RustyHints

Travelers have advised me; “Rusty you should write a book about travel-hints”. This is when I know my phone call has gone too long. However this blog about travel-hints and experiences will help you exploration our planet. RustyHints To Travel By

Many Rustyhints are simple horse-sense. Some are reminders that may have slipped your mind, and still others are something that may not have occurred to you. Some RustyHints are applicable toward any journey, others are focused toward the more adventurous experiences one can have on our planet. Rustyhints are not “gospel,” they are hints from decades of travel experiences that may be applicable to your travel, and a few may bring a smile. A RustyStory will emphasize a pertinent hint.

RustyHints are purposefully not in any particular order, in fact they appear randomly here. To see all the current RustyHints click the link above as they are updated weekly and bandanas are now included. Use your Find button if you are looking for a particular topic. Enjoy the day, Rusty

#26 Taxi haggling. When bargaining, smile, as this is a game and you are usually in control. There is a lot of competition for your business, so you usually have most of the leverage. But, set the price before your luggage goes into the car, rickshaw, or is thrown across a donkey or tied to a yak. You’ve lost your leverage to bargain when your bags are locked in the trunk.

#65 What shots do I need? Your nearest large university probably has a travel-clinic. The university has faculty and students traveling to and from destinations all over the world, during different seasons of the year. A University travel-clinic will typically ask very good questions based on when, where and what you are doing. They are a great resource for what medications you may need based not on some dusty book or generalized answer from the CDC, but on what is really needed given your specific needs and adventures.

#60 Power : Electricity for our “toys”. Do I need a power converter? Often we don’t, not with
Duel Voltage.

We’re all traveling with gadgets these days; camera battery chargers, laptops, MP3 players, cell phones, AA/AAA rechargeable battery chargers, and other gadgets. Since 1992, travel oriented gadgets have been produced with “dual power” conversion. Retail travel stores conveniently don’t mention this. Don’t trust me on this, check your gadgets “very fine print.” On your gadget or it’s power cord, in super very small print you should find AC 110-240V 50-60Hz. This indicates dual voltage capability, and that you do not need a weighty $25 “power converter”. For many countries you will still need a wall adapter, but that is cheap, and you are otherwise good-to-go. (See also #61, Have Gadgets Will Travel)

#45 Money is an important topic and ATM’s vary widely depending on local conditions and culture. ATM’s are widely available in major cities around the world. However, they do not always work or may have significant restrictions requiring you to visit several ATM’s to obtain the amount of money you require. Note; ATM’s are not always in English and in Peru, I’m sorry to say but currently they may dispense counterfeit money.

#38 Adventure travel is most fun and educational in a spirit of “k-garne”. Adventure travel by definition means that the unplanned for is very possible. “K-garne” is an excellent Nepali word for how to enjoy traveling the world. K-garne is an attitude that translates as “a smile and a shrug of the shoulders”, it means “this is where life is taking us,” or “I will go with the flow, be patient and roll with it”.

#48 Rechargeable and double AA batteries do not like 32 degrees or less. If you are going somewhere cold like a trek to Mt. Everest or to Machu Picchu, bring lithium batteries and it’s prudent to bring two sets. During very cold periods of time, putting your camera inside your jacket to keep the batteries warm will usually keep a camera functioning for a few quick photos.

#58 Bandana. There are 148 different uses for a bandana and counting. 1- Colorful fun. 2- Wipe your nose or face. 3 On flights draped over my eyes you can sleep. 4 A hot pot can be picked up off a camp stove. 5 A pre-filter water before pumping it. 6- An impromptu towel. 7- A hummingbird attractor in the Amazon. 8 A tourniquet (bad problem to have). 9- It’s your towel. 10- It’s where you put the parts of your camera or watch as you repair it. 11- A bandana is a flag for waving down lost trip members in a huge Bangkok airport or Utah slot canyon! 12- Warm rice rolled up in it and laid on your eyes after a dust invades your eyes is relaxing and healthful. 13- A bandana is an impromptu head-scarf for visiting the Vatican or a Mosque. 14- Soaked and put around your or another neck a bandana can ward off heat-stroke. (all cotton is best) More to come.

Email RiAdvTvl or RustyTraveler with your suggestions.

