Daily Archives: December 10, 2009

Fifteen Book Tour Packing Tips

Now that I’ve finished The Tour and am unlikely to do anything like it ever again, here are fifteen helpful packing hints. Every one of them comes from experience, and you know what they say about that: Good judgment comes from experience. Experience comes from bad judgment. At some time in the past, I’ve lost/forgotten/not done each of these.

  1. The schedule. It should have all the information you’ll need in case the links break. (Plane cancelled, no one at airport to mee you, hotel lost your reservation…  What are the confirmation numbers? Who do you call?) Take a paper copy – don’t rely on your phone. Battery may run out, you might not be able to get a connection.
  2. NB: Check in online the day before, if you can. Airlines are overbooking quite a lot.
  3. The pens. Don’t count on anyone else to supply your favourites. Take several. If refillable, take refills. Put them into a waterproof container. Do not clip onto pocket. (Ink is hard to get out of shirts/tops.) Put something absorbent in with them. Sometime, somewhere, they will leak. For note-taking in transit, take a pencil. Take a pencil sharpener. (NB: fresh ink washes off pens and your hands quite well with soap and water. Do not use the white hotel towels to dry your pens. The hotel will not thank you.)
  4. Copy all travel documents, including passport and cards, and leave copies with a trusted contact or in a safe place. Remember where that place is. This is in case you lose your documents, or they are stolen. Don’t take any cards you won’t need.
  5. Label all bags with outside labels that don’t show your name and address openly. Put address in inside pocket too. Tie a bright identifying thing onto your bag so you’ll be sure to claim the right one from the gate-check trolley when you stagger off the plane in a glazed condition.
  6. The luggage. At some point, the escalator/elevator will break down, and you will have to carry your carry-on, wheels or not. Planes allow two bags. Balance the contents, and take a third small cloth bag tucked into one of the others. Then if you have to gate-check you can remove things like your laptop and reading material (and handbag, if any) and take them onboard with you.
  7. Take a hand sanitizer, or those little packets. Use after each time when you may have touched Microbes/Viruses, eek, arrgh!. Don’t forget door handles and elevator buttons, not to mention pens & hands. When washing hands with soap, sing “Happy Birthday” twice, to time the sudsing. No need to do this out loud and alarm others in washroom. You are a potential travelling plagueship. Act accordingly.
  8. Airplane travel: close the lid before flushing. Otherwise the cubicle is a microbe aerosol with you in the middle of it. Why spray yourself with a mist of… never mind.
  9. Carry small amounts of the remedies/pharmacy items you might need in the middle of the night, when nothing will be open. At some point in your booktour life, you will be struck with: colds, flu, stomach upsets, digestive tract problems, headaches, back problems, sore arms, cold sores, hangovers, foot problems, sunburn, and more. Vitamin pills: B12 and C are the best for stamina. If really wiped and you need a quick pickup, try a banana or some potato chips. (It’s the potassium.) Those Emergen-C packets can help.
  10. Take a decent nail file. You are guaranteed to break nails, whether you’re male or female. Take some earplugs; if there’s room, some noise-cancelling earphones. You’ll be glad.
  11. Flight socks: Wear them if  the trip is over 1 ½ hours. Nobody needs an embolism in a foreign city. (Or any city.)
  12. Never check anything on a book tour. At the rate of a city a day, a lost bag may never catch up to you. The one-word tip for packing is: Less. However, if you can manage two pairs of shoes, do. Take quick-dry items. Remember, the people in City # 2 won’t  have seen what you wore in City # 1. If female, think pink, pack black, take scarves. If male, quick-dry shirts. It’s not glamorous, but you will end up washing things in the hand basin and draping them on towel-racks. If  they are still slightly damp and you have to leave soon, remember the hair dryer. Do not set fire to your clothes.
  13. Take a small flashlight.  Handy in case the lights go out, and for other purposes as well. Take some safety pins and rubber bands: you never know when you might need them.
  14. Take your own alarm clock. Those advanced-robotic things in the rooms are often impossible to figure out, and of course there are never any instructions. When setting your alarm clock, pay attention to time changes and the a.m. and p.m. functions. To be doubly sure, place a wake-up call with the hotel.
  15. Take two extra suitcase locks. (Locks fall off bags when you’ve forgotten to close them.) Set the code beforehand. You will be too bagged-out in transit to do this efficiently. Then you will lock yourself out of your own suitcase. This is horrible. You can always get the locks with keys. But then you might lose the keys. This too is horrible. Nothing is certain. Everything flows…

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