This will be the best travel advice I give you, beyond where to go, drink, eat and so on and so forth.
You need to take care of your ass when you travel. Travel size packets of butt wipes is an essential item when I pack. They also go by the name sanitizing wipes, baby wipes, flushable cleansing clothes, moist wipes and sensitive wipes.
As a citizen of the world, I put my heart and soul behind the fact that the United States of America makes the best toilet paper in the world. We take care of our own … our own asses.
Twice I’ve been away from the U.S. for more than a month. Both times, I’ve told people in this order, “I miss my bed and I miss quality toilet paper.” The third is mass quantities of drip coffee.
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Yeah, look at the mermaid … doing mermaid things on that rock. Yup, just hanging out on the rock.
In the world of tourist attractions, statues seem to pop up in various locals. Ohhhh, you’re in New York, you gotta go see the Statue of Liberty. Ohhhh, you’re in Florence, you gotta go see the Statue of David. Ohhh, you’re in Tokyo, you gotta go see the statue of Hachikō.
Then you have The Little Mermaid statue in Copenhagen, easily the most un-enthralling statue you’ll come across. The second being the Manneken-Pis in Brussels (that’s another Tourist Hell post). Siting off Langelinie path, the Hans Christian Andersen character has perched on the rock since 1913. That’s over a century of lame selfies.
Everybody’s reaction is the same when they get to the statue, it’s so small.
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Back in February, I was planning out my month-long visit to London. I went to my bank’s website to stock up on pounds when I noticed how low the Euro was trading. It was around 1.09 from the base price of 1.05 per U.S. dollar. That’s insanity! It eventually went lower than that.
I went on social media and told everyone to buy Euros now, even if you they were not planning on going to the European Union. You don’t need to buy €500 worth — hundred now, and a hundred the next paycheck. Put them in a sock drawer, safety deposit box, a home safe or anywhere you keep your passport. They’ll still be good years from now. That’s one thing to check off your to-do list early when packing and planning. If it goes back up to 1.30 or 1.40, you can have a hearty laugh at all the money you saved.
To give you some evidence, check out this chart I generated from xe.com. It’s the exchange rate of $1 over the past year.
The rate is inching close to the February low of 1.04. That .05 difference isn’t going to make much of a difference so order some currency this week. The Euro is always a pretty looking note.
In terms of ordering, I’ve always gone through my bank. The mark-up is on par with what AAA will offer you, but the bank will have the added convenience of taking directly from your checking or savings account. There’s no need to take a hunk of money just to give to a AAA window and wait behind some doofus ordering Six Flags tickets. Also, there are more locations of your bank than AAA offices.
For me, it’s all about simplicity. I’ve read plenty of articles of currency exchange when it’s just easiest to go via your bank. Mine charges $7.95 to ship to a bank branch of your choice. It comes the following day or the day after that. You go the teller, you sign a receipt, they count it in front of you and you can be on your way.
You need to have that in you right now. Unfortunately, you can only get it in Madrid.
Sure, it’s just a plate of various types of cured ham, manchego cheese, bread and beer, but it’s must more than it. It’s Spain on a plate for lunch.
The place to get this piggy and cheese goodness is Museo del Jamon in Madrid. Easy translation, Museum of Ham. There isn’t a better name than that for this emporium of all things ham.
What’s pictured above is the sampler plate of different cuts from the Ibérico and Serrano pigs. The coveted Ibérico or Iberian pig are partially raised in the wild so that they can feast on acorns from holm and cork trees. Once cured, the diet gives the slices a rich, nutty flavor. Serrano pigs are raised on farms and fed a steady diet of cereal feed. The big slabs of meat are then cured for over a year at high altitudes to avoid moisture.
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The baby in that picture looks terrified. He or she is about to wheeled into certain death. Somebody should Photoshop a Hannibal Lecter mask on the child and then wheel him or her around on a trolley.
I haven’t seen a more impractical travel accessory than these baby chairs that attach to your rolling suitcase. You take something that wasn’t a problem and made it a problem.
While I cruised the international terminal at Heathrow last month, I saw something similar to this toiling around. My first thought was the safety hazards these chairs present. There are hundreds of people walking around with their pilot cases and rolling duffles that could easily bang into the kid.
Navigating with a rolling suitcase is clumsy enough to begin with when you’re going in and out with foot track. I often get into that awkward situation when a wheel skips and turns the whole suitcase around. Now imagine that with a human being attached to it.
It’s hard enough that parents have to fumble with all their baby stuff and strollers in every form of transportation. There’s always stroller parking at the airplane entrance with a group of parents trying to figure out how to fold their strollers and what they need for the kid on the flight. If you have one of these things, it’s just adding to your clutter.
In the overall picture, how long and far do you walk with your rolling carry-on? From the terminal entrance to check-in, check-in to security and security to gate. It’s about a quarter to an eighth of a mile. By the time you strap this stupid thing to your carry-on and get the kid to sit in it, you can be at your destination already.
Here’s the alternative to these, it’s called your arms. Or a papoose. Or a baby sling. Or a stroller. Or a cage. I don’t have a kid so you know better how to carry them around.
P.S. It looks like that kid is PhotoShopped into the photo. Same with the smile on the hot mom in the baring-midriff tank top and short shorts.
The 36 Hours In … video series on NYTimes.com is a well-produced travel guide, but with the recent Bilbao episode, I am seeing a pattern. The evidence, if you will…
“The culinary concept here is to take simple, local ingredients that have traditional preparations and use modern cooking techniques.”
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If asked what my No. 1 aspect I hate about travel, it’s traveling with luggage. Maneuvering a four-wheeled, 29-inch beast is a shit-show even for veteran business travelers and the like because a thousand people are doing the same thing in a confined space. My priority when I get to the airport is to separate myself from my large luggage as quickly as possible.
Then with tourists, in my top-tier of complaints about them is they pack too much or bring too much on the airplane. I’ll give you a recent example of this. When I was at passport control at Newark, I saw a guy doing the two backpack sandwich thing. He had a huge camping style backpack on his back and one regular-size slung on his front like a newborn baby pouch. How did he get his camping backpack past security and the 22-inch limit on carry-ons?
I got to thinking, why don’t people check-in their luggage? I thought of two reasons. One, they don’t want to pay the baggage fee. But, this is a Virgin Atlantic flight, first bag is free. Two, they don’t want their luggage loss and don’t trust the airlines.
So, I looked for a lost luggage report to see if my suspicions were true. It has gotten better. Way better.
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