Top Ten Travel Tips for Anthropologists

think ahead

Besides the obvious, here are some generic travel tips of a fieldworker. In no particular order:
1. Always Carry a Pen that can write on skin without smudging

 (Credit to Dr Jonathan McIntosh, UWA, for that tip). Also, a USB-drive is always handy for chance encounters (remember to have backed up all your data at home!).
2. Before boarding a flight, prepare the items that you want to use during the flight. Take these out of your bag before you board. When finding your seat and storing your hand-luggage, you will be efficient and the passengers boarding behind you will not hate you. A paperback and ipod will normally fit comfortably into the seat in front of you.
3. Place an unmistakeable special mark on your checked-in luggage. Coloured Ribbons are effective. (Where possible, keep receipts for the goods inside your luggage especially if you are making multiple or prolonged stopovers).
4. Moisture wipes and/or alcohol wipes are like heaven when you are travelling.
Sample perfumes, moisturiser packs, and those little bottles of mouthwash can also feel like bliss on prolonged treks.
5. Take a leak at the airport. There is nothing more irritating than having to clamber over your neighbour, queue up for a toilet cubicle, and then suffocate in the fumes of your predecessor.
6.  Leave copies of your itinerary and passport/visa papers with people at home so that you can be easily contacted. Leave them with details of your insurance cover and other essentials so that you can contact them if you lose your copy. Remember to carry photocopies of important documents and never put all your eggs in the one basket 😉
7. Think about the landscape of your destination. Will a bag with wheels or a backpack be more suitable? And, will you need to waterproof the bag? 
i.e. Is it inner-city Sydney, Australia, a cobble-stone village in Alsace, France, or a rural setting in central Brasil with unpaved roads?
8. Carry extra copies of passport photos. You never know when these will come in handy. Student cards, discount cards, government agencies may all require a passport photo at some point or another…
9. Euros, American Dollars and the English Pound are three valuable (and useful!) currencies to keep on yourself in small amounts as a back-up.
10. In this day and age, don’t yell out ‘Hi’ to your friend Jack mid-flight, no matter how long you haven’t seen him for.

Clothing Suggestions:
1. A comfortabel pair of Cargo pants are the ideal way to store a plethora of travelling luxuries such as tissues, bubble-gum, travel-dictionaries/guides/maps, passport, wallet, phone(s), prophylactics, aspirin, panadol, vicks inhaler, toilet-seat covers, hand-cream, lip balm, USB-drive etc.
2. Wear a shirt with a breast-pocket so that you can store frequently-used items (pens, tickets, business cards) in a handy place. 
3. Wear clean socks (especially for long flights). Nothing worse than taking your shoes off and reminding yourself just how long it has been since you last washed those woollen toe-warmers.
4. Wear a hat in airports so that you can place all your belongings into your hat at security checks. You will be quicker off the mark after it comes off the x-ray table. (There is nothing more annoying than feeling like you are holding up the queue because you are collecting a bundle load of coins, your wallet, glasses, belt, watch, keys and mobile phone). A small compactible bag is an alternative option. You can temporarily place personal items into this bag through the x-ray machine–less risk of belongings getting caught in the rollers or plastic flaps.
5. Reduce the amount of jewellery you wear.
6. For extended journeys, bring a spare set of clothing in your hand-luggage. One day, you’ll thank me for it 😉 
7. Check the weather of your destination before packing.
8. Educate yourself about local fashion. You will be better informed on the clothes you will bring and much more comfortable upon your arrival. For example, Pants with flip-flops are common in Indonesia but the sign of a gringo in Brazil.
9. Avoid wearing clothes or footwear with metal. Choose quick-dry clothing (it makes washing easier) that has plastic buttons.
10. Don’t wear a camouflage-print bikini in the Carribean. I hear it’s illegal.

Published by

Paul Mason

I am a biomedically trained social anthropologist interested in biological and cultural diversity.

4 thoughts on “Top Ten Travel Tips for Anthropologists

  1. Very nice post. If your passion is travelling, get the best experience, dont worry about anything just follow some simple steps.For research recommend the umpteen nos. of travel blogs or sites available on the Internet, read them and plan your trip. Keeping a minimum budget for luxury.Tell your friends and family to take care of your house, pets, business etc. Go for health check ups and take all relevant vaccines. For more details refer Travel Blog</a

  2. Very useful travelling tips. Additional things you may want to consider, are:
    extra eye glasses and case, plastic bags, tide marker, mini flashlight, little hand sanitizer, water bottle for cold and hot.

    Happy adventures!

    1. Cool! I’m very pleased that you found them handy! I think you’re spot on about bringing a spare pair of spectacles. I spent nine months in Indonesia using an old prescription because my new pair broke, and a mini flashlight on a key-ring is always more helpful than you think it will be. Hand sanitizers remain a favourite. I also know people who like to moisturise after they use these drying agents on their skin.

      Thanks for your feedback and suggestions!

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