Travel Prep - #1

Includes my top 2 'can't leave home without them' tips

Before the pandemic hit, I'd got the pre-travel preparation down to a T. The list of stuff - separate to clothes - had been refined over the years and packing the items became second nature.

This was driven primarily by how our accommodation needs had changed too largely thanks to the prevalence of AirBnB and the appeal of self-catering. Instead of hotels / resorts, we found ourselves staying in apartments, AirBnBs, AirBnB and hotels, inns (China), inns and hotels (as in Dali and Lijiang), or, in the case of Sri Lanka, different one and two star bed and breakfasts for the eight nights we were there.

If relying on hotels, everything is there for you. But we were going to places where there weren't any hotels or those that were at the destination were expensive. One hotel we stayed on Hainan island was pleasant enough, brand new, five star, right on the beach and too-good-to-be-true value. We assumed (very dangerous thing to do) the affordability came down to the fact it had just opened.

In fact, it was because the main road had been dug up to make way for a new highway. Our hotel bus picked us up and then lurched down the muddy, potholed, bone shaking track for an hour. It was so bad, that the Fitbit I wore clocked up steps as I remained seated. Terrible road, beautiful hotel.

[I remember that hotel very well. There was another next door that was abandoned. When we finally got to our room, I switched on the TV to check what international programming was available and the first thing I saw was a corporate hotel ad fronted by Mr David Beckham.]

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Tea of two, Lake Gregory, Sri Lanka.

By staying in mixed accommodation, you begin to realise just how much waste is generated by staying there or indeed, any rented accommodation. Shampoo, soap, toothpaste, combs, toothbrushes, and any other free bathroom item, are mostly discarded after departure.

This may sound obvious yet you've paid for the room so everything you require should be inside for free. Yes, some hotels do reuse and refill plastic bottles or you have to ask for stuff to be delivered, but what about the toothbrushes, ear buds, toothpaste etc.? I suspect there is some attempt to recycle (I like to think so) although in reality, I bet it's replaced with shiny new stuff for the next guest.

Saying that, I do remember staying in a hotel in Kandy, Sri Lanka where a big thing was made about the reuse of their bathroom plastic bottles. Except all the labels had rubbed off the shampoo, conditioner and body wash bottles from constant washing.

Several years ago, we began to change how we went on holiday. First it was the switch to apartments (we did this first in Malaysia) and AirBnBs (UK and China). Believe me, there were some places we stayed in the UK, China and even Italy where the hotels were awful, too small and too expensive, or we had got bitten by the self-catering bug and decided only as the last resort would we stay in a hotel.

[We've not turned our backs entirely on hotels. Just they are not the first consideration when planning a holiday.]

This switch meant a refocus on what we took on holiday. For example, we take our own recycle bags for shopping. If it's hand luggage only, then we buy at the destination.

The variety and number of plugs and plug sockets found when travelling used to strike fear in my heart. Just the huge difference in sockets and plug types was a constant irritant. Then I came up with a solution.

There isn't a uniform plug code so it used to be a hugely frustrating experience finding the adapter I'd taken didn't work with any socket. We always had too many things to charge and not enough plugs.

So now we take our own plug strip (brand new one pictured below). The most important thing to look for is if the strip has power surge protection.

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I have taken plug strips with four sockets side-by-side and a three metre cable; I just decided to go for a more compact unit.

An adapter is required for some countries, there is cable spaghetti, and solves the one socket or sockets on one side of the bed issue.

Plug in with a multi adapter. Don't leave it too late to buy.
The best plug adapter we've used. Multiple plugs 'hidden' within one unit. Not cheap yet indespensible.

These cost around US$15 but they are the best I've come across for quite a while.

One power strip and two multiple country adapters minimum. It's best to buy adapters in red, orange, pink or other to identify they are yours because some places do supply them in, usually, standard white or black.

I have looked at solar chargers. I don't know much about them or anyone who uses them. The ones I have seen have USB and USB-C ports although I don't know how to charge any item without those connectors and do not want to buy different cables just to get everything to work.

UPDATE: July 2022. I corrected typos, added in the power strip photos, wrote a little bit more.

 [This post doesn't endorse a single product, there are no affiliate links, are suggestions only, and is designed to provide information only. If you decide to purchase the same or similar, that's your decision only.]