Three Simple Rules To Avoid Travel Woes
The plane had landed. It was late and I was in a foreign city. Given the flight had crossed from the cold southern hemisphere to the warm northern half, I was looking forward to my luggage arriving. The jeans I wore to brace myself from the cold of Sydney were just a touch too cosy for the humid swelter of Shanghai. The bag, however, never arrived.
I had just made one of the simplest mistakes of travel. An easily avoided one. One solved by the carry-on clothes rule.
The carry-on clothes rule
Never board a flight without a spare set of clothes in your carry-on luggage. It is really a piece of travel common sense — when I described my drama to fellow lodgers at the hostel in Shanghai, they laughed. However, I have the same story time and again.
As you exit the plane, rain, hail, shine or swelter may await. Know the expected climate of the arriving destination and in your carry-on luggage pack a single clothing item accordingly. Even if your clothes are appropriate to the climate, a simple thunderstorm may ruin your best laid plans.
The bit-by-bit rule
The hostel in the coastal town of Qingdao in China looked beautiful. A large, regal mansion. The rooms were nice enough but the showers were a little less kind. The water never warmed. A minute passed, then five, then ten. Nothing.
Having just arrived on the train, the option of not showering was off the cards. Yet a single shocking blast of cold water was not too appealing either.
There is, however, a solution to this timeless conundrum of travel. It is the bit-by-bit method, and is simple enough: have the shower in parts.
First place your arms under the water and wash. Then your legs. Then wash by splashing water onto your stomach and back. Then your face. As well, if you do want eventually to stand fully under the shower, this method ensures you acclimatise to the cold. It is then a lot less painful.
This practice is also a solution when the shower is fickle. That is, either only hot or only cold. It is better to be cold and washed, then hot and burnt.
The three-place rule
Over the course of one particular three-week trip, there was only one instance when I lost something. It was when I did not follow this rule.
In a hostel or a hotel or a friend's apartment floor it is always the same. If you let your stuff spread through the room, it is likely some will eventually stay there after you have left.
This is all made more certain by the rush of travel. It is even more likely your favourite shirt will be lost to the cleaning staff when the train is scheduled to leave in 30 minutes, or the taxi for the early morning flight home is angrily tooting its horn outside.
There is, however, a simple solution: the three-place rule. Have your items located in only one of three locations throughout the room. The first is your main bag. Have your clothes, books, toiletries and assorted electrical items in, on or right next to this bag. When you are done with them, make sure they return here.
The second is the locker. This applies mainly to hostels, but can also work for certain hotels. The locker is where the passport, the moneybag and the new computer go. When not in use, leave them there. No where else. Not on the table, nor the floor, nor the window sill.
The final of the three places is on your bed. Though the least reliable of the three locations, it is still a fairly easy place to scour. The sheets come off and you know what is and is not there.
The bed can of course be replaced with a table. However, if you are staying in a dormitory, the table is a horrible place to leave things. They mix and disappear into your fellow travellers' bags (sometimes intentionally, sometimes innocently).
The bed, locker and main bag are three of the easiest locations in the room to scour. When the taxi driver is swearing at your punctuality, it is nice to know that a quick glance in these three places is sufficient to ensure you will be finishing your favourite book on the plane.
Stay tuned for more travel tips, including the best method to avoid losing your way on a foreign subway system.