How To Pack A Backpack For Your Gap Year

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If you’re planning a year of travelling – then you’ll have to learn how to pack. Like the snail and the tortoise, you’ll be carrying everything you need to survive. Where do you even start? Fortunately for you, we’ve been around the block (world) a few times and in our travels have formulated the ultimate packing list. This, ladies and gentlemen, is how you pack for a year abroad in just two bags. Choose your Bags Your main bag is for anything you don’t immediately need. Most long term travelers choose a back-pack, because you never know when you’re going to have to carry all your worldly good from one place to another. Suitcases are far too heavy and cumbersome. You may not need as big a bag as you expected though… a 45-50 litre back-pack is probably all you need – keeping in mind that you’ll be strapping a sleeping bag to the top. Try not to buy your bag online – you’ll need to make sure it’s solidly made, has enough pockets for and – of course – it fits comfortably. Waterproofing is essential. And a word about sleeping bags even though this piece is called “how to pack…

How to Survive Comic Con

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Look around you. Are you unable to leave your property due to piles of comic books? Do you have more action figures than Facebook friends? Are you wearing a cape? If so, you may well be a self-proclaimed nerd, geek, dweeb or Big Bang Theory cast member and a visit to a Comic-Con (or a Comic Book Convention to the confused) is almost certainly in your near future. Not that there’s just comics. Now these Cons feature movie stars giving previews of their latest efforts, panels on TV shows, signings, toy sales and all sorts. But if you’ve never attended one before, or you’re being dragged along by what we refer to round here as a ‘reading friend’, then here’s a quick guide on being there and not going insane. BEFORE YOU GO Apparently you can’t simply dress like Captain Violence and saunter into your local convention centre like you owned the place. Depending on which Comic-Con you’re attending (a stipulation that applies to most of these tips) there will almost certainly be a complicated membership registration/badge purchase system implemented. This will have to be done well in advance, as will, if you’re visiting one of the bigger conventions like…

How To Travel Like Homer Simpson

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In their many and highly-comical adventures, the family Simpson have pretty much travelled everywhere. Over 26 seasons they’ve touched down in a staggering number of countries and upset many of the denizens of abroad. And despite the fact that most of these vacations involve Homer getting his head stuck in something, they can prove to be highly educational. I mean, how would we know about Australia’s odd forms of punishment, Italy’s drunken children or Brazil’s monkey problem without the Simpsons? So if you are jetting off to somewhere tropical this summer, here’s how Homer tackled a visit to these foreign nations. AUSTRALIA Remember, the environmental balance in Australia is very delicate, so if you are planning to introduce any foreign, invasive species, make sure that you don’t get caught, otherwise the natural punishment is to be kicked with a giant boot in parliament. If you are spotted dropping bullfrogs into airport fountains and decide that escape via kangaroo is the best option remember that their pouches are pretty mucous filled. The national pastime in Australia is a game called ‘Knifey Spoony’ so make sure you have your special gaming cutlery on you at all times. The currency is known as ‘dollaridoos’ with which…

How To Live Anywhere In The World For Free

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Shh. We’ve got a secret to tell you. Being an adventurer, gallivanting around the world and seeing everything it has to offer doesn’t have to cost you the Earth. You don’t have to be a posh toff  to safari in Africa or a trust-fund Tarquin to summer in the South of France. The secret’s this: the most expensive part of any trip is always accommodation, but it doesn’t have to be. You can stay in any country in the world – for free. The types of accommodation on offer range from sharing a hut with Asian villagers to having free run of a Californian villa. It doesn’t matter whether you want a taste of adventure or a brush with luxury. And here’s how. Work for your room If you’re prepared to graft for your bed and breakfast, paying your way by working is one way to avoid handing over any money. It’s also a good idea when you’re starting on a trip or need to refill the savings account when you’re on a big trip. Teaching English as a foreign language and working as a rep are popular choices  we’ve covered before. Other perennial favourites include picking fruit for a…

How To Apologise (& Mean It)

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We live in an age of apology. Every day some celebrity, sport’s star or politician tells the world that they are sorry for some indiscretion they were caught performing. And as you may have noticed, very often they are not good at it. Especially if they don’t actually mean it. But you can make a verbal recompense for something and appear legitimate. Just try these few simple techniques… FIND OUT WHAT YOU DID There’s nothing worse than launching into a fully fledged apology without actually knowing what it was you did. Before you go anywhere near the S word, establish the facts. You can do this by saying, ‘Look, there’s been a lot of crazy accusations flying around, tell me exactly what you heard.’ If they reply, ‘You know exactly what you’ve done.’ then you are screwed and you should throw yourself to the floor begging forgiveness. Otherwise get all the information you possibly can, just to make sure full remorse is necessary. WARNING: Clip has some bad words in it. SETTING Heading to a neutral space for apology reasons is the cowards way out. You know that whoever you’re saying sorry to will probably not freak out in a restaurant…

How To Buy Jewellery For Your Man/Woman

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Buying jewellery for another person is like buying them underpants – only much, much more expensive. A piece of jewellery is a very personal thing. So why do we even buy jewellery for other people? Well, for all the reasons that it’s so bloomin’ difficult. When you gift jewellery to someone, it’s special. You’re telling the recipient how you feel about them, in all kinds of subtle ways. No pressure there, then. General Rules Every time you buy a piece of jewellery it will be a unique experience. Just like the person you’re buying for and the occasion that warrants it. But there are some general rules you can use in every situation. Take a friend Assuming the purchase is a secret, take a friend with you. It can be an entirely neutral third party or a friend that knows a bit about the person you’re buying for. Either way, they bring a second opinion to the table that will be valuable when you’re planning to spend half your savings. Match your spending to the occasion Never spend more or less than you have to. Match the occasion and the circumstances. An engagement ring, for example, is going to set…

How To Drink Absinthe (& Not Go Insane)

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It is considered the scariest thing sitting behind the bartender’s head. The legends surrounding absinthe have been swirling around for generations. The ‘green fairy’ that poisons the drinker’s mind with Wormwood and causes hallucinations, wooziness and even madness. It’s even illegal, right? No, not for years. The levels of neotoxins contained in the drink and thought to affect mental cognition are too small to cause any trouble. So it’s not as dangerous as some fear, but it is still strong… and delicious! If you prepare it correctly. WHAT IS THIS STUFF ANYWAY? Like Coca Cola, Cornflakes and Irn-Bru (probably) absinthe may have started life as a medicinal tonic, brewed by a French doctor living in Switzerland. Though Wormwood infused wine had been in the drinks cabinets of the Ancient Greeks. It’s a flavoured spirit, featuring an infusion of herbs and flowers including sweet fennel, green anise and grande wormwood, plus a possible selection of other herbs such as hyssop, peppermint and coriander. The base ingredients will create a clear spirit (which is sold as ‘Absinthe Blanche’) but the addition of these herbs turns the concoction green and adds more flavour to the over-riding liquorice flavour of the anise. The craziness…

How To Take A Penalty & Not Miss

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It’s one of the most anxious situations in sport. Other than being late to film your Head and Shoulders commercial. A penalty is as stressful as taking your driving test, being cross-examined in court and finding a strange lump on your upper inner thigh all rolled into one. And yet it should be so simple. Just kick the ball into the hole, avoiding that big man in the way. But so many footballing millionaires fail to do it. Why? Here are just some of the reasons we have unearthed for trained professionals missing a spot-kick, with video evidence included. ANKLE FATIGUE A strange, rare sporting condition where the player involved (in this instance Del Piero) suddenly has the leg power of a wounded fawn. Without warning, all the momentum is drained form the lower leg, causing the victim to lightly tap the ball in the vague direction of the goalie, as is kicking a packet of Jaffa Cakes across the floor towards your stoned flatmate. DISCOLOURED BALLS Footballers are a superstitious lot, so any sudden changes in routine and environment can throw them off and cause upset. Which explains why, after years and years of kicking a white ball around the pitch, the…

Self-Help Advice From Alan Partridge

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Do you long to be more interesting? A charisma leviathan, part man, part God? There can be only one blueprint. Norfolk’s answer to Jesus of Nazareth, Alan Partridge. Some say Partridge is a fictional character played by comedian Steve Coogan in several series, some TV specials and a mildly disappointing film, but we say those people are crazy. How could anyone invent Alan Partridge? Except, perhaps, a genius mind like Nietzsche, Kant or Jilly Cooper. Partridge is both the everyman and the ubermensch. Women want to be him and men want be him with the women who want to be with him. How could you, a normal man, with a man’s courage, ever be like Partridge? Well, we’ve been studying the formula and we’ve broken it down in our laboratory to seven component parts. Gentlemen and strange ladies, here’s how you can be more like Alan Partridge in seven steps of varying difficulty. And to top it off, we’ve got a collection of Alan Partridge’s best clips. 1. Be a ladies man Though divorced from the love of his life Carol, who bore him children Fernando and Denise, Partridge doesn’t let that cramp his bachelor style. At one time, between…

How To Talk Dirty To Your Man/Woman [British Edition]

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  If we are to believe glossy magazines, local news programmes and bridge graffiti, then engaging in sexually explicit conversation is a vital part of modern lovemaking. Alongside ‘devices’ and ‘flimsy underwear’ it adds a much needed novelty aspect to the whole endeavour. But if you have been raised, properly, in the British Isles, the thought of this undertaking would surely fill you with revulsion and immediate self-loathing. So how can it be achieved? Here’s a handy guide to talking dirty but still remaining a stolid citizen. SETTING Good areas for this pursuit to occur are the bedroom, the spare bedroom and, on very rare occasions, (possibly a birthday or significant anniversary) the kitchen. Don’t embark on this sort of activity out in public, at a sporting event, while in a motor vehicle, while working heavy machinery or at the seaside. Your own home or a discreet hotel are both acceptable. Ensure that all doors are locked, windows are sealed and heavy furniture is placed against the door where the ribald speech is to be engaged.   HOW TO INITIATE Like most conversations, you should begin with a firm handshake  towards your partner (who is presumably, and I think legally,…