Saturday, November 05, 2005

Sach’s top 3 travel necessities yo mama won’t tell you to pack.

Slow News DayNothing in terms of new albums, I haven’t seen Jarhead yet and I’ve spent most of my time working on something or other recently. Thus I present an update with little political, social or pop culture relevance, but a useful one nonetheless. Those who know me are aware that I’ve been bitten by the travel bug since last year when I went backpacking in Europe. That was my first trip and I learned a hell of a lot including stuff that they don’t tell you in all of those fancy travel books. With that in mind, here are 3 travel tips that you won’t find in any book.

1) Learn the art of the mixtape before you leave.

Music is an essential part of traveling solo because no matter how many new friends and acquaintances you make on the road there’s always going to be some down time and no matter how many reflections and inspired thoughts you have during that downtime you’ll eventually get sick of yourself and want to put on some tunes. While many of the Ipod generation would assume bringing a huge playlist or some favorite albums would be the key to a fruitful travel experience, I assure you that it’s the easy way out and you risk missing one of the great joys of travel: the travel mixtape. Remember how cool Bill Murray’s character in Broken Flowers was riding around in his rented Taurus? That’s because his cool Ethiopian friend equipped him with a kickass mixtape full of African folk tunes and suave 60’s inspired minor-key pop rock. It would have been a lot less interesting had the guy been listening to FM radio or had put on a random Van Morrison album. Thus, I heartily recommend making at least 2-3 mixtapes for your trip. Pick some favorites, some random little heard stuff and some eclectic new material before you set out and don’t be afraid to veer away from greatest hits into the realm of obscure material. The result? By the half-way point of your trip these songs will have acquired context and will forever remind you of your travel acquiring meaning not unlike that of the recontextualisation of a Quentin Tarentino soundtrack. Believe me, that’s far better than a playlist full of someone else’s musical choices. If you’re too lazy/incompetent/uninspired to make yourself one; ask a musically inclined friend: we’re nerds and love sharing music.

2) Bring a disposable book

Now’s not the time for the hardcover War and Peace. Bring something you can finish quickly and trade with someone on the road. Lot’s of hostels have book exchanges which are cheap efficient ways to get new entertainment once you’ve finished your initial readings. Also, as tempting as it is, it’s probably not the best idea to bring On the Road. It’s a cheesy choice and you don’t want to compete with Kerouac. Read it before or (preferably) after.

3) Get rid of those clothes

This applies to Europe in the summer, but seriously: fuck the dress shirt, extra pair of paints and half of the useless stuff in your backpack and stock up on socks and underwear instead. Those are the only things that REALLY stink and if you’re going A-list clubbing on a backpacking trip you suck anyways. You’ll thank me once you realize your pack is heavy enough as it is and it would have been useless to bring all the extra stuff.

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