Not about books: my travel routine

I travel a lot for work (and a little for fun), and in the two years I’ve been a #businesslady I’ve developed a pretty solid routine:

  1. Post a killer photo of the city on Instagram and see what random likes I get from local users and people who follow business travelers
  2. Come prepared every time with my superawesome necessities

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While I’m certainly not the person to give hot tips on how to post on Instagram, I’m pretty proud of the “travel necessities” list I’ve cultivated.

All the yum yums: I get hungry a LOT. I’m a grazer and tend to eat a lot of small meals throughout the day, so needless to say I carry food with me at almost all times. I’ve started going to Trader Joe’s or Whole Foods before I travel so I can stock up on healthy snacks pre-airport, instead of relying on plane snacks and Hudson News bags of chips. My favorite plane snack/meal on long flights consists of cheese, grapes, meat (usually beef jerky, or prosciutto if I’m feeling fancy) and dark chocolate covered almonds.

Most importantly, I need to eat really soon after I wake up. While I can usually splash out on a nice work-sponsored breakfast, one usually has to look generally presentable for that, and I’m not about to put in my contacts any sooner than 30 minutes after waking up. So, on my last trip I finally hacked the best Breakfast #1 plan. In a strategy so simple I can’t believe I didn’t think of it before, I brought bags of oatmeal with me! Every hotel has a coffeemaker that makes hot water, and I just make the oatmeal in a coffee cup or mug and bring a spoon with me from home. If I’m feeling  very  ambitious I whip up a pro greens powder drink, which mixes a veggie probiotic powder with water and basically tastes like drinking grass, but you get to be smug for the rest of the day about it so that’s nice.

If I’m very lucky, I’m in DC and can eat my favorite-in-the-world avocado toast with whipped goat cheese. *drools*

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Sleep Musts: One that is still evolving, but I’m slowly discovering how to sleep better in hotels. I tend to have some mild sleep anxiety, even at home, and do some failsafe tricks to sleep in strange beds:

  • Be a princess with the room request. It helps that I have status (#platinumlife baaaaby) but I’m VERY explicit when I check in and request a room as quiet as possible to hotel and street noise, throwing in I’m okay if the view is of a brick wall. My favorite is when I stay in a hotel enough times that I can say, “Give me any of the -14 rooms.” It makes me look super cool.
  • Noise machine! My boyfriend gifted me his noise machine and it’s been amazing. Yes, I know phones have the app, but I like that the noise machine can get really noisy. I use it at home, too, and it’s nice to have consistency. It’s also nice to be able to drown out rogue hallway noises. (My home is under a flight path to the airport, so I know that if this noise machine can cover the sound of a 747 directly overhead, it can handle hotel noises.)

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Waltzing my way through security with too many bags: My final crucial tip revolves around how to brazen your way through airport security when you have the personality that tends to crumble before authority. My dirty secret is that sometimes (most of the time) I sneak three pieces of luggage to carry on to the plane: my overhead carry-on bag, a snazzy professional backpack, and a very thin purse. Blasphemy! You’re only meant to have two!

In my defense, the purse is really no bigger than a wallet and I carry it separately simply so I can access my phone and money more quickly than ripping my backpack off. But, it does give me a little thrill whenever authority figures let my rule-breaking slide.

And yes, a few times it hasn’t worked, and I’ve either gotten a stink-eye from a flight attendant or been stopped by TSA to put the purse into the backpack (all the while internally rolling my eyes and externally apologizing profusely to them). You know what does work, though? Casually draping a coat over the rogue third personal item. Works like a charm, every time. And you’re talking to the gal who once snuck two large fountain drinks into a movie theater under a very large fleece. Pure pro over here. You’re welcome for this, world.

 

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Where Am I GOING?!

It’s November, friends. This means a few different things:

1) I have only one month left in England (!!)
2) We’ve FINALLY come past one of my least favorite holidays, Halloween. While I love a masquerade and candy as much as the next gal, it just doesn’t hold much appeal to me beyond the requisite viewing of Hocus Pocus and the scary episode of Boy Meets World with my undergrad friends.
3) It’s All Saint’s Day! You’re welcome for that reminder.
4) Most importantly: I’m about to hit the most exciting next six months of my life (not to be over-dramatic or anything).

So what are my plans? Just what countries will get to experience some K10 love?

Well, I’m glad you asked.

November-December

 I’ll be bouncing around the isle(s), heading up to Edinburgh tomorrow (for the first time! Clearly Scotland in November is a tropical paradise). I’ll be busy working as it is a program with my students, but I have vowed that I WILL try haggis!

Immediately after returning from Och Eye Land, I’ll be welcoming one of my old roomies to London, then traveling the following weekend to Dublin to crash with the Me at the Ireland site. After  welcoming to Me in Ireland to London, the McCarthys officially invade London!

As I wrap up my job and force the kiddos out of the country, I’ll be welcoming my progenitors to this grand city. We will also be doing a little family trip up to York, another amazing English city I’ve never been to!

