Travel Light With Only a Regular JanSport Backpack, From My Experience at Dragon*Con 2011 in Atlanta

When I flew to Atlanta for Dragon*Con 2011 this past weekend, I only carried a regular sized two pocket JanSport school backpack [pictured above]. Like many other folks, I have discovered the joy of lightweight traveling.

As Y and I discovered during our trip to Europe over the Summer, carrying fewer things makes travel a lot easier and less stressful.

In order to succeed at lightweight travel, you have to critically evaluate your travel needs and plan ahead for ways in which you can reuse, repurpose, and clean your things on the go.

This is what I fit into the JanSport: two days of clothes, toiletries, 13″ MacBook, iPhone, compact digital camera, chargers, snacks, travel documents, and Mr. Bread (for photos).

For the trip to Atlanta, I knew that I would be staying there for two days, so I had to bring enough clothes for that. I wore a polo shirt, Lucky jeans, and Teva hiking shoes on the trip down. Despite the heat, I knew that a nice pair of jeans are a great all-purpose and all-setting garment. Also, I needed my laptop for the SFRA panel on Sunday and a camera for the parade on Saturday. This meant that I also needed chargers for my laptop and camera batteries. I knew that I would bring my iPhone, but that doesn’t necessarily need its own charger–only a USB adapter to connect it to my MacBook for recharging.

In addition to traveling light, it is smart to organize your things so that you don’t have to hunt for things on the road. I used a clothes washing bag to hold two polo shirts, underwear, and socks. I used another bag to hold electronic support gear (screen wipe, camera lens cleaning pen, chargers, thumb drive). My MacBook went into its own neoprene sleeve, which also carried my travel documents. Liquids went into a quart ziplock bag, and my other toiletries went into a small zip-up bag. The types of bags that I employed did require a little extra weight, but the sizes and colors allowed me to immediately recognize what bag held what things. Grocery bags and ziplock bags would work if you are weight conscious.

Having only the backpack of things to carry around meant that I could easily board the puddle-jumper aircraft that I knew that I would be flying without having to gate check anything. Also, a backpack fits easily underneath the seat in front of you, which means that you can easily grab things without having to hunt through the overhead bins. Also, I knew that I would have to check out of my hotel before the SFRA panel on Sunday, so I didn’t want to have to carry a roller bag through the 40,000+ crowds at Dragon*Con.

I am very pleased with my single backpack traveling experience to Atlanta. The con was certainly stressful enough for me, so having one less thing to worry about made me more relaxed.

Considering it from another perspective, my choice to travel with less things meant that I made a lower impact on the environmental costs of getting me from Ohio to Atlanta and back again. Less weight means less fuels/energy consumed by my car, by the aircraft, by the Marta train.

Planning and organizing might save you some travel stress, too. And you can contribute to less pollution, too, especially if more of us choose to travel with fewer things that we probably don’t need to travel with anyways.

Going to Poland for Annual SFRA Meeting? Travel Tips for Less Luggage from

If you are traveling to Poland for the annual Science Fiction Research Association conference in July, you may want to follow some of the advice on by Doug Dyment for lighter baggage tips:

Theres no question: overpacking tops the list of biggest travel mistakes.Thus this Web site, which offers exhaustive some might say exhausting! detail on the art and science of travelling light, going pretty much anywhere, for an indefinite length of time, with no more than a single carry-on-sized bag.

Dyment offers lots of advice including making a list, avoiding unnecessary duplication, and reflecting on the purpose of your travel (i.e., each trip requires different supplies). He provides many sample lists and tips on his site that you may find useful.

via Leisure / Business Travel Packing List – Travel Light One Bag!.

Notes from Taiwan, and Blog Post 700

For my 700th post on, I wanted to include my initial notes on Y’s and my trip to visit my in-laws in Taiwan.

We flew Continental from Jacksonville to Houston to Narita, Japan to Taipei, Taiwan. I particularly enjoyed the flight to Narita, even though I was very tired at the end, because we flew on a Boeing 777 Dreamliner. We got back row seats (only 2 wide) and it was comfortable and relatively quiet–at least compared to the uncomfortable short leg room and noisy 747 between Narita and Taipei operated by United. I liked the individual on-demand video system on the 777. I got to watch The Crimson Rivers with Jean Reno and Vincent Cassel, and I watched part of the second Nodame Cantabile movie with Y. Also, I was pleasantly surpised by the quality of the food on our flights. We had beef with rice, chicken enchiladas, and a delicious egg breakfast. There was also a midflight desert of Haagen-Dazs vanilla ice cream.

I have been eating very well at Y’s parents’ house. Ma and Ba make excellent food, and they are determined to make us gain weight. I have had the most excellent tofu, fish, and chicken as well as tasty vegetables and fruits that we cannot find back in the States.

Y’s parents’ house is located in a very nice part of Jongli outside of Taipei. We There are bakeries, department stores, a huge library, and 24 hour convenient stores everywhere. There are people everywhere and so many scooters. I wish that I could take a scooter around the city even though I would have to be very careful with how aggressive drivers here can be. I made a point of asking Y to show me around a 7-11 store around the corner.  It is so fascinating! Good food, many conveniences at much more reasonable prices, no dust on the goods, and video games for sale in the store (World of Warcraft Cataclysm is only about $2.50 here–I will have to find out what the subscription rate is). Also, you can order digital photos and pay your bills from the store.

Since my iPad died shortly after we arrived to Taiwan, I used Ba’s computer to rewrite my review of Tron: Legacy for the SFRA Review (my verdict: go see it before it leaves theaters despite some of its gendered stereotyped misgivings found in much cyberpunk).  In exchange, I wanted to super charge their older Acer Dual Core Pentium based computer. It also gave me an opportunity to work in a Traditional Chinese based install of Windows XP.  After completing a draft of my review last night, I did these things to their computer and I am amazed what a difference a little tuning did:

  1. uninstalled outdated Norton AV
  2. installed Microsoft Security Essentials
  3. ran scan–all okay
  4. updated Windows XP several times–lots of security updates
  5. uninstalled proprietary Acer software (except drivers)
  6. uninstalled all versions of Flash Player
  7. installed Firefox
  8. installed latest Flash Player
  9. installed latest nVidia driver
  10. moved all Desktop files to My Documents
  11. moved all Desktop shortcuts to Quick Launch Bar
  12. installed optional Windows XP updates including .Net Framework 4 Client
  13. made Desktop icons large
  14. disabled ADSL connection, configured through wireless Netgear router that Y and I brought with us to use with our iPads
  15. installed Internet Explorer 8
  16. installed AUSLogics Disk Defrag
  17. defragmented primary partition last night and rebooted this morning

After dinner last night, Y and I took a stroll around the neighborhood and through the park. We also picked up some slippers for me to wear in the house.

This morning I finished editing my review of Tron: Legacy and emailed the final copy to Ritch Calvin. Now, I am typing these notes of our visit on my blog.

I am looking forward to the rest of today. We are visiting a university that has a connection with Kent State University through its TESOL program for Ba’s work. I will have my camera with me, and I will post many pictures when we get back to Ohio.

Please Tip Your Barista

It is the holiday season and many of us are enjoying coffee with our wifi while on the road or visiting family. It is customary to give a tip of your change or a little extra to your barista when you get a draught of coffee. However, I have noticed that travelers are tipping far less often than I would have suspected that they would at Starbucks. Tips are an important bonus for underpaid baristas who are already financially hurt by the increasing corporatization of their work place.

I would like to remind everyone to consider tipping their barista, if not always, at least at this time of year when they are hard at work providing warm drinks when they may prefer to spend that time with their friends and family.