Travel Tips I Use

During the Tokyo trip I attended to what I was doing on autopilot which made travel easier. Here are the ones I haven’t seen on too many tip lists.

== Bring

Pack light, BUT compare the weight and bulk of carrying something to your subsequent quality of travel life if you needed it now and couldn’t get it for hours or days.

Hat. A cooler head means a cooler body, so less sweating and hydrating. Besides, skin cancer can be deadly.

Multi plug socket on a six foot cord. Six feet because sometimes the only plug is below and behind a bed or located high enough on a wall that the weight or more than one cord pulls the converter out of the socket. Multi plug because then the person already using the wall socket won’t mind sharing the power.

Footwear for poor countries: Tevas and lug soled walkers. Tevas for rain and toe protection on uneven pavement. Lugs for off pavement. Two pairs because the only thing that relieves tired feet better than changing footwear is bare feet and not walking.

== Bring How

Packing cubes for everything but clothes. Different sizes and colors for easy locating. Returning items to their proper cube immediately after use means being able to find it when you next want it. Between trips, store items in the cubes.

A small, gaudy colored stuff sack. When packing to leave lodging, anything that can’t be placed in its proper cube because the cube is already packed, goes in the gaudy bag. Next time I can’t find something in its proper cube, I know from where to retrieve it.

Ziploc Big Bags, Size L (3 gallon, 15″ x 15″) for clothes. Can compress if needed. Main advantage is when removed from backpack/suitcase and placed aside, all the small stuff remaining in the luggage is easily seen and located.

Benefits of a larger pack than needed: more comfortable suspension, makes packing and living out of a pack easier, can carry a lightly loaded day pack inside instead of wearing it as a front pack and encourages purchases while traveling. That last one is a feature, not a benefit.

Pack rain gear on top.

If checking luggage, carryon has change of underwear, socks, a shirt, minimal personal kit (T brush, paste, razor and shaving oil). Twice in 40 years my checked luggage went missing for about 24 hours. Getting cleaned up and into mostly clean clothes was a HUGE help in attitude adjustment.

Remove danglies from checked bags. The conveyor belt joints grab these, sucking them in until something breaks. Unless Tony Stark designed your luggage, it will break before the conveyor belt.

== Electronics

No SIM? Download offline Google Translate and Google Maps.

== Lodging

Know where and when not having reservations means no place to sleep, or no place in a desirable location, or no place in your price range.

Know which sites allow fee-free reservations, but also know how late you can cancel without getting charged for the first night. Weight the cost of losing a reservation deposit vs peace of mind or quality of travel life.

== General

After filling day pack for a long day out, empty the pack, lay it out and look again. If anything is missing, its absence will jump out at you.

Fatigue plus new money means making mistakes with bank notes. Carry big bills differently.

Know which types of businesses and public places in the country have toilets. Don’t pass an opportunity to pee.

When checking out, make the last room check after putting your stuff in the doorway or hall. That way, anything of yours will POP into view in an otherwise empty room.

Discount most travel writing by at least 50% because: old or undated, it was cut and pasted by an author who’s never been, or it’s about a cultural trend that’s over.

Verify you’re on the correct train by knowing the first station in both the desired direction and the wrong direction. Also know the station before your destination.

Finally, travel can be trying so bring a luxury or two to counter that. One of my most memorable travel experiences was an overnight wilderness backpack to a mountain top reached by a trail who’s length, altitude and altitude gain deterred all but the most fit. My girlfriend and I did it with the smallest and lightest combined pile of gear either of us had ever carried. The climb was as brutal as its reputation. The fatigue turned us into zombies. After an uncooked dinner, my GF pulled out a 187ml bottle of cheap champagne, thinking it would be a surprise. I surprised her with two plastic champagne glasses. We laughed until the high altitude made breathing a non-negotiable priority, then continued laughing.

2 Responses to Travel Tips I Use

  1. All good stuff, Bill (see? Better here on your blog) – my favorite is: “Carry big bills differently.” So true, even here in Ecuador which happens to (handily) use U.S. dollars as their official currency.

    Though I rarely carry anything larger than a $20 (many of the local vendors are unable to make change even for that), best to fold the bigger denominations differently so as to differentiate them from $1s and $5s.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: