The Unwritten Rules of New York City- A Guide.

Things that only long time or native New Yorkers will know. Here are a few secrets to get you started. The city that never sleeps is full of people and with that, comes a lot of small details that must be followed or else you get the stink eye from everyone. As a visitor from out of town, you might be tempted to get an early start on the day as seen through the lens of the below scenario.

Easily the best place to start on these rules is with the weekday commute, where very few people ever drive into the city. It’s called “The City”, not “Manhattan”, “NYC”, or anything else. As a visitor wishing to make the most of your day, the fastest way to get run over is to be in the way of a group of office workers exiting a train going to and from work. Do not be the reason these people are late getting anywhere. It does not matter who you are, what you do, or where you are from; you will get shoved into a corner as everyone rushes by you. The MTA Subway of New York City is, maybe, one of the greatest modern equalizers of socioeconomic status.

It is also almost never on time in the mornings.

Before you even attempt to get on the train, Observe People. See how the Metrocard system works. Need a Metrocard? Watch how others are doing it. Fellow commuters will immediately know you’re from out of town if you get stuck at a Metrocard vending machine or a turn-style. True New Yorkers will be able to navigate these two things while hungry, sleep-deprived, and hung over. They will also do a quick Scan and Sniff anytime they get onto the train, in case a bum, pigeon, or crazy person is in that train car. Empty train cars during rush hours are a huge hint that something is wrong in that train car.

Getting on the train means putting your backpack between your legs, not wearing it in front or behind you. Wearing it behind you means you’ll spin like a revolving door because people will see the backpack and purposely elbow, shoulder or otherwise hip check you out of the way. Additionally, hands do not touch each other on the pole, tall people hold upper rungs, and do not elbow anybody in the face. Everyone is frustrated with NYC MTA, everyone.

Once you’ve made it to your destination, don’t stand in the center of a busy street and gawk at the buildings. This has the dual effect of again, getting you shoved into a corner or even worse, made a target of scammers and thieves. If you want to look around, take a photo, research restaurants or anything else that requires you to be stationary, the best thing I can tell you is to Stand Off to the Side. This is not the time to ask a passing pedestrian for directions. Wait on the side, Follow the Flow of other commuters, often feeling like a salmon swimming upstream and you’ll be fine. Do not walk slowly, ever.

The best place to ask for directions? Google maps. Do not play 20 questions with the barista at the coffee shop with a dozen angry people behind you waiting in line. Do not ask the corner cart guy unless he’s completely devoid of all patrons-and even then, be weary of why he’s got no customers during morning rush hour while the cart across the street has a line 10 people deep.

Learn the Slang. In the wintertime, understand that the statements, “It be mad brick out here”, “why does the wind hurt my face”, and “this scarf is giving me life” ALL express the idea that it’s really cold out here. Similarly, if two New Yorkers bump into each other the entire conversation can go like the below description.

” Yo, You good?” phrased as a question followed by the reply “Yeah you good?” and a inquiring look after which the first person would nod and/or wave off the help and reply “Yeah, you good” with a nod and the two would go their separate ways.

In this specific case, “You good” simultaneously asks a question, states an apology, and then accepts the apology…or could mean any of the other half a dozen meanings. In NYC, You Good is 10% statement, 90% body language.

If ordering breakfast, decide what to eat while on line. Do not strap your face to a phone, have a full blown argument with a friend or otherwise inconvenience anyone else in the store with your presence. Having a Friendly Smile and Respecting other Peoples Time, are really two of the best things a traveler to New York can bring with them. If you and another stranger happen to both witness something weird or interesting, it’s okay to bond over the moment before hustling off to your next appointment.

On the subject of eating and food in general, you’re probably here on vacation so enjoy yourself. Skip the Chain Restaurants all together and go on google or yelp. Soon, google will likely take over our lives but for now, there are a plethora of apps to find the best food in NYC. NYC pizza is called a “regular” slice, calling it a “cheese” slice means they’ll add extra cheese. If you’re from Chicago, I suggest you not argue that your pizza is better than ours. Just don’t.

Same thing with repping Massachusetts/Boston sports teams, you know who you are.

A good safety tip is that no matter how picturesque Central Park looks in the movies, don’t buy anything or be there after dark unless you want to get ripped off. There are perfectly good well intention-ed street vendors in Central Park that will happily up charge you 5 dollars for a 1 dollar bottle of water because they know you won’t leave the park just for water.

