My dear author friend, Fawn, keeps telling me to write a How-To book about doing this sort of travel. Well, right now, I should be reading somebody else’s How-To book on the subject of launching my travels. In fact, thinking about saying that in this blog inspired me to root around on my bookshelf and pull out a few of my collection of them just in case I can find the time to leaf through to see if I’ve forgotten anything.
In a pile beside my chair now is: Foxy Old Woman’s Guide to Traveling Alone Around Town and Around The World by Jay Ben-Lesser; Solo Traveler, Tales and Tips for Great Trips by Lea Lane; and Gutsy Women by Marybeth Bond. Somewhere in the house is the encyclopedic volume, The Practical Nomad: How To Travel Around The World by Edward Hasbrouck, which I recommend in the back of my own book. I’m putting a serious study session on my To-Do list.
Because, for me, it’s all about To-Do lists. That’s the sum total of my How-To advice and I’m living it right now since I shall be in Bogota, Columbia, South America, one month from today acclimating after my arrival flight on January 3rd. I’m never going to write an instructional book because it’s more or less just common sense. How do you get ready to go anywhere? It’s the same, but just add a few visas, shots, and money arrangements. I still feel like an amateur and just sort of plug along, trying to remember everything, if that makes you feel any better. Simply apply common sense and do a bit of research, if necessary. No big deal!
This morning, I rose before the crack of dawn to go get bloodwork done because my GP doctor hasn’t seen me for a year and needed an update when prescribing my malaria pills for the jungles and the excellent mosquito bite possibilities I’ll be exposed to. Also, got a Hepatitis B shot, in case I come in contact with somebody’s bodily fluids by accident, or by blood transfusion (can’t be too careful here), so all my inoculations are now accounted for. She has also prescribed an antibiotic to have along and a wound salve, so health is covered.
Gadgets fill my coffee table and they keep accumulating. Now I must learn how to use them properly. A new and teeny-tiny MP3 player, which every child can operate, awaits my naive exploration; a teeny-tiny, pocket-sized video camera has me dreaming of Facebook or YouTube exposure, but wondering if I can get it to work; my own new digital camera, with all the bells and whistles, wants me to figure it out too, and I have something called a Personal Organizer waiting to have batteries installed and the manual studied. I think I’ve fallen for other gimmicks ready to pour their wonders upon my life, if only I can find the drawer where I have stuffed them until I could find a geek to come and educate me. Haven’t found that geek, so it’s now all up to me to turn on their wee little brains and access their miracles. All of these little things will fit into my purse and will be wonderful IF I can master them in time. Gee, I see that this organizer translates from English to Spanish! That’s probably why I bought it. I sure do need that!
On my last trip out, I carried two heavy pouches of recommended must-have items: a battery recharger and a set of electrical plug current converters. Did I wind up using them? Heck no! It was hard to remember to repack them whenever I checked out and I wound up using throw away batteries anyway. I think I mailed them home, at great expense, and I’m not planning to take them with me this time. So many gimmicks! Here’s another I just fished out of my desk drawer. It’s a World Time Clock and Calendar, also waiting with instructions for me to rev it up. Really cute, and I think my organizer would perform those same functions. I’ve owned these jobbies for a year now, bought in some fever of wishful thinking for the open road. I don’t even own a cell phone because I would have to program it, so can you imagine this throwback actually making it out the door with all of these gadgets fully functioning? I can’t. But, they are on my To-Do list.
My new backpack is already pretty much packed though it’s still a work in progress. I have the new REI stuff I bought in Denver already in it and the basic clothing I know I’m going to need. It’s always possible to find forgotten items out there in the cities of the world, so leaving something out is no great tragedy. We all tend to take way too much and the discipline of a limited-size, back-borne container is a good way to keep that under control.
Today, I’ll start the process of trying to get crisp new $100 bills from the bank. That’s not as easy as you think and it may take awhile. You see, banks order money and they might have to ask their suppliers for new one hundreds. Many of those won’t pass your inspection and you’ll have to turn those in and try again. I don’t know how strict the exchange offices are in South America….nobody is as picky as the Soviet Union used to be…but if they don’t like a dirty, torn, or marked up bill, then it will be worthless until you can get it back home. I insist upon crisp, new bills and they are getting harder to find, so you need lead time.
Then, have you ever noticed how a house doesn’t stay clean and groceries (for my son) don’t stay bought if you try to do the final stuff too far before departure? So that goes on the last minute to-do list. I’m not there yet. Only on the middle-agenda to-do listings. Anyway, that’s what my days are like. I must call my friends and set up get-togethers since I won’t be back till Spring. Gotta research trip insurance. What else? Oh yes, Christmas is coming. Gift shopping and wrapping and a dinner to plan the week before departure. How do people who have to work right up until they get on the plane manage it all, I wonder?