#12 Carrying more than one wallet. I carry two wallets and frequently three when traveling. One wallet is a “daily wallet”. Consider putting $40 dollars worth of local currency inside in the daily wallet (or whatever you believe is needed for that day), perhaps one of your credit cards. This wallet reasonably easy to access and is divided into compartments to allow for more efficient bargaining (not allowing the seller to see how much money you actually have). One wallet is the “trip wallet” with your valuables; all your money, passport, credit cards, airline tickets. etc.. This wallet is buried under clothes, and you must nearly strip to get to it, impossible to steal, even you have a problem getting to it. The third wallet is a “coin purse.” Many countries use a lot of coins as they are difficult to counterfeit, but are heavy, and so handy item is a small coin purse.

#18 Life happens prior to and during trips, and it’s particularly noticeable with an expensive trip. If your next trip has non-refundable features, buy trip cancellation insurance. Moms fall down and hurt themselves, you twist an ankle playing basket ball, your sweetie trips over the dog and breaks am ankle, etc., life happens. Peace of mind is had with trip cancellation insurance from a reputable company. It may seem like one of those things like; bring an umbrella to keep it from raining. Buy trip insurance to avoid “life happening”. But actually, I’ve had many trip members need and use their trip cancellation insurance.

Rustystory I have a guest going on a $5000 trek to Mt. Everest. She lives in Tucson and we’ve been talking about gear, elephants, and international flights for a year. She’s excited to go. Two weeks prior to departure a windstorm blows down a huge saguaro cactus which flattens her garage and she needs to stay home and rebuild it. Insurance refunded her trip, all of it. Another Mt. Everest trekker called a taxi to go to the airport and tripped over her trekking duffel when leaving the house. The taxi took her to the hospital for her broken ankle rather than the airport. Insurance fully refunded her trip.

Trip cancelation insurance also covers emergency evacuations, and pro-rates trip cost too. See also #55 hint. Questions? Give Rusty a call or an email.
Travelex Trip and Evacuation Insurance

#53 Americans are well accepted all over the world for being considerate and somewhat knowledgeable of local customs. A number of other nations are less well received. Knowing some of the basic customs, and traditions of the nation or people you are visiting is going to literally open doors for you. Also knowing some of the basics of a culture perpetuates the good reputation most Americans have generated, and it’s fun. *Rustystory * My wife and I recently explored the Kingdom of Jordan and also the classic antiquities’ of Egypt. People in Jordan were really, really happy to see Americans, we got along well. However, in these devout Muslim nations, we encountered 5 separate times (thankfully not American but European, unfortunately locals can not tell this difference) an incredibly rude situation of “undress.” These women, with their revealing clothing would draw attention anywhere in the West. The place for a g-string, covered by a see-through silk thigh length piece of fabric is more in keeping with Rio or some beach locations. We were given every courtesy by local people in the cities and countryside during our vacation. People were very hospitable everywhere, everyday. When we saw these rude situations, we were ashamed, embarrassed, and a bit angry too. Respecting others values and cultures is largely what travel is about. Thank you for traveling knowledgeably, doing some research, and helping to build-up the reputation of Americans abroad.

#44 More money. You may purchase foreign currency from many commercial banks here in the US. Asking your bank for currency a two weeks prior to departure and specifying new or clean bills is wise. Rustystory Arriving into Lima Airport this past July we purchased soles’ from an ATM inside the airport thinking this would produce quality currency. About 1\3 of the bills would not be accepted by businesses during the journey. Buying money from a foreign exchange counter or a bank allows you to make your own choices about the quality of the local currency. ATM’s are usually a good way to go, but in Peru, they are challenging.

#31 Make your luggage easy to identify at a distance. Luggage carousels around the world all confirm that most travelers luggage is a variation on blue and black and frequently look alike. Having luggage that stands out allows it to be quickly found when surrounded by hundreds of other bags. Consider highlighting your luggage with colorful yarn. My own checked bags are banana yellow or snow white rolling duffels that are easy to spot. See also Rustyhint #1.

Traveling with lots of reservations? Use a three ring binder to keep all your records in one location, a Trip Binder. Flight confirmations, hotel confirmations, outfitter contact information. Create a simple one sentence itinerary of where, what, and when you are doing things and put that in your binder too. Long trips run more smoothly when the parts are organized. After a week or two or three in the woods\jungle\mountains, the details of months of planning information (that you thought you could possibly forget) become fuzzy. A binder keeps you on track and efficient for the next step on your journey.

Traveling with a spouse or others family members? Make a list everyone’s passport number, expiration date, and passport name. This makes it easy for one person to fill out hotel registries, and immigration landing\entry cards. Put a copy of this in your Trip Binder, too.

