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Tim Foolery

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Tag Archives: Advice

Travel Advice: Power Cables

How many electronic devices do you travel with? If you’re like me, you’ve got phones, tablets, cameras, battery packs, laptops – the list goes on and on. Also, if you’re like me, sometimes you forget a certain charger or power cables. Have you ever opened up your suitcase at a hotel and realized you forget a USB cable, or a wall plug adapter? Frustrating as hell right?

Well, generally, I’ve fixed that problem. I keep a separate small bag in my suitcase all the time. This small bag has my travel only power cables and adapters. These items live in this small travel bag and only come out when on the road.

In this bag, I keep the following items:

  • Three two-prong wall plug to USB adapters
  • Two Type-A USB Adapters (these are the older style that work for my 3-year old Samsung Tablet
  • Two Type-C USB Adapters (these are the new ones that connect my Samsung Galaxy S8)
  • Two Type-A to Type-C USB Adapters – just in case
  • Small battery pack with enough power to charge my phone 1.5 times
Power Cable Travel Kit
My always stocked cable kit

I personally keep these items in a 5+ year old Lufthansa Business Class Amenity Kit. I was pissed when I got this kit while en route to Vietnam. The small canvas bag is strong and has held my most important power cables for years. I love this setup.

The Gift

At work, we’ve got a couple new people who just started traveling more frequently. Deciding to outfit them each with one of these little kits, I popped over to Amazon and bought some Amazon Basics Power Cables for either their Android or Apple products. I even snagged enough wall adapters to open up my own shop. I found small canvas bags on Amazon too. Take a look for makeup bags – they work splendidly.

I also snagged this gift for my better half. It seems right before a trip he’s always running around the house looking for something. Now this just lives in his suitcase. For him, I splurged on a nice leather bag – some moderately overpriced, handmade pencil bag from a little shop in the neighborhood.

Power Cables
Gifted cable kit. Everything you need to leave in a hurry.

When he opened the box at Christmas, the look on his face was..well…disappointed. After I explained it to him, he seemed a little more pleased. It wasn’t until his first trip, when he was frantically looking for things that this gift made sense. I had already filled the bag with his needed cables and adapters. Since he travels internationally for work, I also threw in a European and UK converter. Easy breezy.

Now I always know where my cables are and I know that I am NEVER to remove these cables from the simple canvas bag if I am in Chicago. Hard Stop. Don’t Touch. It works great!

What little travel tip or hack do you have?

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Workout Tips – No Really

I’ve written a few times about my journey on the Peloton. For those of you who aren’t familiar with the Peloton, it’s a high end stationary bike. It has a large tablet attached which allows you to take live and on-demand classes. There are hundreds of classes on-demand and dozens of live classes each day. Peloton is more than a bike, it’s a community.

While having this bike at home makes it really easy to workout regularly, I still struggle. The easiest excuse I use to have for skipping a workout was that I didn’t want to go to the gym. Perhaps it was too cold. Maybe it was too hot. Too rainy? Really, I was just too lazy and hate working out. Now I just have to go to the basement. It is still very easy to find an excuse.

As I mentioned in my recent milestone post, I have been trying to workout each morning before work. I can’t bring myself to getting up early enough to take a full 45 minute class, but I push myself to take a 20 or 30 minute class before work.

Peloton Exercise Bike
The Peloton Bike! A beauty, isn’t she?

My mornings are very tightly organized. I maximize sleep and when adding a fitness regimen into the mix, I can be thrown out of sorts. I’ve come up with some tips that really cut down on my excuses and have really helped me maintain my morning workout routine. Take a look:

My Workout Prep Plan

Each night before I go to bed, I fully prep for my next morning. I find that if I can just get out of bed, make zero decisions, I can get a ride in. For this, I make sure these four things are set:

  • Filled water bottle in the fridge. I love ice cold water while riding.
  • Bluetooth headphones are charged. After my rides, I check the charge and plug in. Nothing is worse than not having proper headphones for an early morning ride. That’s just a way to piss off the entire house with you blaring spin music at 05h30.
  • Charged heart rate monitor. See above. While not as annoying to your household, it’s just as frustrating to me. I love metrics and heart rate is important to me.
  • Workout Clothes. I set out my workout clothes the night before. Actually, I set them out on the floor right next to the bed. I get up and actually step on the clothes. Just one more reminder not to be a lazy ass.

I keep my cycling shoes right next to the bike too, so there is no frantic searching for gear. That would be an easy excuse for me. I allocate about 30 minutes in the morning for a ride. That includes waking up, changing, grabbing water, gearing up (shoes, headphones and heart rate monitor) and a 20 minute ride. Then it’s off to the kitchen for breakfast.

Without these simple workout tips, I’d really have an easy time skipping my rides. What tips do you have for people like me who aren’t really fitness junkies?

Need Advice: Argentina Trip

Each year, we travel somewhere for Thanksgiving.  We find it a great time to leave the country as no one is traveling for business that week and most Americans are traveling domestically.  We’ve traveled to Ireland, Mexico City, Burgundy, Bordeaux, Colorado, and Oregon for Thanksgiving.  This year, we are heading south to Argentina.  This will be my first visit to the country, while it will be Mike’s second.

Thanksgiving in Argentina

Thanksgiving in Mendoza, where to go?

