Getting it Ready – Some Notes for the Road

I’ve been away for a bit getting some final planning done. I leave now in a little over a week so I had to take care of some logistical things. If you too are gonna depart for a time to be determined or a round the world trip, I’ve found a few travel things which I’ve focused on. My primary goal with these rather disparate things is to bring things into control so I don’t really depend on others too much.

Here’s my working list of things which I worked on. Its a list in Ulysses as well which is the home for things of this kind:

  1. Mail services. There are a lot of options for this when you hit the road. You can just rent a mailbox at UPS or USPS or FEDex. Just send the mail to the ex-wife and torment her and have her destroy it all. Or do what I did. I found a virtual mail and mail forwarding service specifically designed for travelers. There are even choices with this. Some will make you pay for each piece of mail. Others don’t give you many options in how mail is treated. Each gives you a real address you can use for mail forwarding. They all require a USPS form to be completed and notarized and a monthly or annual fee. I am using this one because it seemed to be the best value but still offers a lot. Find one that works and take care of your stuff.
  2. Travel charging and USB power. I know. Completely different but I have been going through different device combinations and then discounting them because of various limitations. There is no ideal charger with AC ports and USB chargers that will also do the variety of power adapting on the road. There are ones that come closer but you suffer in size or weight so choose carefully. I need one that will charge 4 USB devices and have 4 power outlets and also have plug adapters that do International plugs. Its better to not have to carry multiples of things here. I have the closest one I have found which is this one. Is it perfect? No. There is no perfect one but it will work to charge my devices and I am not lugging around a separate carry on bag for all the adapters I need.
  3. Carry-on versus Checked Bags. No real contest here. Carry-on for the win and pick a bag that is flexible and will accommodate your needs. If you cannot travel really lightly get yourself a 45L bag and do some organization with cubes. I chose the Tortuga Outbreaker because it also handles some needs on organization and function but it trades in some weight for that. Find the bag that fits your zen of traveling and use it. Forget the bags with wheels. Roller bags are dangerous. Also check out a resource I have been using for years when looking at traveling light. The One Bag site is an excellent resource that has driven me to make good travel decisions.
  4. Itineraries and tickets and vouchers and passports and stuff. Be sure you have this managed. I have printed out various and sundry things like proof of onward travel from Japan. Bus tickets from Vietnam to Cambodia. Rail tickets from Hanoi to Ho Chi Minh City. Remember to take visa photos and pens. I’ve looked at this one as trying to reach even 50% of what I will need when I go. Undoubtedly I will need to get things on the road. Pack technology that works and that leads me to the final one.
  5. Technology that works. I went through this earlier and decided to take a single platform with IOS and MAC devices since I can share a set of applications across them all. But your needs are different. You need to enable yourself on the road and not feel constrained. Don’t self limit to a device which will not fulfill its destiny on the road. Need a laptop with a keyboard? Get that done. Want a tablet for easier use on small planes and buses. Get that too. A cell phone is not an option here. Just plan on it and get an unlocked one so you can plug in SIMcards on your travels. I’ve had android devices in the past I kept but had SIMcards in India and Singapore and Vietnam I would buy then toss. Easy to find cards with data only plans are easy on the road. Make the right decision here to fulfill your needs with maps or data sharing on the road.

Finally, this stuff does not take the place of play. A bit of work up front will give you the play later. Take it on!

I leave in a week and days and work ends soon. I purposefully chose an itinerary to let me burn out the work credo in a place I love. I’ll walk the city streets with my FujiFilm X series camera and my choice of devices. Finally, the needs around work will end. Whether a smaller project continues after me is beyond my control. My last day is set and it leads to my destinations.

Now I know that some planning covers a lot of woe on the road but I want some random events. Life is not a GANTT chart for me after 28 February.

One step to another step…

I admit to cruising AccuWeather now almost on a daily basis looking at weather reports for March in Japan and Vietnam. March in Tokyo is a transition from winter to spring so it may include a variety of types of weather. Hanoi is warm and getting warmer and there are spells of rain.

The last time I visited Japan was in 2011 around October and November. I had only a few hours in Tokyo and then headed down to Kyoto for some days walking the city. After that I took the bullet train back to Tokyo and caught the Narita Express train back to the airport. Not a lot of time to spend in a city that requires an investment of time and energy. To say

I saw Tokyo

I must be willing to walk the city, have tired legs at the end of the day, sit with a cold beer purchased on the cheap from a convenience store and then look at the harvest of pictures on my memory card. But the real thing to say I saw the city is to know up front I have not seen the city. I will have only seen the city on the streets I choose to walk down. What happens a street over left or right I will never know. Whether its a sleepy neighborhood with school children laughing and running and the brave one asking me to talk English to them or the harried day workers strolling in their 45 minute lunch breaks; all cannot be seen.

I’ve acknowledged that before in my dealings with cities like Vancouver, Seattle, and San Diego. And I’ve found its okay. Its okay at the end of the day when I settle back to perhaps get just a bit drunk to reflect that my feet touched those city streets and I rode on the Tokyo Met Subway.

There are places I will go and there are places I will miss and then I’ll fly on to Vietnam. I’ll stay longer because I want to live there and feel the pulse of a city that has a soul and spirit. I will taste the Pho and walk and see. Its all there for the person that’s willing to miss most of it. Take note of the fact that you have the best method to see things at a pace and speed you can deal with. Forty-five MPH on a tour bus may let you see more as you careen the streets. But ask yourself. What was it you saw on that ride? Do you remember the people? Or just the routes you took to see it all.

There’s a story in me about walking and seeing I fear. A navigation of the paths taken and missed and the why of it. When I finish with work, I think the time will be upon to consider the longer writing I have wanted to do. What kind of writing shall it be? I have a bankroll of stories of a life spent in different endeavors and how each spun into a future that is the past now.

Stay tuned. My end of days doing IT is fast approaching. The stories boil up within and demand some attention. Soon I’ll touch those streets in Tokyo, Hiroshima, and Osaka. Watch the blur from the Shinkansen window as the bullet hurtles.

Travel is not being the Vagabond

Its almost the beginning of February which means the last month I will work. In March, I take off and fly to Japan and then to Vietnam. Once in Hanoi, I will spend 3 months living and playing, eating and drinking, seeing and doing. Then I catch the train from Hanoi to Ho Chi Minh City for more of the same.

To tell the truth its been since 2011 that I have had this dream. At times, I never believed I would get to be within 30 days of going. 30 days of being able to leave the Bay Area. A place I never cared for or wanted to live in. I remember back then sometimes after beer only fantasizing about what it would be like when all the things would come together. I wondered then if I would find a job that would let me pay off all debt. Dreams, dear friends. Dreams. So much closer to reality.

The blog is about to turn a corner, become a new thing. That one category Travel will have a new friend soon join it. I am going to launch the category Vagabonding because what I will do is not travel. Travel to me has a beginning and end. I saw this happen time and again when I traveled for work. I would go to India or Singapore or Hanoi or wherever and it would begin and end. My friend AFT does the same. There is a sublime difference between traveling in a number of days that some company buys you. Then you have to live by a set of company rules. They tell you how long to stay and when to go.

Vagabonding on the other hand has no rules. You wander place to place with no fixed home or job. You may wander. Wandering is another great word and when you combine it with lust, you get the true measure of the words.

So welcome my new category dear readers. I’ll embrace the wanderlust and finally be that one thing which was withheld me. First off Japan and then Vietnam and Cambodia. Perhaps Thailand and Laos and China. Life is open for business.