#37 In Asia, it’s tradition that the first person in the shop must buy something or it’s a poor-luck day for that shopkeeper. Bargaining is fast and to the shoppers advantage if you’re the first person in the shop. On the other hand, if you are just a looky-lou that morning, be nice and let someone else enter a shop first. Rustystory I’ve used this tradition many times by purposefully being the first customer so as to purchase something expensive that I knew I wanted. I’ve used this tradition in China, Nepal, Tibet, Bhutan, Thailand, Cambodia, Hong Kong, Japan, Malaysia and Tanzania too. Good luck….

#30 See your dentist before you leave on a journey. (I’ve seen Chinese village dentists at work, it’s an experience you want to avoid. I also have photos and they are scary, they’ll make you shudder!) If while traveling you have a tooth or other health problem, contact the local US Embassy for their recommendations. I travel with a list of embassy and consulate phone numbers for the nations I’m visiting.

#25 You have an important international flight. A battery powered alarm clock will get you moving despite a power outage or a sleepy front desk clerk that did not wake you. Rustystory. Many times a hotel front desk has not called or not called on time to wake me for a flight or special event. Bhutan and Kathmandu often have rolling electrical brown or black-outs. Besides the hotel early wake up, I set my own alarm to ensure I get my sleepy head up and out for the next step in the journey.

#43 Quality of US currency. It’s important to bring newer or “new looking” US currency on trips. Make sure it is un-torn, with no pen marks, and doesn’t appear to have been 25 times through the washing machine. Do not accept abused local currency from local people, they are just trying to give it to an unsuspecting traveler who will find out it’s of no value but as a souvenir. This Rustyhint is the rule much of the world. Some countries, like Peru, are very persnickety, frustratingly so, about the US currency they will accept as well as their own currency. When obtaining money at your bank prior to a trip, check every bill for quality or you are just going to come home with it as shopkeepers and local banks won’t accept it.

#32 Netted stuff sacks make organizing items in your luggage fast and efficient. Also, consider beginning adventures with an empty black stuff sack for clothes you need to wash or never wish to see again until you return home. (with the exception of those too frequently worn socks) If you are on a long trip trekking, tonight you are up high, it’s cold, it’s dark and you want a down jacket. You have a headlamp on and are rummaging through your duffel, it’s a lot quicker finding your jacket if you know the green stuff sack has your down jacket and vest in it. The blue stuff sack has warm gloves, hats and long-johns, etc etc.

#27 Learn in the local language at least these words: “thank you,“ “hello,” and “bathroom.” Optionally you may also enjoy knowing how to say; “excuse me”, “ahhh, lower price”, “stop”, “what is your name”, “my name is &&&&”, “good or tastes good”, “more or another”. Again, if you can anticipate a need or destination, have a hotel front desk clerk write it down for you to show a local person.

#29 When traveling where staying healthy is a challenge, don’t eat off of a wet plate, drink out of a wet glass, and don’t use ice cubes. Minimize the luck required to stay healthy. Rustystory I have had the good fortune to not be ill overseas in many years due to a little luck and a lot of caution. I eat only well cooked meals using dry utensils and look with suspicion on salads and milk products. I also travel with drugs in case my luck runs out. (See your doctor for recommendations on how to handle the most common ailments.)

#40 Move your daypack or fanny pack to your front. With a fanny pack or day pack, put important items in a zippered compartments with a small carabineer on the zipper-pulls to make opening them an effort that discourages “wandering hands.”

#9 Carry at least two credit cards, visa is well accepted world wide, and Master Card is typically good too. Remember: (A) call your bank and tell them the dates you are traveling, and the countries you’re visiting.* (B) Don’t carry all your credit cards* in one wallet or location. You may wish to ask your bank what fees they charge when using a their credit card outside the USA. Hint: Capital 1 Visa does not charge user fees, you may wish to check it out.

