Volume 2: Mind of the Wandering Traveler

Sometimes I really wish that there’s a recorder which records down the thoughts through my head when I’m traveling. Since such a recorder doesn’t exist, I guess I have to recall these thoughts and type them down.

Minus 12 hours:
This is usually the start of all the packing panic.I am usually a semi-last minute person. I do plan and write down or think through what I have to bring. But I hardly take any physical action until the actual day or night before. Sometimes, I haven’t even decide which luggage to bring along! Oh wells, it adds on to the panic and adrenaline rush which makes the trip complete.

Minus 10 hours:
By this time, you should be done with the necessities. Usually I start off by choosing and counting the clothes that I have to bring. Whether I can mix and match it, whether I can wash it or re-wear it. The toughest decision is usually the jacket as I can never decide which jacket I want to bring along. Bringing more than one (to a tropical/summer country) is a possible choice but not always the wisest. DARN. I hardly have sufficient luggage space.

Footwear is definitely a must. Unless I am wearing slippers there,  I will usually pack them into my bag. Then comes the daily necessities which includes a whole lot of nonsense (for girls). It ranges from towel(if you don’t stay in a hotel), shampoo, soap, (packed in small bottles), toner, moisturizer, body midst, powder, blush, eyebrow, mask, contact lens + solution, cotton pad, bb cream, sun block, comb, and the list goes on.. So once I’m done with the basics, I go on and select accessories such as sun glasses, caps/hats (a big must for me), socks, hair tie, (well I hardly bring jewelry when I travel)..

Usually, I will try to squeeze in a small bag (to use on a daily basis) + shopping bag (to save the earth and take lesser plastic bags while shopping) + duffle bag w/ lock (extra shopping). A random but really important item you should bring is a scissors (need to check in). Why is this really important? Because you have to cut the new labels of your clothes in order to wear them!!! It was really a gem that I brought a scissors the past few long holidays and everyone was like borrowing it.. The real reason why I brought it along was because I wanted to sew. I do really really random things when I’m overseas..

Lastly, I will put in the most important things – money, passport, flight & accommodation itinerary, notebook (which contains travel info/important numbers/details). Just a small tip of mine. I tend to separate my money into at least 3 areas, for fear of losing something somewhere sometime. Of course, the biggest bulk of it has to stay close to me, ideally in a waist pouch which is strapped underneath your clothes. Also, do remember to keep photocopies of your passport everywhere! You never know what will happen and how important it will be..

If you have space or if you have gastric problems or if you are always hungry, it is always advisable to pack some snacks into your bag. From muesli bars to chocolate to biscuits to milo to maggi mee, it is always good to standby some food in case you get stuck somewhere without food. Of course, this is country specific. I don’t advise that you will touch your local brand maggi mee if you’re going taiwan or japan. Some people will miss random snacks like wang wang so it will be good to bring along. Moreover, people out of Asia would not have tasted rice crackers before and I often share this snack with them (usually when you need to make friends or small talk). It’s hard to think of something uniquely singaporea..The other time I went for my korea trip, I brought a pack of bak kwa (individual wrapping) & most people told me that they love it! Food makes people talk, no matter which part of the world you are in, you hardly go wrong with sharing food =)

Always remember the golden rule: do not over pack (especially if the things are not consumables). It is fine to over pack if you know that you are perfectly fine throwing things when you are there. I had a friend who donated almost all his clothing when he was at OCIP, allowing him to have a very light bag to shop more.

(The in-between hours)
You can spend this time sleeping, chilling, eating your favourite snack or even at work (if you just want to save that half/full day of leave =p)

Minus 4 hours:
You start to get ready, taking a shower or getting changed into your airplane attire. It has to be something comfortable and don’t mind wearing for (… ) hours without changing, yet presentable enough for your next destination (you might have to start your travel in the same outfit if you take a night flight). Usually I do not put anything on my face before the flight as the airplane air is very stale and may become bad for the pores on your face.

