Vetted Organizations to Support Nepal Earthquake Victims

We thought we’d put together a vetted list of the best organizations to donate to the relief in Nepal.  Not only are these people equipped to do the job, we vouch for their financial stewardship of the funds being donated going to the actual relief efforts and not some fat cat administrators speaking engagement tours.  I’d like to crowdsource this, so you have orgs that you think are good, put them in the comments below.

Firstly, a note.  I would be very, very wary of crowdfunded relief campaigns that just popped up.  I’m sure their intentions are really good, but running a non-profit and relief effort is an incredibly difficult task.  We’d like to put you in touch with people that go beyond good intentions.  Those who have a proven track record of rising to the occasion in the past.

International Medical Corps – They are first responders in massive disasters such as this.  They have people on the ground there as we speak.  They’ve done amazing work in the past with the 2005 earthquake in Pakistan, 2010 Haiti Earthquake and 2011 Japan earthquake/tsunami.

CARE -Great organization who is providing relief to survivors.  From their website: “CARE’s emergency response teams specialize in providing life-saving food, water, shelter and health care. CARE has more than six decades of experience helping people prepare for disasters, providing lifesaving assistance when a crisis hits, and helping communities recover after the emergency has passed. CARE, which works in 90 countries around the world, places a special focus on women, children and other vulnerable populations, who are often disproportionately affected by disasters. In 2014, our emergency response and recovery projects reached nearly four million people in 40 countries.”

World Vision – “World Vision is currently working to locate and ensure the safety of its 200 staff and a number of international staff attending a workshop in country this week.  The agency is coordinating its response with the national government, which has declared a state of emergency, and other nongovernmental organizations.  After search and rescue, World Vision disaster management staff say initial needs are potable water, food, household supplies, temporary shelter, and protection for children.”

American Himalayan Foundation: this a great group in San Francisco with deep ties to the region.  100% of all funds donated will go to relief efforts.  They know the best and most effective people who need resources.  They will also be involved in rebuilding efforts.

….more to follow.  We’ll update this list as we can.

PathWrangler LIVES!

PathWrangler is Staying Open!

Something amazing has happened in the last 14 days.  And this thing has led to PathWrangler being resurrected and it will stay open…for now.  Below is what happened how it affects you.

The flood of emails I then received from our community in the past two weeks has been touching, but also heartbreaking.  We started PathWrangler to build a great community.  We succeeded in that mission, but we fell short in the making money to pay the bills part of it.

I cannot even begin to describe how hard it was to walk away from one of the most amazing communities of people I’ve known or been a part of.  Not only that, I personally felt like I had let everyone down who supported us all these years.

I also received a lot of phone calls.  And one of those calls led to this amazing thing.  It was from Emilie Cortes from Call of the Wild Adventures.  Emilie has not only been an avid user of PathWrangler, she’s also pushed the envelope with how tour operators use the tool and has provided the standard with how tour operators can improve their lives and build community for their companies.

Here’s a quote from Emilie about why we had to stay open:

“Our business model and customer service delivery is totally built around PathWrangler. At this stage, it’s unfathomable to contemplate returning to the old way of doing things. The increased email volume, document version control issues, difficulty responding to changing conditions quickly, and the feeling that each client has that they are completely alone before a trip were all simply unacceptable and were going to increase our costs dramatically. With PathWrangler, all of these administrative and business issues are solved or ameliorated. However, the biggest impact PathWrangler has had on our business is the ability to build community pre-trip, not only post-trip. Clients come on our trips feeling more connected, more prepared, and some groups even have inside jokes before they have ever even met. It’s powerful. As we all know, it’s way more effective to retain clients who then bring more people, than to keep spending money on advertising trying to bring in brand new clients.”

I told her that I was down to my last two nickels and had been rubbing them together for the last year to see if they’ll mate.  It hasn’t worked. I didn’t want to shut down and it was entirely a financial decision.

I won’t go into details, but it was a very emotional phone call for the both of us.  There were tears…I mean allergies.  It’s Springtime afterall.

The next morning, I woke up to a text message.  Emilie rallied some of our other clients and had raised about half the money we needed to stay open….in 12 HOURS!!!  I was initially reluctant to accept this help, but realized that tour operators don’t wear shiny top hats and monocles, and if they were willing to support us financially, they were dead serious about how much we meant to the success of their businesses.

