Tip: Use regular bars of soap to save money, time and help conserve the environment

Bars of soap

This article makes a case for using regular solid bars of soap and detergent powders instead of liquid soaps.

Soap bars are available all over the world at cheap prices. They are great for use at home and for travel.

Shower/Bath

Use a regular bar of (solid) soap while taking a shower every day instead of expensive liquid soaps. Using a regular bar of soap is cheaper, simpler and more environmentally-friendly than liquid body washes. A bar of soap is also easier to travel with: It avoids potential leakage of the liquid messing up your travel bag. Unlike liquids, it does not cause airport security hassles. All you need to do is dry it and carry it. If you lose or run out of your soap while traveling, no problem, just buy another. Its simple, minimal paper packaging is better for the environment than plastic bottles that liquids require. While taking a shower, you don’t have to waste time opening the bottle, pouring the liquid, closing the bottle and keeping the bottle clean. With a soap bar, you just pick it up from the soapstand, use it and put it back. Soaps bars are simple, convenient and stress-free.

Washing Hands

Wash your hands regularly with a regular bar of soap placed near the sink. There is no need to keep a liquid or gel there either. The liquid soap does make good sense in places like public restrooms where it is shared with strangers. Washing your hands after returning from the gym, after travel in public transportation and before cooking and eating is always a good idea. It is also a healthier, safer and cheaper alternative to keeping bottles of hand sanitizers at home.

By the way, scientific studies have shown than more expensive, so called, anti-bacterial soap bars have no significant advantage over using regularsoap bars.1 It is the habit of washing regularly with soap that matters for good health, not whether your soap is anti-bacterial or not.

Shaving

I also recommend using a bar of shaving soap instead of shaving cremes and foams. It has earth-friendly benefits, travel convenience and cost savings similar to the ones I mentioned above for body washing soap bars. A bar of shaving soap lasts much longer than foams and shaving cremes that cost a lot more. It comes in minimal packaging, typically paper/cardboard and you don’t have to dispose off aerosol cans, tubes, etc.

Laundry, Where to buy

Soaps are available at very low cost, especially in bulk at online retailers like soap.com and at brick and mortar stores. They take up little space, are light and don’t go bad even in a couple of years, especially when stored in their dry, sealed packaging.

Also, inexpensive soap powders can save a lot of money over expensive liquid laundry detergents. For example, this Charlie’s Soap Powder – 2.64 lb Bag does 80 large loads of laundry, has excellent reviews on Amazon and costs $11 (with free 2-day shipping with Amazon Prime)2 .

Some exceptions, Washing dishes by hand

For hand-dishwashing, I do prefer liquid gels. They are quite inexpensive and easy to use. That’s because they mix with the water quicker and lower the odds of the soap getting left on the dishes. I recommend Palmolive Ultra Pure and Clear Dish Liquid, which is also good3 for hand-washing merino wool clothes.

There are many tips available on the Web about using products that can help you be healthier, happier and environmentally-friendly while also saving you money. Reading tips on lifehacker.com inspired me to write this.

  1. FDA Panel: No Advantage to Antibacterial Soap: Advisory Panel Says Regular Soap and Water Just as Effective in Preventing Illness: http://www.webmd.com/news/20051020/fda-panel-no-advantage-to-antibacterial-soap  []
  2. When I wrote this article in 2010, Charlie’s Soap Powder – 2.64 lb used to cost under $11 and came in an environmentally-friendly cloth bag. I edited this article in December 2012 and now it costs $13 and comes in a plastic box. []
  3. Recommendations for washing merino wool clothes using Palmolive Dishwashing Liquid: 1. Morehouse Farm, 2. Pashmina International and 3. WikiHow  []

Born to Run: A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen (Book Review)

[amazon-product align=”right”]0307266303[/amazon-product]

Born to Run by Christopher McDougall is one of the most inspiring books I’ve read in a long time. It is a book about adventures, travels, cultures, customs, ancient wisdom, evolution, anatomy, biology, footwear, anthropology, friendships and human nature. It is also a book about long distance running.

Through the stories of his warm characters, Christopher McDougall teaches that long distance running is more about cooperation, camaraderie and caring than about competition. It reminded me of my favorite quote: Victory is winning others, not defeating others.

My rating of this book: 5/5 stars.

