Articles by Shawn Forno

Shawn is a long haul travel specialist (trips +3 months), digital nomad, and surfer who’s lived, worked, and traveled to 30+ countries in the past decade. Big on surfing, climbing, scuba diving, and all things outdoors. Brooklyn misses him when he's on the road. Follow Shawn on Twitter. He'd like that.

You can follow Shawn on Twitter or Google+.


If you’re reading this, you’re already a smart, incredible, motivated, amazing person. I’m proud of you. Just googling “how to live in New Zealand” makes you an interesting person. But the best part about moving to New Zealand is that it’s easier than you think. I should know, I lived in a van in New Zealand for a year.

Here are just a few reasons why you should live in New Zealand (especially if you’re American):

  • If you’re between 18-30 years old, you can get a working holiday visa
  • New Zealand is predominantly English speaking (and you’re reading this, so you’ll be fine)
  • Kiwis are friendly as hell (for the most part)
  • New Zealand is so pretty it was the setting for a mythical fantasy land of rolling green hills, crystal blue lakes, and ice-capped majestic mountain landscapes (LOTR 4 LIFE)
  • New Zealand wants you to move there (more on that later)
  • Seasonal work is easy to find (but tough to do!)
  • It’s not creepy to live in a van down by the river (not really)

Moving to New Zealand: Visas & Paperwork

Ok, you’re excited to move to New Zealand, and you don’t need any more encouragement. Now it’s time to get down to the red tape and paperwork for living in New Zealand, even short term. If you want to live in New Zealand you have to:

  1. Sort out a working holiday visa
  2. Find Accommodation
  3. Buy transportation (optional, but recommended)
  4. Get a job (again, optional, but highly recommended)
  5. Register for a bank account, a tax ID number, and all that other boring stuff
  6. Get comfortable saying stuff like “sort out”

Click to continue…

Making an India packing list is hard.

India’s incredibly hot, brutally cold, dripping wet, bone dry, packed, and desolate depending when and where you are. India is also amazing. This massive country asks a lot of the travelers that visit—health concerns, massive seasonal changes (monsoons!), logistics, language barriers—but every trip to India is its own reward. Take on the challenge with a new India packing list for every season and every reason.

Author’s Note: This India packing list is a general use template for travelers likely to stick to some of the more popular spots like Delhi, Agra, Goa, and Mumbai. It’s not for everyone, so feel free to add or subtract to customize your needs.

The India Experience

I’ve been to India twice, both for extended trips. I’ve danced at a wedding in the far north in Kashmir (on the Pakistani border), slept on the beach in Goa, sipped tea in Nilgiri, prayed in Chennai, and cruised the lazy rivers of Kerala. I’m visiting India again this April to participate in the Adventurists Rickshaw Run, where a buddy and I will drive a 7hp rickshaw 2,000 miles down the west coast of India. It’s gonna be great. And terrible.

India packing list

Follow our journey across India in the Rickshaw Run here!

My point is that India is complex, varied, ever-changing, and I still don’t have a great handle on it. You won’t either, which is kind of what makes it great. India is one of the most populous countries on earth, yet it features some of the most remote places you’ll ever experience. The mountains in the north are the foothills of the forbidding, frigid Himalayas while last year the Western deserts recorded the hottest recorded temperature on earth. Ever. Seriously, it was over 150 degrees fahrenheit. That’s nuts. It’s a place unlike any other. So pack accordingly.

India Packing Tips

The biggest tip is to tailor your India packing list to a very narrow set of goals. If you’re going to a wedding, don’t pack for a jungle trek, a mountain hike, six temple visits, and three weeks partying in Goa. You’ll bring too much useless stuff. Pack for the wedding and see what else you can bring along. Make your life a thousand times easier and stick to a carry on. The Outbreaker travel backpack is perfect for India, and water resistant which is super important during a monsoon. You’ll be fresh and nimble enough to enjoy all the India has in store for you. So let’s get into the essentials of what to pack for your trip to India! Click to continue…

In 2014, I paddled a paper canoe 200 miles down the Hudson River. And it was awesome. This is that story.

When people find out that I’m a travel writer, everyone expects stories like the sentence I just wrote. Everyone always asks “What’s the best/coolest/most exciting place you’ve been to?” It’s a fair question, but I usually shrug and give a pat answer—Peru, Iceland, New Zealand—it varies. Don’t get me wrong—I love all the places I’ve been and all the people I’ve met along the way, but when people ask me about my favorite spot, I never have the heart to tell them the truth.

I don’t have a favorite place

Travel isn’t about where you go, it’s about what you do and how those experiences change who you are. The trips you tell stories about years later don’t have anything to do with places you visit or the pictures you take. The best travel stories are all about purpose.

Don’t worry, this isn’t one of those “travel can change the world” articles. It’s just a story about a wacky little canoe trip I took a few years ago, and how that adventure in my own backyard changed the way I see travel.

I still don’t have a favorite destination, but I’ve got a few favorite tales from the road. Here’s the story of how I found myself paddling a paper canoe 200 miles down the Hudson River. Enjoy.

Paddling 200 Miles Down the Hudson River: In a Paper Canoe

paper canoe river trip
In 2014, I got an email about a boat building class at the North Brooklyn Boat Club. I figured, “Why not? Boats are sweet.” Little did I know that we’d be making paper canoes. Full-size ones. For a real river expedition. Down a real river. For days on end. It was a strange first conversation:

“Wait. We’re making paper boats? Like little origami decorative ones?” I asked, curious why I’d biked to a “boat-building workshop” that was beginning to look like an origami arts and crafts class.

“No. We’re making paper boats. Like regular ‘boats” — canoes actually — to paddle down the Hudson River. They’re fully functional two-person canoes that just happened to be made out of paper,” replied Jean Barberis, member of the art collective Mare Liberum, and the Frenchman currently leading the boat building workshop in the narrow outdoor alley space at the mouth of Newtown Creek in Brooklyn.

Jean noticed my blank, but polite expression and continued (a little more slowly). “We’re making full-sized paper boats. For people. They’re like any other boats, they’re just made out of paper,” he explained for what must have been the twentieth time that day. I can still hear the exhaustion in his voice.

I glanced at the upturned canoe shell covered in reams of paper. I quickly discovered that we were using the (perfectly functional) REI canoe as a mold for our fleet of paper boats. I looked back at Jean, “So, it’s like a big origami boat?”

Jean’s shoulders slumped, and he gestured for me to follow him back to the construction project taking place on a series of wooden A-frames in the boat yard.

Building a Paper Boat: Papier Mache Crash Course

Making a paper boat isn’t actually all that hard. All you need is a few rolls of craft paper, some wood glue, varnish or sealant, a canoe to use as a mold, and time. Lots and lots of time. So, so, so, so, much time.

Here’s a printable set of instructions if you feel like making your own. I highly recommend it if you have a few weeks to kill.

Basically, all you do is cut the rolls of paper into arm length, four-inch wide strips. Then you dip each strip into a trough of watered-down wood glue, wipe the excess glue from the paper, place the strip on the canoe overlapping the previous piece by about two inches. Dip. Wipe. Place. Repeat. Layer after layer. The process is hypnotic, and the regular V-shaped herringbone pattern that emerges is kind of impressive, even if you don’t know what you’re doing.

It’s not 100% paper though. We added two simple wooden gunwales (the “lips” of the boat), a few staves for support at the bow, midship, and stern, a platform for a seat, and you’re ready to hit the high seas, sailor. Or at least the river.

paper canoe river trip

https://vimeo.com/hypergeist/seachange2014 Click to continue…

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