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nomad packing list

I recently wrapped up 18 months of being a nomad. During that time, I lived primarily out of two carry-on bags. Here’s what was in them.

My fully packed Red Oxx Airboss ($275.00) bag weighed in at 22 pounds.

Everything in Red Oxx

It included the following (pictured in the featured image):

  • Homage Zip Hoodie. One of the softest hoodies I’ve ever worn and a main part of my wardrobe. It’s great for fall and spring temperatures, plus air-conditioned summers, and is a nice added layer for really cold winters. $65.00
  • Next Mileskin Jacket. It took me going to Scotland to find a coat that looked good on my slender frame. This is a great winter coat that layers nicely and isn’t too heavy when carrying it. £90.00
  • Tommy Hilfiger Rainwear Jacket (now discontinued?). A very lightweight jacket that repels the rain and can easily be folded or scrunched into a bag. Also makes a decent make-shift pillow.
  • Clarks Leather Sandals. A casual pair of sandals for beach days, laundry days, and quick errands. $29.99
  • Nike Downshifter 6 Running Shoe. $49.94
  • Aldo Men’s Boot (similar to these). The first pair of boots I owned were great but started to fall apart with all of the walking I did, so I switched to a pair of Aldo Men’s boots that are comfortable for most of the day and look nicer than gym shows. $109.95
  • Aldo Edoewin Oxford Dress Shoes. A nice looking pair of dress shoes to go with the navy suit I have for events. $79.95
  • Going in Style Travel Laundry Clothesline. A must-have for drying out clothes in hotels and AirBNBs. $12.95
  • Metolius Carabiner. A carabiner I used for attaching said clothesline to things. $9.95
  • Travelon Inflatable Hanger. For hanging up clothes when a hanger isn’t available; I never used it. $10.00
  • Microfiber Travel Towel. A compact towel that dries quickly. It doesn’t feel nearly as nice as a real towel and can start to smell quickly, but is a must for when you’re crashing somewhere that doesn’t have an extra towel for you. $14.95
  • Parachord Bracelet. A combo chord and whistle; luckily I never had to use it. $8.99
  • Inflatable Neck Pillow. Always better in theory than in practice, I tried using it periodically and never really enjoyed it. I still travel with it just in case. $13.99
  • Bounce Dryer Sheets. These served more than one purpose, including their intended use when drying clothes, but also to prevent shoes from smelling, and to (supposedly) prevent mosquito bites. $15.99 for a big pack you don’t need.
  • Small Lint Roller. Useful for cleaning off hairs and fuzz from your clothes, particularly helpful when you crash at someone’s place who has a cat or dog. $7.99 for 4
  • Uniqlo Men Heattech V Neck T Shirt Long Sleeve. A long sleeve shirt that is thick enough to provide extra warmth but thin enough to be used with other layers. $14.90
  • Woolly Men’s Merino Wool Short Sleeve V-Neck. A staple of any nomad wardrobe is merino wool and this is a cheaper alternative than a lot of other brands. I replaced an Icebreaker shirt that started gaining holes with this one and was happy with it’s performance. It’s odor resistant, easy to wash in the sink, and quick drying. $39.99
  • Icebreaker Men’s Anatomica Short Sleeve V. The second merino wool shirt I bought and worked great in alternating with the other shirt. By switching between the two daily, I could go at least a week between washing if I wanted to. $51.99
  • Uniqlo Men Heattech Tights. Uniqlo calls them tights, I think of them as long underwear, but either way they provide a nice base layer for the legs when the temperature drops below freezing. $14.90
  • Ex-Officio Men’s Give-N-Go Boxer Brief (x3). Another staple of a nomad’s packing list is the underoos. These boxers are odor resistant and quick-drying. With three pairs, you have flexibility and can do your washing every other night. Hang them up while you sleep and you’re good to go in the morning. $14.99 each
  • Darn Tough Men’s Merino Wool No Show Socks (x2). The final staple of the nomad’s wardrobe is socks. These Darn Tough socks work great while wearing tennis shoes. Also odor resistant and quick drying. $15.95 each
  • Darn Tough Men’s Warlock Crew Light Cushion Hiking Socks (x2). A long version of the Darn Tough Merino Wool socks that go great with boots or dress shoes. $19.95 each
  • Suitsupply Sienna Blue Suit. An incredible well-made suit with a tailored fit and a professional look, perfect for the presentations I give and more formal affairs. $599.00
  • Olivers All Over Shorts. Multipurpose shorts that can be used for casual attire, workout shorts, or swim trunks. They’re probably more expensive than what they provide, but nice to cut down on space. $65
  • Uniqlo Slim Fit Straight Leg Jeans. Fashionable jeans that fit well but also stretch when moving around. They aren’t the most rugged–I went through 2.5 pairs during my trip–but there may not be a jean that exists that can survive the wear and tear of nomadic living. The plus is that these are cheaper than alternatives from places like Bonobos. $49.90
  • Adidas Performance Training Pants. Comfortable pants for lounging around or working out in colder temperatures with the added benefit that they are part of the ComedySportz uniform. $29.99
  • J.Crew Slim Washed Shirt (x2). A slim fitting button-down shirt that works great for business casual situations and is part of my standard jeans+button+hoodie look. $19.95 each
  • J.Crew Thompson Dress Shirt (x2). A nicer quality button-front shirt that goes well with a suit. $34.50 each
  • American Apparel 50/50 Crewneck T-Shirt. A casual t-shirt for summer days. $20.00
  • Ohio State Buckeyes Shirt. A casual t-shirt for rooting on the Buckeyes (or showing off Ohio pride). I’m not sure of the price because my mom got it for me.
  • Various Toiletries (see below).

