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My typical travel prep

Everyone has different ways of managing their travels, and so do I. I’d imagine a number of things I do are not too different from everyone else but if you are curious anyway, read on.

1. Hand luggage only (if possible): since I usually do short haul trips over a few days, I try not to pack more than what can be fit into hand luggage only. Not only that, if I can’t lift the bag over my head to fit into the overhead bin on the plane, then I’ve carried too much.

2. Electronic documentation: I have been quite good at scanning pages of travel documentations, including passport copy as well as identifications, credit/debit cards etc, and store them somewhere secure where I can retrieve them easily, as long as I have internet connection. I do normally carry my laptop when I travel, but I don’t save the scanned copies on it. The last thing I want is to lose my laptop and with it, various identification items. Think identity theft.

3. One travel drawer: I have that one place and one place only where I keep my passport, foreign currencies, paper or printed e-tickets, various confirmations, frequent flyer cards etc. This way, I never do last minute hunting for all necessary travel documents.

4. Ready-to-go toilettries bag: I am not a big fan of the liquid regulation, but frankly it did not affect the way I travel much. I’ve always have a bag where I store toilettries in miniatures, I just had to swap the bag for a slightly smaller one which is transparent to meet the regulation. I always refill the bag upon my return from a trip, so it’s good to go at any time, even on a very short notice. If I know I am staying in hotels which would provide personal care items, I would sometimes remove shampoo, shower gel etc from the bag so I carry less.

5. Shop around: I’ve been very very lucky that my job, up to now, have granted me a lot of freedom in choosing when I can travel, which allows me to look for best prices for flights and accommodations e.g. mid-week when tickets are at the cheapest, impromptu trip to avail of last-minute promotions. I count my blessings to have amazingly flexible bosses for most part of my working life. One who would even grant holiday time tacked the to end of working trips, so I can travel without feeling the pinch of paying for additional air tickets.

6. Open mind, different ideas: there are many reasons to change one’s mind. For one, at times, other destinations work out better budget-wise than my originally intended getaway. That’s not a problem. I can travel elsewhere first, and come back to the initial choice another time. Or, I could arrive somewhere and decide to expand the trip to include another city. Usually it’s just a matter of buying a train ticket in the morning and returning in the evening. Daytripping can be a nice break within a break. The rule is always the same – keep an open mind to other possibilities, pre-trip or during the trip itself.

7. Be selective: when I was young and new to travel, I read all sorts of must-do lists and then try to achieve the impossible of seeing them all within a very short period of time. I did manage to pull a few of them off (and yes, I was feeling really proud of myself back then) but I’ve come to realise the value of choosing those I am really interested in seeing and include them in my visit list. I also try to group the sights together so I’m not running across town to and fro, and instead need to only walk a short distance to my next point of visit within the area.

8. What’s good to eat: I love food and part of the fun of travelling is to try local cuisines and delicacies. I would always try to research on what would be considered delicious bites and keep an eye out for them. I don’t normally list down addresses though, just have some reasonable idea where the eateries may be. If I see anything else along the way, sure I’ll try them too. Good thing I usually walk a lot when I travel, otherwise I’m sure to be a few sizes bigger than I am right now!

9. Charge that battery (and the spare): camera, mobile phone, ipod. If in doubt, charge them up anyway. Case in point – I have a couple of spare batteries for my camera. I do at times wonder which is out of juice and which will get me a good couple of hundred shots. Often, I know exactly where I am with them, but the odd times that I don’t, they will all be charged up. Some people say this will kill the battery life. I’d rather that than having no juice in the cells and miss out on good photo opportunities.

10. Home-cobbled notes: it comes with the research part, usually containing relevant map(s), information on local transportation, weather condition, any cultural points. If I happen to be very busy prior to departure, then I make do with photocopies of the pages from guide books (I try not to carry guide books to make for a lighter bag) and/or printouts from the internet. Once in the city, the tourist office can usually offer free maps, brochures to attractions etc anyway. Or talk to someone, preferably locals. They usually give good tips.

Category: Tips


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