Saturday, June 9, 2012

Tips on how to feed a growing boy with hollow legs - whilst I travel

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OK, so my friend Jakki says to me "and exactly how are you going to feed this growing son of yours whilst you are travelling on a tight budget"?

Very good question Jakki, and worth a thought before I go. Thus today's blog.

I am sure if you ask me after we have been on the road for 6 months, this will not be such a tricky question.

What is tricky, is that we will have limited oven and stove facilities, and sometimes no refrigeration, and probably definitely no freezer.

So here goes.

Breakfast - is easy.
Fresh fruit, cereals, long life milk etc are usually readily available.

Snacks - again, easy.
Fruit, packets of crisps, nuts and dried fruit, cookies & biscuits, chopped up veggies like mushrooms, carrots etc, and even dried cereals can make good munching food and can be prepared in the morning and place in zip-lock bags for the day. 

We also have re-usable plastic cereal bowls with lids that will be handy for carrying snacks.

Drinks -
Water of course
We use the roll up drink bottles from 'buy_worldwide' on eBay, or House and Garden.

We have orange ones we will fill with juice, blue for water, black for milk etc.
Buying a large container of long life juice is much cheaper, and will last us days,
but can be poured into smaller bottles easily for daytime use.

Lunch - reasonably easy and my son can make in the morning for us.
It will usually be sandwiches and fruit.
We will be buying bread and I have a tiny chopping board and a sharp long knife that has a blade long enough to slice a loaf.
Most countries have cheap bakeries, and bread rolls in places like Mexico can be 5 - 20 cents.
We will be taking Vegemite in a tube too.
Margarine and butter may not last long without refrigeration, so that could be an issue.
Mind you if it is a salad sandwich then you can use mayonnaise or avocado as a spread instead of butter.

Dinner - Now that's the tricky one!
Salads will have to be the go some nights.
In most places you can have power, but few have stoves.
An immersion water heater can be the go.

I bought this great one, and had fabulous service from 


It can boil the water and will be my best friend in the morning when I need to kickstart the day with coffee.

Then I also I found this great invention.
I can boil the vegetables and cook on this.
Fire Stove Fire Shelves Camping Gas-Powered Butane Propane Picnic New

It is a folding stove!

Thanks guys - another great eBay bargain!
I should have shares in the eBay company - and I should get treated a little better when there are seller problems.  (Little complaint - ebay treat their sellers quite terribly at times with their power rules.
They are all out for the money and protecting the buyer who spends - it is their down-fall in my opinion  - don't get me started!).
Anyway back to the folding stove top.
You just buy the Butane bottle once you get there and screw it on the top.
You will need also to get a cheap cooking pan. 
I recommend one that can fry, or be deep enough to boil, so a quality base is required.
Or buy a fry pan and small saucepan or billy, but then you have to cary more stuff.
Again we will only buy this when we get there as usually cheap enough at the market, or you find you can borrow one.

Dinner ideas I have if we use the stove
So that means we can make a lot for dinner.
Buy local rice and veggies - I use a bit of white wine in mine.
Great with local root vegetables in it.

Pasta Pronto
Boil up some pasta, and add whatever you have in the tomato or veggie line once drained.
Try to get yourself some cheese, but not always available in remote areas.
Dried cheese in a shaker can be a good substitute.
No need to use purified water of boiling over 4 minutes so I am told

Again - local rice and vegetables
and don't forget the oil or a sauce to stir through
If you only have one pan, cook the vegetables first, fish out of the water, then boil the rice in the same water.  If you want vegetables well done that is - also aids for germ prevention to give a 4 minute boil first, or use your purified water if only giving a quick boil.

Boiled Vegetables
Whatever is at the markets
Often sweet potato and other root vegetables can make a good mash too.
Great when you have limited water and save water to use for soup after.

Packet or Can
Make sure water is boiled or purified.

