Saturday, 8 December 2012

Travellin' Along.....

After my last post about minimalistic packing, I recalled other times when I 've travelled with the equivalent of a whole wardrobe in an envelope (so to speak.)

When Gorgeous Husband and I went to Dublin, and when we went to Porto, in Portugal, I took all my gear in this briefcase sized bag.  It worked OK too, although through some miracle, I was able to pack in a new pair of boots that I'd bought in Portugal.  One advantage of this type of packing, of course, is that it all goes in the overhead storage in the airplane.  No waiting for your luggage, or it getting lost.

This is my briefcase-sized bag.  Dimensions are 18 inches wide, 12 inches high and 6.5 inches deep. (Metric: 45cm x 30cm x 17cm.)  I packed an empty tote bag flat to use as a handbag once we'd arrived.

Thinking about travelling made me realize that there are other tips to making your voyage pleasant, and not all of them include what to wear.

For instance, one of the best things to take along on any trip is a smile.  Bear in mind that the more friendly and approachable you appear to be, the smoother the whole journey.  Especially where people are serving you in the capacity of their job. 

Should a misunderstanding arise, consider that it could be you who is at fault.  Maybe you misunderstood what was said.  Maybe they misunderstood you. Maybe you unwittingly committed a social faux-pas.  Be willing to be the first to say, "excuse me" (or the equivalent of it.)

Don't expect that everything will be just as it is at home.  Perhaps the transportation will be late or different than you expect.  Perhaps people will talk slower than you are used to, or faster.  Maybe they have a different concept of what is and isn't rude.  Just, to the best of your ability, go with the flow.  The world does not revolve around your plans.

If the weather is ghastly, it is the same weather for everyone.  No one orders the weather around.  It does what it wants, and it is what it is.  If necessary, change your plans-- do something indoors, find some other amusements, shrug under your umbrella like everyone else.  Accept what is. It may lead you to something or someone totally unexpected.

Keep yourself as safe as possible.  Don't put all your valuables in one bag and then casually loop it over the back of your chair.  Don't wear clothes that advertise you have too much money and would like someone to help you get rid of some of it.  Be aware of your surroundings at all times and if your gut tells you that something isn't quite right, LISTEN to it.

As a general rule, knapsacks should have a sign on them, saying, "help yourself.  I can't see what you are doing."

If the fire alarm goes off in your building, hit for the stairs.  Don't say, "oh, it's probably a false alarm.  Those things are always going off."  This could be one of those times when it is not such a good idea to "wait and see."

Keep your passport close to you at all times.  I keep mine in my body pouch, and basically other than bathing, it stays with me.  It wouldn't hurt to memorize your passport number either.

It isn't really a stupid idea to have some portable snacks with you.  Sometimes when you're hungry and just can't find anyplace suitable to eat, it's great to have.  Or if you are relying on someone else serving you food (such as if you are on a coach trip, or flight) the food might not come as fast as what your stomach thinks is reasonable.  Look after yourself to the best of your ability, and be happy if things work out well when others are doing the catering.

Take the smallest possible sizes of all the things you consider essential.  Surprisingly, band-aids, safety pins, and a nail file come in useful, and are not much fun to go looking for in a strange location.

Besides your camera, if you are so inclined, one of the best things to pack for a trip is a small journal for recording your impressions.  Photos are great, but writing down things like a snippet of overheard conversation, peculiar signs, the smell of something delicious or repugnant, the cost of drinks/meals.. are things too small and insignificant for photos.  Whatever captures your attention as something out of your ordinary experience makes for an interesting read.  These journals can bring back memories so vividly that when you read them at a later date, you are transported back to where you were and what you saw.  For instance, when we were in Paris one night, we saw this scene from the window of the restaurant where we had our meal.:

 "The traffic outside the window was quite entertaining, as it was the junction of about 5 different roads, and the traffic all seemed to funnel through and go its various directions at high speeds and without the aid of road markings. Not only was it every car for itself, there were also lots of flying motorcycles, scooters, buses, bicycles, and even some boys on rollerskates.  In the midst of this hub-bub, a little old lady decided she would cross.  Not in the crosswalk, as that was not the most direct route.  She purposefully pulled her coat closer together, buttoned up, and wove her way past the cars, between two buses and ended up on the other side.  It was like watching a pensioner take on gladiators." 

I can still see the scene in my mind.  How it was wet and cold and dark, the car headlights streaming in the rain.  It was 2001.  Journals really are great.  In mine, I put in whatever strikes my fancy, from the colour of wallpaper in the hotel room, to jokes we've shared with strangers to outrageous prices of things.

This are just some of the things I picked up on my travels that have made it more pleasant for the two of us. How do other people travel?  Do you have any tips that you'd like to pass on?


Val Sparkle said...

My main thing (besides safety) is to wear comfortable clothes and shoes - you may be wearing them for a long time and in a lot of different places. You may even want some spare underwear to feel fresher after 9 hours on a plane, when you still have a couple of hours of driving to do!

And yes, be polite - it will usually be reciprocated.

And I love your case!

The Style Crone said...

I can tell that you're a seasoned traveler as you have the details down. I'll have to refer back to this post before my next adventure. And I admire your writing!

Vix said...

What a great piece of writing. I'm a fan of the travel journal, too. Certainly helps you do something worthy of writing about every day as well as being a great way to store memories.
I'm a light packer but can't get once a day suncream in India so due to the airline rules have to stow it away in the hold! x

Rachel M said...

A very enjoyable read! I usually pack as many pairs of leggings as is reasonable & a few pairs of cosy warm socks as I cant stand having cold feet!..& a mini box of plasters (band aids) too. I really like the idea of taking a small journal! This would be good for quick sketches too. I'm going to try this on my next trip. Great tips! Thanks Rosemary.

Jean at said...

I'm going to bookmark this post and show it to Joey the next time we travel. it's full of wonderful reminders and creates the right mind-set. Hope you've had a glorious holiday season and are firmly on the path to an even better New Year!!