Another safety tip? Research the events you’re headed to and their respective neighborhoods. For example, there are many movies and TV shows filmed in New York City but it does not mean you should go into several very Dangerous Neighborhoods to visit those famous steps from that famous comic book movie about a sad clown because then you’ll be the sad clown because you got mugged for your tourist money.

The phrase, “Time is Money” is very appropriate for New York City because the Pace of NYC is brisk, to say the least. Most people by and large, are good people who just don’t have time for any of your touristy BS. They will help you in a pinch and be gone before you’ve even finished saying thanks. They will ignore the person running down the street wearing a werewolf mask in the middle of July but absolutely defend an entire train car full of people from a racist red-hat pigeon.

If you must hail a cab, walk into the street to do it. Use a parked car as a guide for how far to go. Go too far and another car or cyclist will not even blink before honking and/or screaming profanity at you. Argue with a Cabbie at your own risk but sometimes, if you do know a faster way to get there than they do, Speak Up. This city is not for the timid and in fact, may save you from getting scammed on that cab ride.

Speaking of scammed. Going into a corner store, bodega, deli or other small neighborhood store almost certainly requires Cash. Of course you can use a card or go to a nearby ATM but I wouldn’t want to risk getting spotted taking out money or giving my card to a guy I don’t trust. If you need an ATM, go to a real bank, not a random ATM. It could have any mixture of germs, bugs, food, bodily fluids or smell. It’s just not how I roll and I’m from here. Cash is still king in NYC.

Lastly, expect everything to cost more because of Location. Don’t let it shock you, especially if you’re near attractions. Venturing out of the City and into the other boroughs can be a fun day trip out to see things other than the big city. Do your research and you could end up at a fun Brooklyn flea market, a concert in Long Island, or an authentic food experience in Queens. In a city where the train literally never stops running (usually), enjoy your time here, I dare you.



Combating GAS- Gear Acquisition Syndrome

Near as I can tell, a lot of us like to collect things. Lightsabers, Pins, Jerseys, Figurines, Model Kits, Guitars, Cameras, Snowboards, Make Up, Shoes, Bags, Jackets. Everybody, regardless of gender, likes some variety in their lives. Yet where do we draw the line? Where does variety become a justification for addictive behavior?

Personally, it has been a struggle. I’ve deleted promotional emails, unsubscribed to entire genre’s of shopping, brands, clubs, memberships. You name it, I’ve unsubscribed to it (mostly). Yet invariably, modern shopping, promo codes, holiday shopping, and anything else that requires giving a gift or needing something will pull you back into the shopping.

Of course, the rationale might be that you’re trying to save money, that this thing is on promo and it’s heavily discounted and you’ll regret not buying it right away. This is all good and true but we then ignore the part about where we’re spending, where we’re increasing debt and reducing savings. That part is sometimes ignored in favor of the rush when we receive a new shiny thing in the mail. Some of us see the mail guy more than we see our family and isn’t that a kick in the pants?

Here’s what I’ve tried.

Unsubscibing only works if it stays that way so if you must subscribe to get that promo code, do it, then unsubscribe if there isn’t a code sent or you’ve made your purchase. This will work only so long as you stop shopping at new places. It’s more cut throat but it’s either this or you get a new tempting email every week for something new to buy.

Which leads me to my next idea, avoid shopping at new places. Stick to what brands you know and trust. If you must go to the mall, or a department store, go with a Shopping List, just like you would at the grocery store. Get only what you need. Do not go into the store with the big red bullseye.

It’s easier to save money at the grocery store, mostly because you might realize that even if you buy all this food on discount, whose going to help you eat it all? Even with a family, over buying means food will expire and you’ll lose money. Not so with shopping, with things that don’t expire like Camera’s and Snowboards.

Get an app that watches your spending, if you want to trust a computer with your money-oh we do that already don’t we? We have online banking after all. There are entire industries built around saving the change from your shopping, or tabulating how much you’ve spent on Grubhub in a month.

I’ve found that Rereading Reviews of the items that I already own to be a semi-successful method. Here I am, on the hunt for that newest piece of gear so I can be even incrementally better than I was before but if I look back on what I already have, I succeed in NOT buying new gear and continue to grow my appreciation for my current gear.

