Cameron Shook

Traveling Essentials

Cameron Shook
Traveling Essentials

While I’m sure there are more suitable people to talk on traveling, I’m currently writing this article while flying back from a work trip in Boston so I’m feeling knowledgeable at the moment. I’ve also helped quite a few people prepare for trips that they’ve taken abroad and they didn’t meet disaster so I hope this advice meets with the same success.

I’ve written on this before, but let me reiterate: Never skimp on toilet paper. That “Travel” or “Camping Size” stuff you find in the camping section of Walmart just doesn’t cut it. If you need to save as much space as possible, remove the cardboard tube from a roll of Charmin and you’re ahead of the game. Even if you’re staying in a campground with flush toilets, I would suggest treating yourself to the good stuff.

Enough of that unpleasantness; there’s plenty of other things to make sure are in your bag before heading out. Next on my list is any kind of device that can access Google Maps on the road; iPhone, Android, etc. While most people know it works very well as a GPS app (and has saved me from being lost more times than I can count), it also doubles as a great way to access public transportation. All-knowing Google actually has a complete listing of public train, subway, and bus schedules that it will access any time you pick the public transportation option (the bus symbol). If you’re in a big city and can’t make sense of the schedule listings and stops, Google Maps will walk you through which bus, stop, and transfers to make. It’s also free, so you can’t beat the price.

Organization is half the battle when traveling and plenty of companies make little sacks and bags to better help keep your gear straight. Or, if you don’t own your own jet, you can go down to the grocery store and buy plenty of the large zip-lock bags (gallon size for example) and use those to sort your gear. The added bonus is that you can write on them with a sharpie and it adds some waterproofness just in case your bag gets soaked.

Another thing to keep in mind is preventing yourself from over packing on clothing: instinct makes you pack one change of clothes per day and while that’s fine for a weekend trip anything longer makes your bag(s) fill up quickly. Unless you need to smell fresh as a rose, my general rule of thumb is a change of clothes every other day with a maximum of 3 sets of clothes. If you’re staying in hotels, usually there’s a washer and dryer you can use. If you’re staying in a tent, the smell keeps bears away since they don’t like to eat dead things.

 If you’re going to be backpacking or camping and having to fly to your destination that brings a whole set of concerns and preparations that you might not be prepared for if you haven’t thought of it ahead of time. First and foremost is what supplies you’ll be able to take with you directly and what you’ll need to pick up after arriving. While you might convince the TSA your trekking pole isn’t actually a deadly spear, they’re definitely not going to let you get away with taking any kind of fuel for your stove with you. They also won’t allow a liquid fuel stove (e.g. an MSR Whisperlite) unless the bottles were fully purged as well as the stove itself. If it smells like fuel at all they won’t allow you to take it on the plane at all.  If you’re flying to a city like Seattle, Denver, or Bozeman you’ll be able to find an outdoor store easily to restock but other times, especially if your destination isn’t a major hotspot of outdoor activity, you may need to arrange to ship your needed fuel ahead of you and pick it up when you arrive. You’ll have to pay a bit extra for the hazmat charge, but it is possible to do it. Another option is to switch to an alcohol stove which you can easily find fuel for at any automotive or hardware store; HEET in the yellow bottle (a gas-line antifreeze liquid) is the best fuel you can get for an alcohol stove.

 

Amish in the sense that, at one point, my family helped others raise barns.
Now I build websites to help others build their businesses.