In the Red Oxx Bag was a Tom Bihn Clear Quarter Packing Cube ($32.00).

My Toiletries

I used to used toiletries, including:

  • Travel sizes of: toothpaste, hair gel, shampoo, lotion, sunscreen, body spray, and cortizone.
  • Regular sizes of: bar soap, deodorant, fingernail clippers, cuticle scissors (surprisingly TSA compliant), thermometer, and beard trimmer.
  • A “switchblade” style toothbrush (much better than the ones you put into the long tube).
  • A small plastic soap holder and a small empty spray bottle.

On my back was a Tom Bihn Synapse 25 ($200.00) that carried my electronics along with a few other tools (and snacks!).

Everything in the Backpack

It had:

Check out pictures all of my gear in this Flickr album.

stops on my nomadic journey

Today’s the day. After being a nomad for 550 days, I’m hanging up my traveling shoes and settling back in NYC (Brooklyn to be exact).

From March 1, 2015 to September 1, 2016, I lived out of two bags, traveling the world for work, fun, and selfies. After 18 months, I decided to return to the homeful lifestyle (though I’ll still be traveling quite a bit, including a 3-week stretch that starts in 3 weeks).

To honor the closing of one chapter in my life, I decided to take a quantitative look back at the experience (much like I did when I surpassed 1,000 performances).

Travel by Month

In total, I traveled an estimated 159,023 miles (that’s 255,922 kilometers).

Note: This is only the miles it took to get from one place to another; I didn’t track distance traveled within a destination (such as all the walking I did in Texas when PokemonGo came out).

159,000 miles is the equivalent of roughly 6 trips around the globe (given the Earth’s circumference is measured at 24,874 miles), or one circumnavigation every 3 months.

Mileage by Month

Bar Graph of Mileage by Month

I averaged nearly 8,900 miles per month. A few notes:

  • The most I traveled in 1 month was 28,910 miles in March 2016 (18% of total miles traveled). That involved visiting New York, Madrid, Lisbon, Dallas, Los Angeles, Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, and San Francisco. 8 major cities in 5 countries in 31 days isn’t bad.
  • The second busiest month of travel was this last month, August 2016, at 12,165 miles, which included trips to London, Edinburgh, Oxford, Chicago, Fort Lauderdale, Cincinnati, and New York.
  • The least I traveled in a month was July 2015 at just 3,240 miles. Even though it was my lowest total, I still hit Cincinnati, Philadelphia, New York, DC, Chicago, and Detroit.

