~ Travel tips for non-travellers ~

Al_painting Let me start by saying I have never owned a backpack. Nor will i ever use this non-existing backpack to travel across Asia. It's just never going to happen, as much as i like the romance of the idea. But the reality is a) i like my creature comforts and b) i can only sleep well in my own bed (and sometimes that doesn't even work). To try to sleep in tents and on ten-hour train rides would be a one-way ticket to misery. But this most recent trip has taught me a few tricks, so i thought i'd
share them in case, like me, you

Al_apples * Your best friend is your MP3 player. It offers protection against the "public" when travelling; it provides an instant mood-changer when feeling out of sorts in a new country; it's a clock; add speakers and it's an instant party; it will help you merrily pass the time when waiting for delayed planes, trains and automobiles.

* Maybe i'm just getting old, but my life was saved every day by wearing these as i walked around town and these as i tried to sleep at night.

* Burning your favourite incense will make any hotel room feel like home.

* It's better, and cheaper, to purchase a SIM card from a local mobile phone shop. I didn't do this and almost missed my flight home because I couldn't dial out from my phone. *lesson learned*

* Taking your hairdryer is not only pointless (the different voltage will render the hairdryer virtually useless) it's also heavy. Use the hairdryer in your hotel/borrow a friend's, or take advantage of favourable exchange rate and buy a small one while you're there.
Al_bottles * Remember to take plug adaptors with you. I learned this one when i stupidly forgot to take any with me to Squam, despite numerous opportunities to buy them at Heathrow. To San Francisco? I took THREE.

* When facing an 8-hour+ time difference, invest in a hotel for the first two nights and spend the first day on your own. You won't be much fun while jetlagged and other people will irritate you, so best to keep to yourself for your own and other's safety. I walked (slowly) to the Marina and took in huge lungfuls of healing ocean air.

* On your second night in the hotel, if you complain about the noisy people in the room next door you may get upgraded to a new room that is three-times bigger at no extra cost. *result!*

* Never order poached eggs from room service – invariably they will be underdone (read: raw) and you'll still have to pay $40 for a crappy breakfast and then head out to buy a sandwich in Starcrack (which you should have done in the first place had you not been so lazy).
Al_mannequin * Never EVER consume anything from the mini bar.

* Pack less than you think you'll need (apart from underwear – allow one pair of knickers per day, with an extra pair for luck). I ended up leaving half my clothes at Alex's house when i went to San Diego to visit Denise; I just didn't need all that extra weight and came home with half a suitcase of unworn clothes – pointless and heavy to carry.

* If you find yourself in a flea market while on holiday, resist the urge to buy that gorgeous vintage globe you find – you will spend the rest of the trip pondering how to get it home.

* Estimate at least two packs of Polaroids per day.

* Remember to keep your camera batteries charged and ready to go. So you don't end up walking along Valencia Street on your last day with a million sights you want to capture and a dead camera in your bag. *sigh*

13 responses
  1. kristen

    i love that, travel for a non-traveller! i’m so that girl, i love going places but i’m not very good at the travel part.
    and i just grabbed my i-Pod to take into the city today, i always forget mine and i always want music for the exact reasons you’ve described here. xo

  2. charlane

    I would add, have easy slip on shoes for the airport security and I always encourage people to eat locally instead of chain restaurants.

  3. Amy - No.15

    I found bringing your own soaps, shampoos, and wash clothes are very helpful too. After a long flight, there is nothing worse than finding you are missing one of these in your hotel room. Oh and if buying a 3 foot brass duck garden ornament, it is best to have it shipped home from London – oh, the embarrassment at the airport!

  4. Karen

    These are some great tips!

  5. Eileen

    Genius suggestions!!! I am so the want to travel but don’t succeed in that reality well gal- thanks for the advice!!!

  6. Amisha

    Fine tips and I did chuckle.
    And I confess, I think of backpacking as a great adventure but really don’t want to rough it out. Rough it=stress, which is not vacation. And I have traveled for work (consequently I have seen the Houdini museum in Appleton, Wisconsin) and it’s not the same as traveling on vacation.

  7. lunarmusings

    I so relate to this. When I spent two months in India, my two days in, I shipped my hairdryer back home along with 3 outfits that were weighing me down. And my iPod literally SAVED my life. I wouldn’t have survived the overstimulation of India, had I not had my iPod to sink into and lend a peaceful soundtrack to the chaos around me.

  8. Jen Jafarzadeh

    I love your tips. Love. I am a chronic overpacker no matter whether I’m going to Maine for a weekend or going out of the country for 10 days. Trying to break myself of that habit. Your Polaroids are fantastic. Makes me wish I had some film.

  9. alex*

    I love that you were in my city!!
    (and excellent tips….)

  10. flowing moments

    thanks for the great tips … i always travel with my encens, it’s like marking my territory. i like the photo with the bust, it really makes me smile and to start with i thought it was taken on the runway at the airport (with all the things in the background that i thought were stairs to go up planes … maybe it’s me who is suffering jetlag !

  11. beth

    perfect tips….the too many pieces of clothing get me every time though….
    and I have decided for me, that a back pack comes in handy..as I like to have my hands free :)

  12. Brooke

    I love thinking about travel! :) I try to make my travels special by bringing a small bottle of (lavender) Dr. Bronner’s for washing clothes & always bringing amazing favorite jewelry and scarves. And of course, for souvenirs, something small like a ring or (ahem) a scarf (can you see a cycle here?) to gloat over and enjoy then and later through the years. And a paperback in English cause they can be really expesive in foreign countries and are always swappable *provided* one has one to swap!

  13. Susannah

    oh yes, paperbacks are essential, and even though i was going to an english-speaking country i still took 3 books with me… and bought 13 more while out there.
    its an addiction!

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