I thought it would be helpful to my readers to create a single page of the resources that have either played a critical role in shaping my perspective of the world, have proved extremely helpful, or things I use on a regular basis and mention frequently throughout my site. I’ll add to it as I learn more, so I recommend bookmarking it for your reference and convenience. Thanks!
Disclosure: Please note that some of the links below are affiliate links and, at no additional cost to you, I will earn a small commission if you decide to make a purchase. Also, please note that I have experience with all of these products or businesses, and I recommend them because they have been helpful to me, not because I make a commission. Don’t buy anything if it isn’t relevant and helpful to you!
My Most Recommended
If you don’t look at anything else on this page, here are my top game-changing recommendations.
Big Travel, Small Budget: Everybody always asks me how I’ve been able to stay on the road so long… Well, here’s my answer! I put together this Amazon best-selling budget travel book with all my secrets for traveling cheap, staying on the road, and finding freedom. Not just freedom to travel, but the freedom of taking your time back to dedicate to the things you love. This book will change your perception of long-term travel and how much it costs. More than 40+ reviews and people are loving the book… Grab the new best-selling budget travel book.
Truck Camping 101: To me, this was what it was all about… Freedom. I had no debt, minimal belongings, and was newly fun-employed. I could go where I wanted, when I wanted, with very low overhead. Maybe living in a truck per-se isn’t for you–but the central idea behind it is key: minimize your overhead, cut out the fat in your life to pursue what really matters to you.
Unconventional Guides: Chris Guillebeau, the man behind Unconventional Guides, has had a tremendous impact on my world view and what I believe to be possible. Mindset is crucial if you are pursuing this sort of lifestyle. Without first believing that what you want can be achieved, you will never even begin. Top notch resources on breaking away from your desk and working for yourself, freelance writing, conquering debt and mastering your finances, and travel hacking and flying for free.
HostGator: When I launched Desk to Dirtbag, I chose to have it hosted by HostGator. It is a breeze getting started with 1-click automatic installation of WordPress, along with great customer support. Don’t start your blog with free hosting on WordPress.com there are too many limitations. Start right and go self hosted.
Travel Blog Success: This is a program that I wish I would’ve started much, much earlier. If you are serious about growing your blog from a simple hobby affair to something bigger, I can’t recommend it enough. I joined nearly two years after starting my blog and it has dramatically shaped how I approach things in my writing and this website. It also features a highly active and engaged community with both up-and-comers and already successful members. Read my more detailed review and look inside here.
Aeropress Coffee Maker: I love to have great coffee, no matter where I am in the world–from the back of my pickup truck, to base camp in the Andes, to my very own apartment. In terms of keeping me caffeinated, the Aeropress is a game changer. Read my in-depth review here.
WordPress: I really believe that one of the best things you can do to help you achieve clarity in what you want out of life and hold yourself publicly accountable is to start a blog. It’s really that simple. Forget Blogger and Tumblr, there is a reason that WordPress is used on 60+ million websites (notice it isn’t just for blogging).
Namecheap: Having your own piece of property (your own domain name) goes a long way toward demonstrating that you take this blogging thing seriously. Not just for your readers, potential advertisers, or affiliate partners, but also to yourself. Get started on the right foot: johnnyadventurer.blogspot.com just doesn’t have the same ring as johnnyadventurer.com.
HostGator: All of my websites (yes, I have a few other small ones) are hosted by HostGator. It is a breeze getting started with 1-click automatic installation of WordPress, along with great customer support. Don’t start your blog with free hosting on WordPress.com there are too many limitations. Start right and go self hosted. New users can get a 25% discount using the coupon code desktodirtbag.
Woo Themes or Theme Forest: Additionally, start your blog off on the right foot and get an inexpensive, premium theme. Having a good looking, well-designed site well do wonders for both how YOU perceive your website, as well as how visitors perceive your site. I picked up the Big Feature theme from Theme Forest on Day 1.
Pretty Link Pro: If you are getting started in affiliate marketing, there is no better WordPress plugin for managing your links than Pretty Link Pro. Turn the super long and ugly Amazon (and other) links into something more manageable, for example: https://www.desktodirtbag.com/aeropress. There are keyword replacement tools, link replacement tools, statistics, the ability to change links in all past posts, and all sorts of really great features that I have come to rely on.
Travel Blog Success: As I mentioned above, this course has done wonders for shaping my perspective on how I approach blogging, both in terms of small details (like font readability, images) to big picture things (like pursuing free press trips, and other money making/saving opportunities). Read my more detailed review and look inside the blog here.
MailChimp: An awesome and free way to start your mailing list, today. If you have a website there is NO reason you shouldn’t have a mailing list active on Day 1. If not, you are missing one of the best ways to communicate directly to your followers.
OptinSkin: Just creating an account on MailChimp won’t get you subscribers. Optin Skin is a beautiful way to prompt visitors to both like and share your content after reading as well as increasing sign ups to your mailing list. I use it at the bottom of all my posts, and absolutely love it. You can read my detailed review of how I dramatically increased my opt-in rate here.
Digital Nomad Academy: Cody McKibben of Thrilling Heroics is another person that I followed for years as I sat behind my desk, dreaming about travel. I only recently joined the community but have found it extremely valuable for refining my perspective on how to actually make money online in pursuit of location independence. Hint: it isn’t just blogging and just sticking up some Google AdSense ads, though blogging can play a crucial role.
Location Rebel: Sean Ogle is another person that I followed for years as I sat behind my desk. Following last year’s World Domination Summit and talking with him in person, I jumped on the chance to purchase his course. I wish I would have done it while I was still working. My non stop travel last year was distracting, but I ultimately launched my side project of SEO content writing, which ultimately helped me get my current recurring freelance writing projects. Imagine if I had only started a year earlier?