Not all time periods were equal when it came to traveling.

Average Mileage by Quarter

Bar Graph of Average Mileage by Quarter

I definitely traveled the most at the beginning of the year, nearly 50% more than the other quarters. The summer was (barely) my lightest travel time, mostly due to a slowdown in work engagements.

mileage by day of week

Bar Graph of Mileage by Day of Week

Tuesday was by far my busiest travel day at 47,609 miles or 30% of all travel coming on that day. That likely has to do with the fact that flights tend to be cheapest on Tuesdays and Wednesdays.

The next busiest was Friday at 28,476 miles (18%). My most relaxed day (at least when it came to travel) was Sunday at 11,084 miles (7%).

Naturally there were ebbs and flows to my travel.

mileage by date

Line Graph of Mileage by Date

The most I ever traveled in one day was 9,130 miles, which included a flight from Singapore to Los Angeles and then on to San Francisco.

I did some form of significant travel on 247 out of the 550 days (45%). On the 303 days I didn’t travel, I often did local trips to restaurants, parks, and theaters, I just didn’t move from one location to another.

A few notes:

  • Over the 550 days, I had 247 stays. 54% of those stays (135 total) were for a single day. 84% were for 3 days or less, 97% were for 7 days or less.
  • The longest I stayed in one place was 18 days, in January 2016, when I stayed at my girlfriend-at-that-time’s (GATT) place in Palo Alto.
  • The most consecutive days I traveled was 17, during my summer 2015 road trip with my brother, when we covered 8,027 miles (6,000 of which were via car), hitting 39 cities in 19 states.

Travel by Location

In those 150,000+ miles I went to a lot of places, including 142 different cities, all 50 states, 14 countries, and 3 continents. (You can check out a list of all the cities if you’re interested.)

All told, I had 609 “visits,” where a visit means I did something in that place, whether it be leading an event, going to a local attraction, or sleeping there (hey, sleeping is something). So if I was driving through and stopped to do a show and then moved on, that was 1 visit. If I stayed in a city for 5 days, that was 5 visits.

table top 10 cities

Table of Top 10 Cities Visited

Despite having left NYC, I still found myself back here quite a bit, thanks in large part to working with companies based here and it being a great launching point for European travels.

The #2 and #3 most popular spots weren’t that surprising, considering my mom lives in Ohio and it gave me a spot to crash when I wasn’t headed somewhere specific, and the Bay Area was where my GATT was and was a potential destination when I decided to stop the nomadism.

On the flipside, I visited 81 cities (57%) just once.

table top 10 states

Table of Top 10 States Visited

The top three states weren’t surprising, considering what I just mentioned about the top cities.

#4 wasn’t a surprise either; my brother lives in Texas and I visited a few times to guest teach his classes, as well as had a couple of events elsewhere in the state. Arizona at #5 seemed high, but it was popular due to conferences and wanting to see the Grand Canyon (which I did twice on these travels).

countries by visits

Table of Countries by Visits

USA! USA! USA! accounted for 89% of my visits. Second was Norway and Singapore where for both I spent 10 days doing events and sightseeing. I was only in Belgium and Malaysia for one night each, still managing to do an event in both.

Travel by Transportation Method

Planes, Trains, and Automobiles isn’t just a 1987 comedy, it was also how I got around during my nomadic journey (plus buses and a ferry).

mileage by transportation

Pie Chart of Mileage by Transportation Method

I took 66 flights (not including layovers), 181 car trips, 47 trains (not including subways), 8 buses, and 1 ferry. A few notes:

  • 72% of distance covered was via flights (114,709 miles). If the average plane speed is 575 miles an hour, that’s 200 hours in a plane, or 8 days. That doesn’t count taxi, take-off, landing, or waiting for the boarding doors to close.
  • 24% of my mileage came by car at 38,936 miles. If I averaged a speed of 60 miles an hour (which is generous considering the amount of time I spent in LA traffic alone), that’s 651 hours, or 27 days, in the car.
  • 3% of travel was by train (or subway) at 4,596 miles, 0.7% by bus (1,077 miles), and 0.00% by ferry (1 trip for 5 miles).
  • My longest flight was 8,800 miles from LAX to SIN (Singapore). My longest car trip (in a day) was 685 miles, driving from St Louis, MO to Burlington, CO (en route to San Francisco).