So, here is where things stand: we are going to remain open.  However, we are going to need more investment to continue in the long term.  We’ll be implementing some changes to our business model to achieve sustainability from our end, but we need outside help to make this work.  Knowing that we have this kind of support in our community, I have no doubt we’ll figure how how to do this and I will continue to fight to keep this community thriving and, hopefully, growing.  Please connect with me directly for more information.

If you have a business or organization that runs trips and don’t have a business account, please get in touch with us and we’ll show you how companies like Call of the Wild are using their PathWrangler Premium Accounts to revolutionize the travel business.

Thank you everyone.  These emails are much more fun to write than the one I sent out on March 10th.  I never want to write that email again.

Doug Heinz


PathWrangler is CLOSING – March 21, 2015

Dear PathWrangler Community,

It is with a heavy heart and tears that I write to you today. It is one of the most difficult thing I have ever had to do in my life. I’ve owned and operated PathWrangler for 5 years now and when I started this company, I could never imagine the amazing people and incredible community that came together around a simple web app for organizing trips.

After all blood, sweat and tears that went into making this happen, I’ve come to the decision that I am going to close PathWrangler on March 21, 2015.

So, why? Well, of course, the primary reason is simple: we just don’t have enough paying subscribers to make this thing go as a technology business anymore. We’ve been able to build a nice profitable business, which is rare for a tech company that hasn’t taken any outside capital. But, we just haven’t been able to make enough money to take this web app to a place that our standards demand. Engineering talent is very expensive and it has gotten to the point where I am paying almost all of it out of my own pocket.

We have been challenged by people to raise our subscription prices, but we built this app for small businesses and know how every dollar counts. We couldn’t in good conscience ask our clients to pony up more of their hard earned dollars to get the same service for more money.

We have had offers from other companies to buy PathWrangler. But, in every case, we knew they prospective buyers were not interested in the technology; they just wanted our client base to move to their platforms. We didn’t think it was in your interests to pass the buck to another entity. I didn’t get into this business for the money, it was to serve a community. So, we’ve declined all of these purchase offers so far and don’t see any potential with another company that shares our values in serving our clients.

This decision may seem sudden, but it is has been something I’ve been wrestling with for months behind the scenes. I put every dollar I ever had into this business and I am personally dead broke. Like paying rent and groceries with a credit card, broke. I started this business on my terms, so I could gain the independence and freedom that comes with it, so I’m going to end it on my terms. If I personally had more money to keep this running up to the standards I demand, I would. But I don’t.

There is really so much more, but I don’t want to make this anymore self-gratifying than it is already is. I cannot thank everyone reading this enough for being a part of our family here. I am going to miss the interactions I have with you everyday, the amazing trips, the visions, the exploration and the friendships developed. I never imagined the incredible impact you would all have on my life and I certainly never anticipated having to write this email. It is ripping my heart out of my chest that we ultimately failed in realizing our vision to serve you.

There will be more upcoming, but for now, if you have any inquiries, you can reach me at doug@pathwrangler.com.

Thank you everyone.

Doug Heinz – CEO Founder

PathWrangler Partners with Destination Jämtland Härjedalen in Sweden to Support Tour Operators and Increase Regional Tourism

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: March 20, 14   For more information, contact: Doug Heinz – CEO, Pathwrangler 899 Green St. #404, San Francisco, CA 94133 doug@pathwrangler.com 415-309-2242  

Destination Jämtland Härjedalen Turism partners with leading travel software company PathWrangler to expand reach and promote local operators for their region  

San Francisco, CA (January 21, 2014) – Jämtland Härjedalen Turism, a private tourism board responsible for promoting and developing tourism in Swedens top adventure location, is announcing a new partnership with San Francisco-based software company PathWrangler today. The partnership will give PathWrangler’s travel software, which helps outdoor programs, clubs and trip planners to run better trips, mentor student leaders and grow their programs.