Diary of Julie & Rajiv’s India Trip

Background

The following is a diary of some events from our recent trip to India. I created it using Twitter and Yahoo Pipes. We posted regular status updates to Twitter during the trip, mostly using text messages from my mobile phone. I’ve done some minor editing in the post below. The timestamps are in New York time (USA Eastern). More information on how this was generated is at the end of this post.

Compilation of Status Updates From Our India Trip

Julie and I are excited about our vacation to India. We will arrive in New Delhi on the 29th.
Sun, Dec 28, 2008 9:27 AM

Vik is helping Rajiv & Julie with getting ready to head to the Newark airport for the India trip.
Sun, Dec 28, 2008 1:56 PM

Julie & I just checked in at the Newark airport and are now checking out the shops near our gate.
Sun, Dec 28, 2008 6:39 PM

Julie & Rajiv are inside the plane headed to New Delhi. We are looking forward to visting India after the 14 hour flight.
Sun, Dec 28, 2008 8:11 PM

Julie & Rajiv’s plane just landed in New Delhi. We are excited to start this vacation.
Mon, Dec 29, 2008 10:23 AM

Julie & Rajiv are in a car with Rajiv’s family headed to their home in New Delhi and then will head to Taj hotel.
Mon, Dec 29, 2008 11:27 AM

J&R are at the Taj Mahal Hotel. The staff’s hospitality to us has been awesome. Thanks to dear friend Anshul’s connections in the Indian …
Mon, Dec 29, 2008 1:08 PM

J&R woke up early today. Our wake up call isn’t due for another 3 hours! The weather here is great. We look forward to exploring New Delhi.
Mon, Dec 29, 2008 7:07 PM

Julie & Rajiv had a great workout at the gym this morning at the Taj Mahal hotel in New Delhi.The hospitality at the gym was excellent too.
Tue, Dec 30, 2008 2:06 AM

Julie & Rajiv are walking inside JNU Campus in New Delhi visiting the places where Rajiv grew up.
Tue, Dec 30, 2008 3:09 AM

Julie & Rajiv are getting ready to go for dinner. India is a country of contrasts: The New Delhi outside the Taj Mahal Hotel is an example.
Tue, Dec 30, 2008 10:13 AM

Julie & Rajiv had a delicious dinner and fun conversation at the Machan restaurant with Rajiv’s childhood friend Princy & his wife Daisy.
Tue, Dec 30, 2008 3:01 PM

New Delhi is a collage of colors & contrasts. Julie & Rajiv’s photos of the trip so far are being uploaded to http://photos.rajiv.com/share/3IJ90SbngI922
Tue, Dec 30, 2008 7:38 PM

The hospitality at the Taj gym was impressive again this morning. Friendly personal trainers giving one on one workout sessions are great.
Wed, Dec 31, 2008 1:25 AM

Julie & Rajiv plan to meet some friends in New Delhi and explore some places today.
Wed, Dec 31, 2008 1:27 AM

The kids at Rajiv’s family’s home in New Delhi have become huge Julie fans! They love her gifts and playing with her.
Wed, Dec 31, 2008 5:15 AM

Julie & Rajiv are back after a tour of the Qutub Minar historical monument, followed by a tour of JN University with Rajiv’s family.
Wed, Dec 31, 2008 7:36 AM

Rajiv’s nieces are playing with Julie. They are currently drawing using crayons. We are eating and will soon go to a New Year celebration.
Wed, Dec 31, 2008 10:32 AM

Julie & Rajiv are eating a late night New Year dinner at Rajiv’s family’s home in New Delhi. About 5 more minutes for 2009!
Wed, Dec 31, 2008 1:26 PM

Happy New Year from Julie & Rajiv visiting New Delhi. We had a busy day exploring yesterday. We also visited Rajiv’s high school SPV.
Wed, Dec 31, 2008 11:33 PM

Julie & Rajiv loved the warm hospitality at the Taj Mahal Hotel in New Delhi. Now headed to the Himalayan foothills.
Thu, Jan 1, 2009 3:21 AM

J&R are in car heading out of New Delhi towards town Haldwani. We plan to spend the next few days visiting family in the Himalayan foothills
Thu, Jan 1, 2009 4:04 AM

Passing fields of green and yellow, having left the urban landscape behind. Cows, bicycles and Hindi language signs abound.
Thu, Jan 1, 2009 5:11 AM

Car seems to be having problems. We have stopped on the side of the road and the driver is checking it out. At a village along highway.
Thu, Jan 1, 2009 5:22 AM

At a mechanic’s shop on the highway. They are checking out the car.
Thu, Jan 1, 2009 5:26 AM