Travel by Companions

I had the pleasure of seeing and hanging out with hundreds (maybe thousands?) of people throughout my trips. Being nomadic gave me an opportunity to visit friends all over the world, attend a variety of conferences and festivals, and of course meet tons of interesting people along the way.

That said, a majority of my time going from once place to another (e.g. flights) was done alone. 88% of the miles traveled (140,807) were done by myself. As an introvert, I didn’t mind this at all.

5% of travel (7,869 miles) was done with my brother, including our epic road trip in the summer of 2015, and 4% (6,505 miles) were with my GATT, including cross-country drives to and from Palo Alto.

Accommodations by Place

While most of my travel was done on my own, most of my visiting was not. I certainly could not have pulled off this adventure without the help and support of some incredible people.

I mean that on an emotional level, but that’s hard to quantify, so here’s the support some provided on a “you can sleep here” level.

accommodations by nights

Pie Chart of Accommodations by Nights

There were a mix of different types of accommodations, including staying with friends, family, friends of friends (FoF), AirBNB, while in transit, and at my apartment.

Which I guess now is a good time to confess something: though I’m ending my nomadic journey today, I’ve technically had an apartment for about a month. BUT I barely spent time there this last month, which was also my second busiest travel month of the entire experience. Plus 18 months sounds a lot better than 17…

That said, here are a few notes about where I stayed:

  • 38% of my stays (208 nights) were with friends. 86 nights were at my GATT’s place. 28 nights were with my now current roommates, and 25 nights were with my best friend since 7th grade.
  • 32%, or 176 nights, were at hotels. A majority of stays were split at either Wyndham properties (47 nights) or Marriott brands (44 nights).
  • 19% of the time (103 nights), I stayed with family. 72 of those nights (13% of all stays) were at my mom’s. I also stayed with my brother David, my grandma, my cousin Jean, and my cousin Stephanie.
  • 4% of stays (23 nights) were via AirBNB, including 2 nights on a houseboat in Amsterdam.
  • 2% (13 nights) were with friends of friends, including friends through CSz, friend’s parent’s places, and someone’s office.
  • 2% (13 nights) were spent sleeping in transit, including 5 flights, 3 trains, 3 stays in a Walmart parking lot and two different nights in a rest area.

Like I said, I couldn’t have done this alone.

A Few Final Pieces of Data

As of this line, we’re sitting at over 1,400 words for this post, so I’m going to wrap it up. Here are a few random pieces of data that I couldn’t fit anywhere else:

  • I did 151 engagements for work and 136 performances over the 18 months of being a nomad.
  • I traveled with 33 pounds of stuff. On average, I wore 6 pounds worth of clothing, had a backpack with 11 pounds worth of gear, and a carry-on bag of 22 pounds of clothes.
  • I spent $44,000 on travel over the course of the journey, an average of $2400 / month. A lot of that money was reimbursed by clients when they brought me in for various events, the rest was out-of-pocket.
  • On January 1, 2016, after 9 months of traveling (and getting through the holidays), I was statistically the fattest I have ever been. I weighed in at 151 pounds with a 33″ stomach. I’m now back down to 144 pounds with a 32″ stomach.
must have travel apps

Traveling can be stressful. There’s planning to be done, pictures to be taken, social media to be shared, and relaxation to be had.

Here’s a list of the apps I use to make that all easier:

Travel Planning

The most important travel app for me Google Maps, followed closely by the combo of Foursquare / Swarm (though I’m still not entirely sure why they separated the two).

Foursquare allows me to check out what’s good in a new city and gives me personalized recommendations based on what I like, and Swarm allows me to remember where I’ve actually been.