PathWrangler’s online app allows users to create interactive trips with all the assets they need to organize outdoor expeditions and guided tours. Through their accounts, trip leaders can create, share and host the data for traveler registrations, itineraries, packing lists and more of the many aspects of operating an expedition. An additional module, Formstack, allows operators to build the forms they need online, and host them on their unique trip page without leaving the PathWrangler app, thus eliminating the need for PDFs, emails and spreadsheets to collect traveler information.

“Organizing and marketing in the digital age is a challenge for many organizations these days and we are very pleased to partner with PathWrangler to help achieve these goals.  This digital solution will be the perfect tool for tour operators in our region to both manage and market the unique travel experiences found in our destination and we hope it helps to support and increase the margins on this side of the business”, says Karin Gydemo Grahnlöf from Jämtland Härjedalen Turism.

“Tourism Destinations are faced with an extremely difficult challenge, especially when it comes to promoting experiential tourism,” says Doug Heinz, CEO of PathWrangler,” they have to figure out a way not just promote static itineraries that give potential visitors a ‘flavor’ for the destination.  They need to capture and promote the dynamism and the uniqueness that each experience brings with it.  However, the operators that they represent are vast and have many different experiences.  JHT came to us because this has been extremely challenging for them.  Through using PathWrangler, not only can they capture the dynamism and unique qualities of all their individual tour operators, it gives JHT and overall way to brand the unique identities that make up their entire destination.”

Heinz continues, “Many issues that Destinations have in the past is to bring the big picture into meaningful action.  Often times the operators are the ones who are forgotten in this process. PathWrangler helps to link all of these elements together.  Never before was this possible on a large scale.”

This unique partnership will provide JHT and their members with an entirely cloud-based solution when organizing expeditions and outdoor activities that will be used for Familiarization Trips and ongoing promotion by the JHT.  Ultimately, this will help JHT to manage large-scale tourism initiatives while being able to empower each individual tour operator from the ground up.

About PathWrangler For more information about PathWrangler or to start planning your expedition, visit www.pathwrangler.com. Simply put, PathWrangler makes building and storing experiences easier than ever before. Let’s face it, planning an adventure trip or an outdoor excursion is like herding cats. It can be maddening to get everyone and everything prepared. We’ve built a collaborative web tool that makes trip planning not only easy, but fun. The goal is to empower you so that your only limitation is your imagination and sense of wonder. It can be used just as easily by professional guides running recurring expeditions to the Himalayas to just a handful of avid outdoor enthusiasts planning their next hiking trip in Yosemite.

About Jämtland Härjedalen Turism JHT was formed in 1995 and is the professional and business collaboration platform for the development of the region’s tourism industry.  It represents the country’s tourism industry in both nationally and internationally.  JHT is a trade association that cooperates with the county’s destinations and tourism enterprises, with representatives of the county’s tourism industry and representatives of the Regional Council of Jämtland.  For more information: www.jamtland.se –   Press contact: Karin Gydemo Grahnlöf, manager of the project organisation at JHT. Karin.g.grahnlof@jht.se +46 706053767

Here’s How to Learn How to Climb Mount Everest

Have you felt the desire to climb the tallest mountain in the world, but had no idea how to go about doing it?  Here’s how you can start from being a newbie to acquiring not only the fitness, but the hard and soft skills and mental toughness required to climb the tallest mountain in the world.


1) 3-Day Rainier Climb 


Mt Rainier in Seattle is easily accessible and provides the perfect training ground for aspiring climbers to learn new skills due to the snow and glacier covering the mountain.  Here you’ll learn how to use crampons, an ice axe and roping.  It is your introduction to altitude.  After a day of intensive skills training, you’ll spend one good hard day to get to the Summit and back down.


2) Mexican Volcanoes


The next step is over the course of about a week, climb between 2 – 4 Mexican Volcanoes.  These mountains are between 14 – 18k feet.  These mountains aren’t quite as technical, but not only will you get increasing exposure to altitude, by going up and down between 2 – 4 times, you’ll be able to learn what it takes to do acclimatization rotations on Everest.


3) Aconcagua


Now you’re ready for your first major expeditionary style mountain.  Weather depending, 24 days on 23,xxx ft Aconcagua in Argentina will give your first taste of establishing camps, carrying heavy loads and making the mountain your home for an extended period of time.  This is the tallest mountain outside the Himalayas and you’ll learn not only how to survive harsh weather conditions, but also how to maintain yourself personally and mentally.


