Continuing on with the Living the Nomadic Life series is Tips and Tidbits. This is currently listed as the last entry, but I presume I will have some additional posts in the future.
- Just Leave
- The Best Car for the Road (and its addendum)
- What to Pack (Domestic Travel and International Travel)
- Where to Visit – Crags to Visit as a Solo Traveler
- Tips and Tidbits
These glow-in-the-dark dragons were one of the small “Memories From Home” items I brought to France.
There are a good handful of tips and tidbits that I have picked up along the way. I assume this list will be dynamic over time, but thought I would post of some of the initial thoughts.
- Readily Accessible, Safe Car Camping Spots – A really easy to find, safe camping spot if traveling in the US is Walmart. I strongly dislike utilizing Walmart as a consumer; however, I gladly parked there on my road trip when in between destinations. Walmart welcomes car campers and often has security roaming the parking lots to ensure safety.
- Rather than Buying Books – Books can be a bear to take on a trip because they take up space and can be heavy. Some good alternatives are…. 1) Used bookstores or co-ops – If you really must own, look for a used bookstore or coop where you can swap out books. 2) The library – Though you most likely can’t get a library card whilst you travel, you can often check out books from your home library and mail them back. 3) Ebooks – If you have a computer, you can download ebooks. Many books are for a fee (but at least you have eliminated the hassle of books in the car / backpack), but some sites (like Project Gutenberg) provide free books. 4) Audiobooks – Some libraries (for instance Salt Lake City library) provide free audio books. The downside is you must remember to register your card before leaving town. (The SLC Library actually makes you come to the library to register. Why they don’t allow online registration, I don’t know.) After registering you can download audiobooks through a wifi connection. To be honest, I feel like the best solution for books is a tablet e-book reader (Kindle, Nook, etc.) because it is nice to read a book, rather than listen to it, but it is nice to put the PC away and not drain its batteries. I don’t have a tablet book reader yet so can’t completely opine if this is the best solution… but I am longing to buy the Nook one day. Once I get one, I will of course give you the update.
- Cheap Flicks – One of the easiest ways to watch movies is through Netflix On Demand. You must be a Netflix account owner, but then you can stream through any wifi connection. Note, that you can only watch Netflix in the States. The next best alternative (States only) is the Red Box, costing a mere $1 per night.
- Fueling the TV Addiction - To get your fix on recent television shows, visit Hulu.com. If outside of the U.S. or Canada, you will not be able to access Hulu without an IP blocker of some sort. Sadly, I still have yet to be able to stream video through a tunnel or IP blocker due to connection speeds. (Perhaps you will be more fortunate.) Recently I discovered the site MyFreeGuide (which does seem a little sketchy) listing links to a number of sites, such as DivxDen, where viewing without VPN is possible. Sweet! (An IP blocker site is also ideal if wanting to play Facebook Scrabble outside of the U.S. …. just saying in case any of you readers are fellow addicts like myself.)
- Telecommunications – Skype is your friend. Download it, use it, love it. I am currently in France for 3 months and have now bought an online number so friends and business colleagues can actually call me from a landline and it rings my computer. If I am not available or online, it goes to voicemail. Perfect. I can even send SMS texts… I also have a subscription so I can make unlimited calls to US numbers for only $3 per month. And, of course, all calls computer to computer are free.
- Don’t Forget to Backup – If you own a computer (if traveling or not), MAKE SURE TO BACK UP! I always have all my information backed up by Mozy.com and on an external hard drive. I did have my computer hard drive go out while I was on my 10-month trip but lost only one day worth of photos and one spreadsheet thanks to back ups. I backed up all my data before I left and then did small backups while on the road. A good solution would be to carry a travel external drive with you.
- Receiving Letters While In Between Cities – If you need mail while traveling in the States, you can receive it through General Delivery. Call one of the post offices in your current location and ask for the General Delivery address. To pick up the mail you will have to go to that post office and show your identification.
- International Travel Packing List – If city hopping while abroad, this packing list has worked out perfectly for me. If going on a climbing trip, this info might be useful.
- First Aid Kit - Always carry ibuprofen, band-aids and antibiotic cream. If heading to very humid areas (China or Thailand) try and take the powder antibiotic cream. If heading to Asia, include medication for an upset stomach.
- Avoid the Visa Headache - I have only had to worry about the visa situation once, when I traveled to China. If needing a visa, ensure you plan waaaaaay in advance as it can be a bear to resolve. Blah.
- Coin Purses Are Useful – Many other currencies have coins that are worth up to $2 (or pounds, euros, etc.). As an American I am quite careless with my change because the highest coin value (commonly used coins that is) is $.25. Yet in currencies where the value can be a couple dollars it is amazing how quickly you can gather $20+ of change in your pocket. A coin purse is very useful.
- Trinkets for International Travel – Take a handful of trinkets and / or postcards of your home town to give to people you meet along the way. (I got this tip from The Usual Suspect. Thanks, Neal.)
- Keeping Track of Travelers – The easiest way to keep track of travelers, is through Facebook. Plus it is so much more personal than a simple email address, allowing the continuation of a friendship.
- Small Items that Remind You of Home – I like to carry small items that remind me of home. On my 10-month climbing trip I took a boomerang my friend Neal had sent me from Australia and a comic that my friend Bret had left on my door. On this trip, I brought a handful of postcards, a letter my friend Rob gave me, and the above pictured glow-in-the dark dragons that my friend Kathryn gave me during the summer. I notice a couple small items don’t take up much room, but remind me of my dear friends who are elsewhere.
- Scotch Tape – I think I will start carrying scotch tape with me in the future. The reason is I always end up with a bag of ticket stubs, maps, etc. at the end of my trip that takes me eons to actually sort after the trip. (I just sorted through my China bag and I went to China in 2005!) On my current France trip I am automatically taping these things into my journal, on the day I actually received that particular stub. It seems to be working really well.
- Less is Better than More – The main tidbit I use when traveling is ‘less is better than more’. (I actually live by this motto as well, owning VERY few belongings.) If you are mobile, it means everything you pack is coming with you, to every destination…. which can be a HUGE hassle. Allow yourself enough time to pack your bag (or car), rethink, and then trim down the included items. Repeat these steps at least two times.
Any advice from you fellow travelers?