April 2, 2013
By Jenni Fogle
Last year I spent 57 days at “home,” making me wonder where my home really is. I’m in Africa as I write this and will be in Myanmar later this month (Note: Jenni is in Nepal right now). A client on Kilimanjaro recently said to me, “Usually I think this sounds too cliche, but you truly are a citizen of the world.” I take it as a compliment. Home is where I hang my backpack. I can’t donate blood, because I have spent so much time in Europe that I am considered high-risk for mad cow disease. This is despite the fact that I haven’t eaten any red meat since I was 12 years old.
What I’m trying to say is that I suppose I am qualified to give the following tips about international travel and hope that at least one of these tips will make your next trip more enjoyable. I’m going to assume that you all know basic TSA requirements. Put your multi-tool in your checked bag and dump out your water bottle.
Tip # 1 – Pack what you need and leave what you don’t. Research the weather conditions for your destination and bring appropriate clothing. If you’re going somewhere you’ve never been, talk to someone who’s been there. Many items can be found worldwide, but how much time do you want to spend shopping at your destination? I went on a climbing trip to Ecuador in the fall. My climbing partner and I had a tight schedule planned and brought enough food to get us through the first climb so that we could head straight for the mountain less than 8 hours after our arrival. We resupplied for the second climb on the rest day.
Tip #2 – Find out what type of adapter plug you will need at your destination. Small, universal battery packs can be convenient so can solar chargers if you will have enough sun and time to recharge with the sun.
Tip # 3 – Select your seat on long flights. I can’t stand being trapped in a middle or window seat on long flights, and I’m only 5’6″. You usually don’t have anyone to blame but yourself if you’re trapped between two people you would normally never sit next to. If you prefer a window or an aisle, you can usually select your seat easily on line. If that’s not possible, a phone call to the airline should do the trick. There are rare occasions when seats cannot be preselected, but even then you can express your preference when you check in.
Tip # 4 – Flexibility key. Water, electricity and Wi-Fi are much more reliable in the United States than most places in the world. I hope you don’t lose all three at once, but don’t freak out if you do. Try to remember way back when we only had landlines, even for the Internet. Relax and appreciate where you are rather than being caught up in staying in constant contact with home.
Tip # 5 – Before you leave home be sure to jot down important local names, addresses, email addresses, websites, phone numbers, etc. These can prove invaluable.
Tip # 6 – Just like on the trail – communicate your plans (be specific) to a family member or close friend who is not going on the trip with you… then be sure keep them updated to any changes to your itinerary.
The list goes on forever, but hopefully these few tips come in handy on your next adventure.
PS – Oh, and don’t lose your passport!