4) Winter Course

Denali Prep March  2012-03-04 at 13-53-30

Before heading to your next mountain,  an 8 Day Course in the Spring is called for.  The focus will be on learning advanced mountaineering skills such as ascending fixed lines, camping in snow, advanced glacier travel and cramponing, as well as crevasse rescue.  Spring time in DENALI/UPPER NORTHWEST, brings between 1 – 2ft of snow per day.  You’ll learn not only how to survived, but enjoy the cold.

5) Denali


Your next step is to climb 20,500 ft of much bigger glaciers and harsher weather conditions over 21 days.  This expedition will not only improve your skills, but will make you more self-sufficient and less reliant on your guides.  There are no porters on this mountain, so you and your team are responsible for getting everything and everyone up and down the mountain.  Most importantly, you’ll learn to rely on your fellow teammates to a much greater degree than in the past.  You’ll learn how to be solid component of your team.


FINALLY – Ready for Mt Everest


Now you’re prepared with hard and soft skills that are essential to climb the tallest mountain in the world.  Soft skills such as proper preparation, being part of a team and having a good attitude in the face of adverse conditions.  You’ll not only be adapted to the harsh conditions of the mountains, but you’ll actually learn to enjoy and see the beauty in it all.  Unlike the false characterization in popular media, you’ll be a fully self-sufficient team member who is ready to not only stand on the highest point in the world, but get you and your team safely down.

Contact Mountains Within to start your journey to climbing Mt Everest today!

Mysterious Cache of Jewels Turns Up Atop French Glacier

Looks like climbing pays after all:

It reads like the opening scene of an “Indiana Jones” movie.

A young man climbing a French glacier finds a cache of glittering jewels wrapped in bags stamped “Made in India” — remnants, perhaps, of cargo from an ill-fated airliner called the Malabar Princess.

The best thing about it? This story is true.

It happened early this month on a glacier overlooking the southeastern French village of Chamonix, Albertville police Chief Sylvain Merly said Thursday…

…Merly declined to characterize the stones, which are being described in French media as rubies, sapphires and emeralds. They’re worth somewhere between €130,000 (about $175,000) and €246,000 ($331,600), Merly said.

I once found half of a rusty shovel, a pair of Ray Ban sunglasses and a half-eaten tin of tuna in the mountains.  Suffice to say, I didn’t feel like Indiana Jones after my discoveries.

Google is Making a Move to Disrupt Travel, but That is Good News for Start-ups

Tnooz writes about how Google’s latest travel focused initiatives are causing problems for travel start-ups:

Google is leading the charge on phase four.

Some previously announced projects:

  • City Experts – Google is currently recruiting “Local Insiders” for their City Expert program. These individuals will “have access to fun, exclusive events. Free custom swag. Special online recognition”.
  • Field Trip – A location aware app that tells you interesting things as you walk around a city. Also acts as a geocoded travel blog aggregator with many travel blogs integrated). Give it a go. Hundreds of travel data providers are involved.
  • Helpouts – “Real help from real people in real time”. That’s the tips-from-a-local thing we constantly hear about.

So now Google has experts and a location aware app. Put those two together with its consumer facing traffic streams and you have a insurmountable combination.

For example, imagine you are in a city and you need advice. You could turn on your phone (or Google Glass spectacles), and immediately you are in live video contact with a local city expert. They answer you and you are satisfied.

Let’s face it, this is several travel startups that Google has wiped out, just there. In a flash.

Sounds pretty dire, doesn’t it?  I cannot tell you how many times I pitched PathWrangler to potential investors over the years and heard the question, “What happens if Google decides to get into your space?”  After considering the question, I’d usually say something like, “Well, a there are several options: 1) wet my pants, 2) get mad and write a nasty blog post, and 3) surround Larry Page’s house in the middle of the night with a row of 4×12 cabinets that would make Eddie Van Halen’s ears hurt and jam Iron Maiden’s “Run to the Hills” until his relents and pulls the plug.   Unfortunately, these are all reactionary measures and would likely do little keep big bully Google from crushing my hopes and dreams.

