For most people, travel is fairly straightforward – take a vacation for a few weeks to a single destination, and then it’s back home. For DJs, performing artists, and business travelers, it’s an entirely different beast. It’s work mixed with exploration – often involving multiple cities and countries in one trip. This is high intensity travel and it takes some tricks and planning to get it right. These are my best tips from years of touring around the world.
Reduce complexity with apps:
Overseas travel can quickly become overwhelming from layers of complexity. Different measurement units, currencies, timezones, power outlets, and language barriers can make things difficult. Simplify things with apps. I use Convert, Currency, and the majorly revamped Google Translate.
– Bring the largest possible approved carry-on, but avoid checking it whenever possible. Weight restrictions vary wildly overseas and you’ll inevitably be forced to check any carry-on heavier than 7kg. If you can pack everything in 7kg, you’re a ninja.
– Weigh it: consider using a scale to weigh your luggage as you pack, to avoid surprises at the airport
– Pack laterally – aim to spread out your clothes and items so there are no bulky stacks
– Stay nimble: Think about it – can you fit your luggage on a crowded train at rush hour?
– Upgrade your luggage: My favorite luggage is the Topas Aluminum line from Rimowa. These are waterproof and last forever. It’s definitely an investment.
– Don’t pack all your clothes! Bring one cycle of clothes, and use hotel laundry services or a local laundromat.
– Don’t bring large lithium batteries. In many countries security will confiscate them. Stick to small, pocket size chargers
– Guys – leave your bulky electric razors behind and just visit a barber
– Don’t pack anything you can rent
– Never pack anything you can’t easily replace.
– Use a hot running shower to “iron” your wrinkled clothes
– Bring quick-drying workout clothes than can be washed in the shower
– Don’t waste valuable space packing bulky jackets, wear or carry them instead. Jacket pockets are great for bringing extra gear. You might even consider a photographer’s vest. This is a loophole that can work, but it’s always up to the airline and the mood of their staff.
– Curb hunger: bring protein bars to ease the transitions between flights and missing meals. I personally love Quest bars. They’ve been a life saver on tour
– Minimize liquids or bring none
– Use dividers and bags to keep clean and dirty clothes separate, organizing items in sections.
– Store cables with the over-under method to avoid kinking and inter-coiling. Combine with elastic Cocoon Grid-It to help keep things neat
– East is a beast, West is the best. Review your travel schedule and prepare ahead of time
– Get on local time ASAP
– Get plenty of sunshine. At least 20min eye exposure per day without sunglasses
– Drink tons of water, but be wary of tap water in certain countries. Try to stick to bottled water – you can always save money by finding a local grocery store and stocking up when you arrive.
– Hit the gym hard
– Use hi-dose melatonin (10mg) to ease your body back on schedule after returning home. I use GNC 10mg Melatonin
Optimize your sleep:
– Sleep cool: Your single biggest factor for good sleep is regulating your body’s temperature. Take a warm shower, but gradually make it freezing, or take a hot bath 60-90 minutes before bed to allow time to cool down. Lower the room temp to 68 degrees and set the fan to high. Products like the ChiliPad are great for home, but not yet ideal for travel.
– Pare down: Remove that hot bulky comforter from the casing, and use the casing as a sheet. These are everywhere in Europe and Asia.
– Block out noise: Pop in some earplugs and wear a heavy duty eye mask. I use the Brookstone NAP Plush adjustable eye mask. I swear by the Bose Quiet Comfort 20 earbuds, using them in combination with the white noise app Relax MP. Earbuds are easier to store in a jacket pocket for easy access – and are better for sleeping. Earplugs are even better for sleep. For extra noise blocking and baby silencing action, combine IEMs with Bose headphones.
– Lights out: Dim your mobile phone and laptop to cut down on light exposure before bed. You can use programs like Flux to do this on your laptop, but these are better suited to late night coders.
– Tea time: take some sleep-aid tea to naturally lull yourself asleep. Tim Ferriss recommends trying using Yogi Bedtime herbal tea
– Align your sleep cycle: Use the SleepCycle app to wake up less groggy, by waking up in your lightest sleep cycle. This is especially useful for partial sleeps.
– Map it: Check w/ the concierge for local running maps – almost every hotel has them. Use offline maps with GPS to so you don’t get lost! The Nike+ Running app works well.
– Rent it: Some hotels like the Westin even offer workout gear rentals
– Personal gym: Bring a resistance band, push up bars, or TRX kit for lightweight hotel workouts – so you don’t have to depend on a hotel gym. You can attach a TRX kit to a door hinge to create an instant gym.
– Global power: Bring a variety of power adapters. You’ll need special adapters for computers, like the Apple world travel adapter kit.
– Multi-converter: The best multi-power converter for small devices I’ve found is the Kensington International Plugin Adapter, but eventually you’ll run into issues like bulky power supplies that don’t fit or stay connected in the jack, and switches that push against the converter.
– Universal: Most decent hotels will have a universal wall adapter, but don’t assume they’ll have it!
– Rent a Mi-Fi device, if you’re in town for several days. You can often get these at airports or local mobile phone provider.
– Free roaming: If you’re only in one country for a day – you can get a dedicated global phone with T-Mobile unlimited roaming in 120+ countries, although data speeds will be slower. than usual
– Block the censors: If you’re in a heavily censored country like China or UAE, you’ll need to pay for a VPN, in order to access blocked sites and services (Facebook / Google / Instagram / Snapchat). If you’re anywhere outside of your home country and you want to use territory restricted content and services like Netflix, you’ll need a VPN to “fake” your location. I use Astrill. It’s also useful for keeping your devices secure when using public wifi.
– Hand delivered: Some companies offer VPN ready MiFi delivery in a cute lunchbox delivered to your hotel.
– Offline Maps – like I mentioned earlier, use Offline map apps like Gaia to plot your GPS coordinates – saving you lots of data costs later. Download your maps on Wifi at the hotel, then go into airplane mode. Your GPS is active without a cell carrier. This is very handy for navigating a city or even going hiking. Google Maps offers this but it’s limited to certain countries, doesn’t track paths or important stats like elevation and speed, and the offline maps are purged after 30 days. Trip Advisor has a great download guide feature for offline use, but the quality of reviews is debatable.
– Mic and keys: Bring a mobile keyboard – I love the CME Xkey 25. It’s super lightweight and feels great. I also bring a Blue Snowball mic to do my podcast. It has a built in pop filter and stand, so there’s no need for attachments. Downside is that airport security usually thinks it’s a weapon.
– Bring a mini-mouse: trackpads are great, but nothing beats a mouse.
– Block out airplane noise and crying babies with custom IEMs (In Ear Monitors) or Bose QR25 noise reduction headphones.
– Bring an iPad and fill it with books and movies, so you don’t need rely on an airplane screen for entertainment
– Stock your phone w/ offline music from Spotify, podcasts, and audio books. This is how I stay sane in traffic and customs lines.
– Skip the line by purchasing TSA Pre, Global Entry, and Nexus passes – depending on what country you are from. It’s well worth the money and saves you hours every trip, but will only work on your return trip or with certain countries.
– Scooters! You might get some looks riding this, but the Micro Scooter is a major time saver and makes airports much more fun. It’s only really practical for weekend trips because of limited space.
– Remote signatures: Use Docusign to sign your contracts from any devices. A total game-changer
– Hire specialized agencies to sort out your visas. Visa offices are a nightmare and a waste of time.
– Call it: save on voice calls with WhatsApp and Skype Credit to call cell numbers or landlines when your contacts don’t have wifi handy
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