Last updated on August 5, 2010
Now that I’ve been back in the States for a couple of months I find that some of my well-honed travel habits went AWOL on me and just disappeared without asking me if I was ready to part ways. You see, I never lose anything on the road (truly haven’t left anything behind) yet in the past two months I’ve misplaced sunglasses, wallets, keys, and power cords for sometimes days while I’m living out cozy bedrooms at the hospitality of my friends.
In fact, my friends consistently joke that I lose my edge when I’m home, and it’s true – my guard is down and I have others nearby to use as a crutch if something happens.
So I ask myself where has the organization gone? I’m drowning in my Type B travel personality without the sprinkling of Type A traits when I’m in the comfort of home. In fact, I find that us travelers are a lax bunch for the most part…perhaps the quintessential Type B-ers: relaxed and patient, we go-with-the-flow and operate with less urgency because of an open schedule. And while there are a lot of negative characteristics to that typical Type A-er, there are a few traits that I’ve found helpful on the road for building habits that keep you sane and organized…and these are the habits that I hope will show back up on the scene before I leave for Asia this month!
(1) Be precise and conscious:
Keep track of your belongings. You don’t have many belongings anyways but it’s easy to leave things behind when you’re frequently moving so keep good track of what you and have where it goes.
My travel habits: I never take off my watch, rings, or other personal effects – instead I just got used to wearing them. For the moments when something does have to come off (my rings for diving/water sports) then have a designated spot and only take it off when I can put it in that spot!
(2) Develop a methodical packing system:
Create your packing system…you don’t have many belongings anyways but it’s easy to leave things behind when you’re frequently moving so create your packing system and stick to it! This one goes hand in hand with being methodical – put things back into their place within your system and you’re golden!
Having a system and a set place for everything also helps cut down time if you snooze through your alarm and have to throw everything together!
My travel habits: Similarly, when I am packing I know if everything is with me because it all has a spot – especially the important stuff. The laptop cord always gets packed in the same spot, same with the camera, my towel (easy to leave behind) and other important items so that I can easily do a “last check” right before leaving. I love using packing cubes and zip-locks…between the two my pack rarely has loose things rolling around inside!
(3) Be prepared:
It may be the Boy Scouts motto but it works for travelers too! Traveling is a lot safer than non-travelers imagine but that doesn’t mean that we don’t encounter those rough spots. Scan and photocopy your passport, your credit cards, your vaccine records and anything else important. Bring your own lock for lockers and keep your vitals close on hand as you travel (yep…I mean a money belt).
My travel habits: I scanned everything from my social security card to my birth certificate (and definitely my passport) and left it on a drive for my parents – I emailed myself some important documents so that they’re in my inbox. Either way, if I need them someone can easily find them and get them to me electronically. I also travel with a PacSafe – it doesn’t get used all of the time but when it does I am so thankful to have my electronics safe while I go explore.
Seems Simple but Makes a Big Difference!
I can’t count the number of times I’ve watched stressed out backpackers digging out all of the contents of their rucksack backpack in search of that one essential item they need. Or watched the panic as a traveler realizes their computer cord is 400 miles away still plugged into the outlet in the room at their last hostel.
Although there’s something to say for that patience and ease that we’ve all developed from hours spent waiting for that bus that was “coming in 20 minutes, mas o menos” only to get on the bus for another 15 hours, there’s also something to say for the neat traveler who just has their act together a teensy bit more than the rest.
What are your top tips for staying organized on the road?