Back on the road now headed again towards the town of Haldwani.
Thu, Jan 1, 2009 5:35 AM

Julie just spotted a monkey… They are everywhere along the road. Taking photos…
Thu, Jan 1, 2009 5:42 AM

Continuing on the highway. Still in awe of all the monkeys we just saw. One was sitting on a tractor where the driver would normally sit!
Thu, Jan 1, 2009 5:46 AM

The car horn, like the manual stick shift, is an essential driving device on Indian roads.
Thu, Jan 1, 2009 7:35 AM

Julie & Rajiv are with Rajiv’s parents at their home in Haldwani. A wonderful welcome!
Thu, Jan 1, 2009 10:37 AM

Julie & Rajiv just woke up to a beautiful morning in Haldwani, India.
Thu, Jan 1, 2009 9:27 PM

J&R are buying a room heater. It is cold in the Himalayan foothills at night :-) Great, mild weather outside, right now.
Thu, Jan 1, 2009 11:54 PM

Julie & Rajiv are headed to an Internet cafe to check emails in Haldwani since we have not had broadband high-speed access since we got here
Sat, Jan 3, 2009 12:05 AM

Electricity went out, so no luck at the Internet cafe. Oh well :-) Now we are headed back home and then to the mountain town of Nainital.
Sat, Jan 3, 2009 12:44 AM

In car heading to Nainital. Awesome mountain roads!
Sat, Jan 3, 2009 1:36 AM

Just saw lots of monkeys hanging out near the mountain road we are driving on.
Sat, Jan 3, 2009 1:41 AM

Visiting lake town of Bhimtal on way to Nainital.
Sat, Jan 3, 2009 2:15 AM

Leaving Bhimtal with some great photographs. Next stop, another lake town Naukuchiatal (literally: lake with nine corners).
Sat, Jan 3, 2009 2:41 AM

In the beautiful mountain lake town of Nainital. The mosaic of colors and diversity is spectacular.
Sat, Jan 3, 2009 6:00 AM

Today I visited the ruins of my ancestral home in Bhowali where I played as a child. It burned down in a fire in 2003. Emotional experience
Sat, Jan 3, 2009 9:34 AM

Julie & I are catching up on our emails at a family friend’s Internet cafe in Haldwani. He is kindly letting us use it late after hours.
Sat, Jan 3, 2009 9:39 AM

Rajiv is watching people make arrangements for the engagement party while Julie is resting inside in anticipation of the busy day ahead.
Sat, Jan 3, 2009 11:53 PM

Julie & Rajiv are amazed by the hospitality and generosity of the people they have met in India.
Sun, Jan 4, 2009 2:16 AM

Uploading photos from an Internet cafe and checking email.
Sun, Jan 4, 2009 11:27 PM

Julie & Rajiv are in a car heading to New Delhi from Haldwani. Beautiful sunny day. Lots of goodbyes, love and blessings.
Tue, Jan 6, 2009 1:58 AM

Beautiful, sunny day at the India Habitat Centre in New Delhi. Checking out the garden area and exploring in the fresh air. Feels good.
Wed, Jan 7, 2009 2:21 AM

Julie, Rajiv and Indrajit are at the India International Centre for lunch. So many childhood memories of this place.
Wed, Jan 7, 2009 3:28 AM

We just returned from their morning workout at the gym at the India Habit Centre in New Delhi where we are staying.
Thu, Jan 8, 2009 12:03 AM

The India Habitat Center hosts cultural activities, includes: large conference center, film & theater auditoriums, guest house & restaurants
Thu, Jan 8, 2009 12:06 AM

Last night, J&R had dinner with Rajiv’s high school friends Prashant and Nisheeth at the Delhi Golf Club
Fri, Jan 9, 2009 2:43 AM

Julie & Rajiv are exploring Lodhi Gardens in New Delhi. Off to a Bollywood film later in the day.
Fri, Jan 9, 2009 2:45 AM

Julie & Rajiv are heading from New Delhi to Agra to see the Taj Mahal (historic monument, not hotel :-)
Fri, Jan 9, 2009 7:57 PM

J&R’s last day in New Delhi. Heading to meet a few more relatives and then off to the airport in the night. Namaskaar!
Sun, Jan 11, 2009 12:38 AM

Family (Indrajit & Pushpesh) are taking Julie & Rajiv to the New Delhi airport. It was a great trip. Namaskaar India! See you again.
Sun, Jan 11, 2009 8:40 AM

