Travel Habits

February 15, 2014  •  Leave a Comment

By: LittleEye

It's not a definitive or exhaustive list, but here are a few of the travel habits we've picked up over the years that work well for us. Hopefully at least some of them will come in handy for you, too.

1. One Flight Itinerary

It can be very tempting to split your flight itinerary in order to save money; we know, we tried it once. You can sometimes find savings by buying tickets for the different legs of your flight independently. The problem we encountered is that when something goes wrong (cancellation/delay) with the first leg of the trip the first airline isn't responsible or compelled to help at all because as far as their computer is concerned they are getting you to your final destination. Same issue with the second airline, it isn't their fault or responsibility that the first airline caused you to miss your flight.

The only way we would consider doing two itineraries again is if we planned to do an overnight or couple day layover at the connecting destination so we wouldn't have a time crunch.

2. TripIt

TripIt is a wonderful itinerary organizer that makes things easy to find and can be used without a wifi or cell signal. I do take an emergency printed copy of my TripIt itinerary still just in case my phone would break or get lost, but I print it two pages/sheet front and back so I don't have much paper to carry. I use the app on my phone constantly during our trips to know where we're going or staying next.

You can also add other events and activities to your TripIt itinerary which I will sometimes use to save bits of local history or tips applicable for that day. For example, I saved the "instructions" for being granted our three wishes at Helgafell mountain in Iceland so that I would have easy access to it when we arrived.

  Atop Helgafell Mountain after my three wishes.

 

 

 

 

3. GPS and Screenshots

Screenshot of Google Maps. Also our favorite stay in Iceland, a great 3 BR cabin with a view of the fjord.

Take screenshots of the maps you need with different levels of zoom so you can access them offline in your pictures folder on your phone. 

We've always relied on the wi-fi connections at restaurants or hotels/hostels for our internet connection when outside the U.S., rather than paying for international service. So far, it's worked out well for us. The one downside is that Google Maps or TripIt's map features aren't viewable (or at least can't be interacted with) unless you're connected. I think there may be apps now that will store the maps you've created for offline use, but until I find one I like, I'll be sticking with the screenshots.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

4. Space Bags

Travel space bags can make packing for cold weather much easier.

For sweaters, jackets, and other bulky items, space bags can be a luggage hauler's best friend. No particular preference on which brand,  but I found some at Big Lots, a discount store, for about $10 for a set. Try not to get the ones that require a vacuum cleaner to seal (it's still possible to use them, but it's more difficult and less efficient).

 

 

 

5. The Underwear Roll

Why roll clean underwear? It's easy to tell which undies are clean when the suitcase is disheveled half way through the trip, and it allows you to throw and wedge the tiny little fabric rolls wherever you have a nook or cranny free in your suitcase. Works on any briefs. For those more dedicated to space saving, there is the military roll method for undies, socks, and t-shirts on YouTube which will save additional space, but appears to take much longer and requires more muscle.

6. Shoe Stuffing

Stuff socks into your shoes. It's a good use of space and helps keep the shape of your shoes.

7. The Ultimate "Personal Item" Bag

LL Bean's Quick Load Carry On Bag  is small enough to fit comfortably under the airline seat in front of you, and yet oddly hard to fill. I'm convinced this bag has special spacial relations laws, or has an allotment of space in a parallel universe, because there is always room for that one extra little thing. It has a plethora of pockets that are so well designed you can stash a ton of stuff and still get to everything with ease. If you leave the kitchen sink at home, you can even use this as an overnight bag. 

Bean's amazing bag My favorite part is the top entry pocket which has a spill-proof liner to hold a drink and snacks, but my preferred use for it is as my phone, passport and document holder. Perfect for all of the taking out and putting away at the ticket counter, security, and gate without disturbing the rest of the bag.

It's truly a genius bag.

 

 

 

 

 

8. Keep a Trip Record

Having a record of your trip is a wonderful way to bring back your experience even once the memories start to fade. I've used old fashioned paper journals, Smart Phone Apps, and a hybrid of Facebook and Geotagged photos to create records of our trips. 

