Knowing certain things before you head out can help you avoid the headaches and inconveniences that can ruin a great trip. We’re compiling tips for everything from keeping your money safe to information on what you’ll need to do before hitting the road. If you have any ideas to contribute please email us.
Know Your Knots
For anyone traveling in the wilderness, boating, or just trying to tie something to the roof of your car, knowing your knots is essential. The “bowline” is a sailor’s classic, providing a slip-free knot with a loop on one end; the “sheet bend” is perfect if you want to temporarily connect two lengths of rope to make a single, longer piece; if you plan on hauling lumber, the “timber hitch” is the knot for you; and you can use a “trucker’s hitch” to keep that canoe on top of your station wagon while you’re speeding down the highway.
Whatever your uses, a good resource is http://www.troop9.org/?s=knots/index. Here you can find animated images and instruction on tying these knots and more.
Traveling with Film and Digital Photo Media
If you plan on taking pictures while traveling, whether you use a traditional film camera or a digital camera, it’s a good idea to keep your undeveloped pictures in a carry-on bag as opposed to you checked luggage. The powerful airport baggage screening machines used for checked luggage have a much stronger signal than do the smaller versions used for carry-on bags. It’s possible for these more powerful machines to damage undeveloped film or digital data cards, meaning you could potentially lose all your pictures. Avoid home break-ins while on the road
Don’t let crooks kill two birds with one stone. If you’re on the wrong end of a mugging and keep both your house keys and identification in your bag, a robber will know where you live and how to get in there. Whether traveling far or near, it’s a good idea to protect yourself: keep your keys separate and keep the robbers out of your home.
As laptops get smaller, PDAs have enhanced capabilities, and cell phones become more technologically advanced, mobile computing is fast becoming the norm for travelers. If you plan on sending emails from the road, updating online travel logs, sending digital pictures, or more, and don’t want to be slave to cyber-cafes, look into some of the options above. Many of the smaller and more advanced devices on the market are still quite pricey, but there are some good deals to be found, and as more people turn to portability and independence for their on-the-road computing needs, prices will surely drop. These days a wireless laptop is a most for travelers who want to stay connected and in most big cities wireless networks can be easily found, just make sure your computer is protected against virus and others problems that can come from using unsecured wireless networks.
Internet access numbers on the road
For those intrepid souls taking your laptops on the road, don’t forget to bring a list of internet access numbers for your ISP. Wireless access is not yet ubiquitous, and many places won’t offer the comfort of a high-speed ethernet connection, so you may find that dial-up is the best (or only) way to go. Most ISPs will list state-by-state access numbers on their Web site, and may have toll-free numbers within the company’s home country. The larger services may even provide international numbers for connecting abroad. And for all you ramblers who may just hit the road and then decide where you’re going, check out your ISP’s home page before you head out and jot down a bunch of these numbers, so no matter where you are, you’ll find yourself connected.
Traveler’s first-aid kit
Accidents happen, both big and small… It’s always a good idea to play it safe when traveling and pack a first-aid kit. This should include (at least) the following items: Band-Aids; Bacitracin or other antibiotic ointment; iodine pads for larger cuts, and gauze with adhesive tape; moleskin; tweezers; thermometer in a hard case; nonaspirin pain reliever; medication for colds and diarrhea; motion sickness medication, such as Dramamine (if applicable); and any prescribed medications in original labeled containers.
Traveling with disabilities
The Americans with Disabilities Act prohibits travel-related businesses from discriminating against people on the basis of a disability, and mandates that the businesses make it possible for everyone to take advantage of their goods and services as fully as people without disabilities. However, while this is true in the United States (and for U.S.-based carriers), in much of the world there are still many questions about what qualifies as general accessibility for disabled people.
If you’re traveling abroad, be sure to do your research. Talk with travel agents who specialize in planning trips for the disabled, make sure airlines and other carriers accommodate the needs of disabled passengers, and check for things like wheelchair accessibility at hotels, rules pertaining to guide dogs, and more.
Emergency wheelchair repairs
Traveling with a wheelchair doesn’t have to be difficult. One thing to keep in mind is, bicycle shops can often make emergency repairs on manual wheelchairs (and in some cases, on electric-powered chairs too). Bicycle tubes and tires are almost always interchangeable with wheelchair tires, and bike tubes are much less expensive. Also, bicycle shops generally have longer hours than hospital wheelchair departments or medical-supply houses, and are usually open on weekends.
Identity theft — Mail
Never leave for a trip and let your mail pile up in your mailbox. If a thief steals your mail, he may be able to get enough information from it to steal your identity.
Also, never leave your outgoing bills your mailbox where a thief can find them and get information such as credit card and bank account numbers. This is all the information a thief needs to steal someone’s identity.
It is a good idea to carry a list of expensive items you have packed in your checked luggage. That way, if the airline loses your bag, you have some record of what has been lost.
Likewise, you should never pack any irreplaceable items, such as, medicine or jewelry in your checked luggage; make sure you put it in your carry-on bag, or leave it at home for safe keeping.
Lost? Find your way back…
When visiting a country where you have little language skills, make sure to have a card with your hotel name and address on it in case you get lost or are trying to give a taxi directions. It’s also wise to make a point of learning a few key phrases, such as, your local address and inquiries as to how to find a cab, telephone, police, etc., which may prove useful in bind. E-mailing important documents
Before traveling it’s a good idea to photocopy all of your important documents (passport, tickets, etc.); keep a copy with your gear, separate from the originals. For instance, if you lose the bag with your passport, you’ll have a copy of it to bring to the consulate in a separate bag. Give another copy to a friend or family member back home, for safekeeping, in case both the original and your copy get lost. You can also scan them and send them to your e-mail address so if you ever lose your paper copies you can just print more out.
Don’t attract criminals
The best way to keep from attracting a thief’s attention is to avoid wearing expensive looking jewelry and having cameras and other pricey items out for all to see. Keep your jewelry covered up or under lock and key at your hotel (most higher-end hotels will have a safe either in the room or at the reception desk). Cameras should be kept out of site as well–either tucked into bag or backpack when not in use, or better yet, strapped around your neck and under your jacket. Smaller point-and-shoot cameras will often fit into a pocket on the inside of your coat.
Protecting your camera
Cameras are one of the most common items stolen on a vacation. Most are stolen while in high-crime areas such as city centers or shopping bazaars. Most people on vacation don’t want to be without their cameras, but if you are going to be traveling in high-crime area, or even an area you worry might be high crime, then you may want to bring along a disposable camera instead of an expensive SLR or digital camera. Cheap point-and-shoot cameras are good for this as well, and neither take up much space in a suitcase. Otherwise, be sure to keep your camera out of sight, attached to a strap around your neck, and/or zipped under your jacket, if possible.
Address on luggage tags
Traveling abroad means putting you address on your luggage, which in turn means everyone can see where you live and know that you will be gone. More than one robbery has been perpetrated by shady characters lingering around local airports, scoping out the home addresses of people they see taking outgoing flights. The best way to protect against this is to put your business address on a piece of luggage. This will insure that no one who spots your address will be getting the correct one, and that your bags–if lost–will find their way back to a place you can retrieve them. Another idea is to put your local police station’s address label on the label, but this could lead to complications if your bags are lost. And we’d like to hope that your bags are more likely to be lost in transit, than your house being robbed.