Monday, December 6, 2010

More Travel Tips

I'm jetlagged and waiting for breakfast, so some more travel tips that I've picked up.
  • If your hotel room requires a key in a slot to turn on the lights - any card (or a piece of cardboard) will work. You should be able to use old key cards. I believe in turning off the lights, but sometimes I want to keep the lights/computer on if I'm headed to the gym for a bit.
  • Colgate Wisp "toothbrushes." They don't require rinsing or spitting, and you can give yourself a quick brush in your plane seat. (I think it'd also be awesome in T2 of an Iron-distance triathlon.)
  • Global Entry. If you do a lot of international travel and you live in the US, it may be worth your while to apply for the Global Entry pass. You basically get to breeze through the Global Entry quick-entry (and get your family to the front of their respective lines) at immigration.
  • TripIt. Website, iphone, blackberry and android apps. Forward your itinerary and TripIt parses the information. Great to organize multiple friends traveling or even for your own travels. Just use the free version. (iPhone and Blackberry get AMEX integration)
  • For packing and security tips, just watch Up in the Air.

Trail Run and Dumplings

Sometimes, I wish I had packed differently. Yesterday, I really wanted trail running shoes, a water bottle with some nutrition in it and my camera.

Regan and I went on a Taiwan hash run through some tea and beetle-nut plantations in the mountains outside Taipei. It was hilly, humid and muddy, so the run lasted twice as long as we expected. All I wanted was water and nutrition. Every time we went up an extended uphill, we were rewarded with gorgeous views of lush mountains with just a touch of fog. Those were the camera moments. After tons of steep downhills, sliding down dirt, using bamboo to stop the momentum (once even dangling off a tree trunk with both legs in the air), I finally ate it on some mossy rock. I should have known better, but it's been a while since I've been on trail - especially with cushy road shoes. It was a big fall - massive bruise on my shin and some good scrapes.

From Asia 2010
Aside from the gorgeous views, the run had the side effect of ramping up my appetite. (I can't remember the last time I spent over an hour running/walking.) So, we went to Din Tai Fung to order their famous steamed dumplings. We got there early for dinner, so our wait for the table was only 25 minutes. (Taipei is one of the most densely populated urban areas, so there's always a wait for famous things). The wait was well worth it, and we spent the next hour stuffing ourselves full of dumplings, spicy wontons and noodles. Best dumplings ever.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Road Warrior & Mileage Run

Somehow without expecting it, I've become a road warrior in the second half of this year. I've done trips here and there in the first half, but the bulk of the miles started with the 'round the world trip late June. I didn't realize how much I was gone until I saw the chart from TripIt last night.

On the other hand, I saw that I was soo close to Executive Platinum (EXP), I decided to to a mileage run by flying from Austin to Nashville, and then from Nashville to Dallas to Tokyo to Taiwan. I had to do the Austin to Nashville leg to get enough mileage on American. The benefits make absolutely no sense to someone who doesn't travel much, but I've spent more time on airplanes than on my bike this past year and it does matter.

Just on this trip alone, some of the nicer things the airline folks have done for me:
  • On the BNA-DFW flight, the attendant gave me a liter bottle of water because the flight between DFW-NRT was so long. I'm nicely hydrated now.
  • On the DFW-NRT flight, the gate agent moved me to another window seat since the lady next to the original seat had a baby. As it turns out, no one was next to me on the flight, so I had two seats to myself!
  • If I book enough in advance, I usually get premium seating closer to the front. It's quieter, you feel less turbulence, and you get off the plane faster and beat the rush to immigration.
I chose Taiwan since my college-roommate is an expat here, Taiwan doesn't require a visa for US citizens, and I've been meaning to visit.