What do you do when you travel?

Well, Sport, I do what everyone else does.  I pack a bag, and I go to the airport or train station, and I move between point A and point B.

No, no.  I mean, how do you handle work; who takes care of your dog; do you check bags; how do you manage it?

Ah.  The $64,000 question(s).

Well, here are the answers to questions I commonly get.

1) What do you do with Roo when you travel?

Maybe I am anthropomorphising my dog to an unattractive extent when I say that while I think Roo likes the idea of doggie daycare, I think he is overwhelmed by it, and it doesn’t suit him well.  He is…an only child.

So it makes me feel monstrously guilty to leave him at Biscuits & Bath overnight.  And it’s also painfully expensive.  I’m lucky that I have friends who love him; who are generally willing to house-sit for me, or who are willing to take him in.  This week, he’s staying with Kat & Matthew.  On Sunday, I took him downstairs to help Kat & Matthew load their car up with his crate, and Roo nearly tore off my arm thinking that Kat was leaving without him.

In other words, he’s fine.  And I live in a constant, precarious state of gratitude and jetlag.

2) How do you sleep on planes?

I am a notoriously poor sleeper…in a bed.  I can, however, sleep gloriously on a plane.  I understand that this makes absolutely no sense whatsoever.

My only overnight flight gripe was that I usually had to sleep wearing uncomfortable headphones because there would be so much nightnoise on the plane.  However, someone recently tweeted a link to these things called “Bedphones” – a flat pair of headphones meant to be worn to sleep and I immediately bought a pair.  While I have not been compensated to endorse these, they have changed my life.


Bedphones.  Check them out.  (Image via their site.)

I now slip these on when I snooze on a plane. I literally slept for 12 of 16 hours of the flight to Hong Kong.  I cannot say enough good things about Bedphones.  If you travel frequently, get yourself a pair.  They’re not meant for super sound quality, but they are fantastic, comfortable headphones for having tunes to block noise while you sleep, and you’ll never wake up with that awful pinch in your ears from earbuds.

3) How do you not look like crap when you arrive?

The answer to this one has many parts, and presumes that I do not look like crap when I arrive.  The first part is: water.  I typically drink an extraordinary amount of water even when I’m not travelling.  When I fly, I will drink at least 2L of water on a 6 hr flight.  I usually travel with an empty Nalgene and fill it in the lounge, and then ask the flight attendants to refill several times on the plane.

The second is: waterproof, smudgeproof mascara.

The third part is: dry shampoo and a nice brush.  I recently discovered the Klorane dry shampoo and after having tried pretty much every other dry shampoo ever made, I must say that this is the best I’ve come across.

The thing I like is that this actually smells like shampoo, not “new car scent” — which is what I think most other dry shampoos smell like.

I’m also a fan of having a nice brush.  I suppose you could have any brush you like, as long as it gets the job done.  I’ve had a Mason Pearson brush for about as long as I can remember, and I credit every single good hair day I’ve had in the last decade to it.  My brush is A Thing, but I can honestly say it is one worth the investment.

4) Do you check a bag?

When I started travelling a lot for work about three years ago, I had a bad experience on a shuttle flight between Washington and New York.  I’d over-packed, and my suitcase wouldn’t fit into the overhead compartment.  A nice, silver-haired fellow saw my predicament, and was helping me get the suitcase into the locker.  But the bag slipped and cut my hand.  I drew my hand away, and got blood all over the man helping me.  He continued to try to stow the bag as I swore and tried to stanch the flow.

The flight attendant came over and insisted that I gate-check the bag, and she and my Good Samaritan pried the bag loose from where it had been half-wedged into the overhead bin.  While she was carting my luggage off and someone else went to get me a band-aid, it struck me that the man who’d been helping me looked an awful lot like Wolf Blitzer.

As it turned out, it WAS Wolf Blitzer.

So they gate-checked the bag, and we made it to LaGuardia.  Wolf had checked a bag as well, and he and his wife and I were the only three people in baggage claim.  The wait was never-ending; we pretended as if the incident on the ground at DCA had never happened.  And life went on.

The point is:  I have since learned my lesson, and am sort-of ambivalent about checking a bag or carrying on.  While checking a bag is annoying, so is bleeding on Wolf Blitzer.

5) How do you adapt all of your appliances?

The plug question!  This is an easy one.  I have a product called the “Apple World Traveller Kit” — which Apple makes and retails for about US$40 — and it includes plugs for most countries around the world.  They just snap into your Apple products, and it’s all quite easy.  Also, my blackberry and Garmin can both charge to my computer via USB cord, so no need for a plug (or if I do use a plug, both devices use the same snap in/out adaptable prongs).

The only time any of this backfires is when I am not travelling abroad, and I am only going to, say, Washington or Los Angeles.  Then I find that my hyper-preparedness fails, and I’m the pretentious Yankee asshole adapting a British plug back into an American plug.

(Sadly, that wasn’t the first time I did that, either.)

The point is: I have found that a life on the road is a lot about adaptation; learning lessons; being nimble; moving forward.  Relying on the kindness of others, and trusting under even the unlikeliest of circumstances.  And also, it is a bit about having the right plugs.  Or at least, being able to adapt to them.