The full list of travel apps include:

  1. Google Maps – For figuring out how to get to where I want to go. (Android | iOS)
  2. Foursquare – For personalized recommendations of what to see / eat in a new city. (Android | iOS)
  3. Swarm – For checking in so I can remember all of the places I’ve been. (Android | iOS)
  4. Trip Advisor – For finding the super popular things to do and get some tips on how to make it better. (Android | iOS)
  5. Orbitz – For checking out the prices and availability of hotels and booking flights. (Android | iOS)
  6. AirBNB – For finding a local spot to stay in. (Android | iOS)
  7. Budget – For getting a rental car when needed. (Android | iOS)

Social Connectedness

Even if you are anti-social websites, social apps are vital to staying connected with friends and family while traveling the world. Facebook is still probably the top dog (mostly because the majority of my friends and family are connected there) but I only use the mobile site and not the app. Instagram has also been a lot of fun for me.

The full list of Social Apps include:

  1. Facebook – For staying connected with people and serving as a hub for all of my other social media. (Android | iOS)
  2. Whatsapp – For chatting with people from other countries and avoiding texting fees. (Android | iOS)
  3. Twitter – For making jokes and reaching out to people I wouldn’t otherwise be able to contact. (Android | iOS)
  4. Instagram – For sharing “1,000 words” in a single image of what I’m up to. (Android | iOS)
  5. LinkedIn – For making business connections and finding additional engagements while I’m traveling. (Android | iOS)
  6. Snapchat – For silly quick jokes with friends. (Android | iOS)

Productivity

Being on the move means that you have to learn to be productive on your phone as you won’t always have the luxury of your laptop right in front of you. Evernote is the supreme king when it comes to Productivity Apps because it basically serves as my memory.

The full list of Productivity Apps include:

  1. Evernote – For capturing all of my thoughts, including training outlines, meeting notes, and blog post drafts (like this one!). (Android | iOS)
  2. Perfct Day – For tracking my daily habits. (Perfct Day is currently private beta, launching soon!)
  3. Tasker – For automating certain tasks to free me from unnecessary key strokes and app selection. A future post will share some of my top automations. (Android | iOS not available)
  4. Gmail – For getting through the slog of the minimally productive business necessity of eletronic mail. (Android | iOS)
  5. Trello – For capturing todo lists in a Agile-like method (I’m still working on using this well). (Android | iOS)
  6. Dropbox – For accessing presentations and proposals on my phone for review. (Android | iOS)
  7. 7M Workout – For a “it’s better than nothing” workout when you’re short on time and space. (Android | iOS)

Fun and Relaxation

All work and no play made me very stressed out. There are some great apps for strategically disengaging, including my favorite, Word Mix, a fun word game that makes you feel like you’re maybe-kinda-learning something?

The full list of Fun and Relaxation Apps include:

  1. Word Mix – A scrambled letter game where you find all the words. (Android | iOS)
  2. Quora – For reading / answering questions that make you feel semi-productive. (Android | iOS)
  3. Amazon Kindle – For catching up on business books or the occasional fictional tale. (Android | iOS)
  4. Pocket – For reading long-form articles that sometimes make you feel smart. (Android | iOS)
  5. Dots – For mindless creation of squares to try to get points. (Android | iOS)

I’m sure there are a few other apps that I use but none on a regular basis. Have an app you enjoy? Let me know so I can check it out!

swiss wing over ny

24 March 2015. Over New York, NY

I sat anxiously in my seat. The plane I was on from Geneva was going to be landing at JFK in a short while.

The pilot was making an announcement over the intercom about fastening your seat belts and the like as my anxiety increased. I wasn’t anxious because of flying or the upcoming landing. I didn’t typically get nervous for those things.

I was anxious because I was watching a movie and I was worried that I wasn’t going to be able to finish it before the plane landed. The very important movie I was so heavily invested in was the classic, In Time, starring Justin Timberlake.

The premise is, that in the future, there is no currency except for time. You can trade it and it’s what you earn at work; the rich people have tons of it and poor people have very little of it. But when it runs out, you’re out of time aka out of life.

I had selected the movie after already having watched Birdman and doing some work. I had long ago justified to myself that flights were the perfect time to watch movies you wouldn’t normally watch. You were already being “productive” by moving from one spot to another, so you might as well veg out.

