THE WEALTH OF PRACTICAL KNOWLEDGE represented by YouTube is kinda mind blowing. Search “DIY videos” and you get hundreds of thousands of results.
Of course, a good chunk of that includes potentially life-threatening misinformation and several villages’ worth of very eccentric video “hosts.” Which made researching this piece a bit frustrating…but also pretty funny.
1. Turn a soda bottle into a telescope.
Assuming you can find a “pocket magnifier” at a hardware or camping store, this is an incredibly simple design that seems to yield pretty decent results.
2. Amplify your acoustic guitar.
One to take on simply for the cool factor, as it’s probably not a whole lot more expensive — and definitely a whole lot easier — to go out and buy a used pickup.
This design is much more versatile, though — you can stick it to anything.
3. Turn an old ski pole into a GoPro mount.
A super easy and cheap method for creating a pole mount for your GoPro, so you can get those badass face shots next season.
4. Construct your own filming equipment.
If you’re looking for more than a simple GoPro pole mount, it’s possible to DIY all kinds of filming equipment that would run you thousands of dollars in the store.
Check out Eric Warren’s How to build your own video equipment, with guides to fabricating steadicams, vehicle mounts, dollies, jibs, and more.
5. Take your own passport photos.
The ~$20 you save on photos can buy a lot in Southeast Asia. These instructions are for Photoshop, but you could do the same with free software such as GIMP.
6. DIY Dia de Muertos.
Not just a tattoo motif for 20-somethings, sugar skulls play a significant role in Mexico’s holiday of remembrance, Dia de Los Muertos. If you’re looking for a creative and tangible way to honor your departed loved ones, consider making this unique effigy. Robyn Johnson shows how.
7. Fabricate wild new musical instruments.
Turn propane tanks, shower rods, weed-whacker strings, PVC pipe, and other random objects into workable instruments. The video above doesn’t get into details of construction (you can find that on his website), but I thought it was pretty sweet.
8. Design and bind your own travel journal.
There are tons of book-binding videos out there — I chose this one for its simplicity. You should be able to follow these instructions using items you already have around the house.
9. Create a travel guidebook.
Once you’ve got your DIY journal bound, let Matador member Noelle Tankard show you how to turn it into a one-of-a-kind travel guidebook for your next trip.
10. Mix up some homemade sunscreen.
We found a recipe for sunscreen that’s cheap to make, organic, and waterproof. Lather up.
11. Construct a turbocharger turbojet in your garage.
Not for DIY novices. This guy seems legit — apparently he’s built others since his first one here. Watch till the 8:30 mark to see the “hot start.”
12. Make dirt-cheap bicycle panniers.
Costs add up fast when you’re kitting up for a cycle tour. A pair of top-of-the-line Ortlieb rear panniers runs around $250.
The alternative — spend under $50 to construct something that’s just as waterproof and probably more durable.
13. Go homemade for your kegerator.
You can spend as much as $2,000 on a kegerator retail. Or, take an old mini-fridge, a drill, and the requisite hardware and make your own.
14. Urban garden on the 30th floor.
Not too much instruction on how to construct this hanging garden, but you can piece most of it together from watching the vid. If you’re worried about toxic leeching from the bottles, go ornamental instead of edible. Either way it looks cool.
Matador has more tips for starting your own container garden.
15. Become a travel writer.
First of all, you’ve got to commit to being a writer. You’ve got to believe that words matter. After that, begin with these 22 tips on how to become a travel writer.
16. Make a dollar-store parabolic mic.
This guy comes off as kind of ridiculous, but the mic he builds looks pretty solid. I could see this being portable enough to take on the road for your next film project.
17. Convert your van to run on used veggie oil.
Converting your vehicle to run on veggie oil is a good move economically and environmentally. And here’s what BP and Exxon don’t want you to know: it’s not hard to do.
For more, check out How to stop paying for gas and run on free vegetable oil in 8 easy steps.
18. Make wet suit repairs with dental floss.
Super clutch skill to have for surfers and divers. Find this vid over at Matador Sports.
19. Build the ultimate potato gun.
If you’re like this guy and find yourself in Appalachian Georgia for Christmas with nothing to do, you might as well make a potato gun.
It’s a good vid, with clear, step-by-step instructions for construction of the gun.
20. Build a washers pit in your backyard.
Washers is a poor man’s version of horseshoes and is played in various regions of North America. Use the video above to make your two pits, and then review the rules of the game if you’re not familiar.
21. Weave a Mayan basket.
From the harvesting of the base material (leaves of the jippi jappa plant), through the weaving and drying process, MatadorU Road Warrior Norbert Figueroa learns how the traditional Mayan basket is made in Belize.
22. Clean your laptop fan.
Dust buildup on your computer’s ventilation fan is a common cause of overheating and noisy operation. This kid shows you how easy it is to clean the component using only a screwdriver and a can of compressed air.
23. Go solar when showering on the road.
A worthwhile project if you’re spending large amounts of time in shitty hostels without hot water, or you don’t trust the ‘widowmaker’ electric systems. This is a two-part instructional video.
24. Practice slow photography with a pinhole camera.
Scope the net for the many methods of constructing a pinhole camera, and then check out Photo essay: Slow photography in New Zealand for some inspiration.
From the photographer, Glimpse Correspondent Chris Mackie:
These photographs were made to reflect the value that I have found in the precious resource of time. They counteract our distinctly postmodern ability to capture and share images instantaneously, drawing out the image-making process as much as possible to enhance my awareness of the places that I have been. I wanted to avoid the ease of holding something at arms length and pushing a button: I wanted to sit still, to squint into a too-small viewfinder. I wanted to fiddle and twist and to stick things together with duct tape. I wanted to make it as hard and as slow as possible.
25. Make a simple compost bin out of a trash can.
Since my wife and I started composting, we’ve cut our trash output by more than 50% and have tons of free compost for the garden. This is the method we followed.
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Hal Amen is a managing editor at Matador. His personal travel blog is WayWorded.
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