French Toast
An egg, milk and some bread - easy

Chicken or Pork Cups
1 tablespoon oil
1 brown onion, chopped
1 garlic clove, chopped - optional
500g extra lean pork mince or chicken
mushrooms, thinly sliced - about 4 - 6
1 carrot, peeled, and finely sliced
1 zucchini, finely sliced
2 tablespoons Hoisin sauce or local sauce
lettuce leaves if you can get them

Cook all over a low flame like a stir-fry except for the lettuce leaves
Serve in the lettuce leaf - you can roll up and eat with your fingers

Dinner ideas with the camp-fire
Hot Potatoes - non Wiggle style!
If we have a camp fire it is easy to put potatoes in the ashes - yum.

You can choose to wrap in foil or just bury in the ashes.
Here are some of my filling suggestions depending where you are:
baked beans, butter, grated cheese, sour cream, mushrooms, tin corn just to name a few

So is making toast on a stick and you can make your own grill.

Damper or Twistes
I am sure there are stacks of camp recipes too.
My sister BJ has sent me her damper recipe - thanks BJ.

You just make it and wrap on a stick.
Then take it off the stick, and fill with butter and Vegemite, or your favourite filling.

1 cup self-rising flour  
A pinch of salt
1 teaspoon of sugar (optional)
A big blob of butter (approx 1 tablespoon)
1 cup milk (longlife is fine)
Honey, jam and/or vegemite
Large clean sticks (one for each person)

(This is enough for about two people, so double the amounts as needed.)

Rub the butter into the flour til it's all crumbly.
Mix all ingredients together and knead into dough.
Roll out into long 'snakes', one for each person.
Twist around the end of your stick - don't make it too thick or the inside won't cook. 
Try to "join the snake parts so no gaps, or when cooked the filling will runout.
Hold out the stick so that the damper is in the fire (like toasting a marshmallow).
When it's done, pull the damper off the stick and fill the centre left by the stick with butter, jam, honey, Vegemite or whatever you like. 
I also like grated cheese in mine with Vegemite!
Eat hot!
Banana Boats
Peel back the banana in one spot and cut a narrow slice out of the banana.
Stuff the banana with chocolate pieces or marshmallows, or anything else you favour, then, pull the banana skin back over the banana and wrap in foil.
Place in the camp fire for about 5-10 minutes. 
Note: Once cooked remove from the fire and the foil before eating.

Apple Crumble
Place a piece of foil flat and spray or wipe with oil or butter if you have any. 
Place chopped up apple and rolled oats inside.
Add a dash of peanut butter and fill, 
then wrap the foil up and cook in the fire for approximately half an hour.

Long Life Dinners
I have found a heap of long life dinners
These are protective sealed pouches and are usually OK to take abroad.
Try to keep in the packaging that is printed where possible.
You need to declare at customers.
Keep all your food in one section and make sure it is sealed and labelled, and declare it.
If they want to take it - OK.
I haven't had a problem yet.
There are some great dried soups, and Happy Camper meals you can buy.
I found a long life Thai Green Curry at Rite-Price that is quite yummy.
I shan't bother taking the packs of rice as rice is for sale everywhere.

Local Food Vendors
Please remember that local food vendors are there to enjoy.
Encourage your child to eat new foods, and new local foods.
We usually try to eat more at a cafe, but as long as it is cooked you can take the chance.
Yes there will be Bali-belly and gastro's.  We all get them.
But if you use your judgement and if it looks OK then try it out.
I prefer vegetarian cooking for  roadside stalls over meats.
Remember if the water is not drinkable, then a salad washed in water can make you ill.
We have eater purifying tablets with us which we can use for our own cooking and food reparation.

Fruits and Vegetables eaten raw
Wash or wipe all your fruit and vegetables or peel them, especially if you are buying off the side of the road, or a market stall.
Salt and Pepper Set
Take a set of mini camping Salt and Pepper shakers
Fill them up when you pay for good accommodation or visiting friends.
Trust me - bland food needs a little spicing up!

Refer to 'Packing to go' section of my blog for ideas on utensils to pack.
Some of these are also handy for the backpack.

Ice cream and treat foods
Your child is used to having Western foods.
We found ice creams on a stick pretty cheap in most village stores.
You need to make these a treat when you go to town as you can't bring them home.