The problem with movie selection, however, is if you start a film too late, you may never see the end of it. I was worried that had happened and was waiting for the pilot to stop talking so I could start watching again.

Eventually the pilot wrapped up his English portion of the safety announcement… before launching into the German version of it. Then a moment or two later, the French version of it. The disadvantage of traveling internationally.

After he finished, the movie started to pick up again at the intense point where Will (Justin Timberlake) and Sylvia (Amanda Seyfried) are escaping the Minutemen and I can tell the movie is starting to get to the climax and, hopefully, resolution when the pilot comes on yet again, this time talking about the freaking weather.

There’s nothing more frustrating than your movie being interrupted to hear about the weather, save for hearing about said weather in three different languages.

I felt myself getting more anxious, ironically feeling like Justin Timberlake’s character in the movie, wondering if I was running out of time to actually watch “In Time”, the movie, “in time” before the plane landed.

(As a side note, perhaps my favorite part of the movie was that the writers decided to work in as many time-related puns and phrases as possible. If their writing was food, I’d go back for seconds…)

The announcement finished and the movie started to wrap up. And just as the wheels hit the ground, the credits rolled. Just in tim(b)e(rlake).

airplane wing

On March 1, 2015, I started a nomadic journey, leaving my place in New York to reside pretty much anywhere in the world. This is my travel log as a corporate nomad.

For my travels, I’ve decided to go with a two-bag approach. This isn’t surprising: three bags would be inconvenient with constantly checking it when flying and I don’t want to completely destroy my shoulders.

Many nomadic travelers go with only one-bag, but I don’t think I can or want to drop that low. I have just enough stuff that two bags is more convenient.

The first bag is the Red Oxx AirBoss, and the second is this new bad boy from Tom Bihn (yes I just referred to a backpack as a “bad boy”).

tom bihn synapse 25

The Synapse 25 is a nice step up from the Synapse 19 (Joel McLaughin has a great writeup of both here). It also happens to be available in a shade of my favorite color (that’s Orange for the colorblind among you; if you have synthesia, let me know what it tastes like).

The role of this bag is arguably more important than that of the AirBoss. This bag houses my electronics (computer, external hard drive, iPod, chargers, converter, surge protector, remote clicker, cables), papers (passport, external driver’s license, comedy notebook), and snacks (varies but often includes Pop Tarts and Goldfish crackers).

The large pocket is divided by a thin flap. I put my computer, cords, chargers, and gorilla camera stand on one side. The other side gets a tightly-packed raincoat, first aid kit, and thank you cards. And on the top go the snacks.

tom bihn synapse 25 open

There are two side poaches, one side for health-type items (Advil, diarrhea pills, hand sanitizer), the other side for accessories (mini-display cables, remote clicker). The larger front pocket contains important documents (it’s surprisingly deep and tough to reach into) and the smaller front pocket gets business cards, gift cards, public transportation cards, and Game of Thrones (kinda, it is on a thumb drive).

There’s a separate pouch for my water bottle, which is water proof to the other parts of the bag, and it has little spandex straps that I’m not entirely sure what they’re used for.

The bag is still new, so we’ll see how it goes, but I am pretty excited to travel the world with this sexy thing.

tom bihn on my back

alamo texas

05 February to 10 February

I don’t officially start my nomadic travels until March 1st, but I have two trips in February that I’m using to test out some of my travel strategies.

I flew into Houston, TX (IAH, not HOU which caused a brief scare when getting picked up) on Thursday. My mom was arriving 8 hours later, meaning Dave and I had quite a bit a time to kill in Houston(note: the entire time I pronounced it ‘How-stun’ like the street in NY because I’m city folk).

Our first stop was Pappasitos, given as a recommendation from a friend who used to live in Texas. After that I turned to foursquare to find some of the “Best Ofs” in Houston.

Most of the options were in the downtown area and we had the privilege of being there right around rush hour. So rather than sit in traffic, forced to converse with each other as brothers, we decided to run errands by shopping at Wal*Mart. I can tell you that it is true what they say about Texas: everything is bigger there (including the stores, people, and cowboy hats).

