9 months as a Digital Nomad – How I do it?

A few people have asked me how I traveled and survived for such a long time? I have left out my business and financial things because too often people use the excuse of “When I have enough money”. If you really want it, you will find a way.

  1. I make family and friends a priority
    I have an incredibly strong family and friend network with out them the world becomes shit loads more scary.
  2. I re-defined what “safe” means.
    The most dangerous thing you can do on any given day is get in your car. For me the safest place is flying by the seat of my pants. How do you define safe?
  3. I try not to judge people
    We are prejudice for a reason but try to question your assumptions\stereotypes
  4. I dropped the status envy
    Sovereignty is the new envy – and that person with the [super expensive asset] and the huge house. Well they’re probably not feeling that free.
  5. I take any job when cash is low
    I am a high tech guy but if my chips are down I will take jobs laboring, working in bars, stripping, whatever!
  6. I have a greater goal
    I am traveling to buy time, create luck, have fun and hopefully create something of value. If I don’t then I it was a hella fun journey trying.

9 Months as a Digital Nomad from Cameron McGrane on Vimeo.

A 10 minute video taking my favorite moments from 850 flip camera clips, shot over 9 months in Thailand, Cambodia, China, Taiwan, USA, Germany, Poland, UK and Japan.

Cambodian Kickboxing Roadtrip to Fight on National Television

Pradal Serey is the Cambodian national sport and a branch of kickboxing (like Muay Thai).

Rattatan is a poor 29 year old Khmer fighter and started training at 26 to raise money and start his own barber shop.

As a natural athlete with cool demeanor and wins including knock outs he has been invited to fight on Cambodia’s national TV in Phnom Phen.

From my time training at Rattatan’s Pradal Serey stable (mud\dirt pit) in the town of Battambang. I was invited to escort Rattatan for the fight.

Little did I know, I would be in his ring corner, for his last fight and watch him leave for Siem Reap with his barbers chair to start a new life.

The story\footage highlights how a brutal sport like Pradal Serey can replace despair with hope.

The video has an intro and ending but it is kind of jittery with no road maps\story to what is happening. So if you are interested in Cambodia and would like to see a few knock outs, big knees and get up close with Cambodia’s fighting culture then it is may be worth the fifteen minutes. 12mins if you skip my hair cut….

Cambodian Kickboxing Roadtrip to Fight on National Television from Cameron McGrane on Vimeo.

Standing Out in a Saturated E-bay Market

Knowing your customer and creating a hard to reproduce competitive advantage is one way of standing out in any business. I applied these concepts to mobile phones, watch the video to see the results.

Wide Angle Hack for Flip Camera



One misty cold night in downtown San Francisco a punk ran off with my phone. I chased and cornered him on the other side of the terminal. The kid half my size refused to give it back and his two girlfriends were closing in. I had the option to use force and doing so would involve a nasty scrap requiring taking out him and inevitably his girlfriends and if you know downtown girls they are ferocious.

With in a split second, I chose a witches hat (safety cone) to up the ante and provide melee cover before I had to throw down. After he repeatably refused to return my phone, I ripped out a mighty warning swing only to spin myself around in a 360 ending on my back. The punk ran away but I got my phone back after using the system against him(another story).

What has the to do with the post? My flip camera was in my bag and the lens was cracked in the fall making it useless. Providing me an excuse to attach a wide angle lens to my flip.

To make it work I purchased a magnetic wide angle lens for $30. The magnetic part means you stick a metal o-ring on the outside of the lens so the magnetized lens can be attached\dettached. I wanted it permanent and used Gorilla Grip to make it so.

The result is more of what your eye can see in the picture which I don’t think you can beat when flipping it on. The downside is you do have the lens protruding making it less pocket friendly and robust (lens can come off if dropped).

A demo…..

Skateboarding in San Luis Obispo with Wide Angle Lens Flip from Cameron McGrane on Vimeo.

Ass Whipping Across America

Central America is delayed. Berlin is on. Flying out from NYC posed the challenge of getting there with in budget. A problem quickly resolved via another serendipitous moment. Today I leave on an an incredible roadtrip of mammoth proportions with Jim of Dub-Corp and the beautiful Meadow Devor.

The Debacle Explained from James Whitaker on Vimeo.

See updates on our state of mind as we ass whip 50 hours straight across the USA.

How to get into maximum mischief in Mexico and survive

Me and the Garica Garcia Brothers in Monterrey Mexico

Me and the Garica Garcia Brothers in Monterrey Mexico

In a couple of weeks, I am returning to Monterrey, Mexico where I lived for 2 months in 2007 and was adopted by a family of brothers called the Garcias from Garcia Garcia region of Nuevo Leon.

The experience left me truly humbled. I was treated like a brother and will never forget the generosity of the family and community.

In this post, I will explain lessons of how I met the Garicias on the street, gained acceptance and safety when alone.

