note to self: lists from my travel journal

Cambodia (Feb. 2006)

1. Bring a watch. You can’t rely on your cell phone as you do at home because you’re cheap, and you refused to buy the global service plan before you left.

2. Bring an extra camera battery, because you will take 8,000 photos at Angkor Wat alone. Note that Angkor Wat does not provide a charging station.

3. Always have the hotel address in local language from the website in order to avoid angry shouty conversation in which taxi driver assures you at airport that he knows where the hotel is located, drives out of the airport, then pulls over to demand you explain where the hotel is located and when you don’t know he gets mad – at you – because that’s completely reasonable. Oh, and now you’re lost in rural Cambodia.

4. Try not to pick travel companions who steal rocks from Angkor Wat. Sheesh.

5.*Important!* Don’t stand near thieving travel companions in security line at airport, risking confusion for angry shouty Customs agents. Let’s not talk about that any further.


Hawaii (Feb. 2007)

1. You still need a watch, because your phone will die somewhere within the Wahiawa Botanical Garden and you will miss the time you’re supposed to meet your travel companions and they will be so pissed they didn’t get to watch the sunset at a tiki bar.

2. Go to tourist sites early to beat the buses or you will be trapped in traffic and and circle hopelessly and eventually have to park on the opposite side of the island. Turns out Hawaii is not especially known for their 6-lane highways and multilevel garages, which is a great thing except when you’re trying to find parking.

3. Learn how to turn off stupid travel alarm clock so it doesn’t shriek madly, waking up everyone in the hostel, until you finally pound it against the floor. On flip side: all travel companions will be suitably awake for early-morning trek to tourist sites, avoiding aforementioned buses.

4. Remind travel companions that they should not listen to you when you assure them the flight is “2-something” without checking, because it might turn out to be “1-something” instead, and then we will spend the next several hours in the small, though lovely, island airport with cranky travel companions (for some reason, they aren’t getting enough sleep), waiting for the 4:10.

4(a). Start checking your flight times.


Finland (May 2008)

1. Pack a watch! Thanks for ponying up for the global service plan this time, but we still had to keep it off most of the day because you forgot to pack a power adapter.

2. Pack a power adapter! Note that power adapters are not the same thing as converters. Try to avoid looking immensely stupid by failing to understand this important distinction until it is explained, slowly and loudly, by the clerk at the hostel in front of a long line of better-prepared travelers.

3. Reminder: all your luggage bags should have wheels. Don’t be a hero. There are no medals for dragging a massive bag, uphill, 2 miles, over delightfully historic cobblestones, although – obviously –  there should be.

5. *Important!* Do not cross the old men in the saunas. Don’t saunter in all confident you can handle 175-degree heat longer than grandad & company; they can, and will, outlast you (and on the top shelf, too, you pansy). Give in with good grace early to avoid dehydration, heat stroke, strangled weeping, etc. Let’s not talk about that any further.


Botswana (March 2009)

1. Things You Do Not Need on an African Safari:

(a) Makeup. No one’s taking pictures of you. If you are in a picture with lions in the wild, you have made some unfortunate life choices.

(b) Jewelry coordinated with outfits. See 1(a).

(c) Completely impractical knee high leather lace up boots you know damn well you only packed because they look like the kind of thing Meryl Streep wore in Out of Africa.

2. Things You Should’ve Packed for an African Safari:

(a) A watch. We live by the clock here, and your cell phone doesn’t get service on an island only accessible by boat/hippo.

(a)(1) Hey, did you know hippos are extremely dangerous and kill more people than any other animal in Africa?

(b) Neutral-colored clothing, less likely to catch the attention of various animals. Reminder: “french blue” is not a neutral color, except to the color-blind.

(b)(1) Hey, did you know hippos aren’t color-blind?

(c) Extra pants, since the single pair of jeans you packed will get extremely muddy after your hysterical run through the bush to get back in the boat before you’re caught by those lions you posed with in the wild. You make some unfortunate life choices.


Malaysia (June 2011)

1. DAMMIT!! How did you forget a watch AGAIN?! Why do we even HAVE these conversations??

2. Please start keeping daily notes of the million things picked up from various night markets so you don’t have to frantically reconstruct a list from scratch when you’re filling out the Customs form in line at Immigration. It does eventually get super awkward explaining all those items in your bag that you forgot to mention.

3. Just because you saw something exciting on the Travel Channel (“Snake Temple?! Awesome!”) does not mean you will find it exciting in person. There is no way you’re going to like a temple where live snakes crawl around on the loose. How did you convince yourself you aren’t insanely terrified of snakes? Did we just meet?

4. Don’t confidently tell your guide “Haha! I eat everything!” after he warns you not to eat something you bought at a hawker stand, because then you feel compelled to ask what it is and when he says “hardened chicken blood” you are in a really tricky position, in which…yeah, you know what? Let’s not talk about that any further.


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