Once traffic died down, which we knew thanks to Google Maps, we headed first to the Waterwall Park which was admittedly not that exciting considering there was nothing else in the area. What was exciting was the Museum of Fine Arts Houston.

Thanks to Shell (the gas company, not a misspelled version of Mr. Silverstein’s name) admission was free. We then made a pit-stop for milkshakes (a phrase I’ll be saying quite a bit) at Amy’s Ice Creams, then picked up my mom, and headed to college station.

The focus the next day was teaching Dave’s classes and eating at Dixie Chicken (which A&M students lovingly refer to as Chicken because that’s the most important thing on the menu).

Saturday we headed to San Antonio, where we explored the Riverwalk, remembered the Alamo (there is no basement!), and grabbed a delicious burger at Chris Madrids. That night I played with ComedySportz San Antonio which included multiple chemistry puns worthy of winning a Au metal.

The following morning we went to Austin, where we visited Covert Park and Lady Bird Lake, took in the gorgeous and somewhat mediocre food at The Oasis, and then capped it off with donuts from Gourdough’s (if you’re in Austin, go there).

We then headed back to College Station  for more classroom training on Monday, followed by a chicken finger taste-test between Raising Canes and Laynes (Canes wins in pretty much every category) and, later, a nice dinner at Proudest Monkey in Bryan, TX. Tuesday we grabbed a Freebird Burrito (which I rank above Chipotle) before flying back to NYC.

best of 2010

Here it is, the much anticipated “Drew’s Best of 2010.”  If you’re super excited about my best of (or bored with everything else), you can check out previous best ofs.

Best Achievement – Perform Improv 53 Times

In 2007, 2008 and 2009, I gave myself 10 goals at the beginning of the year to accomplish.  2010 was no different.  This year, I successfully completed 6 of my 10 goals, which isn’t even a passing score, but is a lot better than if I didn’t set any goals.

My best achievement of the year was performing 77 times.  Not only did it greatly exceed my goal,  it also helped me grow a ton as a performer.  Thanks to a lot of great teachers and far too much analysis, I was able to blow past some of the barriers in my head and start performing more emotional, interesting and engaging characters.  Thanks to everyone who attended one or many of the 77 shows, hopefully you enjoyed it or them.

Personal Development – Daily 3 Challenge

Anyone who’s followed my goals in the past, or has had to share a hotel room with me, knows I love the snooze button.  I’ve tried a number of different things to break this cursed habit, but the only thing that has consistently kept me from hitting snooze was instituting a challenge with Pat.

Since Pat and I started the daily 3 challenge (not hit snooze, write for 1 hour and exercise) 73 days ago, I’ve only hit snooze 16 times.  Not perfect but far better than how I was doing for most of the year.

Best Business Decision – Go to LA for Speaking Conference

Humor That Works has seen quite a transformation this year and I’ve had a number of great opportunities to share the power of humor with some great groups.

However the decision that has had the biggest impact (if only mentally so far) was attending a speaking conference in LA. Not only did the trip give me 5 consecutive days to think about my business, it also helped me make some decisions on the direction I want to go.  And, perhaps most importantly, it gave me a sense of validation as to what I am doing and how it is something people are looking for.

Best Personal Decision – Move to Midtown East

Though I technically made the decision to move in 2009, I wasn’t 100% sure where I was moving to until 2010.  I first looked in Chelsea to be close to the improv theaters, but ultimately ended up in a great apartment in Midtown East (almost entirely thanks to Luke).

Though I’ve definitely had challenges in the apartment (no stove for the first month, bad windows for 3 months, a brief issue with heat), it’s proved to be a great place to stay.  It has a second bedroom for the vagrants that stay with me, has enough space for all of my crap plus some, affords me the opportunity to walk to work and is located such that I can almost always stop at home in between career #1 (work) and career #2 (comedy).