The Street Meet
The premise, is you hang out in a place with community feel and near a university and wait for someone to take you home. It worked for me but it was pretty freaky and I cannot give tips without sounding like a douche. For the majority I recommend couch surfing not street meets.

Inter-cultural social networking

Now you have a place to stay some ideas for becoming a champion.

  • Learn the basic greetings
  • My Spanish sucked but I quickly learned the basic greetings.
    Knowing the greetings plus follow-ups in social situations (there will be many) puts others at ease and gives you more respect. Get up to speed before arriving my sitting a course or listening to the Michael Thomas Spanish course.

  • Become a parrot (non Speakers)
  • Even if it feels uncomfortable, repeat what your host\friends say even if you have no idea what it means. Show people that you are trying to learn they will like it.

  • Get drunk
  • Get drunk even more. This assists in being a parrot and builds trust with your fellow Amigos

  • Deal with the unknown
  • Plans will be made on your behalf. You will be going somewhere in a speeding car wearing no seat belt. Embrace the fear, accept death and choose to die in an alternative way. Or prey to Jesus Christ that it won’t be your last ride.

  • Do it for the kids
  • When you come across children (and you will being in Latin America). Teach them a game. Speak English, their parents will think you are great despite being a gringo. Guide them through 1 to 10 even better teach them how to head butt.

  • Be clear about why you are there
  • Internet marketer, digital consultant or just hanging out doesn’t mean shit to the mothers of the community. They will want to know exactly why you are in their community. Be clear about your plan and how long you will be around. It will make for better Kalma and more opportunities.

    Supertip: You will be asked whether you are Christian. There is only one right answer.

  • Join a team
  • Jump at the opportunity to play a sport\game you excel. Nothing bridges cultural differences like friendly competition. But don’t lose and don’t suck especially if it is football. Luckily, my hosts were softball mad and a game I played for 20 years.

  • Speak up if you feel uncomfortable
  • If you genuinely don’t want to do it then say “NO”. Use your body language. Make every thing about you represent “NO”. Walk away. Remember NO means NO unless you are asked by the BOSS MAN of the family.

  • Don’t sleep with their woman
  • Ok, you are hitting home runs, keeping the BBQs colorful, matching them in the drink offs, gaining celebrity status in the community. Don’t ruin it and sleep with any of their woman. Sisters, daughters and maids included.

    And remember DO NOT sleep with anyone’s wife otherwise you are fucking dead.


    An analogy of safety in Latin America is the same as lambs in a pack. Lambs should stay with the pack. If you have to stray, don’t go where the wolves prowl, do act like Dad and his other ram buddies are just over the next hill.

  • Be physically strong
  • Be as fit and strong as you can. (Self Explanatory)

  • Use the Traffic Light System
  • I have been practicing this system for years after reading the “Art of Fighting without Fighting”. Basically, you internalize green, yellow and red to reflect the risk of the outside world and respond accordingly. If you practice it enough it becomes a sub-conscious thing. We have it naturally but can be nulled out after years of living with in safe zero threat environments.

  • Walk like you know where you’re going
  • The perception that you know your surroundings even when you don’t is a powerful deterrent against bad guys. Walk strong. This does not mean walk like big daddy or a body builder. Just walk with confidence and awareness.

  • Look like a local
  • Don’t wear bling, dress as the locals do, the more you blend in the more you represent a local interest and the less someone will fuck with you.

  • If you are a woman then carry
  • Most of these tips don’t apply to woman. Woman should walk with company in unfamiliar places.
    If you must go alone I recommend a Tazer and don’t be afraid to use it.

And there you go. Monterrey is coming up and I am looking forward to playing nine innings practicing my new found Spanish and not getting in TOO much trouble.

What can you do when having fun? Tim Ferris’s blogging tips from Word Camp San Francisco

Another place to write

Image courtesy of http://www.flickr.com/photos/floridamemory/3328074451/

Ok. I have to make this blog entry fun because it is one of the writing tips that Tim Ferris kicked out at Word Camp San Francisco that I believe in.
How am I going to keep it fun? Well this time… and yes you can mix it up…. I am going to keep it “fun” by using my own “voice”. And keeping it quick because I am hungry and my back is hurting.

Ideas Tim offered on not hating on blogging:

  • When you are blocked write what you are angry about
  • Having not tried this in the blogging foray this has been quite effective exercise dealing with ex-girlfriends

  • Anchor the topic
  • I think what Tim ment by this is keep to the point of what the title states. Own what you are proposing. A Dissertation as such.

  • Don’t chase the news
  • Re-posting major events will only make you feel ugly

  • Re-post under %10
  • From what I re-call. This means posting about others posts. Leave it to a 1 in 10 ration. It is akin to chasing the news.

  • Keep a long form and short form blog\log
  • This is structure to stop you from doing your head.