Julie & Rajiv are at their gate inside the New Delhi Airport. The staff at the airport are friendly and courteous.
Sun, Jan 11, 2009 10:37 AM

Julie & Rajiv are back in New York from their trip to New Delhi, India. In a car headed home now.
Mon, Jan 12, 2009 6:05 AM

Catching up with both personal life and job after return from India vacation.
Tue, Jan 13, 2009 5:20 PM

Photos from Julie & Rajiv’s India trip are at http://photos.rajiv.com/share/3IJ90SbngI922
Sat, Jan 17, 2009 6:27 PM

The Technology Behind This

We posted regular updates to Twitter during this trip. This enabled our families to receive a running commentary of our trip on their mobile phones via txt messages. They were happy to have regular updates of our well being and to learn where we were and what we were up to. The list of events we posted are saved on Twitter’s Web site. Since Twitter lists the updates in reverse chronological order, I used Yahoo Pipes to receive an RSS/Atom feed from Twitter and sort it chronologically.

Happy New Year 2007! Highlights from December/January

paris-2006-dec.jpgNAA 20 Under 40The closing of 2006 and beginning of 2007 has been exciting. I’d like to share some highlights from December/January:

  • In Paris: I celebrated New Years’; spent a memorable week; photographed hundreds of beautiful moments; learned some French; practiced Spanish; made new friends and relaxed on the train to London. http://photos.rajiv.com/2006
  • In the USA: The Newspaper Association of America awarded me their 20 Under 40 Recognition for 2006. http://www.rajiv.com/20under40
  • In Mexico: I explored the ancient Mayan Ruins in Tulum; attended my friends’ wedding in Playa del Carmen; was spellbound by beautiful colors, diversity and extremes; and learned some more Spanish. http://photos.rajiv.com/2007

As a Change from Corporate Travel and Expensive Personal Vacations, Consider Backpacking

I love to experience contrasts during my travels. Traveling first-class and staying in luxurious hotels is a pleasure indeed, but tourism on a shoestring can be a rewarding experience too.

(From ABCNEWS) At age 29, looking at what lay beyond his third decade, Lars Berg knew things weren’t quite right. The San Francisco software product manager itched for something more. His cubicle, he says, had become “both too much and too little,” and he couldn’t shake the growing feeling that he needed to make some serious changes.

Over the past two decades, this kind of travel has become increasingly popular with young people from countries with strong currencies, who, instead of taking a vacation from their lives, decide to turn their life into the vacation.

Full Story: Sick of Your Cubicle? Try Backpacking

Business Travel Checklist

Suitcase

 Clothes & Shoes

For a trip longer than 1 week, carry 1 weeks’ worth of clothes and plan on using laundry and dry-cleaning services.

 1 suit (2 suits for 3 or more days’ trip)

If carrying more than one suit, it should be of a color that the same shoes and belt can go with it.

 1 tie (2 ties for 3 or more days’ trip)

 1 leather belt

 1 shirt (+1 shirt for every additional day)

 1 set of cuff links

I like to wear shirts with cuff links

 1 set of undergarments for each day

 1 pair of formal shoes

I’ll be wearing one pair of shoes during travel, so pack the other in the suitcase.

 1 pair of workout/hiking shoes

I prefer Vibram FiveFingers for this. They are lightweight and take less space.

 1 pair of merino wool socks for every 3 days

Merino wool socks are comfortable, versatile and can be worn for 3 days without causing odor.

 spare shoelaces

I’ve had shoelaces break during trips before.

 shoe bags

 1 pair of jeans

Jeans can be used as workout pants, hiking/trail walks and for casual wear.

 cloth (or plastic) bag for used clothes

Cloth laundry bags are preferable as they are better for the environment and less noisy than plastic bags.

 bathroom kit

 comb or hairbrush

 hair product

 toothbrush

 toothpaste

 razor handle with 2 blade cartridges

I use Dollar Shave Club’s “Humble Twin” blades: http://shaved.by/zMvP

 shaving cream or shaving soap

Solid shaving soap bars are more economical than shaving creams: http://www.rajiv.com/blog/2010/04/17/cleaning-soap/

 bath soap bar

Solid soap bars are more economical and easier to carry: http://www.rajiv.com/blog/2010/04/17/cleaning-soap/

 deodorant

 nail clipper

 First-aid kit

 Empty space to bring back things acquired during trip

Whether on personal or business trips, I always end up acquiring and bringing back things. Be sure to keep some space in my briefcase empty for them.