Still, part of buying that new thing is that you can brag about having that new thing right? What about instead of just looking for the newest piece of gear to give you that edge, that you Focus on getting better with the gear you already possess? There are gains to be made from the stuff you already own, if only you would try hard enough to see it.

If the thought is that buying this new thing will make you incrementally better, scrap this idea. Just toss it out- get rid of it. The only thing that will make you better is you. The time spent researching new gear is better spent Practicing with your current gear.

Dovetailing into the fashion scene for a moment, which certainly has it own justifications for a slew of accessories in every shade of the rainbow, it still remains that knowing yourself is the best way to go about shopping as a whole. Know that you look terrible wearing certain colors? What about that Jacket that looks great but makes you itchy. Don’t buy into what the trends will tell you. Ignoring Trends is a way to save, as trends come and go but classics are forever.

In the end, having the fastest car, newest threads or the best camera won’t matter if you don’t have the skills and confidence to use them to their full potential. Only buy new gear when you’ve outgrown the current gear you have. I bet many of us will never get close to breaking through the potential of our gear and if we do, we’ll realize by then that we, ourselves, are the real deal to be had, not the gear we buy.



How To Save Money While On Vacation

We’re out to enjoy ourselves, not break the bank. It’s about priorities.

In general, saving money is about knowing yourself and what you’re comfortable with, and then pushing just a little beyond that line. 

How you may ask? You pick and choose. 

Research carefully. There are a ton of apps in the digital world that will help you track flight prices and pricing trends. Memberships through credit cards or travel sites that will clue you in on the best times to snap up that great deal. Deal hunters with the travel bug will know Google but other lesser known apps like Hopper, Skyscanner and Kayak are also good.

Many destinations will have an Offseason, where there is a dip in the tourist traffic, usually just after a holiday season or when the weather is decent but not perfect. Take New York for example, where the winter has been fairly mild this season. Or if you’re willing to brave a day of rain for 4 days of sun; Florida, Tokyo or any other number of nice places are great. 

Skip the booze, share an appetizer and leave for dessert- Some of the best advice I ever read is that if you want to be able to afford expensive restaurants is ” Skip the booze, share an appetizer and go elsewhere for dessert”. Unless the place is known for something specific, focus on only a shared appetizer and main course. I’m not much of a drinker myself so skipping the booze is easy for me. I can always grab a beer and go back to my hotel room. If you go to a restaurant and they have a culture of tipping your server for their hard work, make sure you do leave a tip. This is non-negotiable. 

Alternatively, you can Meal Prep. If you went the Airbnb route, you can definitely go grocery shopping for some quick food to make at the kitchen of your rental. Still, if you don’t wish to cook when you’re on vacation and really, who does, you can also get food to go from a restaurant and save yourself that 18-20% gratuity. 

Airbnb is, of course, one way to save money, though it has it’s drawbacks as well. If you know an area well, by all means, Airbnb but sometimes, a hotel will have knowledge and security that an Airbnb can’t provide. Still, it’s a thriving industry for many reasons and savings is one of them. Privacy, however, is a toss up between blissful silence and screaming baby. I do not recommend hostels personally, I have security preferences. Airbnb may also be restricted or illegal in your vacationing city, so look it up folks!

Support Small Businesses is one way to save money, like some places, especially in Asia, will not charge tax for cash transactions. Some of the items they sell may be hand made and include special touches that an otherwise mass made item might not. This brings up the value of what you’re getting and is, therefore, more worth your hard-earned money. Bonus if the culture is one where haggling for an item is part of the buying process. 

Being on vacation means that you want to have great experiences and yes, some of those do cost money but not all of them do. Many cities will have city passes or bundles that include a whole series of museums, events, tours and other things to enjoy as a bundle. If that doesn’t suit your fancy, you can always search for Free Events in the city or town you’re visiting. They may be less well known or publicized but equally enjoyable. 

Transportation in some cities can be very accessible and affordable. There are the aforementioned city passes that cover a week’s worth of travel. Of course, there is Walking, the age-old method from the dawn of time. There are also people who, rather than taking taxi’s will travel around with a folding bike in their suitcase. I am not speaking about renting a bike while on vacation, though you can surely do that as well. Yet, without knowledge of the places you’re going to be biking and any associated costs and fees, the savings may not be worth the headache of renting bikes. 

