Monday, September 12, 2005


Trip Preparation

I used to travel frequently, but it has been so long that I'm out of practice. I once was able to prepare for a trip (packing, getting itinerary information, driving directions, everything) in less than an hour, but this trip is taking a little longer than that.

Among the things I had to do:

This stuff took a couple of hours. It strikes me that a software application that takes care of centralizing all this information and automating some of the steps would be valuable. Maybe I'll play around with that idea while I'm stuck in my hotel room.

Here are some hints from a frequent traveller...

I keep Airline Frequent Traveller numbers, phone numbers, and websites all associated with a "Contact" in Outlook (although any PIM would work). If I need Delta's frequent-flyer number, I look under Delta.

I used to keep them in one contact called "Travel", but this way you can store each sites phone numbers, websites, usernames, etc.

Aside: I keep my clothing sizes under a PIM entry called "Clothing". If I were a better husband, I'd put Sandy's sizes under a "Clothing - Sandy", but I know better to buy her anything that is sized. Earrings, scarves, necklaces -- all good. Shoes? I leave that to her...

I also use the same password and PIN for all those type of sites.

I keep a rugged nylon portfolio (with two open pockets and a zippered pocket) in my carry-on. It contains all my itineraries, boarding passes, and googlemaps handy. I put my receipts in the zippered pocket as they accumulate.

As for websites I visit frequently, I bookmark mapping, airline, hotel, car rental and weather websites under a folder called "Travel". Yahoo maps used to let you save 'locations' so you could get driving directions from 'home' or 'work'.

It's a bit of a pain to do it the first time, but I find it saves time immediately. I remember setting up the United entry waaay back in 1999, and it's been working for me ever since.
I have noticed that preparing for travels are much more complicated nowadays compared to just a few years ago. Today there is a lot of technology stuff you just have to do before leaving, like empty memory cards for the digital camera, download maps and waypoints to the GPS, download music to the MP3-player, update data in the PDA, charge a ton of batteries, etc, etc.
Chargers are a drag. I carry three chargers and two cables (modem and ethernet) whenever I travel.

My wife bought an "iGo Juice" a couple of years ago. It came with adaptors for her laptop, cellphone, and Palm Pilot. It didn't come with a charger for her iPod, but the iPod sync cable charges it from the laptop.

She bought it with an international adaptor kit, so she can go to France.
I had cables out the wazoo this trip. My tasks included monitoring a lot of serial devices, so I had some DB9 RS-322 cables, some old-style Macintosh 9-pin serial cables, and a couple of USB-to-serial adapters (because laptops don't have serial ports anymore).

Along with the Ethernet cable, telephone cable, power cables, chargers for two cell phones (personal and work) and the charger for my iPod, I think I had about 20 pounds of insulated metal in my suitcase.

I'm going to have to look into this "wireless" technology I keep hearing about.
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