30 Refreshed Travel Tips

Random Observation/Comment #757: For me, traveling is a mentality. I look at my experiences differently and just absorb the vibes of the new culture and people.

Why this List?

I haven’t done an international trip since COVID started, so I needed to think through this process for my devconnect / ETHAmsterdam conference. Here’s some things I wrote down before my trip.

  1. Check that your Global Entry, TSA precheck, or other flying benefits did not expire. Renew as needed.
  2. Dust off that passport and make sure you don’t need a visa to travel to your destination
  3. Read up on necessary entry and exit requirements for COVID. For international out of US, you can just provide a proof of vaccination. For US customs returning, you need a negative COVID test a day before.
  4. Bring extra masks to wear on the plane. Yes, the mask mandate has been lifted, but I’ll probably still keep it on.
  5. Check the destination electric outlets for your chargers. It’s been a while since I needed to use the universal adapter.
  6. Sign up to different conference events a few months early. Tickets tend to sell out early!
  7. On your Google Maps, download to Offline the city location. Your GPS will still work. I know I should probably just buy a $25 sim card, but I’m weirdly stuck in 2010 with this travel + looking for a Starbucks to borrow some free WiFi.
  8. Create a Google list of all important places, especially if the conference is a combination of multiple events.
  9. Map out your important paths. It was always a good habit of mine to imagine myself through my itinerary. Based on where I land, I memorize the general directions for public transportation to get to the hotel location. I think through the 1-2 things I can do before check-in and how I’ll explore everything by walking.
  10. Learn some key phrases for your destination. I love languages and people tend to treat you with more respect if you take the effort to say a few words. Especially “Excuse me, do you speak English?”, “May I have … <thing>”, and “One more <beer>, please.” Amsterdam is extremely English friendly.
  11. Check the weather forecast and pack light. I usually just do a t-shirt and jeans with a professorial looking sports jacket for conferences. Layers are key. I don’t even bring different shoes.
  12. If you can avoid it, don’t check bags. This was an old school bear traveling rule because we tend to pack our schedules with lots of activities (rather than clothes). For my more refined travels, I would rather just check the bag and take my time.
  13. Pack extra socks and underwear. This has always been solid advice.
  14. Bring a travel water bottle. Especially when you’re traveling, stay hydrated! It also helps to drink road beer if you have an extra bottle.
  15. Set travel notices on your cards. I actually don’t think travel notices are needed on cards anymore, but I went through the process to do it. I still remember when I took out cash while traveling (I still recommend taking out at least $100-200 EUR base in case you lose your wallet).
  16. Make a “just in case” bag. If you lose your check-in luggage, your carry-on should have extra clothes. If you lose your carry-on or wallet then your check-in bag has extra cash and usable credit cards.
  17. Download your litany of podcasts, crosswords, and offline reading documents on your phone or tablet. This was a great time to read through material from our Quarterly Business Review.
  18. Clear out your fridge at home. This is usually something I forget to do, so it was good I reminded myself and then totally forgetting to do it. Freeze some foods as needed.
  19. Set your work expectations. What days are you out of office? Who are you meeting up with? Can you just take the time off?
  20. Set up your client meetings. I like to do maximum of 2 planned meetings per day.
  21. Scout out 3-5 coffee shops or bars in the area that are close enough to the location to be walkable, but far enough away to not be super crowded. This is usually a home base where I ask people to come to me.
  22. Get a haircut a week before your trip. I think this is optional, but it’s something I schedule normally for these trips.
  23. Cut your finger and toe nails. Another hygiene task that I’ve got into the habit of doing so I don’t get flagged for having nail clippers.
  24. Don’t forget the non-Bluetooth headphones for the flight. When I did fly, Delta gave us these left-right audio headsets for the movies anyway, but I still found them useful for enhancing my bone conducting ones during the regional leg of the flight.
  25. When you first arrive, take a free walking tour or visit the office of tourism. The office of tourism was a bit useless and the free walking tour wasn’t as impressive here. I enjoyed walking around better.
  26. Remember your VPN if you’re connecting to public WiFi. At the very least, don’t log into anything important. While I’m traveling, I’m just using the connection for messaging or searching Google maps, so those should be fine.
  27. Bring sunscreen and lotion. Writing this because my wife would be happy with me remembering this task. This was especially useful in Amsterdam with all the walking.
  28. Remember to buy a magnet for the collection. If you don’t have a crazy collection, you can find some other fun memorable thing to bring home to family. I suspect a little toy for Evie.
  29. Have a “triumph moments” list. Whenever the bears traveled, we looked for the quintessential thing of the destination we wanted to do. It was usually a photo opportunity. For my current interests, I’d indicate a specific brewery or museum.
  30. Find a place to play table tennis. Always trying to get some TT in play.

~See Lemons travel again