Get Dual Purpose Souvenirs– This is another one of those tips that is about adding value while saving money. Everywhere you go, there will be cute tchotchke or rather, purely decorative figurines. Skip those in favor of souvenirs like shirts, hoodies, mugs and other items that will serve a dual function down the road that saves you money later. Need a new coffee mug after the last one broke? Hey, you’ve already got one ready to go from your trip. It’ll be memorable and serve a purpose. 

Have a Budget and stick to it, which is obvious but difficult for some people. Be as picky as possible. If you’ve only budgeted so much for gifts, stick to it. It forces you to be selective about who you give gifts to and makes you think creatively about what is the best gift for those people. If the local cuisine happens to be seafood and you’re not a fan, then go eat somewhere else. Maybe try it once and if you don’t love it, you know you can spend your money elsewhere. Never try something just because you can then tell your friends or your social media that you’ve tried it knowing you’ll already regret it. 

In all cases, it’s about Priorities. Do you want to have an expensive dinner? By all means, do so, but you can balance that by having a cheaper breakfast and dinner. Want to have a great experience like sky diving, hot air balloon riding or something else that may cost a little more? Sure you can, just Balance that by going to a free museum or event the day before or after. 



Five Ways Traveling to Japan Will Surprise and Delight

As an American, I can only speak to American habits and ideas generally. Yet as a traveler, there are things we’ve all experienced that will open our eyes and make us rethink how things are done back home. Here are a few about Japan that are genuinely delightful and that I wish were imported more to the States. No country is perfect by any means but we can all stand to learn from one another. This list is by no means exhaustive and is taken from my own experience.

1. Mindfulness

The Japanese philosophy of Mindfulness talks about awareness and respect. Whenever train doors open, you’ll find a row of neatly lined up people waiting to get on the train. After which, you’ll near blissful silence. There isn’t a person yammering into a cellphone or someone listening to music so loudly you can hear it from 5 feet away. Backpacks and briefcases are stored out of the way or on upper shelving units and the isles are clear. There is a presence of order and formality to their public transportation. The train is rarely ever late.

2. Sanitation

Except for where vending machines are located, there aren’t any public garbage cans and yet, there is also no trash all over the streets. There are a number of reasons for this, including the fact that people do not walk and eat. They will stay off to the side, eat while stationary and then pack everything away to dispose of at home. Some of this is for safety too, no public garbage cans means no one can leave a suspicious package waiting to give you a heart attack.

3. Crime

Japan is startlingly safe for solo travel. Walking down an empty street at night, you’ll notice places are well lit and no one bothers you. I’ve heard stories of people leaving cars unlocked, bikes in front of stores, wallets at counters and not worrying that it will be gone when they return. It doesn’t mean you can wander into any old place and have a good time though, there are still rules to be followed. You’ll also want to settle up any bar tabs you have and no arguing with any well dressed men who have tattoos…

4. Earthquakes

This country experiences nearly 1000 small earthquakes a year, or so I hear. What this means is that they’ve been building their structures to endure this sort of ground shaking phenomenon for ages. Children are taught earthquake survival from a young age and adults regularly prepare a “Go Bag” near their work desk or places of business should anything like this happen during the day. Many major hotels or event spaces also stock spare supplies in case such an event occurs and people need to shelter in place. They are likely the leading country on earthquake construction and safety techniques.

5. Warm Seats

By this, I mean the toilet seat. One of the things I miss, especially during a freezing east coast winter, is a warm toilet seat. Cold butt in the mornings do not exist in most Japanese households and hotels. It just doesn’t happen. Granted their houses aren’t the best for insulation but when you’ve got to drop trow, the warmth is heavenly. The shock of a cold seat upon returning to the United States is indeed, chilling.

Bonus TIP.

Travelers to Japan will appreciate not having to pay a restaurant server or any server really, a tip or gratuity as part of good service. Remember that mindfulness thing? Providing good service is part of that too. It means even if you try and provide a tip for good services rendered, they will refuse. One older taxi driver flat out didn’t understand the concept of extra monetary gratuity for a job well done.

Get it? Bonus Tip?



The 5 styles of Watch Every Modern Man Should Have

Some guys have 1 watch, some guys have 15 or 20. However many you have, these are the 5 essentials.

The world today can tell you the time a dozen different ways in the blink of an eye. Sweep your eye across any room and everything from a wall clock to a cell phone to a television will accurately tell you the time. Wearing a watch is therefore a choice, one in which many people choose every day, at any price range.