So, what’s happening here?  Google has made some impressive moves here.  They are really good at solving problems that are similar to “boiling the ocean.”  The technology isn’t quite as important as the access to all the data and information that is being shared.   It remains to be seen if Google can gain adoption of these new products, but as we know, these tools are going to be cheap or free as they continue to allow ad-revenue from search to drive monetization.  Travel apps that are in this space have a lot of reason to worry.

Google is attacking an area of the travel tech industry that I think has been taking the easy road, specifically those that are driven by the algorithmic approach to trip planning.  In particular, during the Inspiration Phase.  On the other side are the travel agents who continue to see technology as a competitor to their long-held beliefs that travel is personal and needs live humans see another wave of 1’s and 0’s coming at them.

About a year ago, I wrote a post “Why Tech Companies Suck at Adventure Travel.”   The focus was on how travel tech companies were so heavily focused on automation, that they were in danger of commoditizing a product that travelers want to be far more personalized.  The data backs it up.  The ATTA just released new market research that shows the experiential travel market booming with a growth rate of 65% annually since 2009 to $263 billion.  Because of that, companies that provide travel services such as operators and agents are growing.  However, they’ve greatly lagged behind in adopting technology and view companies with suspicion and fear that they’re going to be put out of business.

The key for travel tech companies who want to compete with Google, while also building a sustainable business model are ones that find a way to humanize their technology.  This doesn’t mean a super advanced algorithm that “acts human.”  It has to automate the parts of travel that don’t require humans, but provides a deeper human touch with the ones who are ultimately the ones responsible for providing travelers with personalized experiences.  The art in solving these ongoing problems is in trying to figure out exactly which is which.  Technology is doing a great job at dividing up the commoditized areas of travel from the personalized ones and there are $263 billion reasons that we can expect the human side of the business to continue and flourish.

The low hanging fruit has been picked.  Tech companies need to shift and find ways to provide value on this side of the equation.  Until, of course, Google starts building clones made from the DNA of Edmund Hillary, Ernest Shackleton and Jacques Cousteau.  Then we’re all in deep trouble.

Marty and Denali Schmidt may their spirits touch the sky.


Since hearing the news of Marty and Denali’s recent passing on K2, the last few days for me have been full and focused around my responsibilities, I really have not had a moment to just sit and be in a present space until now as I write this. I first met Marty Schmidt in 2003 when we were both guiding a trip on Mount McKinley (aka Denali whom he be-lovingly named his son after).  This was my third time guiding Denali and for Marty it was around his 30th.  Up until this time I had never heard of Marty, but after our expedition together I felt that we had spent many lifetimes together.

Upon meeting our group of clients in Talkeetna (your departure point for flying onto the Southeast Fork of the Kahiltna Glacier), it became apparent to me that Marty possessed a presence within him that was unique and completely unknown to me at that time.  His ability to connect with the participants of our group was not from a logical head space, it was directly from the heart.  Marty guided, communicated, and lived his life directly from the heart.  When you were talking to him, it was direct presence, you were all that he could care about in that moment of existence.

Marty walked and lived his truth and he held the space for others to discover within themselves what it was that made their heart sing.  I personally have been mountain guiding for over 17 years, I have had amazing instructors from my early days at Prescott College, and I have had the privilege to have worked alongside many amazing guides at both Alpine Ascents International and International Mountain Guides. But there is one person who has stood alone and who has supported me beyond anyone else.  That person is Marty.  I attribute to my growth as a guide and the catalyst to become a deeper human being from him.

Our Denali trip was amazing.  Just being with Marty made you want to work harder and Denali is a working person’s mountain..something you cannot learn any other way outside of shadowing more experienced guides who pass their experiences onto you.  I learned more from Marty in those three weeks about being a mountain guide then I had in the 5 years proceeding..it was a quantum leap in guiding from the heart.

We were one of many teams that had been stuck at 14,000 ft Camp (aka Adv Base) on Denali for about 8 days.  As a result their was a backlog of over 120+ who were planning to move up High Camp at 17,200 ft.  For us as a team, we were unable to transfer any of our load carries up to 16,800 ft at the base of Washburn’s Thumb due to the inclement weather.  When the weather forecast became apparent that their would be a window of opportunity for us to get higher, we were still without any loads up high.  Our team was strong and we were well acclimated after spending the last 8 days battling the weather up at 14 Camp, so physically we were ready for a move up high..but so were the 120+ that were waiting there with us!

