WHERE DO flight numbers come from? Do they hold some hidden meaning?
Yes and no. Ordinarily, flights going eastbound are assigned even numbers; those headed westbound get odd numbers. Another habit is giving lower, one- or two-digit numbers to more prestigious, long-distance routes. If there’s a flight 1 in an airline’s timetable, it’s the stuff of London–New York.
Numbers might also be grouped geographically. At United, transpacific flights use three-digit numbers beginning with 8, which is considered a lucky number in some Asian cultures. Four-digit sequences starting with a 3 or higher are, most of the time, indications of a code-share flight.
Your bags: Travel bags should always be rollable and made with telescoping handles.
No! No! No! If one has health reasons as to why one cannot carry bags, then roll-a-board bags make sense. If so, I strongly recommend the two wheel variety and not the common four wheel type. Why? If one needs to quickly move – say, to a distant gate to catch a tight connection, and/or have to deal with stairs – say, anywhere where there are stairs, then the two wheel bags will handle those far better than the alternative.
However, if one can do non-suitcase bags like backpacks and shoulder bags, they are the best. They are more portable, safer, flexible, and are less likely to be gate checked. I will take one of each on longer business trips.
Do Not Travel with camo or khaki or military drab or overly tactical bags. There are many places in South America and Asia where that will flag you for additional scrutiny, at best.
Also, a lot of non-US airlines are very strict about bag weight where US airlines care more about bag size. Keep that in mind when choosing between a suitcase that weighs 6 pounds empty and a bag that weighs 2.
Do Not Travel With Four Wheel Suitcases! They are AV carts, old-school Daleks. The wheels are tiny and prone to breaking. One cannot move quickly with them and they require more space when one runs alongside. To be fair, I own one for a very specific use case but otherwise avoid it.
Ideally, if you are traveling by air, you can pack everything in your carry-on, at least for the outbound trip.
This is because checked bags force you to wait at the airport for them to come out at the claim
… unless you can gate check them. If so, then you might be waiting about 10 minutes.
They can also get delayed or lost, forcing you to rely on an airline’s delivery services that can take several days.
NEVER only check bags. Always keep one with you with at least a full change of clothes, medication, toiletries, and anything that might get stolen.
Lastly, as the snarkily fun/Air Babylon/suggests, checked bags can get pilfered, and since 2001 it’s effectively impossible to lock them. Even locks advertised as TSA-safe can result in your bag arriving half-open and with zippers wrenched-off because the security services don’t care. Since you can’t lock checked bags, anything that has a possibility of being checked should also be anonymous: black nylon with no particular designer marks.
True. Suitcase locks are beyond worthless. They instead signal that the bag might be worth taking.
Leave the gorgeous Rimowa aluminum on Instagram and the custom-fitted, excruciatingly heavy leather luggage for a car trip.
If you have a flashy bag, …
Don’t. Just … don’t.
For the return trip, consider shipping things home if you have a lot. I bought a bunch of books on a recent Portland trip and was on the tipping point of shipping versus cramming into a checked bag.
… always keep the following ready to go:
Plenty of plastic bags: To store dirty laundry, wet clothes such as swimsuits, leaky bottles of shampoo, or the new bottle of wine that you’re bringing back. You never know when you’ll need them.
Yes, but not for those reasons. You do not want to store wet clothes in a plastic bag for more than an hour or so. Instead you want something made of a modern fabric that will wick away moisture. Why are you traveling with liquid shampoo? If your wine bottle breaks a plastic bag will not help.
Agree. Muji sells some and they have a good travel option when it’s in stock.
Travel tray: To keep hotel keys, sunglasses, change, watch, wallet, and other stuff that’s otherwise easy to leave lying around your room. Available at all price ranges, such trays can be unbuttoned at the corners so you can pack them flat. I love mine.
I have a Tom Bihn model that is multipurpose as a packable bag for tech kit.
Plastic utensils: A spare set of plastic knives, forks, and spoons will come in handy when you have to stay somewhere too sketchy for room service. More advanced colleagues travel with nutrition bars.
