Do you like to travel and patronize establishments that are not chains, older, in some stage of decay, but also less expensive, off the beaten track, and full of unique flavor?

Check out hints by area:  Mexico in general and Oaxaca in particular.

Updates at Twitter ‘martharees’

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Getting ready to go: packing. I plan to wear everything twice, except…. I usually take an extra set of underwear and a black top in case I need to dress it up a bit. I keep an eye on weight and bulk.

If I have to take a big suitcase, I just check it through, but it is so much nicer to travel light.

Otherwise, I pack clothes in those vacuum bags, the Eagle creek bags last the longest and are easy and fun to compress.

Over 15 years after the 9/11 attacks, there’s someone in every line who doesn’t know the rules. No liquids over 100ml. If you’re going to a hotel, you don’t need to take shampoo—it’s actually good for your hair to have a change. Remember your grandfather’s pocket knife? They’re going to throw it away. (I’ve seen this)? Outside the US, nail files and finger nail clippers, for real, get tossed.

Getting ready to leave. If you can smell my perfume you are so close there’s no backing out. Perfume wafting randomly attracts attention, like bees to a flower, but is indiscriminate. Perfume has no place on an airplane. Wash with plain soap. Smell clean, don’t attract all of us. This goes for non airplane social life, and top, btw. The perfume question is even more serious, in these cramped conditions, if you’re allergic.

Travel documents. Take photos of your documents, including any visa you pick up along the way. I store a copy on a zipdrive on my key chain and in the cloud.

Check in. Keep your travel documents handy—I wear mine in a bag around my neck, then just throw it into my bag before I go through. Seriously, I wrote this while sitting on the runway waiting while they pull the bags of a passenger who was ‘removed’ from my flight because they put their passport in their checked bag (must have been gate checked). They missed their flight and we’re waiting for the bag to be pulled. Don’t want to fly with a bag without its owner, no no no.

Settling into your seat. Now you get to board, and this is when people start turning into caged animals, even though we all have our seat assignment, there’s some kind of cosmic reward for getting there first. The caged animal grows and matures once you’re in your seat. There’s something stressful about being all packed together, but we need to see air travel not as a luxury form of transport, but the 21st century version of the chicken buses found around the world. Deal it with it. The person in the middle seat gets the arm rests.

When they say ‘wheels first’, but the wheels in first. When they ask you to put smaller bags and coats under the seat in front of you, think of the rest of us, and most of all—the flight attendants. THEY DON”T GET PAID UNTIL THE DOORS CLOSE, so they rush around helping people follow the simple requests.

Don’t manspread.

Don’t share your phone conversations with the rest of the plane, especially if you’re the kind who talks louder the farther away the other person is. It can wait. You can send a text. I once had the pleasure of sharing a doctor’s colonoscopy discussion. Really.

To recline or not to recline. Now there’s a big debate about whether it is rude to recline your seat, I’m small and don’t recline. I don’t begrudge a big person from reclining–the spaces are small, but ask yourself whether you’re reclining because you are uncomfortably cramped, or because you are being driven crazy by the crowding. Like rats in a cage. Well, welcome to the club. Can’t we all just try to get along?

On the subject of babies and kids. It’s ok to tell them not to kick you or grab your computer, but it’s not their fault if they’re tired, or cramped. Pull out your keys for them to play with. Aren’t they cute?

Got a cold? Don’t spread it through the air, use gets and Kleenex . I’ve gotten so sick, like right now, after someone laid a big wet sneeze in the seat behind me, I’ve been sick for three days. Have fun and safe travels!

Because traveling off the beaten track requires some knowledge and skills, I include travel hints, too. If a bug is going to freak you out, maybe this is not for you!

Have fun!


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