#35 Be aware of your surroundings. Be loud if you observe that you are being “marked“ or taken advantage of, alert your friends and others to come to your aid. * Rustystory* Quito, Ecuador: While four of us walked through a busy market, one of my guests shouted “Help!” Turning I saw she was surrounded by many older Cechua Indian women who were jostling her. We three moved quickly to her side and those local women dispersed. We found her day pack had been sliced with a razor. Luckily she had lost only her tissues and hand cream. * Rustystory * Cinque Terra Italy. Boarding a train with eight travelers and lots of luggage, we found three local young women suddenly helping us get our bags into our staterooms. I also found a hand trying to remove my wallet from a back pocket that was purposefully tight. Grabbing the hand I shouted loudly “thieves, watch your bags.” The three helpful women quickly twisted about, turned, and left the train at a run. We found two day packs with pockets open but nothing missing. Be as observant as you can, make yourself inconvenient to a thief, and be loud in confrontation.

#3 A 45 minute airline transfer between flights is allowed, but it’s not the “real world”, it’s questionable and frequently does not work for you or your bags. Consider a longer layover to catch your next flight when on a long planned for and possibly expensive travel destination. Choosing to leave a day early for Quito, Lima, or Bangkok will be cheaper than missing your trip, will reduce stress, and will add fun to your adventure.

#14 Lock your overhead luggage on flights, especially those that are long haul flights where you may be sleeping.

RustyStory. I’ve seen a camera stolen out of overhead luggage and a friends camera, too, was “permanently borrowed” during a trans-Atlantic flight.

#34 Important. Your passport is not really valid for 10 years, but for 9.5 years. Within 90 days of validity your passport will allow you to enter a few countries in northwestern Europe, Canada, and Mexico. However, most countries on Earth require your passport to be valid for 6 months or more on entry. This can be a rude awakening at the airport if you have not checked the rules for your destination. Simple rule of thumb, don’t attempt to travel within 6 months of it’s expiration, just get a new passport. Give Ri Adventure Travel a ring for an update on the rules or go to http://travel.state.gov/ and click on “passport.” If you need a passport updated quickly, give a ring to Ri and we’ll give you pointers on how to get a new passport more quickly.

#42 Consider leaving passport, most money, most credit cards behind *and locked in your hotel room or in the hotel front desk safe. *Rustystory Leaving my locked duffel bag with valuables, enclosed in my room has never resulted in a theft. Walking around with valuables invites loss or theft many times more likely than leaving them behind locked up. I walk the streets of Kathmandu, Cusco, Quito, Bangkok, Cairo or Lhasa Tibet with one credit card and only enough money to buy what I anticipate for that day.

#24 When lost in a city I look for a hotel, a jewelry store, or a bank as I can often find someone there who speaks English. Give local people a smile, be polite, and they’ll usually help a lost tourist.

#28 If there is any question of your watch battery failing during your trip, change it now. You can’t afford to miss a flight or bus. Wandering wonderful Cusco Peru or fascinating Lhasa Tibet looking for a unique battery is a waste of valuable travel time. It’s often best and cheaper to just buy another watch.

#16 Important: If you miss a flight, be sure your down-line flight reservations are reconfirmed, even those for returning home weeks later. If you are on a multi-international set of flights and all reservations are on one ticket-record (often this creates the best priced flights) and you miss a flight prior to reaching your destination, be sure the airline agent re-establishes your ongoing flight reservations or you are screwed.

Rustystory You are flying Atlanta\Chicago, Chicago\Tokyo, and Tokyo\Bangkok. You then overnight at the Bangkok airport hotel with a flight the next morning, Bangkok\Kathmandu. Then everything in reverse to go home. Your flight out of Chicago is cancelled for weather or mechanical reason. The airport agent reschedules you on another carrier Chicago\Tokyo\Bangkok. As you have missed your original connection out of Tokyo to Bangkok, you are a no-show. ALL reservations on that ticket-record will be cancelled. No hotel reservation in Bangkok, no flight reservation Bangkok\Kathmandu, nor flights home. Ask the ticket agent if he\she has re-established ALL of your flights and records from the original ticket? The agent should do this, but if they make a mistake. A part of travel is anticipating and avoiding unnecessary adventures prior to arrival at The Adventure.

#57 Baby powder, don’t leave home without it. You are on a “trip of a life time”, walking all day, seeing and doing cool stuff and often working up a blister, really dry-skin or really odiferous feet. It’s time to powder your feet, stay healthy and enjoying “doing cool stuff.” Also: When you are not able to wash your hair, dust it. Really! Then just shake and \ or comb out your hair and you are good to go again. By the way, sprinkle baby powder on the clothes in your duffel bag to keep them fresher, removes odors, and more appealing, I’ve tried this, it works. These hints come from the very experienced traveler; Ms. Theresa Mottet. Thank you Theresa, R

#15 A photographers vest can become a huge asset for bringing your “necessities” on a flight. Luggage limitations for space and weight, particularly on smaller aircraft like 737’s, can be challenging to work with. A multi-pocket vest can assist with “lighting” your day-pack. Your digital SLR, pocket camera, perhaps your bird book “Birds of Columbia” (useful book but large) will fit in the vest. Airlines are not yet weighing personal clothing, so a “luggage vest” can be an asset for travel items you can’t afford to have in checked luggage. Warning! Photo vests can test your memory because of there so many pockets. Ha.