When you re out, don't be afraid to have a treat.  
A milkshake by the sea - as per our top picture, a curry in an Indian diner - whatever you both enjoy.

Memories are made at meal-times
Over a meal is a great time to bond with your child.
My son's goal is to get to the Eiffel Tower, and I most certainly we will be packing a French-style picnic with Brie cheese and Baguettes and other goodies that we can share on the grass, with the awesome tower structure looming over our heads - well near enough with a good camera angle!
Where you eat can make a boring meal into a life-long memory.
A campfire under the stars eating a hot spud, sharing a sandwich next to a cascading waterfall, fish and chips on the beach - simple foods and great memories.

If you have any great camping or travel recipes I would love to add them to my blog.
Please email them to me.

Frequency of eating meals
Children need to eat every three hours.

Food and Drink is more important that toys - be prepared.
Have your child be in charge of laying out the snacks and lunch he's you will take for the day.
Check it and make sure there is enough.
Remote waterfalls do not have vending machines!

Over pack your day backpack - you will be surprised, and glad you did.

My 7 year old does have hollow legs - thanks Jakki for reminding me!
Last night when he got home from school he ate:
4 full size pies (he says to tell you they were BIG)
2 mugs of flavoured milk 
2 custards with cream
All by 4.30 pm.

He eats more than me already!  
I definitely need to be prepared!!

Sunday, June 3, 2012

How to make money with ebay

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Making money both before you travel and while you travel without a "real job", can be tricky.

I have already written on various ways you can do this, but I wanted to go into detail about ebay.

I have been a seller on ebay for 8 years.

I have shut down sites, opened other sites, and also run ebay as a business at My EBay Store
I have also had a personal site to sell my own items.

I have sold over 10,000 items, so I am not a "Guru" yet, but on the road to my "Guru-ness"!

So what makes a good seller?

1.  Have a good eye
You need to know fashion, if you are selling clothes.
You need to know style if you are selling accessories.
You need to be able to spot a bargain.

2.  Offer a good price
There is no point selling if your customers can get it cheaper.
So keep your prices realistic.
Mind you, if you are offering the only size and colour in that item, people may be prepared to pay more.

3.  Be a patient soul
Having owned retail and wholesale businesses in the past, I can tell you it is a rare day that you have customers lined out the door to buy your items as soon as you put them on the shelf.
It can take weeks or months for that person to come along.

4.  Use a good postal or delivery service
You MUST use a trackable system for sending items.
Therefore you need a number you can follow on-line, so you can see where the item is in transit, or if indeed it has been delivered.
Don't do this, and you will fast find Paypal robbing back your money from your sale - rightly or wrongly.
Also, if you are travelling, make sure you specify you can only post weekly.
And that posting is coming form "X" country and will take "X" weeks.

5.  Sell only items that you can pack easily
Avoid china, glass and fragile items that can break in the post.
Avoid items that need extra wrapping, as this is added expense and time.
Clothes and small items are great, as they are easy to pack and send.
Of course, ensure you use plastic satchels, not paper.
A soggy, wet item is going to leave you with a soggy, wet customer!

6.  Be 'fool proof' in your service
In the old days, I used to fight til the death for justice.
I have been ripped off and abused on ebay.
there are some real nutters out there!
I would lose sleep, and find ways to get back at the person if I felt they were ripping me off.
I have had people clearly wear items and try to return them or even keep the item and get a refund.
I had a lady cut a top, several weeks after she received it, and try to claim a refund.
So I sadly became a bit vindictive - no more!
There are bigger fish to fry and who needs the stress.
As long as I am honest, I am sure I can work it out with 99% of the customers, and I leave the rest to God now.
I admit, I may miss a fault.  I am human.
But I don't like people who scam the system, and folks - they are out there.
So be wise.
I take plenty of pics of each item.
If some-one claims there is a problem, and there well may be, they must provide evidence.
Mind you, this does not stop them doing something to the item once they have received it, so check you original photos.
Also, they have to pay to send an item back.
Stipulate this when you have typed your description.
Paypal won't refund a seller the cost (to reimburse any shipping fees) for the buyer to send something back.
So be up front.
Exchange is best.
Just like a retail store, the store does not pay your parking or petrol, so you can shoot on back into the city and swap something that has a fault or is packed or described as the wrong colour etc., so neither do you.
I always say "I am here to help".
I apologise if I make a mistake.
But I will not be bullied.
So if you are going to sell on ebay you need to get tough.
I do all I can to have a happy customer whenever I can!