Frequent Flyer Master: A true gem from Unconventional Guides. If you don’t know what Travel Hacking is, you are definitely missing out. This guide has directly actionable advice that will earn you a free airline ticket, I used the info to pick up a $700+ ticket to fly home, and I still have over 100,000 miles to cash in. This guide will 100% pay for itself.
Airbnb: I used Airbnb a number of times over the years as a traveler, and loved the flexibility and affordability of staying with locals. Where it has been a game changer for me is in terms of hosting visitors. I am able to offset the cost of my rent, essentially living rent free, an absolutely huge reduction of expenses that is especially important while bootstrapping your way to a sustainable level of income. New users can get a $25 credit toward their first stay by using my link.
Trusted House Sitters: Looking after the homes and pets of other travelers is another awesome way to reduce your cost of living while traveling. I’ve only just started in the house sitting world — you can read my Guide to House Sitting here — but plan to do more where possible. Slow down your travel and enjoy the perks of a home without the commitment of a mortgage!
South America Backpacking Packing List: Take a look at everything I took with me for my backpacking trip to South America, including my blogging gear, camping gear, city life gear, clothes, and everything else. Living out of a backpack is a true exercise in forced minimalism.
Photography and Electronics
Sony NEX-6: I can’t recommend this amazing little camera enough. It is the best compromise between portability and quality. It is an affordable, compact, mirror-less camera that shoots amazing quality shots, as well as RAW files. With an adapter you can attach virtually any lens to it, and with a Speed Booster you can even shoot as wide and bright as you would on Canon 5DMKIII. Check out my photography.
Asus T-100 Transformer: You don’t have to sit in some coffee shop with a $2,000 MacBook Pro and an emo haircut to be a blogger. In my pursuit of simplicity, portability and affordability, I bought this lightweight 2.5 pound tablet/laptop that runs a full fledged Windows. My favorite aspects: it is powerful enough for running Photoshop and Adobe Lightroom, the amazingly long 11-hour battery life (perfect for backpacking and travel), and the fact that it charges off a standard Mini-USB charger like a cell phone. Read my detailed review of the ASUS T-100 Transformer here.
Amazon Kindle: I love physical books. Used bookstores were always one of my favorite places, and I amassed a veritable personal library. When I downsized my belongings and set out on the road I had to part ways with my collection, including a number of books I hadn’t even started yet. Enter the Kindle: an absolute life saver for someone embracing minimalism or needing to reduce the clutter in their life. I have an entire collection of books available in the palm of my hand, the battery lasts for weeks, I can read in my tent or on a night bus. Awesomely, I also have access to purchase virtual any book I want, quickly and easily, even though I am living in Colombia. The Kindle is 100% worth it.
The Four Hour Work Week by Tim Ferriss: This was probably the book that really started it all for me. I read it I don’t know how many years ago and it sent my life down this direction. The idea, despite the name, isn’t actually about literally working four hours per week, but is so much more than that. Lifestyle design, understanding how much money you really need to take a mini-retirement and pursue the things you want. Creating something that will allow you to live the life you want, when you want. There are really important underlying concepts with your mindset.
The $100 Startup by Chris Guillebeau: Whereas the Four Hour Work Week might turn people off who just say “There’s no way I could be successful at that,” The $100 Startup is a more practical and actionable book that profiles dozen of people who have started very small side business (of all stripes) and found success. The very act of having a small side-hustle and making some money can be a massive game-changer for people who are only acquainted with working for someone else and having a boss.
Vagabonding by Rolf Potts: So many people tell me “I’d love to travel, I wish I could do what you’re doing.” Guess what? You can. It is surprisingly affordable to travel in the way that I do. Probably cheaper than your current lifestyle. Rolf Potts has been doing it for a long time. Here’s the gist of it: long term travel is not only possible, but it is desirable and worthwhile.
I Will Teach You To Be Rich by Ramit Sethi: The biggest barrier to travel or even pursuing the life you want is being chained down by debt. This is indeed a serious, but not insurmountable, obstacle. If you struggle with your finances, credit cards, and money issues in general, you will be well-served by reading this book. The biggest lesson is to automate as much as possible. Seriously. You’ll never miss a credit card payment if it is all automatic.
Mountain Laurel Designs: A little cottage manufacturer based out of Virginia that makes the best lightweight backpacking gear out there. From gaiters to tarps to bivvies, their high-quality, top notch products that will take you far in the outdoors.
REI: The go-to place for all my outdoor gear needs. A (still) incredible guarantee and return policy, excellent customer service, a rewards program (an annual dividend) for membership, and an incredible selection of products for all sorts of outdoors pursuits. What’s not to love?
Backcountry.com: Another favorite place for online purchases with a great return policy, friendly customer service, and they even offer a selection of gear not available at REI.
Second Ascent: The best little used gear store out there, who also have a wide range of new products for skiing, mountaineering, climbing and more. Shopping online isn’t quite like stopping in at their store in Seattle’s Ballard neighborhood, but it is the next best thing. Let’s not forget to support the small retailers as well.
Smart Passive Income: You know what is pretty cool? Going out for a run or exercising and learning a ton of stuff while you do it. The SPI Podcast is an unparalleled resource to learn about the numerous ways to make an income from your computer via the internet. Pat Flynn, a successful internet entrepreneur, interviews guests about all sorts of topics from copywriting, sales, pricing, developing products, and much, much more. Here are a few more of my favorite podcasts.[optin-monster-shortcode id=”y5ko3dbtjgw7kbuq”]
If you think this is a place your friends could benefit from as well, I’d appreciate you spreading the word!