Marty’s plan was to hang back at 14 while the rest of the teams broke trail and waited in lines at varies bottlenecks between the fixed lines at 15,600 ft and high camp at 17,200 ft.  Instead our plan was to go ‘alpine style’ with the clients which meant paring down all of our group gear, personal gear, and food.  We took exactly what we would need for the next 6 days.  Our plan was to wait in the sun cooking quesodillas, and once the last group were to clear the bergshrund at the base of the fixed lines..we would then depart.

Our destination was not for the 17,200 ft camp, but for the snow caves that reside on the backside of the top of the fixed lines at 16,400 ft.   It was smooth sailing as we ascended the lines with efficiency and ease..although upon reaching the snow caves we found that Mike Roberts (another amazing veteran  guide) had already inhabited the caves with his crew.

We had a total of 7 grown men on this trip and we paired our shelters down to Northface VE-25 tents.  So Marty’s backup was to cut a ledge on the protected leeward side of the West Buttress overlooking the Peter’s Glacier 3,000 feet below.  We worked hard, cut out a secure ledge, setup and anchored our tents by running a matrix of ropes around and through our doors almost like a portaledge, and put the 3 biggest guys in one tent and the rest of us (including Marty and myself) were in the second.

The next day we moved without crowds up to high camp and dug in for the next 2 days.  When it came for our summit window, us, along with 120 other persistent climbers departed the security of our tents and left for the summit..although this time Marty made sure that we were in front.  After safely reaching the summit with all of our clients, we arrived back into our tents twelve hours later..right as the snow was beginning to fall again.  We then spent the next 3 days weathered in our tents, Marty, myself, and our clients spent the tent bound days listening to NPR, playing cards, and making food..we spent this time getting to truly know each other as fellow human beings and most importantly we laughed.

After this trip Marty Schmidt became a fixture in my life.  We stayed in touch the best that any mountain guides can do, but existence would constantly cross our paths.  For instance, I would be walking down a street in Mendoza, Argentina..stop at a street crossing, and look to my left and their would be Marty.  Or, I would be walking up a side valley in the Himalayas, look to my right..boom..Marty!  In these crossings our connection just deepened and he became a rock in my life.  Marty and his son Denali were living their truth with trust and totality.  They were the creators and artisans of defining themselves as true human beings living in balance and flow with existence.

During his final visit to Seattle last summer, I had the opportunity to have Marty spend most of the week with me at my place.  I would never had guessed that this would be our last crossing in this life.  My heart and laughter now long for the next.


Formstack Launches Partnership with PathWrangler (Press Release)

New integration allows travel software company to provide form options to tour and expedition leaders.

Indianapolis, IN (July 29, 2013) – Formstack, an Indianapolis-based form building company, announced a new partnership with San Francisco-based software company PathWrangler today. The integration through PathWrangler’s travel software will empower travel guides and expedition leaders to quickly create Formstack forms for their customers and trips.

PathWrangler’s online app allows users to create and host the files they need to organize outdoor expeditions and guided tours. Through their accounts, trip leaders can create, share, and host the data for traveler registrations, itineraries, packing lists, and more of the many aspects of operating an expedition.

With this new integration, customers can create a Formstack account, build the forms they need, and host them on their unique trip page without leaving the PathWrangler app, eliminating the need for PDFs, emails, and spreadsheets to collect traveler information.

“One of the chief frustrations of tour operators is the limited means that they have available to do basic operations such as requesting client information and taking payments,” says Doug Heinz, CEO of PathWrangler. “With our Formstack integration, not only do operators have a single place where their clients can get everything they need for their trips, but they can significantly reduce the workload required for simple business operations.”

This unique partnership provides PathWrangler customers with an entirely cloud-based solution when organizing group expeditions and guided tours, making their data more accessible and accommodating their on-the-go lifestyles.

