10 Zero-Bullshit Travel Tips for Men Only
I’ve experienced more than my fair share of travel nightmares over the last 19 years and I’ve got the scars to prove it. Gain a little experience without the bite marks and read this post.
I’ve had my bank card eaten by an ATM while in transit through a Middle Eastern border town, been bitten by a cannibalistic Thai hooker in Southeast Asia, got malaria in Guam, and I’ve crashed a sex party in Montreal only to get the clap from a popular TV personality.
But I’ve lived to tell the stories and I have learned a lot along the way.
While you might not accrue your passport stamps by the decade or count miles in the hundreds of thousands annually; I am absolutely positive you will find most of the items on this list of men’s travel tips useful and relevant.
So, whether you’re taking a short trip for business travel or you’re filling a gap year –claw back a little control and MacGuyver your way through your journey like a seasoned traveller. You will not find these kind of men’s travel tips in your average travel guide.
1. Flight Delay Workaround
If your flight is delayed for any reason but the weather, there’s a good chance you can invoke this little known rule to get your airline to endorse your ticket over to the next available flight with a competing airline –and it could even land you in first class for the price of an economy fare.
It’s called Rule 240 in the USA or Regulation 261/200 in the European Union, and it’s a legacy provision back from the golden age of flight when airlines were regulated by the government. Newer airlines will likely not have this rule in the USA, however older airlines that existed before deregulation will. At the time of writing this I am aware that Alaska, Frontier, and United still have Rule 240 or an equivelent on the books in the USA, and even more airlines abide by Regulation 261/200 in the EU. It never hurts to be assertive and ask.
Related: How to get cheap flights
2. Pack Smart
There’s two kinds of luggage that matter: what’s in your carry-on, and lost. You can easily travel with only the gear you can fit into a carry on. Do not pack for eventualities, and don’t bother with heavy hard-top suitcases with wheels.
I suggest a carry-on bag with a clamshell opening so you can access it in a non-linear fashion, instead of first-in-first-out; there is nothing worse than having to unpack your entire bag on a busy street to reach your sandals. A Minaal carry-on bag or just about anything by Osprey is the best way to go.
On top of never checking your luggage; pack all of the metal items you normally keep in your pockets into Ziplock bags in your carry-on before leaving for the airport to save time at security checkpoints.
Lastly, if you intend to go the digital nomad route and settle down for months at a time in one place, you might want to consider shipping your luggage with a private courier company that offers room-to-room service. DHL, UPS, and Luggage Concierge make this easy. Digital nomads tend to have strange luggage needs such as bringing along their own LCD monitor or full-sized PC, and shipping luggage is a hell of a lot more convenient than checking it.
3. Fuck a Foreigner
The home team advantage in any culture gives the woman an edge that makes it easier for them to rob or extort you, act out violently, or play the victim so some other wank can play hero and piss in your cornflakes.
Instead, always fuck a foreigner. Fuck a Colombian in Chile, a Thai girl in the Philippines, an American in Australia, or an Israeli fresh out of military training anywhere but Israel. Women tend to be less unruly when the authorities don’t share their nationality.
3. Unlock Your Phone
Unlocking your phone before going on any overseas trip will allow you to pick up an inexpensive local prepaid SIM card and acquire a local phone number in the country you’re in. Phone rates and data plans are much more affordable this way; in Thailand you can get unlimited data and incoming voice phone calls for a mere $15 USD per month, and outgoing minutes are exponentially cheaper than those of Western countries. Unlocking is different from “jailbreaking”, as the latter may be in violation of your warranty and terms of service back home.
If you plan on banging any locals or foreigners along the way, it might also be prudent to setup a local Facebook account. Facebook now requires mandatory SMS account verification on new accounts, but this minor nuisance could prove priceless down the line if your new “friends” turn out to be psychopaths who add your friends and family back home.
4. Check Condom Sizes or Bring Your Own
Western condom sizes range from 52mm (small) to 56mm (large), and in Southeast Asia the average condom size ranges between 45mm to 49mm. The outlook isn’t very good when trying to cram your junk into a condom that’s measured to fit a baby gerkin; they ruin the experience, often break, and open you up to a wide range of diseases up to and including illegitimate children.
5. Browse the Web Securely
Bill C-51 in Canada, the MPAA, RIAA, and the NSA ain’t got nothing on the tactics employed by the corrupt governments in countries ruled by dictatorships, veiled or otherwise.
Whether it’s gaping security holes or nosy governments you’re trying to circumvent, a virtual private network (VPN) is your first line of defense against hackers, snoops, and G men. You never know when a conversation might be flagged as lèse-majesté or the like, so surf safely.
6. Call Banks Before Leaving
Asking your banks to put a travel alert on all of your plastic (including debit cards) will help you avoid terribly inconvenient denial of service situations. Also let them know that if you’re using a VPN, they might see you login from another specific country of origin, too. I’ve had a VPN get me rejected at the ATM before, even though it’s a safer way to bank online.
7. Invest in Noise-Cancelling Wireless Earphones
Investing in good quality noise-cancelling headphones won’t necessarily have to break the bank. You can pick up some affordable wireless noise cancelling earphones on Amazon so you can avoid tangled wires and screaming babies at the same time. They also make for a great way to ignore pushy sales people at the market; I often wear mine turned off.
8. Know When to Keep Your Eyes Closed
Showering in developing countries comes with its own set of challenges, and you might find that a simple shower can lead to more lethal cling-ons than a ladyboy with bad intentions.
The water that flows through the shower heads in bathrooms of developing countries is usually stored in giant plastic vats on the roof above. This water is ripe for larvae of all kinds, including 3+ centimetre worms that can burrow their way into your sinuses, ears, throat, and eye sockets.
I’m not trying to freak you out –I still brush my teeth with the stuff without hesitation, but I choose to clean my ears with the kind of moist towelettes typically reserved for babies’ asses and lady bits.
9. Stay On Top of Your Health
An ounce of prevention is worth more than a pound of cure, they say. Keep your energy levels and immunity up with supplements like spirulina, your brain on point with omega-3, and strength and virility intact with iron, vitamin B, zinc, and other supplements.
- Vitamin B with an electrolyte packet is one of the best hangover cures in the natural world, so good in fact I never have to resort to pain killers
- CLA and L-Glutamine can keep your muscles from being cannibalized into nothingness during large gaps in between workouts
- Astaxanthin is a potent antioxidant that can make you heal like Wolverine; sun burn easily? Astaxanthin will heal you on the fly to give you a nice golden brown by the next morning —I shit you not
- And speaking of shit; always pack the highest-quality bug-killing probiotics for travellers –although if you’re not into supplements there’s always Immodium and over-the-counter drugs like Noroxin to stop yourself from pissing out of your ass for days and weeks on end
10. Water-Proof Your Carry-On, Clothing, and Electronics
One of the biggest problems I have had while travelling is having my electronics get wet because the water-proofing on my backpack eventually wore out. To combat this I always pack heavy-duty Kiwi Camp Dry spray which is in my opinion a whole lot more reliable than Scotch Guard. And in recent years I’ve started water-proofing my electronics themselves with Impervious water-proofing spray.
Impervious works great if you’re not an ass-hat and throw your iPhone into a swimming pool to see if it works; I’ve been caught in many a monsoon without destroying expensive electronics. Water-proofing sprays are probably the most over-looked digital nomad packing list necessity.
Anything to add? Let us know in the comments.
Featured image credit: Alan Levine