, you need something simple and effective that won’t embarrass anyone or at least not more than necessary.

This list is just five drinking games long because five is plenty. For children’s games, you need a deep arsenal but I frankly struggle to think of any occasion where I played more than one drinking game. Indeed, there have been periods where I played the same drinking game, night after night after night, for weeks.

Anyways, the games are:

  • Drink while you think
  • Fingers
  • Flip cup
  • If you know what I mean
  • Simple game of 21

Many thanks to commenter TJ for some of these. I guess you could probably adapt these for playing without drinking but I definitely recommend throwing a little alcohol in there.

Useful pdfs for travel

Personal financial statement

Here is a pdf of a very simple personal financial statement:

This is just a balance sheet and an income statement. The balance sheet should show you how much money or debt you have on a given day, like 31 March 2021. The income statement should show you how much money you gained or lost in a given period, like 1 January 2021 to 31 March 2021.

I’ve always been really negligent about financial planning. I have a job that pays a salary and we try not to go too nuts on spending. I’ve come across lots of articles that say you have to be constantly on top of this stuff: planning, saving, investing, refinancing, etc. but I always put it off.

Part of my reluctance to engage is that it seems so complicated and so I thought it would be good to create the most simple financial statement possible. If you do sit down with this pdf or something similar, things will inevitably get pretty complex because your financial situation is probably pretty complex. But in the end you’re just looking for those two simple numbers: (1) how much net wealth you have on 31 March and (2) how much you gained or lost from 1 January to 31 March. And if you keep it mega-high level like this, it should just take a couple hours mostly logging in to your accounts to find the amounts.

Once you get these two numbers, you may well want to dig into the details. For instance, you might get curious if you could afford a three-month sabbatical or how much you would save by bringing lunch in or whatever. Figuring out those two numbers will give you a framework to answer those questions. The answers won’t be perfect but if you look at the greatest corporation in the world with the greatest accountants in the world, the answers will also be imperfect, so don’t worry about it.

In addition to net worth and profit or loss (as set out in this pdf), corporations also figure out their cash flow. This shows them if they can pay their bills and if they should be investing their cash somehow. I haven’t included cash flow in this pdf because, as an individual, you can figure this out pretty easily just by looking at your bank statement.

You might decide that you want to dive into a cash flow statement or any of a million other accountancy things: accrual accounting, valuations, forecasts. The list is endless and, if you find this stuff interesting, you’re lucky and should take advantage of it.


Here is a fabricated example using my pdf based on Vicky, an employee at a business in the US.

Balance sheet. Vicky has a checking account, a savings account, and a pension fund. She has various other assets like a car and possessions but she ignores that stuff. She also has some complicated social security rights but she ignores that too. So she just logs in and checks how much is in her bank accounts and pension on 31 March 2021 – it’s $200,000.

As for liabilities, Vicky has student debt and a credit card. Again, she looks at what is owed on her student debt and credit card on 31 March – it’s $75,000 in total.

So Vicky’s net worth on 31 March is $125,000.

Income statement. Now Vicky wants to know how much money she gained or lost from 1 January to 31 March.

It’s easy for Vicky to figure out how much money came in during this period. She can see from her bank account statements that her only income was three paychecks and one gift and the total was $13,000.

All kinds of weird stuff happened to Vicky’s paycheck before it got to her bank. Among other things, Vicky’s employer deducted amounts for her pension, social security and taxes. Vicky is busy and she doesn’t bother with any of that stuff. She just looks at what was actually deposited in her bank account.

Now Vicky wants to see how much money went out of her account from 1 January to 31 March. She didn’t take any money out of her savings account, so that doesn’t matter. She also doesn’t look at her credit card statements at all. She pays her credit card out of her checking account, so all of her credit card purchases will eventually show up in her checking account. Even if there were big credit card purchases towards the end of the period, Vicky ignores her credit card statements themselves; she just records the actual transfer of money out of her bank account to pay off the credit card.

And so then she just adds up all of the money that went out of her checking account – it’s food and rent and clothes. It’s also payments of student debt and her credit card. She adds it all up and the total is $11,500 for January through March.

So her net income was $1,500 ($13,000 income minus $11,500 in costs).

Vicky might now start thinking strategically about all this stuff: how much she spent on rent, can she increase her student debt payments, investing, etc. But she has the main numbers she wanted: net worth and net income and that’s pretty good.