#6 Eat food that is well cooked and served on dry clean plates. Beverages should be served in dry glasses without ice, or drink from the bottle. Carefully prepared fruits, pealed with clean hands, are of course great for your health. Example: Tea served along the trails of Nepal is commonly available and well boiled. However the tea cup may have been quickly rinsed out with a splash of unboiled water. Use a dry cup or use your own cup.

RustyStory: A woman treks in Asia for 26 days, healthy everyday and is set to fly home from Bangkok the next morning. She purchased a banana from a local market, pealed, and ate it. In 34 minutes she had an urgent need for a bathroom, repeatedly. The banana’s skin was wet and she had pealed it contaminating her hands and then ate the banana rather than pealing a little and taking a bite. With medication she was able handle her problem in preparation for the 18 hour flight home.

#23 New country, new language? Have someone at the airport and\or your hotel write down the information you need in their language; your hotels name, a famous market, a monastery or restaurant you wish to visit. This “bread-crumb” is great for showing to a taxi drivers, or a local person. People are friendly, with a smile and a “bread-crumb” they are almost always glad to help out a visitor.

#5 Keep your hands out of your mouth when traveling. Basically to stay healthy, don’t put the outside world inside you unless it’s thoroughly cooked and a fly hasn’t landed on it. Don’t rub your lips or pick your teeth. Carry and use hand sanitizer. RustyStory. I’ve been traveling repeatedly since 1978, but the last time I was ill was in the late 1980’s, and this is one of the “secrets”.

#47 Travelers checks once common, are much less accepted world wide. A vendor looses 2 or 3% when they cash them, consequently I’ve found them rarely accepted just about everywhere. Again, cash, whether local currency or US dollars should be in excellent condition and bringing more than one credit card is a good idea. See also #9 and #10.

#50 Travel with a small roll of Gorilla or duck tape. Rustystory We fly out with a brand new $180 Eagle Creek rolling duffel (my favorite brand) on a camping trip to Costa Rica. On the bags first flight, arriving into San Juan we found the side of the duffel has a 14” cut in it. Gorilla tape worked great, it’s a bit ugly, but it works great and is still on there 5 years later.

#52 In Asia, the Middle-East and parts of Africa the left hand is “dirty”. Try to pay people, give a gift, or touch someone with your right hand. A taxi driver or shop keeper in Kathmandu is going to accept money from your left hand, but will appreciate your using your right hand.

#36 Bargaining is a game to pursue with a smile and a laugh. But bargaining really hard can be a hardship for a person who badly needs money and who will take a loss to earn at least some money. If stepping through a doorway, you may consider bargaining harder than with a person who displays their wares on a blanket on the sidewalk. *Rustystory * I’m the worst person to bargain with because I don’t care if I buy “it”. I rarely need “it” and so with a smile I may cut the asking price by 75% and not go higher than 50%. I always smile and laugh, it’s okay if I don’t buy it. Again, I always consider where I am, what is the condition of the person I’m buying from, and then I haggle accordingly. The seller and I have some fun and I almost always get a good story out of my purchase. I’m in control of what I buy, the seller is in control of how low they’ll go. Have fun.

#8 Travel with at least two extra passport images. Countries change the rules sometimes and being able to produce another image for a visa or National Park pass saves time and hassle.

RustyStory. Guiding a group of REI Adventures trip members from Kyrgystan back into Tajikastan the border crossing officer told us we needed a new form filled out and to include a photograph. Additional photo? “Yes, additional photo or with cash, we could waive this details”. It was late in the day, this would necessitate our staying the night to get the extra photo and he knew this would be costly to us in time and money. He hoped to collect “road-tax” from us and go home with some extra dollars. However, everyone had brought with them extra photos. I filled out the documents, added photos and was rewarded with a frown from the officer as we crossed the border with only a one half hours delay and no “road-tax” as I call it. That was fun.

