Douglas Adams was wrong: Nine More Travel Tips From the Road

Douglas Adams was wrong: Nine More Travel Tips From the Road

1.  Unless you subscribe to an old-school kind of ethic, you've probably got a pretty nice digital camera. These are, generally, recognized as the most essential gadget you can bring on your travels.  Hence, losing one can be a real bummer. 

One trick is to have the first picture on your camera to include a picture of you with your name, email, and a possible reward. This doesn't guarantee, of course, that your lost camera will be returned should you misplace it, but it gives you a chance.


2.  If you are somewhere with a lot of mosquitoes, big roaches or, worst of all, suffer from a bedbug infestation, leaving the light on at night can help. Bloodsuckers like the darkness, and if you can manage some shut eye with the lights on (in places with electricity, at least) you can prevent the worst of their incursions.


3.  Laundry is a drag.  Depending on where you are traveling, you should be able to find something from laundromats to women who will wash your clothes out in the river.  For those on tight budgets, this can be expensive and it can take a few days.  Travelers have long washed their dirty clothes in a sink, which is fine but there’s a better way to do it. 

If you can get your hands on a dry bag, chuck in your washing, add some soap and water as hot as you can get it.  Fold down the top, shake vigorously for about five minutes, and the worst of the grime and sweat should be gone.


4.  We all know that alcohol is the ultimate slayer of budgets, but soft drinks and bottled water can wreak their own kind of financial havoc.  In hot countries, when they are especially needed and/or delicious, a coke/bottle of water or two a day can really add up. 

If you carry your own water bottle, you should be able to refill it most anywhere, for much less than a new bottle of water.  And, you know, it’s better for the environment.


5.  Packing lightly means that you need to find multiple purposes for your stuff.  Tiger balm can be deodorant.  Floss makes for a clothesline.  A tshirt can be a pillow.    And soap/shampoo/ bodywash/conditioner/detergent?  Pick one and use it for all your cleaning needs.


6.  Unplug.  There are as many reasons to travel as there are people traveling (or more, even) so sweeping generalizations are almost by nature incorrect.  That said, you don’t need a f*cking iphone.  You just don’t. 

Get lost, talk to some foreigners, play charades with locals; there is already a rich world to explore sans apps.  I’m not anti-technology, but if self-discovery or learning is in any way important to you, try living without smart phones and internet access.  Just for a little while.


7.  You can eat anything, anytime. Westerners have dichotomized their foods into neat categories, but many other cultures eat the same food for all their meals. 

Follow their lead and have noodles, dahl, or kimchi for breakfast.  It will be cheaper than eating Western food and, hopefully, more rewarding as well.


8.  Learn to turn it off.  If you travel enough, the idea of “home” will fade away to Santa Claus status — a pleasant idea you used to believe in that no longer has much meaning.  Until that stage though, your friends and family back home won’t want to hear about your trip.  

When they ask about your trip, they don’t want to hear about your temple stay, your volunteering at an orphanage, or the wild full moon party.   They just want you to say “It was sweet,” and then ask them about their job.  (Hint: it probably hasn’t changed much in the last year or two.)  

And, unless you are talking to other travelers, never talk about how much cheaper busses in Belize or curries in Calcutta are.


9.  Though he was something of an intrepid traveler, Douglas Adams was wrong. If you think your towel is indispensible, it might be a sign that, despite your travels, you're still a coddled westerner.

You can use anything from a tshirt to a pair of underwear (hopefully clean) to sponge away water, and they will dry a lot more quickly than a towel. They also take up less space and serve multiple purposes.  


Written and contributed by Ahimsa