7.  Have an organised system
You need to have stock that is kept 'insect and weather' proof, and be kept in an orderly fashion.
I keep mine in opaque plastic tubs, so I can see at a glance what is in them.
Blue tubs for men's clothes, pink tubs for ladies items, clear tubs for kids, and accessories.
These tubs were about $10 each at Bunnings.
And they stack and transport well.
When I am done, I will use them to pack up my house.

8.  Be a resourceful planner
I knew a married couple who brought Sports Trading Cards to Australia from USA.
They made a LOT of money, and had several stores in our city.
Flashy sports cars and high living just from bits of printed cardboard. 
But alas, they held on too long to their business and went bust.
Trends are trends - they die off as fast as they hit.

9.  Keep a balanced life
I also have friends overseas who find jewellery and small handicrafts and sell them.
One lady I know lives in Bali and used to own retail stores in Australia.
She has a great business and makes a good profit.
She lives the vacation - it has not consumed her.
There is a balance.

10.  Keep your eyes open when travelling
One of the great joys of travelling is you are exposed to new trends and items before they reach your country or city.
I had a friend who was in the UK when 3-D posters came out.
He shipped them to Australia and had a friend do a market stall here.
Good team-work.
You may well find a product, and be able to be the business person on that side of the world for a %.
You are not stuck with the product then if items do not sell.

Spices market at Naama bay near Sharm el Sheik  Stock Photo - 10900416 

11.  Have a passion
One of the biggest keys, is to love what you do.
Sell what you love.
I have some ideas on things I want to find and sell whilst abroad.
Wait and see what surprise is in store, and if this happens - I hope so!

12.  Enjoy the rewards
The great thing about listing on ebay is you can do it anywhere there is a computer and wifi.

A few other selling tips

Research selling and setting up ebay in another country
You might want to open up a new ebay store for the country you are selling from.
Check that out carefully first, as it might be worth doing months ahead of time.
You will need an international postal or residential address.
Paypal can be registered to your travel email.

How many items on a new ebay site you can list
Ebay now has a limit policy for new clients as to listing quantity.
You can yell, write, register an ABN etc., but they will not budge on limits of what you can sell at the start.
You have to up your track record slowly.
I think this is over 12 - 18 months too.
This was a nightmare when I started a registered business, and nearly sent me bust.

Sell only for yourself
I am a kind person.
I find it really hard when good friends, and folks who have been kind to me, ask me to sell their items on ebay.
I once spent hours helping some-one list items when they were renovating.
I was stuck with the listing fees.
And guess what, they pulled them ALL off and sold all the items to a friend.
I wasted time and money.
If you are in Australia, you will be required to pay tax if you sell over a certain quantity.
It will also effect your Centrelink.
If something goes wrong, you are the one out of pocket.
You are the one with the bad feedback.
Trust me, let them do it themselves.

Keeping your suppliers a secret
Folks - the trick to any good business is to keep the name of your suppliers hush-hush.
You have done all the hard work in finding this great supplier, so don't just tell the next person who asks you who they are.
If you are smart, you can always be a middle man and make a percentage cut.
When travelling, Paypal can block you if you do not update international address so I have read.
Yet to find out the truth of this.
The great thing is Paypal can still go to your home bank account, and you just transfer over.
Also if you transfer or hold over $1000 in Paypal, they can investigate you for money laundering internationally, so keep the funds low and moving.
They will want your passport number if it goes over their limits, and you can't close the account.

Donating on Paypal
We have set up a Paypal link( top right of the main BLOG page) , so that readers of our blog can donate to our Random Acts of Kindness when we travel.
If you do this, you can also send an email and specify areas you would like the funds used for in helping the poor etc.
We will then take a photograph, and show your funds are used.