Paper Journal - In theory this is my favorite method, I've never regretted the trips were I used a journal. It's great way to capture small moments that would otherwise be lost. In the entry below, I was so excited about that Snickers bar I ripped open the journal at random and exclaimed about its melty, chocolatey wonderfulness in the margins.
Jungle Snickers are Awesome!!! The downside is being awake enough at the end of the day to have enough energy to write in it. Plus, if you're roughing it and using a headlamp to write by in the forest you will attract all of the nearby flying insects right to your face. In my experience even mosquito netting won't stop all of them. This entry was written by headlamp during an insect attack after having some boxed wine in the Amazon; for the record I did not send Alexey off into the forest alone, and he returned unscathed.
"I have been thoroughly introduced to Gato Negro wine this evening. I was buzzed enough to send Alexey off into the forest"

I have been disciplined on a couple trips and am grateful for the journals, but other trips I only have a few entries followed by a bunch of blank pages. 

Day One app entry

Smart Phone Apps - The iPhone has a number of different diary apps, the one I use is called Day One. It allows you to combine phone pics with your entries, captures the weather, date, time, and location automatically. Pretty much like having a private version of Facebook, but you can share your posts to social media selectively if you choose. Downside? I hate typing on my phone. Therefore, it's not nearly as thorough as an entry to a journal would have been.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Facebook - Pics, text, and video all in one place and time stamped with the bonus of being able to share with friends what you've seen while you're still travelling. You can also geotag your posts with the location feature. So, if you don't write anything private, or don't care what you share...just use Facebook. 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

9. The Miracle of OneNote

If you have Microsoft Office Suite, you should also have the OneNote program, but may not know what an excellent tool it is for trip planning. If you aren't familiar with it, Microsoft has a great demo on its support site and OneNote itself is built with an interactive user guide notebook.

When we've narrowed down our destinations, I create a section for each country in my "Trips" notebook. Then, as I do flight searches or look up activity information I use the screen clipping feature to select the section or piece of the screen I'm interested in saving. It copies that clip into my notebook and marks the date, time, and links the web address so I can easily get back to it.

The screenshot below shows four different screen clippings from a past trip. The clippings can be easily moved around, re-sized, and deleted. It saves me from having to keep 10 different tabs open and having to jump back and forth between websites to compare information.

I sing the praises of OneNote!

Note: Changes made to Windows OS have disabled the screen clipping keyboard shortcut. It used to be the windows logo key+S, but in Windows 8.1 that now brings up a Bing search that makes me want to cry. Here's an article that takes you through changing the OneNote keyboard shortcut.

10. External Battery Pack

A recent edition to our packing list is an external battery pack. It is great for powering battery chargers and phones on the go. It's also a

 necessity when camping or spending a few days without electricity available to keep your camera batteries juiced and ready to go. On our last trip I often had something charging in my backpack as we hiked, very convenient.

We freely admit our dependence on battery powered devices, and we make no apologies.

We have, and are very happy with, a pack made by Limeade, but we haven't tried any others to be able to give a comparison.

 

 

 

 

Have something to add or a question? Please let us know your favorite travel habits in the comment section. Happy travels! 

 


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Here are some links that I think may be useful for those of you who are just starting with photography (or thinking about it), as well as for more seasoned photographers. No matter how long you have been doing it there is always something new to learn.

 

http://www.betterphoto.com/allAbout.asp - this is a very good place to start if you are new to photography

http://luminous-landscape.com/ - tons of techniques and tutorials, hardware reviews, etc.

http://scantips.com/  - must know for anyone dealing with digital images. Very comprehensive explanation of resolution.

http://computer-darkroom.com/ - Adobe Photoshop and Lightroom tutorials, printing tips, color management

http://retouchpro.com/tutorials/index.php - extensive collection of Photoshop tutorials on retouching.

http://www.russellbrown.com/tips_tech.html - scripts and tutorials from Photoshop guru Mr. Russell Brown.

http://www.ronbigelow.com/articles/articles.htm - very good collection of articles generally targeted for more advanced hobbyists.

http://planetneil.com/tangents/flash-photography-techniques/ - learn how to use your flash.

http://strobist.blogspot.com/ - lighting with off-camera flash. Brilliant! You need to understand photography basics before coming here.

http://photoserge.com/ - great collection of Adobe Photoshop and Lightroom tutorials by French photographer Serge Ramelli

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