Kashgar's Travelling Tips for the Compleat Traveler
Added over 8 years ago
On a long journey even a straw weighs heavy." - Spanish proverb
This is not designed to be the last word on traveling, just a few pointers that I've discovered are absolutely fundamental to the art of traveling well. If you need a really extensive travel tip site or want a checklist to download, I recommend you visit www.onebag.com or www.travelite.org. I also suggest you read a rather fabulous book called The Adventurer's Handbook by Mick Confrey - it will certainly get you in the mood for adventurous travel if nothing else. I plan to add to this list as time goes on and am happy to incorporate suggestions, so send them in to me by all means at firstname.lastname@example.org
The Ten Qualities Needed By a Traveler (Freya Stark):
- A temper as serene at the end of the day as at the beginning
- The capacity to accept other people's standards
- Rapid judgement of character
- A love of nature including human nature
- The capacity to disassociate oneself from bodily sensations
- A knowledge of local history and language
- A leisurely and uncensorious mind
- A tolerable constitution
- The ability to eat and sleep at any moment
- A ready quickness in repartee
- Learn how to retrieve your emails when traveling. No, you don’t have to register for a travelling Hotmail or Yahoo account. Retrieve your emails from your own account anywhere in the world by using an email retrieval site. One of the best I’ve ever found is www.mail2web.com, a free, fast and secure and anonymous web-based email retrieval application that doesn’t require registration, just your email address and your password. However, be aware that this service cannot access your personal email address book, so you will need to have addresses recorded elsewhere or memorised if you want to send off-the-cuff emails to your friends.
- Travel with a fan. This may sound strange but it is the single best piece of advice I can give another traveler, particularly a woman. Take one with you whether journeying alone or in company. A fan becomes an incredibly useful extension of your arm, lengthening your reach and widening your personal body space. It can provide privacy when you want to shield your face or other parts of your body from stares and immediately establishes a barrier between you and whoever may be hassling or bothering you. It can be deployed as shield to protect you or wielded as a weapon in the case of attack (think mad dogs or monkeys, and yes, those ARE the sort of trips we go on). It will help keep flies and mosquitoes off you and shield you from the glare of a merciless sun. You can laugh, burp or pull faces behind it without attracting attention. Fart, and the evidence is quickly wafted away. The only thing it can’t do is carry your bags for you. If I had to choose between traveling with my fan or my husband, well, you get the general idea…
- Don’t pack too many pairs of shoes. Shoes are the worst items to load up on, given their size, shape and general uselessness. Do you really need a pair of evening pumps or can your daytime black sandals double as after-dark wear? I’ve learnt to travel with one pair of sneakers and one pair of sandals (and a well-pedicured set of toenails of course), and my husband with a pair of sneakers that can be worn in the evening and a pair of smart black slides. Remember, you can always buy more shoes! If you must travel with a third pair, follow the rule of wearing your heaviest or bulkiest whilst in transit. And remember, when packing your purchases home, the space inside your shoes can be used to protect small fragile purchases or items that get easily lost.
- Travel with earplugs. A lot of people don’t like using them, but they can mean the difference between a good trip and a terminally sleep-deprived one. Busy streets, donkeys and dogs, exuberant hotel guests, noisy fellow travelers – all of these nuisances disappear when you have a good pair of foam earplugs on hand. Couple them with an eye mask and you will be able to sleep just about anywhere, anytime. You don’t even have to pack your own – just take the set provided by the airline.
- Carry a small flashlight. Whether you’re trying to view treasures inside the dingy cabinets of the Cairo Museum or dealing with a citywide power failure in the wilds of the Philippines, a small flashlight can come in very handy. Maglite make some of the best, down to key chain size. Can also double as a defensive weapon.
- The first night away. No matter how disorganised you are or how spontaneous you feel you ought to be when traveling, book the first night’s accommodation in a city or country in advance from home. This is a godsend no matter what time of day you arrive but you will especially appreciate the forward planning if you are arriving late at night. From this home base you can decide whether you really are in the right part of the city and if the hotel you chose represents reasonable value. If not, you can set forth sans luggage and in comfort to inspect other hotels once you’ve checked in. Best deal only available on the net? See what the rack rate is at the front desk, then make your booking from the nearest internet café.
- Use sacks and pouches for everything. You don’t have to buy expensive, designed zip lock style pouches either, just save the plastic or cotton pouches that so many products come in these days. I use cotton sacks for separating my clean and dirty underwear/laundry and plastic zip lock envelopes for everything else, including any paperwork or stationary I might be carrying. I also have a dinky velvet drawstring pouch with lots of little pockets to keep my jewellery safe and free from scratches. Want to buy one? Just click here!
- Style v’s practicality at the carousel. These days everyone travels with a black bag. What to do? Tie a brightly coloured ribbon or string around the handle of your bag, one that can be seen from the other end of the baggage carousel. My choice is an extra-wide lime green shoe lace – it doubles as a useful tie in all sorts of situations.
- Follow general rules regarding safety such as not looking too affluent, and don't carry large sums of cash - or if you must, draw from a small pile of low denomination coins and notes in your pocket, well away from your main stash. Don't be out too late after dark (this goes for both city and rural areas) and always tell people where you are going and when you expect to be back. Don’t give strangers details about your hotel and do not give out your room number to anyone. You can always be contacted via the front desk.
- For ladies who colour their hair. I know I do – in fact, I have so much grey and my hair grows so quickly, I have to touch up my roots every two and a half weeks. There was a time when I actually carried my own hair colour tubes and peroxide and made my poor husband Ian act the role of hairdresser in our hotel room. This always involved lots of grumps, mess and badly stained hotel bath towels. And what have I discovered from this? That no matter where you go in the world, the poorest of one-horse towns, the most miserable of grass-hut villages…there will always be a “beauty salon” and they will always have L’Oreal Marjerial colour available in all the shades you could desire. Really. I’ve tested this theory from the depths of Ethiopia to the highlands of the Philippines. And you know why? Because women the world over don’t want grey hair, even if they do live in a mud-floor hovel. And if you are stuck for a very quick touch-up, there are these fabulous wax-based colour crayons you can buy from hair product stores all over the world called “Tween Time”. A dab of water and a quick application to the roots showing at your part and you’re set for another week or so. Be aware that these crayon colours wash out in water, so if you’re spending time in the hotel pool or get caught in a monsoon downpour, go for the permanent solution.
Happy Traveing from Linda at Kashgar!