#7 Illness. CDC Travel Guidelines Be aware of the difference between food poisoning and contaminated food (or fingers) so that you can treat each effectively and quickly. Speak with your doctor, check the CDC.gov website, and bookstores for easy to carry with you reference documents that will address common sense ways to stay healthy while traveling.

RustyStory. “Wok-Wok-Lagu” is a Nepali word that doesn’t sound bad, it’s rather sing-songy. The translation is something like “projectile vomiting”. After days on the trail, sitting around empty dinner plates with Nepali friends, try using this word on them soon after a great meal. This word will illicit some nervous laughter and then numerous jokes. Of course the experience is to be avoided by minimizing the luck needed to stay healthy while traveling, anywhere. Staying healthy is an on going topic among many of the RustyHints.

#11 Smiling persistence and politeness will get you further than bullying an official that you need something from.

Rustystory. It’s a hot and sticky day at the Calcutta airport. The European tourist at the ticket counter draws attention when in a loud voice he says to the agent “I hate your #$^!@ country, get me on that flight.” The agent stepped back, smiled and said “no,” then he said “next” as I stepped up with a smile.

#2 Double check your tickets for correct destination and date. RustyStory I recently had a woman book her flights to Jackson Hole, Wyoming for a Yellowstone backpacking trip. But when I checked her reservation it was for Jackson Hole, Alabama. She had clicked on the wrong city choice.

#1 Attach two luggage tags to each piece of luggage. A tag is frequently pulled off or lost in transit. Also, including identification inside your luggage is a prudent choice. See also #27.

RustyStory. I was a co-leader of the Mt. Everest Peace Climb, a very successful climb of Mt. Everest from the Tibetan side. We had very cool looking luggage tags and nearly all were “permanently borrowed” by airport luggage handlers. Fortunately I made extras.

#17 Important. Look at your checked luggage receipt. Be sure it lists your end destination and has not been miss labeled. Don’t lose the luggage receipt, it’s your “breadcrumb” for finding your lost luggage.

#51 Travel with your grandmother. Traveling in remote or rural regions, interacting with locals who have a different language and culture can be a lot of fun if you have a small photo album that includes your grandmother, your sister riding a horse, a family portrait, your brother’s new baby, a recent hike in the mountains, the fish you caught last summer, etc.. When trekking in the Himalaya, or Andes, consider traveling with photos local folks can relate to. The best photos start a conversation, demonstrate commonality of life, as well as, open hearts, create smiles and many new friends.

#4 Scan the inside cover of your passport and store it in your email account. Losing a passport is a big challenge and happens amazingly often. Either a daypack is left behind or someone has “permanently borrowed” your wallet. The US Embassy can take 7 to 10 days to replace a lost passport, no joke. Having a good copy of your passport details with your photograph for the US Embassy when overseas will reduce the time needed to obtain a new passport by several days.

#19 Life happens when you are on a trip and evacuation insurance is cheap. Say you have a trip that does not have non-refundable features, yet we all know “life happens.” Basic evacuation insurance is cheap at $30 to $50, but covers expenses from $100,000 to $500,000. Rustystory. I’ve had many close calls while traveling (stories that cause a nervous laugh). I’ve never had to use evacuation insurance personally, but I always buy it as serious accidents can happen. “Things” happen, aneurisms, falls, and unexpected events and an evacuation is needed. Helicopters are expensive wonderful things, and emergency evacuation insurance is cheap. Full Trip Cancellation Insurance will include emergency insurance too but of course insures the non-recoverable trip costs created when “life happens”. (See also Trip Insurance or call Ri with questions or to buy evacuation insurance.)

#10 Photocopy both sides of your credit cards, also write down the secret security answers that may be needed if you must cancel a credit card(s). Give this document to your sister, mother, dad, or other trustworthy person. While traveling, if you lose a credit card then give a quick call to your mom and ask her to cancel the credit card(s). Contacting a bank from overseas to cancel a credit card is often challenging and time consuming given the time difference, language, and foreign phone systems. It’s a lot easier to call mom.

