As I prepare to spend almost 2 months away from home, traveling to China, London and finally, Maine, I have been taking stock of my possessions in an effort to decide what I cannot live without. This is a difficult decision, especially when it comes to shoes, but I have aspirations of being a lightweight traveler so I am trying to view this as an experiment. or a personal challenge. something.
One of the important items is my mobile phone, of course. I currently have a Samsung D807 slider phone, which is nice and compact but no fun when it comes to text messaging or retrieving email. I gave up my Blackjack for the D807 because I thought I needed a phone, not a message center; but have since discovered that I am wrong. I actually don't talk on the phone anymore (does anyone?). As I was considering which phone to switch to, I pulled out a box that contains my old gadgets and discovered... that I have a lot.
It's ridiculous. I have been carrying these things around with me from place to place for years. Contained within are 6 cell phones + various accessories, a Zen Jukebox MP3, cables, plugs, whatever... I think my grandmother's engagement ring and my 6th grade report card are also in there somewhere.
So what to do with these things that I no longer use but am conflicted about disposing of? I did some research and found organizations like Collective Good, Recycling for Charities, and Recycle for Breast Cancer that will recycle or dispose of your old electronics and gadgets in an environmentally friendly way. And apparently, it's easy. Box it up and ship it out (they'll even supply the shipping label) or arrange a pick up. I guess I should get rid of my old gadgets before buying any new ones...
Aside from streamlining my gadget life, I also have to figure out how to pack for this journey. In my dreams, I can make it with one suitcase and one carry-on, but due to the aforementioned shoe issue I am not sure that's very realistic. I have been scouring the web for advice and came upon How to Travel the World with 10lbs or Less, linked from the Travel Gear blog. This Tim Ferriss person frightens me a little (How to Lose 20lbs of Fat in 30 Days Without Exercising? A 4-hour Work Week? Really?) but I'm willing to try anything, so I watched his video and read his advice. His post is intended for people who wear hiking boots, not heels; but I adapted his packing list to my lifestyle by replacing his items for mine - like 1 featherweight Marmon Ion jacket (whatever that is) to 1 lightweight Anthropologie cardigan; or 1 pair of Polyester pants (His. Please.) with 1 pair denim jeans. It just might work.
Or, perhaps his best advice is simply BIT ~ "Buy It There".
Business travel is often grueling and rarely glamorous... it's living like a rockstar without the fringe benefits. You have to ask yourself, as you plan an itinerary that has you flying from San Francisco to Bentonville via Houston then Denver in the middle of February when you know there will be weather delays just to arrive in time for a 2-hour meeting, then get back on a plane and go through the same itinerary to return to San Francisco in time for more meetings, WHY? followed by, how do I make the best of this?? Life is short, I don't want my memories to be full of security checks, beige food, beige meeting rooms and beige people in beige black suits.
I have a secret - rent a car. It's the best way to get to know a place in a short period of time, especially if you get lost (in which case, I've decided, you may then declare yourself a local). When you land, charmingly ask for an upgrade at the rental car counter and you might be surprised (I was once upgraded to a Jaguar XJ at no extra charge). Add color and emotion into the mix by bringing along your own music and no longer will you feel as though life is just passing by as you press on in the business world. It's a bold proposition, because there is always the possibility of taking a wrong turn that could put you someplace unexpectedly beautiful... and has nothing to do with your business purpose.
Firsthand experience: a routine business trip to meet with the government of Spain about regional industrial projects - a big yawn in the scheme of my life - turned into gorgeous memories of driving through Castilla y Leon in a bright red Mini Cooper with The Verve'sUrban Hymns on the cd player past hillsides dusted with snow, medieval castles and lush vineyards in the distance. A decidedly better life memento than a Hard Rock Cafe t-shirt purchased at the airport upon departure.