Agreed, though I include chopsticks (also useful in unexpected non-food ways), a thermal bottle, and a collapsable water bottle. I level up with a foldable plate/cup/bowl set. Instant coffee and tea sachets are great when you can get hot water.
Clear travel washbag: Regulation sized, of course.
Yes, but …
In addition to hotel-sized toiletries, you need a compact, concentrated shaving cream.
No. If you’re traveling to a modern hotel they will have shaving cream. Better, find a dry shaving soap one can lather up with a washcloth.
Travel accessories: A plastic receipts folder, noise-canceling headphones with jack adaptors, plug converters, and spare charging cords. I usually keep extra collar stays in my bag and a cheap pair of ribbon knot cufflinks if I ever mistakenly pack a French-cuff shirt.
Yes!!! Also, a lapel pin and tie clip. Bring some duct tape or similar for de-linting clothes (and quick repairs), a sewing kit, and a shoe polishing cloth.
Roll, Don’t Fold: Remember to pack clothes by rolling them, not folding them.
Also, pack a small collapsible umbrella because it will rain if you don’t.
This varies based on destination. I would not bring an umbrella to Japan. Not because it won’t rain, but rather because one can buy a better-than-average one in a konbi for little. On an NYC trip and I will definitely bring my own.
What to wear when you travel?
That is the question.
When I have to travel light, I usually wear a pair of my suit trousers. They have side adjusters to loosen them when I try to rest, and their wool generally breathes.
I travel with a pair (or two) of modern performance trousers that can work in a business casual environment. The company that made mine lost its way, so I’ll link to a resource to help you find something else). I’ll usually wear one on the plane.
I may wear the jacket on the plane as the pockets are useful for travel documents and other essentials.
Pockets on the plane or train or other conveyance are key. I often wear a travel blazer on board.
However, instead of a dress shirt, I usually wear a fine-gauge knit, which is more comfortable and softer than a woven button-up.
When I travel, I often take only a single pair of shoes, something laceless and made with a rubber sole. Laceless because airports and planes can be filthy, and it saves time having to remove and put them on again at security (which is why I also keep a small shoehorn in my bag). Rubber-soled because you never know if it will rain while you’re traveling.
I do much the same with shoes that are color muted. I also pack boots if I think I will do any hiking or long walks.
After this, I hope you can stumble comfortably off your red-eye and eventually direct yourself to a shelter where this advice helps you settle, spruce up, and feel you have what you need. …
Other things I recommend (brain dump; I’m not sure the last time I did such a list):
- Printed boarding pass (even if you keep it in your bag and use your phone in the airport)
- Playing cards and/or dice
- Sleep mask
- Notebook, notepad, pen, and pencil
- Copies of your ID kept away from your actual ID
- A piece of paper with important numbers (emergency contacts, embassy and consulates, hotel, local contact, etc.), medication, blood type, etc. in a plastic bag
- Foreign language guide (if needed)
- Wool socks
- Wool t-shirts
- Wool or performance underwear
- Lots of $1 bills (in the US for tipping) and the same in other countries as culturally allowed
- Emergency currency
- Wired over-the-ear headphones (and adaptor, because mobile phone makers hate us)
- Inexpensive reliable watch (Casio makes a bunch of these)
- Sun glasses
- Bandanas and handkerchiefs (for nose issues and sweat and tourniquet and hobo-ing and sun avoidance, etc.)
- Day bag (that I also use as a packing cube)
- RFID-blocking pouch (for passport, etc.)
- Inexpensive reliable compass
- Door stop
- Destination map that includes the airport or train station
- Jumbo binder clips
- Airplane seat back organizer
- Airplane cup holders
Here endeth the lesson.
For the 2 hours between 10:00 and 11:59UTC each day, 3 different dates are observed at the same time in different places on Earth. At 10:15 UTC Thursday, it is 23:15 Wednesday in American Samoa, Thursday in most of the world, and 00:15 Friday in Kiritimati http://bit.ly/2CCgeZ0
Hertz has problems. Do not get entangled with them.
In it, Scott 3D prints a case for an M1 Mac Mini that he marries up with his iPad Mini as a display.
This is cool.
