10 travel problems we need help with (Part 1)

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We’ve got a problem. To be honest, we have several travel related problems. And we’re in a desperate need for useful hacks, tips and examples of things that work and don’t work, to solve them. We have some answers, but we need more.

Here’s our top 10 travel problems. We’d like you to let us know your best travel hacks to solve them. Hit us by email, write in the comments or tweet us.

  1. How much stuff do I need to bring with me? It seems that no matter what, especially I end up bringing way too much clothes etc with me even when I go to my parents’ place over the weekend. Typically I only use one or two outfits there, but have a full bag lying on the floor. (This is usually the result of overeating after which I can only fit into my gym pants for the two or three days I spend there. That, or going naked.) The engineer doesn’t have the problem, but often ends up carrying some of my stuff with him, too. Funny enough, I traveled 6 months around the world with the same amount of stuff I usually pack for one or two weeks. I was forbidden to bring my hairdryer with me, but long and hard negotiations led to a permission to bring  my hair straightener and two sets of bikini. How do you decide what to bring with you? Will you cry a lot when you have to leave your favorite shoes behind (and then pack them into your travel buddy’s disturbingly empty luggage?)

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    Thailand
  2. Why has my bag vomited all its content on the floor? It happens in a fracture of a second after we arrive to our destination. After getting just any one item out of the bag, all my stuff (applies to the enginerd, too, by the way), seems to have escaped, gotten drunk and passed out on the floor. The bag is nearly impossible to find underneath all the clothes, shoes etc. This happens no matter the style and size of the bag. My solution to this is just unpack as soon as we arrive, but often if we’re on a budget, we won’t be staying in a nice hotel room with a lot of space to put our things in. How do people keep their stuff nice and tidy in a beach hut?

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    Vegan dog at Underdog, San Francisco, California
  3. Where the heck is my passport/ glasses/ ID/ wallet/ phone/ husband/ life? I like to have a designated place for my personal items, lets say for example if I had a wallet I might always put it in the same pocket of my purse for an easy and fast access. But this never seems to work in real life, no matter how hard I try. You often see people looking for their passport at the customs, or their credit card at the register, after queuing for half an hour. I try and look for my personal items way before I need them, for example getting my paper tickets out when waiting in the bus line. But it never seems to work if I need something several times in a row. If I just used my shades, put them in their box, put the box in my bag’s out most pocket, and needed them 10 minutes later, that’s the least likely place I could find them. How do you keep your stuff at hand?

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    New Delhi, India
  4. Will we find anything to eat? It is sometimes difficult to find anything edible in a strange country or culture, especially for a picky eater. I’m a vegetarian, been for 20 years now, not a picky one at all but being a bit of a health enthusiastic, I like to eat healthy. This is sometimes super difficult with all the sugar, fat and artificial sweeteners often offered to those who abstain from eating meat. We tend to cook our own meals, if possible. We also swear by nuts, which you can find in bags almost anywhere. Avocados, eggs and anything green (well washed, preferably cooked) work, too. However, sometimes I cave in and just get fries. Also, when I’m not home, I follow the rule: If it doesn’t look like meat, taste like meat or smell like meat, eat it. At home, I can compensate by being so strict, no meat has ever been cut with my knives. As the enginerd follows the same guidelines as I do, there’s never really a super special problem where he’s eating well and I’m starving on my nuts and bananas. However, if there’s some local meat delicacy, I always encourage him to taste it and describe it to me in details (I’m a meat eater by proxy). For our vegetarian needs, we also often check Happy Cow. For a vegetarian haven/heaven,  we go to India or Ubud in Bali, Indonesia. How do picky eaters, people with celiac disease, food allergies or special diets survive? What is your favorite country, city and/or restaurant to visit when it comes to food?

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    Ingredients for a vegan dinner in Ubud, Bali
  5. Will we have time to exercise? This may sound weird, but sometimes when traveling, we’re in a desperate need for a sweaty, deadly exhausting hour of gym workout, a run or anything to boost our energy levels. We sometimes find ourselves also thinking that we haven’t done any sports in days. However when we start thinking about all the walking, carrying our (mainly my) stuff, climbing up stairs, we notice they all add up to a nice amount of daily exercise. I keep a pedometer with me all the times to ensure I’ve met my daily 15000 steps goal (that’s around 10 km walking), which is never difficult when backpacking.  However, wherever there is a free gym, we’ll hit it and slay it. Or go rock climbing or to a zip line adventure. How do you keep fit on the road, or do you? Do you have other ways to boost your much needed energy levels? How do you make sure your legs and back survive long flights?

