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
* 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.
* 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.
* 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).
* 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*