What’s frustrating is that I’ve noodled around with this same idea for years. When I lived in Tokyo I used my iPad Pro as the occasional display for my 2011 Mac Mini Server (Ama no Gawa) using both Duet and … ugh, the same basic technology but it used a dongle for improving display quality instead of a cable … ugh.
Anyway, it worked great for me but was sadly not as portable as I would have liked.
Scott’s design, which I’ve also considered using a Raspberry Pi 4 (with VNC) in place of the Mac Mini, IS PORTABLE … if one does not need it to be wirelessly portable.
Writing my thinking like this is bringing me to a fresh idea — what if I carried both? The Mac Mini for the more intensive work and the very light RPi4 for tooling around where I need more than the iPad Mini alone can provide? The lighter setup can be powered by a standard battery to be mobile.
I’m back in Seoul, South Korea for work.
I was slated to return for months. My repeated delays and cancellations were due to combinations of bureaucracy, incompetence, miscommunication (in English), inability to communicate (in Korean), apathy (mine), and a lack of urgency (not mine).
I shall spare you, Dear Friends, of the trials of the earlier travel attempts. At least, I shall spare you of them for now.
This final, ultimately successful journey came out of the last failed try. We shifted the Korean consulate handling my paperwork from Atlanta (I’m still not sure if anyone actually works there except for one woman who spoke no English) to San Francisco. This bit of rehoming required me to fly on 2 distinct itineraries: CHA – ATL – SFO on Wednesday morning, and SFO – ICN at 23:55 Wednesday.
Aside: the late night flight to Korea had me leave on Wednesday and arrive on Friday! Thank you, International Date Line!
For my itinerary to work I needed my COVID-19 quarantine exemption certificate from the San Francisco Consulate. The idea was that it would be ready for me when I landed in SFO. I would saunter to the lounge, print it off, and be ready when I could check into my flight some 8 hours later.
There was no COVID-19 quarantine exemption certificate from the San Francisco Consulate waiting for me in my inbox when I landed. Word was that it had not made its way yet from the Ministry in Seoul.
Two options presented themselves to me: return home and try again with a brand new submission; or lay up in SF and hope the paperwork arrives before the next day’s flight. I went with option 2.
Which brings us to my packing for this trip.
I wanted to bring only carry-on bags this time. The new 2 itinerary approach made it important to not check a bag. To do so would mean having to leave security, claim the bag, check it in again under the second itinerary, and again claim it at Incheon Airport.
I got very close to achieving this goal.
On my last trip I worked on a second customer. I was supposed to continue to support them from the US. That didn’t pan out, but the 2.2KG (about 5 lbs) laptop and charger I was given for the support still made it home with me. I have to return it on this trip, and that extra bulk was the tipping point.
Not that I didn’t try to carry on/gate check the suitcase I used. Sadly it is the biggest of my suitcases and Delta made me check it through to San Francisco. See below for the things I brought for my 5-ish week stay.
Another complicating factor was that I booked my flights through Delta but the SFO – ICN leg was on Korean Airlines, a Delta codeshare partner. Korean only flies the one flight out of SFO, so their ticketing desk does not open until about 3 hours before boarding with no on-line check-in option.
The suitcase contained:
- 4 sets of socks, underwear, t-shirts, and handkerchiefs
- 2 sweaters
- 3 button down shirts
- 2 trousers
- workout shorts/swimsuit and shirt
- lightweight trainers
- puffer coat, gloves, hat, and cap
- 2 Raspberry Pis
- camera tripod
- 2 camera lenses
- 2 Roost laptop stands
- Tom Bihn Freudian Slip for my Synik 30 backpack with carious pens, cables, and power adaptors
- set of collapsable plates and bowls
- 50 packs of instant Starbucks coffee in a plastic bag
- belt and neck tie
- electric beard trimmer
The Synik 30 backpack had, among other things:
- work MacBook Air
- personal MacBook Pro 15
- afore mentioned heavy laptop
- camera with lens
- Beats pro headphones
- power cords, adaptors, and cables
- emergency food stash
- business cards and ID badges
- water bottle
- coffee travel container
- 3-1-1 bag of liquids and meds
- Logitech Anywhere MX mouse
- copies of my COVID vaccination, quarantine exemption certificate, COVID test results
- Apple Watch, series 2 (work) and 5 (personal)
- travel towel
Tom Bihn Le Grande Derrière had:
- wallet with cash, credit cards
- Apple Magic Keyboard (JIS)
- Apple Magic Trackpad
- Apple iPad Mini 5
- battery pack
- Onyx Boox ereader
- various cables and adaptor
- emergency med kit (sanitizer, bandages, aspirin, &c.)
