Travel Tools

Modern technology has provided us with a wide range of traveling tools that I have come to appreciate, and I have had the pleasure (and displeasure) of trying many of them. Here I will share with you some of the tools I consider indispensable for WWT type of travel. Keep in mind that a successful traveller should travel light, so while many appliances may seem interesting, one of the first requirements is that they must take up little valuable space and weight practically nothing.

Water heating device
for coffee, tea, soups, water sterilization (and even for washing sometimes). Make sure you have the correct voltages and adapters, which you can buy at any electronics store or travel store.

Snack Food

Few packages of soups, mashed potatoes, oatmeal and crackers, a real life saver in some places. Some of the most fun meals I have ever had have been on the balcony of a hotel room prepared from my carry on kitchen, a bottle of local wine, cheese, and a loaf of bread picked up on the street.

Water Filter

Several brands are available at stores like Magellens. With these filters you can take dirty water from a river in India and make it drinkable. Don't assume that the bottled water is any better than the tap water in some places. Don't be too paranoid about what you drink, but do be paranoid enough.

Hand-held Computer

I have lugged everything from a Pentium to a palm top onto airplanes to help me with writing and work during trips. Until 1999, there was no ideal solution. Travelers somehow had been convinced that they needed the latest computer always by their side. It is tempting to bring the same computing power I use in my office, simply because it is possible. As computers became more powerful the demands on batteries got worse until my total weight budget had pounds of spare batteries. Manufacturers bragged about size and weight but failed to mention you need five pounds of batteries to get you across the Atlantic ocean. Airplane seats became so closely packed there was not enough room to open a laptop computer, see the screen and have arm room to type.

I now use a Sony Vaio, the very lightest model for this purpose. Its 2 pound weight, 6 hour battery, and small size fill the bill.

I recent purchased an EE palm top which is smaller, lighter, and is still being testing. The major benefit is cost, about $200, so losing it would not represent a disaster.

Attempt to carry the equivalent of about $20 in the currency of every country you plan to pass through (Euros now make this easier in Europe). A cup of coffee in a foreign airport where you are forced to spend a long lay over can be worth more a lot.

Credit Cards
Carry especially a Visa card, the most widely accepted. A Master Card can also come in handy. It is amazing how easy it is these days to get money in most foreign countries with these cards. Be sure and know your PIN number. Leave the American Express card at home. This card continues to be an amazing example of snob appeal causing people to pay more for less.

Rolling Carryon Bag
There is little need to check baggage these days. Carrry on bag technology has come a long way. Get a bag that has handles on the side and top, big wheels, and the largest that qualifies as a carryon. Recently, airlines have downsized the largest allowable, so be careful. The largest "carry on" does not even fit in some of the overhead bins. Take three days of outer clothes, five days of socks and underwear and a cup of detergent for washing. One of my rules has always been that all traveling companions of mine must be capable of handling his/her own bag (even when it was my own mother).

LED Flashlight
These flashlights are about the size of a quarter and weigh not much more than that. They are bright enough to show the way in total darkness or to allow one to read in a dark room, the battery lasts 100’s of hours and they can be used as warning or emergency lights along a dark highway. One could may your travel a bit easier and could even save your life. Like an extra coin in the pocket, they are hardly noticed until needed.

The MacD FP (The McDonalds Free Pee)
Not something you take with you, but rather something to know. MacDonalds, unlike many stores, is always a place you can take a whiz without having to buy something. Usually the lines are so long they don't even notice you. MacDonalds should get the Nobel peace prize for this contribution to the world. For this we could almost forgive them for making 65% of Americans obese and running half the magnificent restaurants in Europe out of business.

Unfortunately, even McDonalds has now started charging (2006) in many places. At least it is still a place to pee.

Recovery Envelope
Self addressed stamped envelope with about a dollar's postage on it. When you arrive at the airport and don't won't to check bags, then discover you have your pocket knife or a favorite pair of fold up scissors with you, stick them in this recovery envelope and mail them rather than lose them at the security checkpoint.

Car Rental Trick
A money saving trick passed on to me by my son, Jim. When renting cars in the USA, find a rental site near but not in the airport. The same company has off site rates much lower than on site rates, since airport locations are much more expensive.



Cultural Observations

How understanding cultures can enhance your travel experience
....... More

Rules of Travel

Acronyms I've developed for use throughout my travels.... More


Tools I consider indispensable for WWT type of travel.....More