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    Great Wall, China/长城
  6. What if we get hurt? Accidents happen, luckily ours have always been minor. However, it’s never a bad idea to make sure that you know where the nearest ER or hospital is. That task is often left to me, as the enginerd is typically the one in the need for the services. In Reykjavik, Iceland, the engineer had a middle-of-the night encounter with a massive case of stomach pain. We were staying in this Airbnb house, with no hotel lobby services. He was vomiting and crying in pain, rolling on the floor trying to convince me there’s nothing wrong with him, while I was online looking for a) the address of the nearest ER, b) a taxi number and c) watching a YouTube video on how to pronounce street names in Icelandic. Luckily (??) this took so long he had already finished his two-hour agony (he suffered for it for an hour before waking me up because why tell a nurse?), and we could go back to sleep. When a similar incident took place later in London, we promptly called the hotel  reception and asked for a taxi to the nearest ER ASAP. IV fluids, rest and time took care of the pain (turns out it was gallstones). How do you make sure you’re safe on the road? (I speak some Swedish and was mortified to learn the two languages, Swedish and Icelandic, have nothing in common when it comes to pronunciation. I have also had a fruitless debate on the topic with a Norwegian relative, whom I still believe to be wrong on how to pronounce the letter “y” in Icelandic.)

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    Iceland
  7. What if we get lost? This one is tricky, because you can’t always know if you’re lost or not. I mean, not even the taxi drivers do. Our help has always been smart phones’ map apps, however what if you ran out of battery or loose your phone? Do you always carry paper maps with you? To be honest, I’m more often lost than not, and thanks to my dad, I love paper maps. As a matter of a fact, have saved almost all of them from our previous trips, and lent them to people when they go to same places we’ve been to. Do you prefer carrying a paper map with you, or do you just trust to not get lost or rely on the help of locals? Do you follow the stars? Do you have good (bad) examples of getting lost to share with us?

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    Some but not all of our maps
  8. Where can we do laundry? This can sometimes be tricky. Of all the places, China’s big cities have turned out to be the worst in this case. In Goa, Dubrovnik and Bali there were plenty of laundry service providers, but in Xi’an I opted for doing a huge load of hand wash in our hotel room bath tub (imagine what the cleaning staff must have thought when they went to change the towels and saw a freaking laundry business scene right there in our bathroom…). We carried a thin rope with us, and that became the line for hanging the wet laundry. We practically never use hotel laundry services, as they cost a ton, and also don’t usually do that thing where you just buy new socks and underwear as the old ones get dirty. When we travel, we also look for people we know and ask if we could do laundry at their place (it’s surprising how many people we know around the world), and since we use Airbnb a lot, we never get a place without a washing machine. Which do you prefer, hand washing or laundry services? Where did you find it especially difficult or easy to do laundry?

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    西安, Xi’an, the home of Terracotta warriors and hand washing your dirty clothes
  9. Can we stand each other 24/7? Traveling together can be tricky, since any other person in large doses can be very annoying (♥♥♥). We both fall in to the category of not-so-social and like to keep it to ourselves. However, you can’t escape the other person’s presence on a plane, at the airport, in a beach hut when it’s dark outside (and probably spiders and killer lions, right?) or when you’re sick and miserable and staying in the same room with the other person who’s equally sick. We put our relationship up for a test in 2014 for 6 months, and learned it is very doable to hang out with each other, as long as we get to spend some alone time. As an early bird, I tend to have an hour or two to myself in the mornings, whereas the engineer does the same in the evenings. Also, simply going outside, running or grocery shopping was usually enough to meet the need to be alone. A good book came in handy when there was no chance to physically be alone, or playing with laptop or phone. Now that we’re planning to leave for an unknown period of time, we have already decided to look for Airbnb places with at least two rooms. Since we both plan to more or less work while traveling, too, we will try and spend part of our days at co working spaces, which means concentrating on work, instead of the constant presence of each other. How do you survive when you need to be alone but can’t? Have you had any fights on the topic and how did you solve them? Or do you just rather travel alone and forget about all the social life related problems?

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    Put you relationship up to the test and you might get engaged on the road
  10. Where do we want to go? Luckily, both of us seem to have very similar idea of where to go next. So far there has been no actual problem with that, since we have naturally started following the two rules: 1) I say where I’d like to go and the engineer makes it happen and 2) the engineer suggests a place to visit, I’m suspicious about it, he shows me the facts (nice weather, rather little spiders, cheap tickets, nature), I’m up for it and we end up loving the place. So, not really a problem for us, but what if the other one loved South America and the other only wanted to explore Russia, what would you do? Where would you go if you could afford just one destination?

Let us know how it goes in your travel team of one, two or more persons. We’d love to share links to your related stories, too, so feel free to add them in the comments 🙂

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