Apr. 5th, 2010

skyring: (Default)
Yeah, I know. I've seen Ryan Bingham. I've heard the advice. I know you can travel light. Just carry on.

But not me. it doesn't work. Okay?

The clutter begins when booking things. Flights, hotels, cars, convention events. Each confirmation gets printed out, so I have something I can refer to when giving a taxi driver directions or standing at the checkin desk. This is what I ordered, this is what I paid, this is what I'll be doing tomorrow. Every bit of paper goes into a folder, one of those cheapie plastic collections of transparent sleeves you can get at Woollies for $1.29. One sleeve per day or destination, so I can flip through and find what I need.

I also have another folder for paperwork collected along the way. Hotel receipts, ticket stubs, maps, leaflets - all the little ephemeral bits that I want to keep but otherwise get mixt up together in one of my backpack pockets. If I ever get around to making a travel journal of the trip - and I'm pretty much backed up to 2008 at the moment - I can paste these things in for memory's sake. I know I shouldn't live in the past, but there are some life experiences I like to remember fondly, and my travels have so many of those moments.

One day, I'll be able to say I spent a fortune on a lifetime of happy memories. And then got Alzheimers's.

I prepare my travel wallet. A Levenger Road Scholar in red leather with "Skyring" embossed. I'm a total Levenger nut, and a big fan of their Bomber Jacket and Circa product lines.

This is where my passport lives, as well as my boarding passes, loyalty cards, Oyster and Octopus cards, a Space Pen, whatever foreign currency I've got left over from the last trip, a copy of my itinerary and anything else I could use, like a couple of Express passes for Oz immigration. This is in my hand when I'm going through security or boarding or any other crucial point. It's the things I need to make it all flow.

Bright red so I can spot it easily if I lay it down.

Bright yellow for my two checked bags. I have very few problems spotting my bags on a carousel, and nobody's going to walk off with them.

LL Bean rolling duffle in the biggest size. It's tough, holds a bundle of stuff, rolls and has a couple of pockets. In a pinch it can be carried. It's a bugger to take up and down stairs, and I have vivid memories of my first trip to Paris when I made several Metro changes in the morning rush.

Second bag is a big BookCrossing.com tote. This holds my books, and being a BookCrosser, I tend to have a LOT of books. It is super tough, holds about fifteen kilos of books, in a kind of square cube shape. No wheels. But brilliant for a book release walk through a strange city.

A light Crumpler daypack. Holds my laptop, camera, reading book, emergency toilet bag, a spray jacket, spare undies and socks, my travel folder, electronics cables and chargers. On the road it's my emergency kit in case my checked luggage is lost or delayed. I don't let this out of my sight.

Two toilet bags. A Kathmandu wetpack that holds my regular shaving gear, toothbrush, shampoo etc. That goes in checked luggage. An emergency kit that has small tubes and bottles (a lot of them from amenity kits), eyemask, bandaids, painkillers, light razor and toothbrush, all in an old Qantas First leather amenity bag.

Electronics. Mac Air for a good lightweight laptop. iPhone. Cords and chargers for both. Apple has a you-beaut set of plugs for various international sockets, very nice system. Camera is a small Canon with 10x optical. Takes rechargeable AA batteries and I have a travel recharger for those, as well as a good stock of spare batteries. Spare memory card. Couple of external hard drives for back-ups and photographs. The Air only has 80 gig - it can't hold everything, but USB external disks are cheap and the overflow goes onto these.

A few cables to hook everything together. Double adaptor in Aussie and a set of converters. All goes into a mesh bag with a zip, otherwise after the first few days everything turns into one unholy tangle at the bottom of my backpack.

Laundry bag with a portable pegless clothesline. As clothes are used, I put them in there, otherwise I'm reduced to sniffing undies to work out which ones are good to wear, and that's never a good look.

Guidebooks. I'm a big fan of the Dorling-Kindersley range. They are packed with maps, diagrams, pictures. I'm a very visual sort of guy and big slabs of text turn me off. A bit chunky, but worth it, especially for the mini street directories in the back.

Tim-Tams. Eighteen packets, stowed in some hefty plastic boxes. For better or worse, I've got a Tim-Tam reputation, and they are perfect as gifts for friends along the way.

Clothes. Spare undies and socks and hankies. Board shorts that double as sleeping wear. Polo shirts that I can wear just about anywhere. A light jumper. A t-shirt for sleeping in or wearing as a bottom layer. One pair of comfy shoes that are sturdy enough to walk around town and in parks. Second pair of trousers. Pair of sandals as a reserve.

Oh yeah. A light but warm Columbia jacket. April is pretty good everywhere, but sometimes it isn't!

That's mostly it.
skyring: (Default)
Dolls

Looking at
this news story about a couple of women refusing to go through a full-body scanner and being refused clearance to fly.

I cannot believe that the British are being so boneheaded. The screening system looks through clothing, revealing the body beneath, as well as any concealed items. Hide some explosives in your undies, and they will be picked up.

Well, that’s good, in theory, but if the bad guys know this, then won’t they go the logical next step and hide the explosives some place where they won’t be detected? After all, they want to blow up the plane, and personal comfort isn’t high on their long-term list of priorities, given that they don’t intend to have a long term.
So, full-body scanning easily circumvented.

But these expensive bits of kit are going to be increasingly used, replacing the existing metal-detecting gates. Travellers have to go into a chamber, stop, turn around, raise their arms, turn around and walk out while someone looks at their bodies through X-ray specs.

Now, I don’t think anyone is going to be aroused by my sagging middle-aged body, but I dare say that my wife and twenty-something daughter could provide some salacious entertainment for the security staff weary of inspecting carry on bags for nail scissors.

What really bugs me is that I’ve organised myself with a web plastic belt and metalfree shoes to march straight through the existing security checks, and now I’m going to have to do all this extra stuff, sealed away, while my laptop, phone, wallet etc is open and vulnerable on the conveyor belt.

I went through SFO in October, and they were randomly selecting people to go through the detector gate or full-body scanner depending on which was next available. I was directed into the scanner, and I flatly refused. I don’t want to encourage these things in any way.

They pulled me aside, patted me down, took some stuff out of my pockets. Lip balm, comb and a few similar non-metallic things. They ran those through the scanner, while I waited, looking at other passengers reaching over my unattended valuables on the conveyor belt to get their stuff.

If I refuse again in Heathrow, where I have to make two transits, am I going to be refused clearance to fly? Or will I, presumably, grit my teeth and pirouette in the observation chamber, grumbling to myself about the numbskullery of it all while some basterd nicks my laptop?
skyring: (Default)
Remember that old USAF Dynasoar project? Well, this ain't it:

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