- COVID-19 vaccination card (in a rugged clear plastic bag)
Tom Bihn Handy Little Thing had:
- playing cards and dice
- eye mask
- Apple headphones
- crystalized lime and lemon packets
- beverage holders
- hot sauce
- Clothes: shoes, socks, trousers, underwear, t-shirt, button-down, travel vest, travel blazer
- travel wallet: passport with visa, receipts, cash, business cards
- phones, iPhone SE 2020 (work) and XS Max (personal)
- Garmin Instinct Tactical watch
What did I leave out that I should have had?
- HDMI cable
- Raspberry Pi power adaptor
- powered USB hub power cord
- Logitech K810 keyboard
- beard trimmer power cord
- nail clippers
- drain stopper
It’s not strictly my front door. I’m staying on a hotel. And yet the mountain is there, all indifferent to the distinction.
The mountain is Mt. Namsan, South Mountain. Namsan Park encompasses the mountain.
Namsan modest in demeanor and elevation (262 meters or 860 feet). Historical signs sprout along the manicured paths and steps. It’s delightful, and yet the mountain is there.
I tried walking up it three different times. I’ve made it to the top exactly zero times. All three of my walks end-to-end might summit me. And yet the mountain is there.
Groups of puffer coated elderly women chatter up the mountain. Besuited business people traipse up it. School children play running in circle games summit. And yet the mountain is there.
That wheezing puddle of sweat on the side in the shade? That, Dear Friends, is me. I am there on the mountain. Namsan is there, too, under me being indifferent.
Opposite of Namsan is Seoul Station. I visited it several times on my last trip including a sojourn on the departure steps waiting for my train to rapid me away to Busan. There is a big COVID testing tent there.
There are homeless at Seoul Station. There are homeless along the walking way to Seoul Station. Much like in Japan, they are visible but not soliciting. Today I saw some of them at the station in worship in the lovely fall sun singing hymns.
Above them is the walkway I took from the hotel to the station. Large circular planters house plants of all kinds. There are at least 3 pianos along the path. Sentries patrol the walk. In the before times there were cute coffee shops and trinket purveyors.
My work week was typical pandemic – I worked from my hotel because I needed a 3rd negative test to go to the customer site. Many WebEx and Teams calls were executed.
Less than 4 weeks to my return home.
I retuned to Seoul for work, to finish off a project I started in April on my last trip. It took 5.5 months to get me back, and the clock on the 5.5 months started before I left the last time. Had I been successful earlier, I would be on my way home by now, forced to return because of the magic 180 day threshold over which tax implications become expensive.
I don’t believe in this project even though it will succeed, but that’s not all of why I don’t want to be here.
The COVID numbers here are 4-10 times what they were when I left. The country says they’re about to reach 70% vaccination and about to enter their “living with COVID” phase. The 70% are of people with at least one dose, and that is adults. The government will change their reporting to focus on hospitalizations and deaths instead of positive tests. Restrictions will relax.
South Korea is a great example of hygiene theatre being hand waiving – the mandate on hand sanitization is all for show, for example – but that is not all of why I do not want to be here.
I’m working face-to-face with colleagues from all over. They are smart, capable people. In the before times I would enjoy hanging out with them, getting to know them, and establishing relationships.
I’m reluctant to do that kind of hanging out in these times, but that isn’t all of why I don’t want to be here.
For the first time in longer than I can remember, I am homesick. My illness began before I left. I’ve put down roots, you see, and I’m not happy to leave them. I definitely do not want to rip them up.
UPDATE: this was a post I meant to send a week ago.