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travel learnings part one

I have neverr been much of a traveller but I like smooth rides. Stuff only runs smooth though if you are prepared and plan a little ahead. It will be unlikely to find out everything, but there will be enough surprises anyways.

So here are some random notes from the past couple trips. Some of these may make you go "duh", just skip those :)

before booking and general smartness: reduce everything and back up for desaster

  • if you're visiting an event, book your hotel/airbnb near either the event or the afterparty location. If the event organisers are smart, those two are nearby anyways.

  • an hour in the bus from the farther-away airport is much more comfotable than an hour in the security of the crowded nearer-by airport.

  • decide what to gear to bring. Do you really need your laptop, ipad, kindle and smartphone? It depends, so make sure you don't have to carry around (and keep an eye on!) thousands of dollars of equipment.

  • what about insurances for the gear?

  • what about your own health insurance? Is that valid where you're going?

  • check for data roaming options with your cell provider. Within Europe this has actually come down from "fuck you" to just "rip off". Still not for surfing around, but okay for Google maps, email and connection lookup.

  • get one of those nerdy external battery packs for your phone. And charge it. While you're at it, get a spare loading cable. You depend much more on that phone than you think.

  • check if you need a DC converter or if the power sockets are compatible.

  • if you couchsurf, bring something small as a gift. Doesn't need to be expensive or rare, will still be appreciated. If you forget that, keep an eye open for what your host likes, get some of that and leave it at departure.

  • got your credit card? Got the pin of that card? Sure it's the right pin? What about your limit?

  • get 100 €/$ in local cash. This is not for spending but only for emergencies. Do not touch it if you wouldn't call the situation an emergency! Keep it seperated from your wallet and your luggage (in belt, shoes, etc). This might save your ass when something goes really wrong. Bonus track: get that cash with your credit card so you know that pin is right.

  • do you need to bring sheets? Towels? A pillow? A sleeping bag? Flip-flops?

  • if you're flying, think of all the insane security nonsense. Google will help you with this.

paper will prevail

  • make a plain text file which will contain All The Info. Paste all following stuff in there. Set up Dropbox synching and an app to edit the file on the go.

  • get info about local public transport and the website to look up connections. Save that url to your home screen and the txt file. Quick check for anouncements of service disturbance due to citywide events or construction work. Since public stuff is planned decades ahead, you might find out looking up a connection for the actual date and time you will need it.

  • download pdf of subway/bus/train system.

  • what is the number to call a cab?

  • locations: postal, web and email adresses as well as phone numbers for each location. Also: nearby public transport stations and the lines which cross them. locations means all event locations as well as hotel/airbnb info for all travel party members and places you plan to visit. Look up example connection routes to get a feel of how much time to plan (might affect times of getting up in the morning ;)

  • travel mates: where are they staying? same room? same hotel? Same district? Got email, cell number, twitter handle? Their actual full name? Will their cell be online all times? Or at all?

  • print: the txt-file, travel tickets, event tickets, subway plans, etc. Print two sets for yourself: one goes in your pants' back pocket, a second as spare in your bag. Print one set for each of your travel mates and also email them the txt-file. Fold like this:

departure: buffer time is get-in-the-mood time

Get early to the airport/train station/bus. Have a coffee. Bring something to read about the city and/or event you're going to. Get in the mood, put your brain on the couch. Maybe do an inbox zero. Cancel some random meetings for the week after the trip. Look at some naked genitalia of your predfered sex. You know. Whatever makes you feel more relaxed.


  • text your boyfriend you arrived safely. Do that after checkin too and every night before sleeping. She needs to know you're safe.

  • take a picture of the city to use for postcards later.

stay: you're not home so don't behave like it

  • never leave the house without a clear plan where to go an how exactly that will happen. That includes transport connections. If your roaming is not working on the way for whatever reason, you're fucked. Paper doesn't need batteries or 3G. And the wifi at home is probably faster than the cell data. Make sure your txt-file is up to date and synced to the phone.

  • bring something local for your girlfriend.

  • send some postcards from your bed with a postcard app. Your grandma will have something to show her neighbors and you're not calling your mom often enough anyways. This doesen't even involve buying cards and stamps, handwriting, or looking for a postbox anymore. I <3 you, internet.

departure: breakfast time is buffer time

  • leave a thank you note. Yes, you can even do that in a hotel, not just when couchsurfing. The staff doesn't get that very often, you can make somebodies day here. Takes one minute.

  • Double-check you don't take any keys home which don't belong to you!

  • Have you borrowed anything?

  • if you meetup for breakfast or anything, do that by-foot-near the departure location, not near your unterkunft. If something goes wrong on the way there, you might have a shorter breakfast, but you will catch your train/flight/bus.

Have a good trip!