    Short form = short, simple and without much substance
    An example would be Tim’s Blog or this blog

    Long Form = substantive and rich in information
    An example would be Tim’s website .

  • Identify your bio-rhythms by measuring outputs
  • This is nerdy physical attuned words for work out when you write best.
    Ask the question “When do I write best?”. If you don’t know you may to go all metric and start recording when you do. Not my style but Ferris does it.

    and my tip after completing this entry.

  • Set a time limit and go for it. This took me under 10 minutes.

Did I mention make sure it is fun? Make it fun. ok?

When Planning and Serendipidy Collide

My friend Melina Chan is leaving for a second time to Battambang, Cambodia. On Mel’s last posting I was privileged to work with Mel, Steve Hopkins and Pat Allan in March 2009.

It all happened through a combination of planning and serendipity.

As a team we overlapped dates and contributed equally in different ways. I was the last to leave and captured a fair bit of footage as well did Steve. This video is a mini documentary is an ode to the idea of friends coming together in a foreign country to give in a different way than just spending on the tourism industry but primarily as a gift to Mel as she prepares for her second journey.

When Planning and Serendipidy Collide from Cameron McGrane on Vimeo.

Use these firefox shortcuts and save 1 year of your life

While undertaking firefox intensive activities, my friend Mel was surprised how many shortcuts I was using and so was I.
Last year I was teaching excel and at that moment realised the shortcut virus had gone airborne and moved to firefox. Luckily, it was not the H1N1 strain and I am finding my new found ability variant handy.

In fact, so handy, I created a quick video on the shortcuts and how I use them to speed up following people for my twitter service FestivalAlert.

CTRL + t = New Tab

CTRL + click on link = New Tab

CTRL 1 + 9 = Select Corresponding Tab

CTRL + PGUP = Move to the Next Tab

CTRL + PGDN = Move to the Previous Tab

CTRL + W = Close Active Tab

CTRL + L = Go to Address Bar GOLD

CTRL + K = Go to Google Search

name="allowFullScreen" value="true">

What do you think? What shortcut do you now “own” when using firefox?


Thanks @Nathan_scott for the OS X equivalent

So you want to Freelance in Thailand?

Sunset Status Update on a Beach in Thailand from Cameron McGrane on Vimeo.

With the current economic downturn, Thailand’s political instability and shoulder season approaching the price is right to freelance for a couple of months in Thailand.

Here my tips time to freelancing and playing in Thailand

  1. Chime in on the Timing
  2. The shoulder season is May-June when cheap flights and accommodation are available but expect frequent storms. I found December to February perfect. The weather was mild, no rain and cost of living bearable.

    Note: Though I encourage Thailand, use this travel danger resource page to make up your own mind

  3. Buy a Cooling Pad
  4. Thailand can get real hot. Do what the locals do and buy a cooling pad for your laptop. It will keep out critters, reduce memory crashes and protect your groin from 3rd degree burns.

  5. Don’t give your Passport to Anyone
  6. Especially moto rental places. If they absolutely will not take a credit card, cash deposit or license instead of a passport go some where else.

  7. Play in commercial playgrounds in moderation
  8. I was in Phuket so Patong was the commercial epicenter . Sure, have a sniff now and then, meet friends, have a shop. But don’t make a habit of it. There is no faster way to burn through cash then bars and you will only feel dirty, ugly and likely smell of arse.

  9. Participate in Couchsurfing
  10. Couchsurfing is an excellent way of getting to know people in any country expect North Korea.

  11. Frequent ThaiVisa.com
  12. If staying longer than 30 days you will need to undertake a visa run.
    Thai Visa is “the watering hole” for ex-pats with a rich source of information ranging from visa’s to local gossip

  13. Buy Water in Bulk
  14. Staying longer than a week? Nip the daily pilgrimage to 7 eleven to buy water and get it bulk. It is 900% cheaper and saves time too.

  15. Challenge Yourself Physically
  16. Being fit and strong in a developing country\ new world dramatically reduces the risks of stress, sickness and accident. It provides balance to the mental exercise completed on a daily basis as a freelancer. With a diet low in gluten and dairy and high in protein, time in Thailand is conducive to getting bloody fit.
    Muay Thai is the obvious choice but do something you really like or want to do and sign up for 5 days a week.

  17. Don’t Date Bar Girls or Prostitutes
  18. If you want company then use the assets that got you abroad freelancing in the first place and meet an ex-pat or a local\holidaying thai person. Dating Thai’s is a high stakes game financially and emotionally. Here are a few rules to chew on.

    • Tell them what is going to happen and stick to it
    • Make sure they can afford to pay for meals too
    • DON’T ever buy gifts
    • Practice safe sex
    • Watch out for the boyfriend (s)

    Remember: If she is the sexiest woman you have ever been near and she is interested then she is likely a lady boy.

Above are a few of the ideas that came to mind writing this post. If you have others that are important please let me know here or on twitter @cama