August 12, 2022

This trip went way better than any of my previous. There was only one thing I brought with me that I didn’t use – a Hawaiian print shirt that I just didn’t really want to wear outside of Hawaii – so I just carried it around the world. Other than that, everything I brought got used and fulfilled a function that made it worth the weight. I’ve never traveled with a neck pillow before but I have to admit – it made long airline flights much more comfortable and so was worth the weight. I got mine for $8 at Walmart the day before I left – in airports I routinely saw them for anywhere from $20 – $50!

The Mistakes

  1. Mistake: My universal adapter somehow broke between home and first use abroad.  Solution: Curbed usage and use small portable power supply to top up (shortterm) Longer Term: Buy a new adaptor
  2. Mistake I brought the wrong ATM card for withdrawing cash – which was my primary means of getting cash in countries. Solution: Use one of the credit cards I brought at ATMs by activating PIN and paying cash fees. Minimize cash usage.
  3. Mistake: My hotel is located far from where I thought it was going to be located (Richmond, not Docklands). Solution: Explore this unexpected area.
  4. Mistake: I didn’t account for it being winter in Melbourne. My one bag packing didn’t work on account of this. Solution: I brought a light jacket and a hat, that works. I can buy other clothes if necessary.
  5. Mistake: You can’t see the Aurora Borealis when there is 24 hours of daylight in Iceland. Solution: See other things.
  6. Mistake: Booking budget flights with third party vendors puts you on the top of the list when flights get changed or cancelled. Solution: Patience and watching email carefully.
  7. Mistake: I relied on Elysium NFT for the booking in NYC at a point when I had my child with me and some meetups with friends planned. Given that this was an unproven booking mechanism that I had not previously used, I really should have booked that particular stay when I was traveling solo or didn’t have plans that might get disrupted. Solution: We overcame it but it ended up being expensive and inconvenient and while I tried to keep my attitude positive to preserve the positive family experience – in truth, it bummed me out and caused me quite a lot of stress at the end point of our trip when I thought we were done with all the fuckups.
  8. Mistake: The way that Google Calendar works can cause confusion with booking hotel stays – make sure that stays are made all on the same calendar day style, because booking for the 5th in North America is not the same day as booking for the 5th in Japan or Australia. Also, Google Calendar shows the day you check in until the day you check out, so on those check out days, you will have what looks like two hotel stays booked – but actually you are checking out of one and into another. I actually screwed up our last night stay by being tired and stressed (thanks Elysium Club NFT) and thinking I had double booked and then moving the last night’s stay to a different day. Stupid mistake but thankfully IHG is a seriously professional outfit and really helped to fix the issue at no cost.
  9. Mistake: Hotels and airlines make mistakes or you can make mistakes while booking. Solution: Make sure to have a credit card, cash, and the ability to adapt to changing conditions
  10. Mistake: Booking middle seats on airlines – sometimes you just get them. Solution: Don’t be afraid to wake up the ones on the aisle when you need to get up, that’s the price they pay for getting the aisle seat.

The Hacks

  1. Bringing two reusable straws with me was a great idea. I also brought chopsticks which came in handy more than once. Lightweight and don’t take up a lot of space.
  2. Large ziplock freezer bags. When i was solo bagging it, I had my clothes in these and used the reusable straws to suck out the air and compress them. Worked really well and allowed me to bring all the clothes I needed in one backpack for a month or more. Also, as I used the clothes I consolidated and used the bags to hold my dirty clothes which kept my bag and gear from smelling like a gym locker.
  3. Easy dry underwear and socks – I brought five pairs of each and utilized hotel rooms to wash both in the sink, roll them in towels and semi dry them and in a few cases when there wasn’t time to air dry, I used the blow dryer to expedite it. Pants and shorts could be worn 3-5 days before washing – I had two pair of pants and two pair of shorts plus swim trunks/board shorts that also worked if necessary.. Shirts presented the biggest problem because I like to walk a lot, was in warm climates, and they are harder to hotel wash – I brought five but ended up buying several more – which was cool because they were great functional souvenirs.
  4. I ALWAYS shave and dress reasonably nice when I will have to go through customs, enter a new country, take a flight, or go through security. I didn’t used to and I used to get extra attention and screening almost every time. On this trip, I got flagged one time and the agent looked at me, asked what was in my bag, and then handed it to me and said have a nice trip.
  5. Having a nice bag that has accessible pockets (but secure) to keep your electronics and travel documents in is essential.
  6. Nice slip on/slip off shoes make airport security much easier. Don’t wear a belt on security line days and put your watch and bling in your bag.
  7. A reusable water bottle makes airports so much more enjoyable. Why should you pay $4-$6 for a bottle of water or be at the mercy of the stewardess. Just have it empty when you go through security and then fill it up.
  8. If you have things that you can’t take through security – check a bag but be sure to keep at least one change of clothes and your toothbrush in your carry on.
  9. I used the same hotel rewards card through this entire trip – by the time the trip was almost done, I’d earned enough points to book a couple more nights, just in case things went wrong. I’m already prepared for the next trip!
  10. This is almost overused at this point, but bringing a small gift for the head flight attendant on a flight, presenting it as you board the plane, and saying something nice about how hard the job is will get you far better attention than being a pain in the ass. I didn’t do this on this trip, but it’s never a bad idea. By the same token, being kind to the front desk and cleaning staff at hotels pays huge dividends – not least of which is you might make a friend.
  11. Talk and be open to making friends as you ride transport or wait in lines. I made a whole bunch of friends on this trip that made it a much better trip than if I had just spent time frowning in lines or staring at my phone – in the words of one of my new friends Siobhan “If frowning made this line move faster, I’d be doing it, but it doesn’t so…”

 

 

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