Posts Tagged ‘packing’


Pack Some Crayons Next to Your Camera

March 9, 2010

crayonsIf you’re a seasoned traveler, or if you’ve done your studying up on how to be a prepared traveler, you probably have a well-packed carry-on bag for long flights.

You’ve got your liquids (all under 4oz.) in a Ziplock bag. You have the smallest possible mp3 player loaded up with your favorite tunes. You have a book or a couple of magazines, a light snack, and maybe even a change of socks so you can feel somewhat fresh when you land.

But did you pack crayons? Scrap paper? Stickers or a small plush toy? No? Well then how in the world are you going to keep the four-year-old next to you entertained while his mother is out cold and he’s bouncing around in his seat?

This was what I had to figure out on a flight to London, and it was the one thing I hadn’t prepared for. It was disappointing mostly because I have a pretty good track record for being seated next to attractive single men close to my age, so I’m used to chatting flirtatiously with my neighbor, not babysitting him.

But a good traveler has to be prepared for anything, so I did what I could. Mom had luckily come pretty prepared with some of those crazy markers that only make a color on special paper, so that the kid can’t draw all over furniture, which is smart. She also had a couple of books and some headphones so that little Kyle could watch a cartoon, but his attention span only lasted about 15 minutes on one activity and then he turned his attention to poking me in the arm to see if I really was asleep or if I was faking. I was not faking.

I decided to be a decent sort of person, so Kyle and I chatted about his shoes, which featured Lightening McQueen, we talked about how now the plane was up in the air, but soon it would land on the ground, and that meant the plane was going down, not up. And no, we would not hit any trees.

It wasn’t the worst situation. I was almost thrown up on once during a landing, and that was far more horrible than having to explain “up” and “down” over and over again, but I do wish that I had thought to pack an emergency kid kit for this kind of situation. Learn from my mistake and always reserve one of your bag’s compartments for goodies you can share with a little friend.


My Travel “To Do” List

February 19, 2009

I’m not sure how it happens, but even if I start planning a trip weeks and months in advance, the last days before I go are crammed with last-minute errands, shopping, grooming and planning.

I’ve done enough traveling that, if hard pressed, I could have a bag ready in 15 minutes and be out the door. You can (almost) always buy the necessities as you go and do without the rest.

I’m leaving for New Zealand and Australia next week though, where I’m going to meet up with friends who I haven’t seen in years, and I’d like to look good when I see them. I’d like to have my hair cut, my nails not too mangy, maybe a nice, healthy glow to my skin.

I want to have some new summer clothes to enjoy after months of drab winter clothes. I should order some extra contact lenses, just to be safe. I wanted to have a list of possible side trips and activities for each stop on my tour so that I don’t waste too much time each day planning what to do. And I was going to empty out my mp3 player and start fresh with new tunes for this trip, as well as burn some CDs for the people I’m going to see.

How much of all that is really going to get done? Maybe half. Maybe less. Doesn’t really matter though. Sometimes, going without a big plan means stumbling on things you didn’t expect. Going without a pack full of gifts and supplies means traveling lighter, with more freedom. And traveling without an mp3 player might mean that I make more effort to talk to people.


Spike in Seattle

The one thing I always remember to take: Spike the Rhino. He’s my travel buddy (has been since way before Amelie and her garden troll showed up) and model.

Back in the day, I got really tired of asking people to pose for me and having them whine that they didn’t like to have their picture taken. Pictures of scenery alone can get boring, so Spike jumped in to add a little zing to my travel pics. Now he’s a favorite with my friends who always start a conversation after one of my trips with, “Do you have new Spike photos?”

I don’t blame them. He’s very cute.


Veteran Traveler Makes Rookie Mistakes

October 21, 2008
Inspiration in the Harvard Sq. T station.

Inspiration in the Harvard Sq. T station.

I have no idea how many tens of thousands of miles I have covered by plane, train, bus, car, boat and horse. Well, very few by horse, but those miles still count.

Still, when it comes to all the new travel regulations, I get thrown off. My usual routines and travel habits become muddled, and before you know it I’m sitting at SFO late at night, no stores open, my contact lens case packed away in my check-through bag, and my contact lenses feeling dryer and more glued to my eyes with every passing minute.

My old routine was simple: Throw the case in the front of my backpack with my glasses and bottle of solution, next to my toothbrush, toothpaste, chapstick, hand lotion, and maybe some aspirin. It’s the easiest place to access while on a plane, and then you have all your most pressing physical needs taken care of in one place.

But now I have some liquids in my Ziploc baggie for security, some toiletries checked in because they’re bigger than the few ounces allowed to go through security, and some things in my camera bag, for no real reason other than packing laziness, and a full Ziploc baggie.

With few options, I improvised, dropping my lenses directly into the travel-sized contact lens solution bottle, then carrying it very carefully from SF to Boston so that they would stay wet and not get stuck to the side of the bottle and dry out. I was thrilled to get to Boston, dump them out, and find that they were still in good shape, and figuring out which eye was which was no problem at all.

The lesson here: No matter how much you think you’ve planned ahead, plan some more. Also, be flexible. Also, always keep an extra pair of contacts on you, just in case you lose a pair.

Oh, the rest of the trip was fabulous. Thank goodness I was able to see it all.