So far, we’ve book airfare down to and back from Argentina as well as flights inside the country.  We’ve chosen our cities to visit and the hotels in which to stay.  We’ll be staying in Cordoba, Mendoza and finally a few days in Buenos Aires.  I’ve only made reservations for one meal while we are there too – our final night in Buenos Aires, we are hitting a lovely fine dining restaurant as we celebrate Thanksgiving.

I need your help though.  I’m looking for advice from travelers and locals who can tell us great places to eat and wineries to visit.  Frequent readers know that I love a good bike tour, so any recommendations on who to ride while while in Argentina, let me know.

What is the one thing you wish you had done while you were in Argentina?  What about the one thing you wish you hadn’t done?

Facts of Life Book – Travel Focus

I was listening to the Happier podcast (more on that here) today and one of their recommendations got me thinking. Gretchen and Liz suggested putting together a “Facts of Life Book” – a book that includes your bank account info, life insurance policies, mortgage information, basically any and all information that family members may need when you die. A little morbid, but still very useful advice. Now, I don’t have anything like that completed for myself, but I do have something like this put together for travel.

When traveling, of course you don’t need life insurance or mortgage information (hopefully), but what about other critical documents? Passports? Credit Cards? Visas? Travel and Medical Insurance Policies? If you lose your passport or your wallet (or they are stolen), you’ll be in a tough spot. Not only do you have to figure out how to continue traveling, but you’ll also have to get money and cancel your other cards.

Before I went to Africa several years ago, I scanned my passport and the fronts and backs of my credit cards I was taking on the trip. I then saved those scans to a Google Drive folder – something I could reach anywhere with an internet connection. Luckily I’ve never lost a passport or credit cards while traveling, so I haven’t had to use this emergency file.

Passport and Champagne

My well used passport

Before we went to Myanmar we purchased travel insurance. The policy we purchased was really for additional international medical plus medical evacuation coverage. The last thing I want to deal with post accident is finding a way to get to a proper hospital. There was no way I was going to have the fine doctors in Yangon to fix me up – medevac me to Singapore or Tokyo! I scanned copies of those policy forms and contact information too. I share those folders with my traveling companions, my mom and have access instructions in my office…just in case.

Is this overkill? Likely, but I’d rather have all this easily accessible and not need it than the alternative. So my suggestion, in addition to listening to the Happier podcast: Create a digital “Facts of Life” book for travel. It should take you less than 30 minutes to put this together, but it’ll give you peace of mind.

Oh and if you are thinking I’m crazy for scanning my credit card information and storing it in Google Drive – you may be right. I haven’t done that part of this in years. While it may be easier to get new cards or cancel stolen ones if you have the numbers, it’s not going to be all that much different. Keep your passport and your insurance info close by for sure!

Do you have any nerdy travel hacks you’d like to share?

Staying Entertained Inflight

Flying is still exciting for me, but no matter how excited I am about being in the air, trying a new product or enjoying an old one, there comes a time in every flight that you need some proper entertainment.  I’ve got a trip coming up where I’m spending more than 43 hours of time in the air – not including layovers, or waiting to board or deplane.  That’s a lot of time and one can only drink champagne and eat interesting airline meals for so many hours without losing one’s mind!

In Flight Entertainment

In Flight Entertainment

So how do I ensure I don’t get cabin fever whilst in the air?  Simple.  I over prepare.  My rule for years has been to have at least 2.5 hours of entertainment for every one hour of scheduled flying time.  This means I’m loading up my phone, my tablet and my laptop with movies, TV shows and podcasts.  This usually works out well, as I’ll often watch the airline provided in-flight entertainment during meals, then switch over to my own later on.  Here’s what I’m bringing on my next trip:

Movies

I have a handful of movies that I’ve purchased over the years on my tablet at all times.  These are some of my favorite films, ones that I can put on, zone out, relax and if I happen to fall asleep part way through, I’m not missing anything.  Here’s what’s on my tablet, can you sense a theme?

  • Fight Club
  • Talented Mr. Ripley
  • Indochine
  • Dr. No / Casino Royale / Skyfall / Quantum of Solace
  • The Bourne Identity

TV Shows

Since you can usually catch reruns of the Big Bang Theory on any airline anywhere, I find myself watching that show (God, I don’t know why) for a bit on the plane.  It’s easy to sleep to, I guess.  I’ve also been re-watching some older shows too:

  • Hannibal
  • Alias
  • Star Trek: Deep Space Nine (see below)
  • Some PBS Documentary like the Roosevelts, American Experience or the like
  • Some full seasons to binge like American Horror Story, X-Company or Modern Family
  • An Anthony Bourdain show about my immediate destination or a future one

Podcasts

Podcasts are tough for me on planes.  I find myself falling a sleep when I’m listening to a pod or an audio book, which is great, if I want to sleep, but not if I want to actually listen to the content.  Here’s my current pod queue:

  • Young House Love Has a Podcast (Great DIY podcast)
  • Happier (A guide to bringing my happiness to your life, with Gretchen Rubin)
  • The Greatest Generation (a Star Trek podcast, currently doing an episode by episode recap and review of DS9 – see above)
  • American History Tellers
  • This American Life
  • Up First (NPR News)
  • NPR Politics
  • News in Slow French (Always be practicing!)
  • Having a Friend for Dinner (A Hannibal podcast)

I often find that when I get back home, I’ve still got a ton of things that I didn’t get around to watching while on the trip.  That gives me a head start on my next excursion.  How do you ensure you are fully entertained on long trips?