A watch is a non-verbal expression of style and success, the perfect union between beautiful form and utilitarian function. The modern man who lives a varied life needs at least one watch, though some will argue that more are required. Hopefully it’s water resistant enough to survive a run through a pool or the washing machine. Whatever your taste may be, there is a watch in every style at nearly every price range to satisfy the discerning consumer.

1. Silver Beater

This is your day to day watch. You wear it everywhere and you beat the hell out of it without shame or embarrassment. All metal band and casing with plenty of options to boot, a scratch on this watch is a mark of honor. The watch industry makes a ton of them with different face colors, band style and date function. Pairing it with a sweater or a polo shirt is just as easy as picking out your underwear- just go with dial colors you like. Never pick a watch face over 45 millimeters; you are not trying to signal a plane or hail a cab. Chronograph options are also available and this watch will likely be on the less expensive end of the spectrum.

Iconic style choices: Ashton Kutcher, Hamilton Khaki Field King. Leonard DiCaprio, Tag heuer Carrera. 

When to wear: To work, to vacation, to visit grandma.

2. Dress Watch

To be worn with a suit at a special occasion such as a friend’s wedding or someone’s movie premiere. Strictly less than 40 millimeters in face diameter and always with a leather strap in the color of your choice but usually to accent your shoes. This watch is classy with no extra dials or other embellishments.  A date feature is acceptable but diamonds are rarely a good option on a watch. The dial and general design alone should be the center of attention. Your goal is to have the watch seamlessly match your outfit since you’ll be in these pictures forever.

Iconic figures: Jon Hamm, Omega Vintage Seamaster Deville. Will Smith, Hamilton Ventura.

When to Wear: Weddings, funerals, promotions, first dates, prom, and legal hearings.

3. Work It Out

This is a training watch with a synthetic or rubber band and closure. It will do all manner of scientific measurements as you jog, swim or any other type of hard breathing exercise. Likely smaller in diameter than your day to day watch and with a digital read out, this will help you calculate your body’s work out down to the millisecond. Other features include a stop watch, lap timer, date, time, alarm, GPS, and heart rate monitor. More than likely, this is going to be the cheapest of any watch to get. This does not in any way include smart watches that are paired with your phone, most of those are not usually very rugged.

Iconic figures: President Barack Obama, Highgear Enduro Compass. Nicholas Cage, Ventura V-Tec  W25-R1.

When to wear: When you get sweaty outside the house, rarely with any formal or social attire.

4. Divers

While not indestructible, a diving watch is designed to withstand a ton of pressure, just like the men who wear them. Features on such a watch should include a screw down crown, a double safety clasp, water-resistant to 200 meters, and a unidirectional turning bezel for marking dive times. Many divers’ watches are ISO 6425 certified, but that is up for debate since not all watch brands choose to undergo this optional testing. This test by the International Organization of Standardization for watches approves these watches to be beyond merely water resistant and certifies that they can handle the pressure of diving at least 100 meters or more. 

If that were not enough additional features found on dive watches include helium release valve, underwater illumination, various sizing, sapphire crystal glass, and the date. They run the range of size from 40 millimeters and higher but bigger than 50 mm is going to cause problems for the center of gravity on your arm. Some of these watches will have rubber straps while others are a more traditional stainless steel. Given the feature set, expect to spend more than you would normally.

Iconic Figures: President Barack Obama, Tag-Heuer Series 1500. Daniel Craig, Omega Seamaster Planet Ocean.

When to wear: When you plan on boldly going where no man has ever gone before-underwater.

 5. Luxury

The legacy watch, worn on momentous occasions that you will immortalize in your memory. Expensive, possibly passed down from generation to generation. A watch of this caliber is meant to convey importance and great success. The meaning of luxury notwithstanding, this watch should be of a noticeable quality and origin that will last several decades if not longer. Not only does your watch command attention but it should also add to your persona, not outshine you. It does no one any good to wear huge bling at a special occasion; you wear this watch for you and only you.

Iconic Figures: Steve McQueen, Rolex Submariner. John F. Kennedy, Rolex President.

When to wear: Wedding Days, Birth of Children and Grand Children, Ending a War.

Bonus. The Lucky One

Sometimes there comes a long a Watch that you love. It could be something you found, something you inherited, or was a gift. For whatever reason, whenever you wear it, it brings you great luck and good fortune. This watch can be weird, it can have a great back story or better yet, have sentimental value. It breaks the standard conventions of Watch wearing and yet you can’t stop yourself from remembering all of the great things this one Watch has brought you. This is a companion and you should never lose or sell it. Ever.