#13 Respectful dress code and behavior will get you much further with a foreign countries bank, airline, or government official than a very casual or sloppy appearance. “American casual” is not the accepted dress code with officials and looking good will engender a more courteous and prompt response from local people who have something you want. Dressing clean and well can really make a difference. RustyStory Having an emergency at home and needing to leave Kathmandu quickly, but on overbooked flights, I desperately needed a supervisor’s assistance. Without success, for two days I blew hours in lines trying to speak to an airline manager without success. I decided to leave my daily trekking clothes behind and dress up. I purchased a $12 briefcase, put on nice clothes that were clean and pressed. I trimmed my beard, and again went to the airline counter. I smiled and went in “looking good”, I also soon left with my air ticket. I have similar stories following the “recipe for success with officials”. There were the Chinese border guards in Tibet, the chief of the Beijing Police Departure North District, and the Arusha Tanzania airport administrators. These are fun stories to re-count and swap with others at a pot-luck party, but the bottom-line is that a respectful dress code will be an asset when dealing with officials.

#57 Baby powder, don’t leave home without it. You are on a “trip of a life time”, walking all day, seeing and doing cool stuff and often working up a blister, really dry-skin or really odiferous feet. It’s time to powder your feet, stay healthy and enjoying “doing cool stuff.” Also: When you are not able to wash your hair, dust it. Really! Then just shake and \ or comb out your hair and you are good to go again. By the way, sprinkle baby powder on the clothes in your duffel bag to keep them fresher, removes odors, and more appealing, I’ve tried this, it works. These hints come from the very experienced traveler; Ms. Theresa Mottet. Thank you Theresa, R

#49 If you have a lot of gear, consider a rolling duffel bag or travel backpack with hidden control straps. Look for features like size #8 or #10 zippers (they don’t break), and taped seams, too. Rustystory When I trek in Nepal, Bhutan, the Amazon rainforests, I arrive with my gear in a rolling duffel that includes a “field duffel” inside. Rolling duffels are ridged and horses, yaks, lamas, small boats, and small aircraft don’t like a ridged duffel. A rolling duffel is great for travel, and getting through airports, but then typically is left behind in the hotel in Cusco, Quito, or Kathmandu while you rough up a less expensive and flexible “field duffel.” Carrying this extra duffel also allows you to buy an extra Tibetan carpet or other fun souvenir to bring home.

Two full duffels can be a burden. But if you lay the rolling duffel on the ground, put a 6 foot strap with a 2” fastex buckle under this duffel (if you can’t find one, call Ri Adventure Travel and we’ll tell you how to make one, it’s easy). Now lay the field duffle on top of the rolling duffel and bring the strap up around them, click it shut and tighten. Pick up the handle of the rolling duffle and walk away. Time involved is less than 30 seconds. You are now very mobile and ready to go wait in line for the next flight.

#33 Close your daypack and it’s zippered pockets when traveling, every time. Be as inconvenient as possible to a strangers “wandering hand.” Besides the train stations of Italy or the photogenically crowded markets of Latin America, there are many other destinations with a person wishing to “permanently borrow” something of yours. Most folks you encounter are great, but take care to not be “giving” your things away to those who are not so great.

#22 New city, new language, don’t get lost, take a photograph. First, leave with your hotels business card, then consider taking a photograph of the name\entrance of the hotel, or a nearby street scene with your digital camera. The convenience of a digital camera extends beyond pictures of Mt Everest or Machu Pichhu or a dancing blue-foot booby, they can be very useful if you become lost, those images may help you return “home”.

#41 Be inconvenient to a thief. Use passport pouches and or money\belly belts under your clothes. Let someone else be an easy “mark,” be as inconvenient to a “permanent borrower” as you can.

#54 Begging is a tradition in some destinations. But many great destinations, like Nepal, Bhutan, Vietnam, Tanzania, Peru, etc., this is not normal and we firmly suggest “don’t give into it”. Kids in Nepal have learned they can get a tourist to give them candy, pens or money by holding out a hand and plaintively just asking. You have lots of these things, surely you can part with some of them? Don’t do it, politely decline. If you wish to donate school supplies, a village headmaster will undoubtedly appreciate them.

Rather than “stuff,” give that child a conversation, interact with them. You may not speak their language but you can still interact with them. Compare buttons on your shirts, read from their English school book, share your family photo album, etc.. Their teeth don’t need the candy, they don’t need a pen and their father can go earn money rather than collecting it from his children. Begging is a behavior that demeans a culture and is an unwelcome experience to those travelers who walk that trail. Resist giving “stuff”, rather give something both useful and valuable, like your time. Try it, it’s fun.

