Saturday, June 14, 2008

PinkBird's Pointers (Volume V):

While talking with a friend recently, she mentioned that she enjoyed reading my travel tips, so I figured, why not post some more!? Here goes...
1. This is not so much a tip as a rant...I'm really sad that a number of airlines are now choosing to charge passengers for their first checked bag (and I thought charging for the second bag was crazy, yeah I know--the heavier the plane, the more fuel it uses, etc. etc) so I think, do whatever you can to carry on your luggage! I used to do this all the time, until the airlines started cracking down and then there's the whole "no liquids" thing. I doubt that charging people per bag will make airline ticket prices decrease, so head over to OneBag for great packing tips to get all your stuff into one bag, which hopefully you can carry on! (Edited to add: what if they gave you a discount for a light bag? Or only charged for the first bag if it was over a certain weight?)

2. I love carabiners (D-ring) and ball-chain key chains! i use them to secure the zippers my day pack or carry-on bags. Sometimes if I just throw all my stuff into my backpack the weight is off balance and the bag will begin to unzip, so I just clip the zippers together to avoid that. Plus, I figure that hopefully if someone is trying to sneak into my bag, I'd feel them fiddling with the ball-chain key chain or carabiner before they got too far. I also use them to hang random things that may not fit into my bag or that should not be in my bag--like muddy shoes, water bottles, jackets, etc. (Funny side note: an Australian women I met in Ecuador asked me about the carabiner on my bag, saying it's a good idea, then said that it "must be an American thing" because she'd never seen them before).

3. I always pack extra safety pins--in a variety of sizes. You just never know what things could break, rip, or just need to be held together. On a recent trip, one of the The Guy's backpack's zipper pulls was ripped off in transit (so sad) and a large safety pin helped.

4. I'm really not paranoid nor do I think people are all out to steal my stuff...but....Get a luggage lock for your bag--both regular and one with a stainless steel cable, (something like this). Seems simple enough, but these days with all the TSA stuff, a lot of people travel without locking their bags (as I do all the time, actually). But, if you're not sure about the security of a hotel or hostel, or are traveling with valuables that you want to leave in your room (or if you have to pay to rent the room's safe) lock them inside your bag. Sure, you could just use your luggage lock, but I like the added security of a small lock with steel cable that easily loops through zippers and the slats of a chair, table or other room fixture. No one can take your locked bag if it's securely tied down (of course, make sure it's not locked to something that can easily be removed!). Having a cable lock also helps for lockers too, since it's flexible. (Also, don't forget about bags that are slash-proof, with steel wire inside the fabric, or steel mesh backpack locks that cover your entire bag!)

5. I've said this before, but it's worth repeating....whether you're on a road trip, holiday, or international trip, please don't forget your sense of humor and kindness. Yes, gas prices are high, yes, immigration lines are long, yes, trains get delayed, but don't let it ruin your trip. While bearing in mind cultural differences, the Golden Rule may seem cliche but, "treating others as you'd like to be treated," can go along way while traveling.

For more PinkBird's Travel Pointers, click here.