For more information about PathWrangler or to start planning your expedition, visit www.pathwrangler.com. Simply put, PathWrangler makes building and storing experiences easier than ever before. Planning an adventure trip or an outdoor excursion is like herding cats. We’ve built a collaborative web tool that makes trip planning not only easy, but fun. The goal is to empower you so that your only limitation is your imagination and sense of wonder. It can be used just as easily by professional guides running recurring expeditions to the Himalayas to just a handful of avid outdoor enthusiasts planning their next hiking trip in Yosemite.  Contact CEO Doug Heinz with any Press inquiries at info@pathwrangler.com or 415-309-2242.

Created in 2006, Formstack is an online form builder that has become a leader in creating, managing and hosting online forms and surveys. Formstack provides businesses of all types and sizes an easy-to-use online form building tool, allowing them to capture the customer/client information they need without having to spend a lot of time coding their own Web sites. For more information about Formstack please visit www.formstack.com

# # #

Best Travel Games (Mike Trotzke Guest Post)

With the July 4th holiday on deck for those of us in the States, many are heading out on various adventures and outdoor activities.  However, a great way to keep the good times rolling while your waiting for dinner to cook at camp or pass out under the stars is to bust out some games.  My good friend Mike Trotzke is the biggest game guru that I know and last time we hung out, we played a ton of amazing games I’d never heard of before.  His game closet looks like he robbed a train transporting games instead of gold.  I asked him if he’d like to share with us a list of great games for traveling.  So, without further ado, here’s Mike’s list of games that you’ve probably never heard of and will love:

Games for All

These are games that work with experienced gamers and newbies alike. Simple, but well designed games.


Perfect portable card game. I carry it with me in my bag a lot. 2-4 players. Very simple set collection and light economics game with enough meat for gamers to like it as well.


Zombie Dice

Quick push your luck dice game. Nothing but dice so very durable. Ditch the cup it comes in and get a little dice bag for it. Also available as a Dino Hunt and Trophy Buck if you aren’t into zombies.



Requires 7 to play, but is only a few cards and is an absolute blast with the right group. The perfect game for large groups.



This comes in a bigger tin, but is great for being the container to carry other games in. You can fit a couple dice games and a card game in the tin which serves as an excellent place to roll dice from lots of games while traveling.


No Thanks

Kind of a reverse auction game. A few cards and 55 chips. It’s a fun abstract with a poker like feel to it. Requires 3-5 players.



Short Card game for 2-5 that has a really interesting push your luck/screw your neighbor card drafting mechanic. You try to collect the highest number of no more than 3 different colors. I also like the Zooleretto dice version, but it’s currently only available in Germany.


Martian Dice

Similar to Zombie Dice, but with a few more choices. Just dice so very portable and durable. Also comes in a cup you should ditch for a dice bag.


Qwirkle Travel

Abstract tile laying game with durable wood tiles. Feels like scrabble but with shapes instead of words.


Light Strategy Games

While these are still relatively easy to learn, they have a few more rules, last a little longer and have more replay value.

Love Letter

Very portable 16 card game of luck and deduction. Slightly more involved as the cards have a special actions, but still easy to pick up. You can play to any number of rounds. You can also mix two sets together and play with up to 8. I carry this in my wallet at all times.


Travel Carcassonne

A great tile laying and worker placement game. Scales well from 2-5 and has a ton of replay value. The travel edition isn’t compatible with other expansions, but it’s lightweight and comes in a handy little bag perfect for throwing in a backpack. For a more strategic game, you can play with a hand of 3 tiles, drawing back up to 3 at the end of your turn.



A more gamers game, with all pay auction, bluffing and area control mechanics that plays up to 6. This one feels more like a full sized strategy board game in a little package. You must play with the draw 3 variant at the back of the rule book (not the broken rules in the regular game) and print out a cheat sheet for the card actions (available here: http://www.headlesshollow.com/downloads/games/Condottiere_v1.1.pdf). Getting the game ready is some extra work, but it’s worth it. This is one of my favorite games at any size.


The Great Heartland Hauling Co.

Small box game that feels like a bigger board game because it uses cards as a board. Set collection game (similar to Ticket to Ride) about hauling goods around the Midwest. Plays 2-4 players. Unfortunately it looks like it’s currently sold out.



Classic role selection game that scales well from 2-7 players. A little hard to pick up and play as you need to familiarize yourself with the 8 different role cards to get going. Once you do it’s a great strategy game with a lot replay value.