December-January

I have a lovely six weeks back in the States to celebrate Christmas, birthdays, and get my life somewhat in order (mostly to nap with my cats) before…. Southeast Asia!

January 23-April 16

You’re already up to date on this! It’s going to be a crazy few months and I’m guaranteed to welcome in 2013, turn 25, and cry at least once (per day). Just kidding… maybe.

My SEA (Southeast Asia) Plans!

My itinerary is still VERY in flux, but so far my plans are:

Thailand


Image via Xin Li 88
Image via brongaeh

I will fly into Bangkok and spend probably about a week, initially, to do my typical tourist sightseeing and jump in to haggling, street food, tuk-tuks, and traveling solo!

After Bangkok, I will journey down to Southern Thailand and hit up the Andaman Coast. I might end up going to the Gulf coast as well, but so far none of the islands sound appealing to me personally. I’m not exactly sure yet which islands I will explore, but I will probably use Krabi as a base and will likely go to Koh Lanta and Railay, as well as others, depending on how long the smoothie and beach bumming lifestyle appeals to me! I won’t be doing a ton of touristy sightseeing, mostly just relaxing, but I do hope to learn how to ride a motorbike when I am on one of these islands.

As of right now, I don’t think I will have enough time to swing Northern Thailand. That disappoints me… but who knows what will happen?

Laos 

Image via trippinlarry

As time is of the essence, I will likely fly from Thailand to Laos and explore the beautiful cities of Luang Prabang and Vientiane, learning more about the Lao culture and history. I will likely skip the backpacker favorite Vang Vieng, a town where you inner-tube down a river from bar to bar, as I’m not greatly into the “party scene.” But I may end up meeting some friends who convince me otherwise!

Cambodia 

Image via Stuck in Customs

This is the one part of my route that is most up in the air now but will end up being the most planned out, as I am meeting one of my favorite travel partners, my father!

That’s Pop!

He and I will likely meet in Siem Reap and spend about four days exploring the temples of Angkor before heading to visit some other cities. We are still talking about which ones, but perhaps Phnom Penh and Kep? No matter what, I’m looking forward to experiencing this country with him, particularly as I will be able to scrub off a month and a half of hostels and stay in nice resorts!

Vietnam 

Image via ccdoh1

I will bus from Cambodia to Ho Chi Minh City, in southern Vietnam (probably with my father, who will fly out after a few days there). I’m glad I will be able to jump into the craziness that is Vietnam with someone else! I plan to journey up the coast of Vietnam, hitting places like Mui Ne, Nha Trang, Hoi An, and Hue before ending in Hanoi towards the beginning to the middle of April. Then back to BKK!
After that, it’s back to Virginia to celebrate the weddings of two very good friends… and then MYSTERY. 
If you have any tips about good places to visit or how to best swing all of this, I would be happy to hear!

Taking the First Step

As you probably know, I’ve always been the gal with the plan and the carefully constructed timeline. Clearly college follows high school, so senior year is application year. After college? Grad school, naturally! Another application year. After grad school? Hello, job!

Whoops.

We all know what happened next, since I’m currently living it. And when I took the job, I had a tentative thought that grew into an avalanche: since I’ll be unemployed in winter – high season for the next region on my list, Southeast Asia – what a perfect time to travel!

Yes, I decided. This is happening. I bought the books, I started the plans, I mapped out the route. I told my parents, my close friends, and then the ENTIRE WORLD. This is guaranteed to happen.

Except… for that pesky first step. You know. Buying the plane ticket. 

For some reason, this has been the hardest thing for me to accomplish, because it makes it real. After I’ve dropped all that dough on a plane ticket, no backing out (or more accurately, chickening out).

And so I kept putting it off. My reluctance to buy that darn ticket was at first justifiable (at least to me): Clearly, I couldn’t buy it BEFORE I started my job, in case I had some random thing to do after the program ends December 9. Then once I started my job, I wanted to dive into it and just figure out my current transition before working on the next step.

But I’ve just celebrated my one-month anniversary (AWW), and my excuses are running pretty thin. In the past few days, I realized that I WANTED to start looking at my next steps. I spend every second of my day thinking of other people, keeping intricate details and to-do lists in mind for work, and I want to think about ME! Preferably me relaxing on a beach in Thailand.

So I took the first mini step: I decided that I would buy the tickets on Tuesday, September 18. (Why that date? No idea. I think it’s because I heard once that plane tickets are cheapest on Tuesdays and decided It Must Be True). Then, I told my parents that this was happening. The thing that pushed me over the line and got my feet (and my credit card) moving? An email from my dad that started, “As you make your reservations tomorrow…” Not if. This was going to happen.

And happen it did. Friends? It’s official. Flying into Bangkok on January 23. Flying out on April 16.

The in-between stuff? All in good time.

ALSO: I’ve been shockingly lax with my cat photos, so here’s one of bathtime. RRRR