How to Change Your Underwear in Public and Other Lessons for Mobile Living

 I don’t really have a home. I mean, I do, but I mainly live in a number of different places for intermittent spurts of time. Right now, I am on a six month stay in an art house of sorts. After this, I have no idea where I am going. This is fine, I have been know to travel the country staying in homes. 

And in these adventures, I have learned a few things about the mobile life. Things like Wi-Fi passwords are a pain to track down, instead travel with a good data plan on your phone. Also, coming from a fairly large city, I thought wi-fi was just as reliable and natural to our society’s fabric as electricity. Turns out, I was wrong. There are still plenty of places in this great country of ours in which the wi-fi revolution has not yet reached. Many places the signal is sketchy, and you have to pay attention to things like bandwidth capacity–all foreign concepts to someone used to urban cable services. 

For the technophile, by all means travel with your laptop, but use it sparingly. Laptops can be bulky and excessive travel can cause damage. (I’ve been through four laptop cords in three years). Instead, get a good tablet, and use it for simple tasks, and keep the laptop sheathed for heavier use. 

Also, don’t travel with books. They are bulky, and you always pack too many on the off-chance that you might run out of reading material. And then when you do finish one, you’ve still got to cart it around. Joan Carter, Johnny Cash’s wife, was famous for giving  hers away after she finished it to keep a lighter load on tour. We have better methods now.

Instead of books, make excessive use of your tablet’s e-reader function. Classics are free, and other books are usually cheaper. That way, you can have as much reading material as you want, without adding an ounce to your luggage. This goes for texts like Bibles as well. Bible apps are free, so keep the five pound top grain leather study Bible at home, or in storage or whatever, and do your devotions by  tablet. As a matter of fact, I don’t use a regular Bible at all. I do all my Bible reading by app. Just makes life that much simpler. 

On sleeping, keep a stock of good earplugs with you. They come in really handy sometimes.  Especially if you are sick and need more sleep than others, or you know you are going to bed much earlier for some reason. 

Never underestimate the power of a book light, not necessarily for reading. But for late night undressing in dark and unfamiliar sleeping quarters. I have a low wattage one, with a flex neck that I can adjust enough to get around in a darkened sleeping room, but not bright enough that most will notice. 

 On showering, two in one shampoo/conditioner combos make for lighter luggage, and towels are a pain to pack and store. Don’t be a germophobe. Just use your host’s or the hotel’s. It’s just not worth all that extra bulk to carry around. On the account of lady business, I will say there are fewer things worse in life than making a van of fifteen people stop at the store because you need “supplies.” On long group trips, plan ahead and stock up. 

If you travel by road, make sure to have a good throw blanket and pillow with you. Sitting in an air-conditioned vehicle for hours on end, your body temperature fluctuates. Be prepared to handle this without bothering the other passengers. Headphones are essential. No one else wants to hear your music, movie, or hilarious YouTube video. Keep it personal. Shoes like flip-flops are great for long days on the road. They are easy to slip off and get comfortable, and easy to slip on when stopping. 

Don’t carry cash. It’s too easy to lose.  And whole purses are frequently cumbersome to unbury at every truck stop. Get one of those smartphone wallets to bring your debit card and phone and other essentials into rest stops and restaurants. Use your bank’s mobile app to make sure you are on top of your finances, and before you leave on a long trip, call your bank. If they see charges from unfamiliar places, they may suspend your debit cards for security. It really sucks to have to find this out at a random gas pump in Nowheresville, Nevada. 

Finally, you will meet many people being a vagrant couch surfer. Be nice to everyone. You never know when karma will come knocking. 


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