Catan Dice

A simple dice game version of popular strategy game Settlers of Catan. Comprised of a pen and paper score sheet and custom dice. You don’t really need the cup for travel. Make sure and play the advanced rules (when not playing solo). It doesn’t really capture the feel of Settlers, but it’s a fun and very portable diversion for fans of the full board game. Also check out Struggle for Catan. It’s a card game that managers to capture a lot of the feel of Catan in just 110 cards. Make sure and ditch the way too big for the game box.




I actually haven’t gotten my hands on this one to play this yet. It’s new this year and getting a lot of buzz. It’s a cooperative game where you hold your cards backwards and can only see the other players cards. You work together to help each other play the right card in sequence. Looks interesting.


Great with Kids Games

These are light games that kids as little as 6 could get into, but are still fun for parents. Also great for non gamers, who just want something silly and fun.

Pass the Pigs

Simple push you luck pig rolling game. Really just a varient of the pig dice game, but rolling plastic pigs is always a hit. You don’t need the whole container, just the pigs, the little scorecard and scorekeeper app or pen and paper.


Apple To Apples Kids

This game might be made for travel, but it’s one of the few games everyone from 7 year olds to grandparents seem to enjoy. The kids version has just 288 cards and packs up nicely.



Almost too simple, but I find younger kids like it a lot. Reverse trick taking game that requires a little math, a lot of luck, but no reading. Has comic artwork of suburban stereotypes with increasingly powerful weapons.


Rory’s Story Cubes

This is much more of an activity than a game, but for very little ones it’s always a hit. Roll the dice and then tell a story using the icons on the dice to drive the narrative. Small and durable.


Animal upon Animal: Small and yet great!

A little 2 player dexterity game that fits in a little jewelry bag. Short and sweet this is more Jenga than a strategic game, but the wood pieces are engaging and it can be tough with the small pieces. Another popular choice with the smaller kids.

Spot-It On the Road

Look at 2 cards and try to be the first one to spot what symbol appears on both cards. The On the Road version has the added benifit of being able to look outside the car for matches with the cards while driving.


iOS Games and Apps

Sometimes your phone is a great tool for playing board games while traveling. There a couple of great apps worth checking out.

Heads Up

A fun party game for iOS. Hold your phone to your head where all the other players can see the word it displays. Depending on the pack, your teammates try to describe the word or act it out. Always a blas particularly in larger groups. Also see Time’s Up, Word Party and Reverse Charades on iOS for simular antics.


Ticket To Ride

One of my favorite board games, works decent for pass and play but is excellent over bluetooth with multiple devices.

iPad: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/ticket-to-ride/id432504470?mt=8

iPhone: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/ticket-to-ride-pocket/id471857988?mt=8


Excellent on the iPad since the game has no hidden information. Lay the ipad down on the table and start playing.


Score Keeper XL

A great simple free scorekeeper for when you don’t have a pen and paper handy.


Scoring Track Plus

A new clever little score track app that I end up using more than Score Keeper XL. There is no setup. Just pick a color and go.


Games You Already Own

Don’t forget  6 or more dice and a standard deck of plastic cards. There are tons of great games with standard components.


Puzzling game that you can play anywhere, anytime with just loose change. Each player takes a matching set of coins (typically 3 pennies, 2 nickels, and a dime). On a players turn, they must play a coin into the middle and may take back as many coins as they wish as long as the total value of the coins is less than the value of the coin played. Once one player is out of coins, whoever has the most total value of coins in front of them wins. That’s it. Very simple, accessible, durable and addictive. We often play a set number of rounds adding your scores together for each round.


Dice Games

There are several great dice games played with standard dice. Some of my favorites include: Dudo, Crag,  Indian Chief, Intelligence, Ten Thousand, Liar Dice, Poker Dice, and Dice Hold’em.


Card Games

There are also tons of traditional card games that are great games. In addition to the standard Rummy, Poker, Hearts and Spades I really like Big Two and Oh Hell!



That’s a lot of games. If I had to pick my top 6 travel games, I would probably go with Archeology, Love Letter, Pass the Pigs, Werewolf, Travel Carcassonne and Zombie Dice (with the slightly more cumbersome Condottiere, Heartland Hauling, and Citadels not far behind).