I WILL pack lightly enough to get all my clothes and gear into carry-on sized bags. That means eliminating the third pair of shoes I never wear, the extra shirts I bring “just in case” I might need them, and all the other extras that force me into larger suitcases. (This will be a challenge for Antarctica, where I’m headed in February, but if I have to wear three coats on the plane, so be it.)
- I WILL buy one of those nifty, easy-to-maneuver four-wheeled suitcases (carry-on size, of course) that everyone in the world now seems to have but me.
- I WILL get a new passport by October 2016, since my current one expires in April 2017. (Don’t ask me why so many countries now require your passport to have six months’ validity after your planned visit, because I don’t know. But I will comply, because I have no choice.)
- I WILL NOT subject our cats to another cross-country airplane trip, no matter how much they may miss catching mice or eyeing the birds and chipmunks in upstate New York.
- I WILL pay closer attention to the stopover times for international airline flights, because one hour is not enough to catch a flight from Beijing to Shanghai if my flight from the U.S. to Beijing is at all late.
- I WILL learn the words for “Please help!” in Chinese.
- I WILL remember to reserve airline seats early so I’m not stuck in the middle of a tight row sandwiched between two Samoan football linemen.
- I WILL NOT forget to buy a decent sandwich or other snacks to take on any U.S. airline flight.
- I WILL NOT EVER AGAIN hike in flip-flops. Seriously.
- I WILL NOT use a foreign ATM without knowing the exchange rate first, so I end up paying a $3 fee for getting $20 in local currency.
- I WILL always have a dedicated space for putting my cell phone, spare change and other metal objects in my carry-on before hurrying through airport security, so that I don’t have to rummage through the entire bag to find them afterwards.
- I WILL learn how to use apps that allow me to find thousands of hotspots so I can connect to Wi-Fi without paying outrageous charges.
- I WILL NOT show up again in a foreign country without researching the best transportation from the airport to my hotel.
- I WILL NOT fall for travel scams; if some seemingly friendly person in China invites me to a “traditional tea service” that ends up costing $$$$ a cup, I will decline.
- I WILL put on my noise-canceling headphones as soon as the passenger on the plane (bus, train, etc.) starts telling me his life story (unless he hooks me with a line like, “I live in a villa on the Riviera and I’d love for you to be a guest in my home, where you can enjoy my wife’s classical French cookery and ride to the beach in my chauffeured limousine.”). (But then, why would he be riding in coach class like me? Sounds like a scam…)
- I WILL NOT continue my longtime boycott of any restaurant called “Mom’s,” following an excellent breakfast of eggs and biscuits smothered in sausage gravy at “Mom’s” diner near La Porte, Indiana.
- I WILL NOT carry travel brochures or ripped-out guidebook pages that are more than 20 years old and that I found in an old moldy box in my garage. (Yes, I plead guilty to this; it’s amazing how useless these are after 20 years.)
- I WILL look both directions when crossing the street in Britain or other countries where they drive on the left side of the road, because I’d like to live long enough to get to where I’m going, at least.
- I WILL write a note to remind myself who “Bill and Barbara Everyperson” are who I meet somewhere in the world and are kind enough to write their contact information on a slip of paper, which I will eventually find mixed in with old travel brochures in a box in my garage marked “Miscellaneous.”
- I WILL NOT take two months off from blogging while traveling in Europe, moving across country from New York to Arizona, and sorting through miscellaneous travel-related materials in dozens of old, moldy boxes in my garage. (I can say this with some certainty because our new house in Tucson doesn’t have a garage. However, we do have a storage unit filled with old boxes…)
Travel Tip of the Day: If you’re traveling over New Year’s weekend, get to the airport early, drive with extra caution, stay as sober as possible, and be extra nice to the folks behind the airline counters, serving food in the restaurants, driving the shuttle vans, working the cash registers in stores and shops, and any other service personnel who would rather be home spending time with their families, watching football with friends, or traveling themsleves. Most of all, have a wonderful New Year, wherever your travels take you!
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