In the end, regardless of whichever watch you choose, make it situation appropriate. A watch doesn’t need to cost a small fortune to be stylish nor does it need to be big enough to weigh down your arm. Recent watch trends move toward the slimmer side of things with a touch of vintage design thrown in for good measure. Some of these principals will apply to ladies Watches as well but I can’t speak to this personally. Regardless of gender, all a Watch needs to do is express your sense of style and purpose.



100% Must-Haves in Your Carry-On Personal Bag

Getting on a plane is stressful enough right? You’ve got luggage, you’ve got people, you may even have animals (looking at you emotional support pig). Having the right things in your carry-on personal item will help. For our sakes, I won’t mention jackets, pants or medication as those are pretty personal choices.

For our purposes here, we’re going to play a game of “What will I need” and keep in mind that all you have is a backpack/duffle or big purse. No reaching into the overhead compartment for spare stuff and you can’t go down into the cargo hold because well, that’s cheating. Now let’s see whose the most comfortable on our flight to the Island of Nowhere.

In Situation #1, you’ve gotten to your seat and realize A, your child or travel companion has forgotten their Noise-Cancelling Headphones and B, you only have yours to lend. What do you do in this case? Especially if your companion is making a fuss? Why you’d be nice and lend them yours! So with a smile, you lend them your lovely Sony or Bang & Olufsen (sorry Bose, not a fan) headphones. In this case, what do you need?

So in Situation #1, it pays to not only have Noise-Cancelling earphones or headphones but spare earplugs as well. The earplugs can also be used if/and when your headphones may die, or if your travel companion happens to snore like a freight train. It may also help you block out the noise of that screaming toddler someone brought onto the flight. Not the toddlers’ fault, air pressure sucks up there, isn’t that why you have those special headphones in the first place?

Here for Situation #2, we have something of personal preference. I, generally, do not drink water from the flight attendants cart unless it comes from a bottle. The water that comes onto the plane to use for coffee or tea, isn’t always safely stored. They can come from giant tanks miles away, stored in all manner of conditions, and aren’t always checked. You’re likely safer at a larger international airport but why take the risk? So What do you want in your bag in this case?

For Situation #2, I use a collapsible bottle or hydration bladder and fill that all the way up after security. Yes, buying water at the airport can be expensive, but you do have the option of the water fountain water too. That bloated feeling most of us get on the plane? Too much salt in the food, not enough water, too much sitting.

In Situation #3, we have a dietary restriction. Increasingly, people have food allergies or food preferences (looking at you vegan folks). If the airline doesn’t have a meal option to your preference, you’ve got to be prepared. What if the airline changed their menu or they’ve not posted one at all. What can you do?

Much of Situation #3, we’re talking about smart prepping. If you suspect that the meal on the plane isn’t going to go your way, get a meal to go at the airport. Buy a sandwich and save it for the plane. Bring it in a flexible cooler bag and store it with 2 of those ice cold bottles of water I hope you bought so it stays cold. Can’t do that? Vegan Snack Bars. Those are a real thing. DO NOT bring a to go bag from a restaurant and ask the flight attendant to reheat it, it will not go well.

In Situation #4, you’re planning to head right off the plane and go attend a meeting, a wedding, a child’s musical performance, and you know those photos will last a lifetime. After all, the internet is forever. How do you think celebrities look so great getting off a plane(Besides, you know, personal make up artists, trainers, a ton of staff on that private jet)?

Situation #4, is actually pretty similar to situation 2 in that you need to hydrate, hydrate, hydrate. No, your water intake does not do it all. I’m talking about skin moisturizer, even for the men in the room, yes you too. They make travel size packaging from most major skin care brands. They cater to the idea of looking good all the time, including getting off planes. So go get that chap stick, that eye cream, that face cream. You’ll feel 10x better getting off that long haul flight.

For Situation #5, you’ve got this long flight and have a ton of plans upon landing. You’ll want to look your best, get the most out of your day and do amazing things on this trip right? You’re done with the in flight entertainment, they’re turning the lights down and you’ve got a solid 8 hours with nothing to do. So what do you need?

