Some travel reflections

France October 2009 Paris and Rouen 009
Our first meal in Paris. You see the café au lait, the croque monsieur have not yet arrived.

There are many more France pictures, and I will no doubt post more as I get them organized, but I thought I would also put up a few lists that I made as advice to myself for future trips:

Things I Didn’t Bring That I Should’ve

  • A watch. Knowing that my phone wouldn’t work in France, I left it behind, but neglected to take into consideration the fact that my communication device is also my habitual timepiece.
  • T-shirts. I read a book that was very cautionary about the high level of formality in French fashion, and so I packed a more businessy selection of clothing than I would have otherwise. I did not think about the fact that we were going to a comic convention. I doubt there is anywhere in the world where comic conventions require formal dress (unless you are a serious cosplayer) and really, my opinion now is that when traveling, unless you know that by doing so you’ll violate cultural taboos and/or local laws, you should dress more or less in your usual style. Everyone knows you’re a tourist; don’t try to blend in.
  • A book. I know, can you believe it? I did have audiobooks, but it would’ve been nice to have something on paper. (On the plus side, my lack of other reading material led me to the discovery that French shelter magazines have it all over their American counterparts. Maison Française! Marie Claire Maison! Much more interesting photography, and I can get the gist of the articles.)

Things I Brought That I Shouldn’t Have

  • Phrasebooks and travel guides. I just didn’t use them. I resorted to a lot of Je suis désolé.
  • Jewelry. Too much trouble to carry.
  • Hair gel. Several ounces of weight, and I only used it once.
  • Two suits. One would have been fine, or none.
  • Voltage converters. So heavy! So unnecessary! We were fine just using adapters for European plugs.
  • Multiple notebooks. My standard operating procedure is to carry both my journal and a writing-ideas notebook, but the writing-ideas notebook is heavy. If I really wanted to stick to the multiple notebook scheme, I should’ve gotten a second small Moleskine.
  • Vaguely formal shoes. They were my most comfortable heels, but a trip that’s mostly about walking and taking public transportation while schlepping suitcases is not the trip for heels.

Things I Brought That Were Totally Perfect

  • An HP Mini. About half the size of my laptop, and much cheaper to replace if it had gotten stolen, which it thankfully did not. Fine for getting online, good size keyboard, all-around useful piece of technology. Cute, even.
  • My oldest, most broken-in pair of Fluevogs. (The late, lamented “Sara” style — seriously — I wish they would make it again!)
  • A wallet big enough to zip my passport into.
  • A waterproof coat.
  • An iPod with lots of Mountain Goats on it.

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  • Jeff C
    November 2, 2009 at 9:08 pm

    So the Mountain Goats are playing here in the Twin Cities. Should I go?

  • sara z.
    November 3, 2009 at 7:35 am

    After every trip I try to do a post-mortem on my suitcase. I find yours very helpful!

  • Sara
    November 3, 2009 at 4:13 pm

    Jeff: yes. You should most definitely go.
    Sara: oh good! I debated about posting the lists because they’re so “Note-to-Self.”