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• People have a tendency these days to travel with too many electronic gadgets. In particular, the decision to take a laptop should not be taken lightly. The peripheral devices needed to support it can add considerable bulk and weight to your luggage. As well, be aware that laptop theft is rampant at most major airports (airport security these days revolves around catching terrorists and smugglers, not light-fingered thieves). Only carry a laptop if you expect to make heavy use of it on your trip.

• Nothing beats a good paper notebook and a pen for versatility and ease of use. Notebooks turn on instantly and don’t require batteries or an internet connection. Notes can easily be retyped when you get home.

• Some people travel with clothes/shoes/socks/underwear that are at the end of their useful life. To free up space for the trip home, they simply discard their old clothes before coming home. This works best in developing countries, where it is usually a good idea to wear inexpensive clothing, and where the locals are more likely to recycle any discarded clothes.

Paris airport
Travelling light makes for a more enjoyable travel experience.

• If your hotel happens to have a swimming pool, try swimming underwater. It will help pop out your ears after a long flight.

• If you plan to stay in one location for several days, consider renting an apartment instead of staying in a hotel. Many websites now cater to people looking for short-term apartment rentals (try Googling "apartment rental" and the name of the place you are visiting). Not only will renting an apartment give you a more authentic local experience, it will also likely have a kitchen and a washer/dryer. Eating out is often one of the biggest expenses of travel so an apartment can save a lot of money. A washer/dryer in an apartment can also be a huge benefit.

• Another good idea if you are staying at one location for a couple of days is to unpack your suitcase. Putting your suitcase contents into a couple of drawers makes it easier/faster to access what you need. Unpacking also helps remind you what you brought, and makes it easier to optimize your accessories. This all helps the cause of travelling light.

Conquering jet lag is a constant problem for long-distance travellers. In short, you can't eliminate jet lag but you can minimize the effect. Follow these simple steps. First, make sure you are well rested before you get on the plane. If you start with a sleep deficit you will never get caught up. Second avoid alcohol and stimulants like coffee. The high altitudes of planes tend to magnify their effect. Third, don't expect to have a long sleep on an airplane. There are too many distractions. A series of short naps is more realistic. Earplugs and an eyemask help. Fourth, start thinking about the new time at your destination as soon as you get on the plane. Set your watch to the new time once you take your seat. And finally, get some sunshine on your face when you do arrive at your destination. Sunlight and a brisk walk outside can do wonders to help reset your biological clock.

• Here is an interesting trick that some people might find useful: jeans and most other trousers take up lots of space in a suitcase and are often heavy. Nurse's uniform pants on the other hand are light in weight, compact very tightly, have lots of pockets, wash and dry easily, never need ironing, come in fashionable colours, and have lots of comfortable features such as elastic waists. You can buy them inexpensively at most major department stores.

• For men, golf clothes work well for travel. Golf clothes are water resistant, do not need ironing and are designed to be crushed into a golf bag and still come out looking good. As an added bonus, golf clothes are fashionable enough to be worn to most meetings and restaurants.

• If you find your suitcase getting a bit crowded on the way home, consider wearing your bulkiest clothing, shoes and jacket onto the airplane. This will provide some space relief.

• If you buy too much stuff on your travels, think about mailing it home to yourself by standard post. It may be cheaper and more convenient than paying additional luggage fees to the airline. This is especially true if you are travelling within your own country.

 

Concluding Thoughts

Travelling can often be a challenge. Travelling light helps get you to your destination efficiently and with peace of mind. And remember, don't forget to take your sense of humour.

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