Best Travel – Geneva/Paris/Ediburgh/London

I was fortunate enough to travel quite a bit in 2010. I managed to spend some time back home in Cincinnati, in my second home of Columbus, had two trips to LA, a weekend in San Francisco that included some time in San Jose, five days in Las Vegas, three days in Mexico City, an overnight stay in Boston, a weekend wedding in Cape Cod, two trips to Chicago, and started the year in New Orleans / Baton Rouge. But of all the places I went, the most unique were the places I hit in Western Europe.

My first time in Europe (and incidentally the first of any of my immediate family members) started as a business trip in Geneva. I decided to make the most of the flight across the Atlantic and extended my stay long enough to see Paris (8 hours), Edinburgh (2 days) and London (1.5 days). I had the chance to see some historic landmarks, got to see a great friend and experience a traditional Scottish ceilidh, and learned a ton about myself (most notably my lack of appreciation for other languages and the wonder that is being in a foreign city completely by yourself).

I hope to make it back to Europe soon (specifically Tarvin, England and Italy), but I’ll never forget the first time there.

Best NYC Visit – Family for Christmas

I don’t think I had a single bad visit in 2010, but the most memorable was the recent visit from my mom, dad, brothers and one of my brother’s girlfriend. It was a jam-packed (including a trip to PB & Co) 4-days with great food, tons of walking, lots of pictures and non-stop time spent together.

Thanks to the fam for making the long trip and for keeping me fed during and after the visit (mmm leftovers).

Best New Restaurant – Peanut Butter & Co

I was able to try a number of great new (to me) restaurants in 2010 but my favorite was Peanut Butter & Co. Not only does it focus on one of the things I love, it has combinations I had never even thought of. My favorite: a peanut butter BLT (but sans tomato for me).

Sadly I discovered while thinking about this one that I ate at McDonald’s more than any other restaurant this year (actually it was probably 99 Cent pizza but I don’t have CC tracking for that).  To be fair, I did get a lot of the smoothies from there, but I definitely have to change that in 2011.

Best Improv Show – 2 Square

I couldn’t tell you how many shows I saw this year even if I wanted to (and I do want to). If I had to guess, I’d say somewhere in the 50 to 60 range. Many of them were awe-inspiring and hilarious, such as the many Gravid Water shows I saw, tons of shows at DCM (especially Improvised Shakespeare, Baby Wants Candy and Bash), and TJ & Dave.

But the winner for me was the final 2 Square show. Peter Grosz and John Lutz have continued to amaze me since the first time I saw them. But for their last show (at least in awhile), they managed to blow my mind with their commitment to and diversity of characters, connections between scenes, and an ending that couldn’t have been scripted better if the entire thing actually had been scripted.

Best Improv Performance – Level 5 Run

It’s hard to pick my own best performance for the year because there were so many good ones… and a lot of bad ones… and plenty that were just “eh.”  Also that whole subjectivity thing makes it tough since I didn’t get a chance to see me perform any of the shows.

So I won’t pick a single performance out of the 77, but rather a run of them; specifically the run of shows I had with my Level 5 class at the Magnet.  The class was full of incredibly talented people and every show was a blast to play in.  For me, characters from that memorable run included a drunk hotel patron, a Medieval Times employee looking for a date, and a man politically changed by a dream he had about bunnies.

Best Movie I Saw – Inception

I didn’t see a ton of movies in 2010 (only 6 of the Top 50 for 2010), but I did see some quality ones (Toy Story 3, Jackass 3-D).  The movie I enjoyed the most was Inception.  It had intrigued, action, solid acting, cool locations and an awesome plot that was engaging throughout.  I rarely like to watch movies multiple times, but I’d happily see this one again.

Best Book I Read – And Here’s the Kicker

I’ve read a decent number of books this year (including Predictably Irrational, Last Words, and Naked Pictures of Famous People), but the winner for me was And Here’s the Kicker.  The book is a collection of interviews with some of the top humor writers in the country and contains amazing insights, practical tips and lots of encouragement.

Best Tweet – Tux

I created a list of my 15 best tweets of 2010, but my favorite for the entire year was:

My tailor asked if I needed help trying on a tux. I said “No.” He said “fine, suit yourself.”