If you guessed Sleep for Situation #5, you’d be right! So bring on the eye masks, the fuzzy pillows, the compression socks, and the extra pack-able jacket. I personally don’t need an eye mask, pillow or socks but a jacket with a deep hood will work wonders to keep warm air in and bright light out. Remember that moisturizer? Apply selected routine upon waking up.

In Situation# 6, you’ve landed, you’re exhausted but hopefully well fed and watered. You’re in a foreign country going through customs. What do you need? Take 3 guesses and the first 2 don’t count.

So for Situation #6, you need a Passport! There have been stories over the years, of happy go lucky passengers shoving their entire personal bag into their Check-In bag so they don’t carry anything until baggage claim. This is great except that they’ve now lost sight of their Passport, a dangerous thing to begin with, and won’t have access to it when they go through customs. It usually dawns on people’s minds when they have to fill out a customs declaration form that they need to know their Passport number, which is now unfortunately locked below them and out of reach. Cue the ensuing panicked call for the flight attendant.

Bonus Situation #1 for all of us germaphobes.

Germs are often an afterthought for some people on the plane. No, I don’t mean just the air you breathe but the surfaces you touch. It’s been reported that remotes, tray tables, and touch screens have some of the most germs on them in the plane so I’d suggest wiping down all of these surfaces before you’ve buckled in for the flight. Even if the crew has already done this beforehand, doing it yourself might give you great peace of mind too. I do wear a mask, even if it draws looks. It has a filter too!

Bonus Situation #2, pack a gift for the flight attendants.

I’d say a small gift like sealed candy or chocolate goes a long way. If you’re spending 3 plus hours on a flight, I’d generally suggest giving more than just a polite smile when you board the plane. If you’re feeling generous or on a long haul flight, a Starbucks gift card would not be out of the question either. The objective is to keep the people helping you during your flight as happy as possible. Any left over gift cards can be used on yourself too!



PRO TIP: Safety While Traveling

Whether abroad or domestic, traveling to a new place can be both scary and exciting so it pays to be prepared.

