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Monday, June 09, 2008

Travel-Fu

I've been on two business trips and two personal trips in the past six weeks.  That's way more traveling than I usually do.  I managed to do a little travel geeking out and so can now pretend to talk about travel techniques with some sort of authority.  To wit:

  • Carry on.  I am not the first to say it, but whoa.  Always do this.  There is nothing like being able to walk off of a plane and out of the airport without standing around the luggage carousel for 20 minutes nursing a vague fear that your wait is in vain.  And if you have connections, you can literally walk off one plane and into another.  If you have too much stuff, you need to travel lighter.
    I got really into buying a new carry on bag, and ended up with this - the Red Oxx Air Boss.  (In khaki, if you care.)  It's most important feature is its lack of wheels.  Although it seems like you would get tired of lugging around everything, it's actually not heavy.  The bag is much lighter than other carry-ons and fits more stuff, because it doesn't have all of the wheel infrastructure attached to it.  And, it's liberating to be able to walk around the airport with both hands free.  (One warning - no matter what color you choose for the exterior, the interior is still bright red.  It's jarring the first time you see it.)  I coupled it with my Timbuk2 messenger bag, and was ready to go.  (Okay, maybe I get into this stuff a little too much.)
  • Packing.  The bundle-wrap method actually prevents wrinkles pretty well.  Most business-level hotels have irons, so it's not really that big of deal.
  • Liquids.  Carrying on liquids is a pain.  It turns out that only one manufacturer of contact lens solution actually makes a regulation carry-on sized bottle.  One. I don't understand this.  This is a huge gap in the market. 
  • Liquids, part 2.  Carry on your own shampoo, etc..  The Container Store sells great, cheap plastic bottles that you can fill with whatever you usually use, and not just what they sell travel-sized bottles of. 
  • Water.  Buy a bottle of water in the airport and carry it on.  Yes, it's $3.00, but it's worth it.  Planes will dehydrate you, and two tiny cups of Coke aren't going to help.  You'll feel more yourself when you land.  Ditto this with food if you're the type to get hungry quickly (like me).
  • Eat well.  It's easy to eat terribly on a trip.  Try to resist it.  You'll feel better.

I'm James Sulak, a software developer in Houston, Texas.

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