Minus 3 hours:
Just before I set off from home (I stay relatively near to the airport), I will pack in the very last item – handphone charger. This item is extremely important and I always put it in my hand carry. It has to be the last item I pack as I need to ensure that my phone has maximum battery life before the start of my trip. I usually fiddle a lot with my phone as there bound to be a lot of waiting involves. Thus, the most important thing is not necessary the first to enter your bag. And not forgetting the last check on your all mighty passport. Without it, you can totally forget about your trip.

Minus 2 hours:
You should be standing in line waiting for your counter to open. Usually, I try to be early so I can request for front row seats which allows you to enter the last and leave the first. Pretty useful, provided that you don’t have much check-in luggage or carry-on baggage. IF, i’m flying alone, I try to request for a quiet seat behind (tend to be more empty). Who knows, you might have a whole row to yourself! And once you’re done with checking-in, you need to find a place to nua/chill with(out) people. If there are people sending you off, you need to find a nice sit-down place (coffee places/ya kun/food court/restaurants) to bid your final goodbyes. Otherwise, i would always prefer to enter immigration early and explore inside. Through these years, I discovered a sunflower garden which was aka smoking area, some movie lounges, nice couches,  walls with plugs to charge phone, free computers with internet, branded window shopping, watsons/7-11 shopping (i usually go in and buy hard sweets which i need during take off and landing to stimulate saliva swallowing), subway (good choice to sneak into the plane), mcdonalds (if you get random craving for fries).

Well, boarding starts 45 mins prior to flight departure. I usually reach on time or slightly later so I don’t have to stand in a long queue. Always remember to have an empty bottle while you are doing the bag scan. After the bag scan, you can refill your bottles with the water coolers. I always need to practice this as my throat becomes very dry during flight.

Pre-flight wait:
So now you are sitting down in your supposedly cramp seat (i’ve never flown anything else other than budget and economy). Sometimes when I feel obedient, I’ll turn off my phone or switch it to flight mode after saying my final goodbyes. If you’re not flying budget, sometimes you’ll be given a hot towel to freshen up just before your flight.

The Ascend:
Sometimes there’s a long wait, sometimes I fall asleep and only wake up when I’m in the air. Sometimes I’m taking the window seat, looking out of the window admiring a bird eye view outside. Sometimes my ear can’t equalize and I need to suck some sweet to stimulate salivation.

In-flight food & entertainment:
I always love the in-flight entertainment when I am on board non-budget flights. Before take off, I will be flipping through the magazines, planning what movies I aim to finish by the end of the flight. Not exactly a fan on in-flight food but I’ll still finish it up because i’ve paid for it in my air tickets! In the past, SQ flights had like haagen daz ice cream and i think they recently downgraded to the magnolia cone ice cream. Other airlines usually just give fruits. Also, something random, do you know that the food you taste in the plane has been adjusted to be more sweet and salty as your taste buds become less sensitive when you are up 20,000 feet in the air. Well, there was once I was so upset because by the time I woke up, the meal was over and I was too shy to ask them for my serving of food.. Now, I do see that they have stickers which you can paste on top of your seat and one of them includes “Wake me up when food is served.” This is especially useful for lone travelers..

Toilets:
I never like toilets on the plane. They are so small, cramp and noisy. On short flights, I can choose not to use them but on long haul flights, there isn’t this option anymore =( It makes things worse when you are sitting at the window seat and that you have to force 2 other people off their seats for your toilet calls. baaaaah. and even when you are sitting on the aisle seat, you still have to stand up for others to enter & exit. troublesofalonghaulflight.

Small Talk on the plane:
I do watch a lot of dramas and many times I wish that something out of the norm will happen.. but.. nothing ever did. The only rare times I talk to the people near me is when they need help to fill up the immigration card.. If I am not wrong.. I actually helped one person fill up the entire card using the passport.. I guess I do have a “Ask me, I can help you.” face. (To the extent that local koreans ask me for directions in korea..)

and.. sorry for all that ramblings and that’s it for volume 1 of “Mind of the Wandering Traveler” I do have ideas for Volume 3, 4 & 5 right now already.

Till then 🙂

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