▾ ☐ Briefcase/Backpack

 MacBook Pro

I’ve found that my iPhone and iPad (even with physical keyboards) are not yet satisfactory for my content authoring and editing needs on business trips.

 iPad (optional)

 Kindle (optional)

If I am planning to read books in sunlight, then the iPhone and iPad are not suitable.

 Power Adapters Kit

 MacBook Pro Power Adapter

 iPad/iPhone/USB Wall Charger

 iPad/iPhone/USB Car Charger

 iPad/iPhone/USB Portable Battery Charger

 iPad/iPhone Lightning Charger Cable

 Micro USB Charging Cable for Kindle, Android Phone and Motorola S-11 Wireless Headset

 Power strip with surge protector

Useful when only 1 power outlet is available or convenient to me, which is often the case during travel.

 Audio headphones

I use Motorola S-11 HD Bluetooth headphones.

 Documents & Information

These could be all in digital form on my smartphone, but if so, should be quick and easy to find on my iPhone.

 airline tickets and schedules

 hotel reservation info

 car rental reservation info

 addresses and directions to and from key places

 to do lists

 complete contacts info / address book

 contact info of people in the area grouped together

 tourism info for the area

Carry a physical tourist guide book only when traveling internationally. For domestic travel within the U.S., use my smartphone.

 Backup eyeglasses

 Eyeglasses cleaning cloth and liquid

 Paper tissues

▾ ☐ Additional Wallet for Travel

 100 business cards to give out

 Passport, if traveling internationally

 Global Entry card, if traveling internationally

 Foreign currencies, if traveling internationally

Keep cash in a separate wallet in the unfortunate event of being pick-pocketed or robbed.

▾ ☐ Miscellaneous

 iPhone

 Wallet

 Keys

Even though I don’t need my keys during the trip, I do need them upon return. Keep them in my briefcase upon commencement of travel.

▾ ☐ Do Not Carry

 More than one physical printed book to read unless necessary

I haven’t gotten time to read all the books I carry on trips in the past. Too many printed books are a burden to carry. Examples of unless necessary include textbooks for classes, book gifts for someone

 Bulky audio headphones

I’ve personally not experienced a need for bulky noise isolation or noise canceling headphones. To me, they are not worth the bulk of carrying.

 Digital Camera, unless required for an event

These days smartphone cameras are good enough for many types of casual photography. Carry a digital camera only if I need it for taking high quality or low light photos at and event or when visiting family or friends. If carrying my digital camera, also pack my camera accessories pouch.

 Portable GPS unit, unless traveling internationally

If traveling internationally (even to Canada), consider carrying my Garmin nuvi with international maps loaded. Using data on my smartphone internationally is expensive. I should also research a navigation app that pre-downloads maps and can work without using data internationally.

 Food to eat on the plane or train

On a business trip, meals are reimbursable and carrying food is an unnecessary hassle, especially considering the risk of food leaking in my bag.

 Towel

While sometimes needed on personal trips visiting family or friends, a towel is not needed on business trips since hotels provide them.

 Handkerchiefs

I have switched to paper tissues as they are more hygienic.

 Anything else of value that is not necessary for this trip

Avoiding carrying things that are not necessary for the trip keeps the weight and space manageable and reduces chances of loss or damage.

▾ ☐ Before leaving, do the following

 Change voicemail message at work. provide alternate contact person and number.

 Enable email out-of-office auto-response at work. provide alternate contact person.

 Ensure that any tasks one-time or recurring that I had scheduled for the duration I’m away are assigned to alternates.

 Plan itinerary, including confirming meetings including personal visits.

 Reach out to some family and friends in the places I’ll be visiting.

 Back up and secure portable computer I’ll be carrying with me in case it is lost or stolen.

 Back up and secure smartphone I’ll be carrying with me in case it is lost or stolen.

 Allocate a pocket or pouch in my briefcase dedicated solely to storing receipts required for reimbursement of business related expenses.

 Ensure that will, insurance and emergency plans are in place and communicated to immediate family.

▾ ☐ After returning, do the following

 Change voicemail back to usual message.

 Disable email out-of-office auto-response.

 File for reimbursement of business related expenses.

Document updated:

  • 2014-Feb-09: Revision 4. Updated to keep up with the times.
  • 2010-Jan-24: Revision 3. Updated to reflect changes due to technologies like smartphones.
  • 2001-July-20: Revision 2.2.