  1. Booking and confirming. What sucks more than getting in a cab and ending up at the wrong airport, the wrong gate, or even the wrong hotel when you land? It costs you nothing but a few minutes to email hotels ahead to confirm your booking. PRO TIP: Double Check and Triple Check your apps, boarding passes, and Priority Passes and even your lunch passes, if applicable.
  2. Medication and medical assistance. For allergies and other serious medical needs, heavy research is recommended. Many foreign countries have heavily regulated policies on traveling with medication. You’ll be surprised to know that some of the over-the-counter medications available in the United States are highly restricted or differently regulated in other countries. Similarly, many countries will not even see you if you do not have medical insurance. PRO TIP: Travel Insurance is offered in a variety of ways through travel sites, credit cards, and private institutions. They cover everything from hospitalization and some go as far as evacuation coverage for when that flight gets cancelled due to a Volcano erupting. (True story from a friend)
  3. Communication. Just like AT&T said, do have the capability to reach out and touch someone. When traveling, especially international, having an unlocked phone and international SIM card works wonders, even if you can only text. PRO TIP: Those SIM Cards are usually on a timer so make sure you’re NOT putting them into the phone and activating too early. Otherwise you’ll have a reduced length of time to use that SIM when you land. PRO TIP #2: Have a portable battery pack handy. 100Wh is the United States TSA legal limit, roughly 26k mAh.
  4. Mapping your trip. Make sure you know where you’re going, the opening and closing time of events. Transportation in and out of the event. This all seems like common sense but places like Japan don’t have a 24/7 transit system and you could be stuck overnight in another part of town away from friends and family. PRO TIP: Google Maps is your friend. There are tons of mobile apps that have offline map saving capability. PRO TIP #2 :Place a pin for your local embassies and consulates is also a good thing.
  5. Awareness . In an ideal world, everyone would be able to travel in relative safety. Remain vigilant, even if you are familiar with a place. Many of us let our guard down around places that we know, believing that we’re safe. I once read that most car accidents happen less than 5 minutes or 5 miles from a persons home. PRO TIP: Each major government and some foreign government issues threat levels, travel advisories, and a variety of other warnings about specific countries and places where hazards may exist.
  6. Duress. Sometimes, we end up in a place and time where something bad is happening out of your control. If they want your wallet, toss it and run away. Give up the bag if that’s what they want. Your iPhone or your life? You choose. PRO TIP: When losing documents because of theft or mugging, it helps to have back up copies of your documents digitally saved. This helps local officials assist you in getting home. PRO TIP #2: There are certain belts that allow you to fold small bills into a hidden zipper. Thus even without your bag, you may have some emergency currency saved. Paper bills are usually better than coin, which jingle when the body is searched. So forget storing money in socks! Get a belt! PRO TIP #3: If a short-cut looks easy but is dark versus a well-lit path that may take an extra few minutes, err on the side of caution even if you’re tired and take the well-lit one. After all, you’re on vacation, take in the sights! PRO TIP #4: Cabbies can and will lie, be aware.
  7. Inform your friends and family. Let the people in your life know where you’re going and for how long. Tell a trusted neighbor you’ll be gone or have a house/apartment sitter. PRO TIP: Have a safe word that you and emergency contacts will know so that they know it’s really you and you are not under duress.
  8. Convenience. For something a little less scary and more fun, going through security. No really, I mean it. Granted that going through security is a hassle but it’s a necessary one for safety. There are however, programs such as TSA Pre-Check and Global Entry that allow for expedited security screenings. These programs require typically background checks and an interview but this preparation allows you to leave your belt and shoes on, and maybe even leave your laptop or tablet in your bag. Isn’t that nice? PRO TIP: There are certain travel credit cards that come with assistance or outright will cover the fees for these kinds of programs.
  9. Fee’s- of the international transaction kind. It’s generally better to go to a safe and secure bank upon landing at your destination to take out money than travel with a large sum of cash in your luggage. For one thing, what if your luggage is lost or stolen. For another, large sums of money usually make customs agents curious, and certain large sums aren’t even legally allowed to be carried into some countries unless declared. PRO TIP: Before leaving, check with your bank about exchanging currency is fine but the fine print may include a fee or percentage the bank or institution takes in order to give you that exchange. PRO TIP#2: Use at least 1 bank that operates internationally, in the area where you are going. This helps with foreign transaction fee’s, though ATM fee’s are a different matter altogether.
  10. Local knowledge. It’s okay to have pride in one’s culture, heritage, hometown or sports team but remember that you are now a guest in someone else’s hometown and culture. Keep an open mind or you risk offending your host and those around you. PRO TIP: Ask questions in a calm non-accusatory manner if something you disagree with is being said or done. At least at the start, a lot of miscommunication can be avoided with a calm attitude and some awareness of local customs. PRO TIP #2: Know what rights you have and don’t have. Never leave your Passport or Drivers License in a place like checked luggage that you can’t immediately access to show proof of ID.



A Safe Space

Be Constructive, Not Destructive

In which, the first thing I say is issue a warning to anyone looking to bash others.

Be yourself; Everyone else is already taken.

— Oscar Wilde.

If you’ve looked around lately, you’ll notice that the world continues to be a scary place. A place where people don’t feel safe and secure, where paranoia is survival. If this is how you live your life, there is no shame in it.

However, this is where that way of life and this website differ. I strongly support constructive criticism and the building up of my fellow humans. Tearing someone down, even for a brief moment of relief, remains a constant way in which to perpetuate a painful cycle.

So if you have nothing good to say, nothing helpful, or supportive, don’t say it. Just like I choose to write, you choose to read. Do not like? Then do not read. In return, I will try to be as objective with my opinion as possible. I am only human, I feel things too.



About Me.

Why do I choose to write publically?

  • The power of writing can, if done right, improve the lives of others. It can lift the spirits of those that are down and open the mind of those looking to breathe. I hope this place, if even for 1 person, offers something new and positive to experience.

What I’ll be writing about?

  • Nearly anything, through the scope of nerdy excitement for life. Movies, Music, Books, Fashion, Shopping, Travel, Scientific Phenomenon. A modern nerd knows no bounds, especially because-well internet right? Not much for controversy, my finger stays off the hot button. I launch no missiles.

Who I’d love comments from?

  • Friends! Family! The 6 degrees of human separation it takes to know other people =). People supporting other people.

What do I hope to achieve?

  • Inner Peace… through releasing my thoughts into The Force-I mean the Internet.

What shade of Gray am I?

  • It doesn’t matter what shade on the color wheel I am, we’re all human. Unless you’re evil and commit acts of evil. Then you belong with Voldemort.

Things that I like doing!

  • Snowboarding, Reading, Collecting, Traveling, Eating (so much Eating), Conventions, Shopping.

See you soon!