Why didn’t I learn these the first time? …or the fifth…or the fifteenth…
Pack as little as you think you will possibly need…and then take a few more things out – Whether it’s a weekend trip, a 6-month sabbatical or an overnight stay, you’re probably not going to use/wear/need a quarter of what you take. I’ve been repeatedly surprised how little I need and wear while backpacking. Maybe that’s more a statement of my overall hygiene and preparedness, but really you don’t need much and its actually easier having less. Your bags weigh less, you have less to lose or damage, you have less to think about…win, win, win.
Do your dishes right away instead of letting them sit in the sink – If you leave them in the sink then you still have to do them later, and they’re gross-er…and, if you’re somewhere tropical, there are now cockroaches in your sink.
Escaping from the sink…
Don’t judge a book by it’s cover – I actually think this is a perfectly acceptable criteria for book; there’s no excuse for bad design. I even go so far as to judge the feel of the cover (I prefer the paper ones that have a bit of a satiny sheen to them). Don’t do it with people though, or restaurants, you never know what they will be like based on appearance.
Triple-check your tickets (and hotel information, and transportation information, and that you have your passport) – This means while planning and booking things and while you’re in the middle of your trip. I know you think you already have everything but just make sure…otherwise you get dropped off at the airport at 11:20 p.m for a red-eye, realize you mistakenly booked the flight for the same date next month, and then can’t get a hold of your ride since they left their cell phone at home leaving you crying at the ticket counter. (That may or may not be a true story.)
Just do that small, annoying, nagging errand or chore NOW – Folding laundry, updating your tabs, replying to that one email…chances are you’ll spend more time thinking about how you need to do whatever it is than what it actually takes to accomplish and check of your list. I’ve been thinking about mopping for literally three weeks. I did it last night in 15 minutes.
Don’t start to go out at 11 pm when you need to be up at 7am – Yeah, maybe you can do it in a college, and perhaps can still pull through that next day, but…ugh, just don’t.
Remember the name of your guesthouse – This may sound obvious, but when you’re jumping around to a new place, town, or even country every couple of days it’s easy to drop your bags, head out to explore….then realize you don’t know where you’re staying. Better yet, also keep the phone number, address and little map on hand.
Always bring an umbrella. And sunglasses. – If you don’t bring an umbrella, it’s obviously going to rain. If you don’t bring sunglasses, you’re obviously going to end up driving in blinding sun…probably after you got poured on with no umbrella so the roads will be nice and glaringly reflective.
Charge everything – Phone, camera, Kindle, computer. There’s nothing worse then being in the middle of your day about to get that perfect shot and your camera battery dies.
Carry Kleenex – Particularly when traveling in developing countries. For a variety of reasons. Main one: squat toilets.
Don’t buy cheap sunglasses, watches or shoes – Chances are they were already somehow broken before you bought them. I’ve purchased three pairs of similar-looking glasses in the past two months…all are broken…why do I keep doing this to myself???
Never say never – You never know what’s going to happen… Example A: The other night as I was doing a private lesson in a student’s home a squirrel decided to walk right through and into one of the other rooms. It wasn’t distracting at all. Example B: A couple weeks ago I was an extra in a Chinese movie. Naturally. Example C: Just about everything in the news.
Just another day on the job…if I made it a habit to be in Chinese movies shot in Thailand…
Nothing is permanent, everything changes constantly – This is the one thing you can always count on, yet why does it always surprise me?