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4 Tips For Easier Travel - The Traveling Alphabet
Tarmac In Cartagena

4 Tips For Easier Travel

Over the course of this trip I will learn many things. I will learn about different countries, people, politics, culture, and food. But, I will also learn a few tips about how to make this adventure a little easier. Before leaving, Audrey and I did a ton of research on luggage, clothing, electronics and many other products that made it into our packs. Also, we are seasoned travelers — both for business and pleasure –so have years of experience on the road.

Here are my 4 tips:

1. Wouldn’t Leave Home With Out

There are many items that fall into this category and I will surely write about those in future posts. With four people who each have a device (iPad or computer), a camera, and a Kindle, charging is a necessary task most evenings.

USB Charger

Because we are often all in the same room and outlets are scarce, it would be difficult to get everyone’s item charged at the same time. You do not want to travel 13 hours on a bus with two boys and uncharged iPads. Also, some outlets are hidden deep behind a bed or cabinet making access challenging. So, I am carrying a 6-foot extension cord (for 3 plugs) and a 6-port Ravpower USB charging station (See red arrow).

All but two of our devices can be charged with a USB plug. This allows everything to be charged with just one converter. So far it is working well and I haven’t blown a circuit or caused any fires. So far.

Packing Cubes

2. Packing

I won’t get into the Fold or Roll debate now as I already wrote about that in a previous post. However, I am a born-again believer in the packing cube and their value for organizing clothes. I have two 14 x 10 x 3 cubes and one 14 x 5 x 3 eBag packing cubes. The smaller one holds underwear and socks. One of the larger cubes holds all my shirts while the other holds pants, swim trunks, towel, and tights. When an item has been worn, I put it at the bottom of the cube separated by a piece of cloth. This allows me to easily know what is clean and what is dirty.

Each of us has our own color cubes to differentiate whose stuff is whose. I also have 3 smaller cubes that hold gadgets and electronic equipment. Here is a video showing how I packed everything.

3. Getting Around

While I have a cell phone, it is not connected to a data plan as WiFi is so widespread. However, I can still use Google Maps which tracks my location via satellite so I don’t need data or WiFi when walking around the city. Prior to arriving in a country, I download the offline maps (from Google). If I want to plan out the next day, I can – when connected to WiFi – mark spots on the map. For example, I would mark where our hotel is so I can easily figure out how to return ‘home.”

4. Staying Organized

The ‘cloud’ has made it much easier to manage all the information needed for a trip like this. I am using Microsoft OneNote (similar to Evernote) to track all flights, hotel, expenses, visas, medical, and a million other notes. Think of it as an online file cabinet or binder.

Since both Audrey and I are constantly adding notes, updating spreadsheets, or revising transit plans, this allows each of us access to the most up-to-date information. For example, I recently made flight arrangements from Cartagena to Medellin and stored the itinerary in OneNote. Audrey needed the information and, from her computer, could view the itinerary. It also acts as a backup plan in case a computer is stolen or dies. We can access our information from our phone, another computer, or the kid’s iPad.

As an added bonus, we have shared this information with our parents who also can view any current information so they know where we are. This makes for a good safety plan in case something was to happen to us and we didn’t check in for a while. They could then more easily track us down. I have chosen to only give them READ access because…, well, for those of you who have parents well into their 70’s you understand. For those of you who don’t, just wait and you soon will understand. Don’t get me wrong, I love my parents but just need to protect my data from my dada.

There are many other tricks, tips, or ideas I have learned either on this trip or others and will incorporate them in future blogs. If you have tips, please post them so I and others can learn.

Disclaimer: We are not sponsored by any of the companies of products we talk about.

Bryan Gillette

Bryan Gillette is the founder and principal consultant for Summiting Group focusing on Leadership and Organizational Development. He has traveled extensively for both work and personal reasons visiting almost 60 countries and 40 United States. He is an avid runner and cyclist and ran 200 miles around Lake Tahoe in 76 hours as well as cycled across the United States. He recently spent one year traveling the world with his family.

This Post Has 9 Comments
  1. My trips are only 3 weeks duration, so I’m carefully following clues to steal – should I extend to 3 months in 2018. Thank you.
    Rick Steves taught me to wash underwear in the shower – quicker, easier, and an excuse for a longer shower! (Doubtful I’ll try a $1.50 haircut until Audrey does it first!). Happy Trails.

  2. Hey. No cracks about old parents who are not so tech savvy. After all we saw you into adulthood when you were dumb as stumps.

  3. Good tips. Because of my business, all electronic, I carry many of the USB Multi-port chargers. Invaluable. But geez..throwing Dad under the bus…tough.

  4. Good to know that your hotel rooms have electrical and a lamp. I was beginning to wonder, given as how all you can carry is in a small bag. Just remember, you might need to call home for money from the dada.

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