Admit it, you're a voyeur.
It's ok, I am too. I enjoy peeking into the lives of friends and strangers. Come to think of it, isn't that the latent impulse/driving motivation behind social media?
Anyway, I give the people what they want because it's what I want.
Now that I'm settled into an apartment with everything in arms reach, I have come face to face with my travel peculiarities. Some of these things make me laugh while others are embarrassing.
It all started when I cleaned out my backpack and daypack. I pulled a myriad of items that stand out as strange here in the land of plenty- with shops full of all the goods you could possibly want, and homes with large closets and cupboards to store them- but made perfect sense on the road traveling to countries where such things are not a 'given'.
It got me thinking about my other travel behaviors and how they might be considered strange by Western standards. Or Eastern standards. Heck, ALL standards.
So, exactly what are the weird things that I do when I travel? Read on, and laugh or cringe away!
Did you know that salt and pepper are not considered essentials in kitchens around the world?
As someone who prefers to eat two hard-boiled eggs (and a lovely piece of bread if I can get it) for breakfast every day, I have been known to palm them off coffee shops and fast food restaurants. Sometimes I made a purchase. Other times, I didn't.
Only you can decide if my love of breakfast eggs justifies my behavior or if my lapse in ethics is grounds to de-friend me on Facebook.
I'm messy and occasionally, gross things happen. Food can fall out of my mouth when I get excited and begin speaking before I've finished chewing. Beverages don't always stay in my cup. I tend to get the dropsies when handling sticky things.
The 'no food in the living room' rule was created with me in mind.
As such, I keep a stash of napkins, paper towels, kleenex and wet wipes at the ready. If I'm having a fairly clean week, the hoard can quickly grow out of control. Starbucks naps are my favorite as they don't just wipe up messes, they also serve double duty as facial oil blotting paper- a favorite beauty insider hack. You're welcome.
Cat Treats at The Ready
I always travel with cat treats (I prefer Dreamies) and stash a few in my pocket when I'm out walking. Perry's cat radar is particularly fine tuned, and he can sense a cat within a half mile radius, so having them on hand is helpful, especially for the street cats that are always hungry.
I'm a tender-hearted animal lover and doing this makes me feel better, but realize the idea of traveling with cat treats as a matter of practice might sound strange to others.
Dish Scrubber Germaphobe
Despite carrying small backpacks with barely enough room for extra underwear, Perry always travels with dishwashing gloves and I keep stockpile of new dish scrubbers.
I wouldn't consider myself a full-blown germaphobe, but I've stayed in enough places where the dish scrubber was so revolting, I had to use a paper towel or even a Starbucks napkin (see above) to wash the dishes.
Weird? Maybe. Maybe not. I'd love to hear your take on it!
Airbnb Cat Seeker
Event though I should be getting a sufficient feline fix via the cat cafes I visit, Perry and I actively seek out Airbnbs with cats. While Airbnb has a search function that allows you to pick pet-friendly places, that doesn't necessarily mean they have pets themselves. Thus, I need to comb through prospective homes specifically looking for cat owners, which I consider a labor of love.
This isn't as strange of a travel habit as you might think, as evidenced by this recent Lonely Planet article highlighting hosts with cats that consider them to be a key selling feature.
Princess in Des Moines. Attila in Trieste. Pepino in Biarritz. Bam Bam in Ipswich. Check out a few of the kitty roommates we've met in our travels.
Ziploc Bag With Instant Coffee
I love coffee. Really, REALLY love it.
My favorite coffee method is french press, but it's just not practical to carry the carafe in a small backpack. I have also experienced the horror of showing up at an Airbnb after stores have closed only to find no coffee on the premises.
That's why I always travel with a sandwich bag with instant coffee.
Yes, I do keep an emergency stash of Starbucks Via, but that stuff is expensive. I'm a budget traveler, dammit! Nescafe Gold is my worldwide instant coffee of choice and rather than travel with the bulk of the jar, I empty it into a plastic baggie when I'm getting ready to travel to our next destination.
I have occasionally worried that carrying loose coffee not in it's original container might draw unwanted attention from airport drug sniffing dogs. I can't remember important passwords, but have never forgotten the scene in Beverly Hills Cop where the bad guys ship cocaine in coffee grounds.
So far, I've escaped any serious repercussions from my odd travel habit.
We've ridden on 43 underground metro systems around the world (there are 157, can you believe it?), and even if the car is empty, Perry and I always stand.
We do this for a couple of reasons. Mainly, it's just a good way to burn calories. But also, when the subway inevitably begins to crowd, there is a good chance you will have to navigate the awkward 'do you want this seat' dance.
You make the move to give up your seat to someone who appears elderly, pregnant or otherwise in need, and it occasionally backfires. This happens more often when you don't speak the language.
Unless I've just hiked ten miles in the sub-tropical heat, I generally make it a practice to stand on the metro.
Room Black Out Professional
I've had issues with sleep disruptions all my life. Turns out, it takes me longer to fall into REM sleep than the average person and as such, I'm prone to 'episodes' where I suddenly awaken, fly out of bed, begin speaking gibberish and end up scaring the hell out of Perry.
Noise can induce these occurrences, but most often, it's light. TV's, DVD players, modems, microwaves, alarm clocks, smoke detectors and security systems have all disrupted my sleep at some point, and it becomes my nightly mission to locate all sources of illumination and eradicate them.
Typically, it involves strategic placement of tape or solid objects in front of the light. Sometimes, my wardrobe is dispatched across the room making it look like a tornado hit during the night. Yes, I wear a sleeping mask which helps, but occasionally it falls off, so the light snuffing activity is still necessary.
Thanks for reading!
I'm sure you have your own strange travel habits and I would love to hear what they are! Message me or drop a line on social media @paulalabine.