As part of my day job, I travel a bit. Some is domestic, some is international. I’ve been doing it a while now, and I reckon I’ve got a pretty good handle on things. Here are my little lists of Do’s and Don’ts.
- Travel LIGHT. Pack your bags, then take out about half.
- Cut out all your liquids and gels. Really. You can get most of them at your destination very easily.
- Try to select your hotel close to places or things you might need, like train stations, and or a laundrette. Trust me. An hour or so at your standard fluff ‘n fold is worth it if it means you’re not carrying an extra suitcase.
- Wear cargo pants on the plane. Those big pockets are great for keeping phones, wallets, passports etc all on you in case you need to move quickly.
- A hoodie is also a great item. Just that little bit of coverage over your noggin can block out some sound and most of the light, making it easier to sleep. It also tells the flight attendants you’re not to be disturbed.
- Keep your shoes on at all times. I travel in Converse Chuck Taylor All Stars. They’re soft enough to sleep in, yet robust enough to wear anywhere. And, I don’t have to take them off at airport security. Even better, on long-haul flights, sometimes you need to use the bathroom in a hurry. That’s not the kind of floor you want to stand on in socks or bare feet.
- When it comes to security, C’MON, PEOPLE! We all know the routine by now. Don’t act so surprised; you’re not fooling anyone. Get that laptop out. And the phone. And the wallet. Take off that watch and those bangles (Why the fuck are you wearing all that shit on a plane anyway?), and your belt. THEN go through security in a nice, orderly and speedy manner without holding up the folk behind you who have already done all the things you were supposed to do in the first place.
- On the plane, avoid booze, and eat light. Hours of just sitting there means you’re not burning off alcohol or calories. You’ll feel better on the ground.
- If you wear glasses, instead of packing your best pair, which might get busted on your flight, try to pack some cheap generic magnifiers you can get just about anywhere.
- Pack a torch (flashlight). In every hotel, the damned light switches are all over the joint, so a torch on your bedside table is very handy. Same goes for on the plane. If you drop something… Who am I kidding? When you drop something, or when you’re trying to find that damned laptop power outlet, a torch is bloody useful.
- Pack only one or two international adaptors, but in your checked bag, pack a power board for all your devices.
- If you have a smartphone, set your hotel location as home in whichever gps or map app you use.
- Pack a pocket knife in your checked luggage. Even better, put one of these babies on your keyring in your carry-on. I’ve only ever had it examined once, and that was by a German security agent who then nodded in approval and gave it back to me!
- On the plane, don’t keep your seat reclined while the poor bastard behind you is trying to eat. Unless you’re flying in business or first, in which case do whatever the hell you want.
- Don’t be a loud or annoying fucking chatterbox. Keep your voice down and let your fellow passengers be.
- Don’t expect the country you’re visiting to conform to your customs at home. Watch out for bike lanes on footpaths (sidewalks), look the other way when crossing the street, and for god’s sake, never EVER drive slow in the fast lane.
- Don’t be the guy in the hotel breakfast room that everyone regrets sitting near. Chew with your mouth shut. Also, your breakfast is almost certainly not a bowl of noodles. DON’T FUCKING SLURP YOUR FOOD!!!
- In your hotel room, don’t leave your valuables lying about. Either take them with you, or use the safe.
- Do the math. Hiring a car for a week might be easy, but if you’re travelling for work, the cost of a few taxi fares might be a lot cheaper than car rental.
- If you must hire a car, don’t skimp on the insurance, even if you have great travel insurance. If you can, get full insurance, just in case the folk signing the car back in are more attentive than those signing it out.
- Don’t be picky when it comes to food. The locals are surviving quite well, wouldn’t you say? Whatever they’re eating isn’t killing them. If the menu isn’t in English, just point at something. Remember: It’s. On. A. Menu. People pay to eat it. It can’t be that bad, and you might just discover something new and nice.
- Don’t engage in conversation with pan-handlers. They often work in teams. One may distract you while another might lift your wallet or relieve you of your suitcase. A firm “No!” is all you need at the very most. Simply ignoring them completely is the best.
- When it comes to personal security, don’t for the love of God, walk through a busy train station with your headphones blaring while you’re hauling your luggage. Being able to hear someone walking too close behind you can also prevent your stuff being stolen.
There. That’s all I’ve really got, but it might help make your next trip a little easier. Cheers!