#55 Sudden travel problems happen, a flight is delayed, the bus is late, whatever the problem is, you are not going to make it on time to the start of your trip. If you are incurring expenses that you believe will be covered by the trip insurance you purchased, you need to start keeping receipts and documenting the challenge immediately. Example: A common trip interruption is a serious flight delay. While you are in the airport waiting for a readjusted flight, have your airline document the problem for you. Get it in writing that the flight is delayed due to snow, thunderstorm, mechanical or security issue. Rustystory Fly to the Galapagos via Ecuador. Houston Texas has summer thunderstorms that sometimes delay connecting flights to Ecuador. Arriving in Quito a day late means literally missing the boat and your trip, there is no “catching up.” Getting documentation from an airline days or weeks after your trip is over is very challenging, it’s old news forgotten, and that documentation is important for trip insurance purposes. Insurance companies need documentation, keep your receipts from hotels, taxis, restaurants, doctors, and airlines because you will need them to recoup your expenses. (I suggest flying to Quito a day early, take the stress off and have some extra fun near Quito. Or during summer months consider a Miami or LA flight rather than flights through Houston.)

Your trip cancellation insurance helps you in many situations, but not all. Your policy will clearly state what circumstances are not covered, typically events like; acts of war, civil unrest, and civil strikes may void coverage. Broadly speaking “natural problems” like a relatives accident, your sudden health problem, etc., are typically covered. Insurance companies like; TravelEx, Access America, and Travel Guard do a good job of stating clearly what is and what is not covered. Call their 800 phone numbers or speak with your travel agent for greater clarification. Ri Adventure Travel sells Travelex trip evacuation and Trip Cancellation Insurance, call for information or a quote. Travelex Insurance, click

#39 Those who “permanently borrow” are better known as pickpockets. Choose pants with pockets that are not loose. Use pants pockets that are tight, or ave zippers or velcro for access. The same is true of a fanny pack, or day pack. Remember, close your pack or zippers after their use. Most pickpockets are not really good, but rather folks looking for an opportunity. Those who are really good, well, you just try to make their “take” very small. Rustystory (#1 I enjoy using products from ExOfficio many retailers sell their products including REI.) I admired the skill of the two women who “took” my wife and I on a cold and crowded subway train December 14th in Rome. (The story is good, I even remember the day.) We had done things right, moved our fanny packs to our front, had them under thigh length winter coats with zipper closures. Standing amid dozens of folks, while facing each other we were both robbed of our “daily” wallets. The thief had to get her hand under a thigh length coat, lift it, then unzip a waist high, over stuffed fanny pack, and pull out a wallet without being noticed. And, do this in a ride of only 10 minute with both of us watching each other. Impressive. However, the thief’s skill only rewarded her with 1 credit card and $100 (I felt the skill deserved more, but of course happy that wasn’t the case).

#56 Do you need a vacation after your vacation? Try this, come home one or two days prior to returning to work. Rustystory Many times I’ve watched my co-workers return from international adventures to work on Monday, only to call in sick with a cold or exhaustion the next day. Frequently we spend the last 3 days of our trip thinking about work on Monday rather than on the howler monkeys or world class ruins we’ve traveled so far to see. Add a day at home prior to returning to work. Settle into your home, your time zone, take some stress off from traveling and sleep-in for one more morning of vacation.

#58 Bandana. There are 148 different uses for a bandana and counting. 1- Colorful fun. 2- Wipe your nose or face. 3 On flights draped over my eyes you can sleep. 4 A hot pot can be picked up off a camp stove. 5 A pre-filter water before pumping it. 6- An impromptu towel. 7- A hummingbird attractor in the Amazon. 8 A tourniquet (bad problem to have). 9- It’s your towel. 10- It’s where you put the parts of your camera or watch as you repair it. 11- A bandana is a flag for waving down lost trip members in a huge Bangkok airport or Utah slot canyon! 12- Warm rice rolled up in it and laid on your eyes after a dust invades your eyes is relaxing and healthful. 13- A bandana is an impromptu head-scarf for visiting the Vatican or a Mosque. 14- Soaked and put around your or another neck a bandana can ward off heat-stroke. (all cotton is best) More to come.

Do you have a TravelHint that everyone should know? Send us your TravelHint. When we add it to RustyHints we’ll quote your first name and send you a colorful set of luggage tags…. and thanks.

#46 Counterfeit US currency is common in some regions or countries. US currency in $100 bills is not well accepted in regions of Asia and Latin America. Traveling with $50 bills or smaller is much less a problem.