Monday, March 27, 2017

Fanfest Travel Tips: 2017 Edition

Next Monday I arrive in Iceland for eight days and seven nights of fun in the middle of the North Atlantic. Well, for what I hope is fun, anyway. I also intend on doing a little bit of blogging, even if I only post photos.

I am going through all the steps I normally go through when preparing for a trip overseas. This weekend marks my 11th trip since 2017. I have most of the required actions memorized by now, but sometimes making a list helps prevent forgetting the little things that turn into headaches if forgotten.

First, inform all the institutions you interact with that you are leaving the country. In my case, those are the post office, my bank, and my phone service. The U.S. Post Office has a nice form one can fill out in less than a minute. Banks have a tendency to not allow foreign transactions unless notified in advance, and my bank is no exception. Fortunately, I got my credit cards approved for use in Iceland at the same time I paid some of the bills that come due while I'm away. As for my phone service, that's not really a factor if one buys a SIM card from the local wireless provider in Iceland, which I believe is available in the airport. However, my phone provider allows me to use my current data package abroad, although I have to pay a $10 fee each day I use it. Still, having 24 GB available is more than I'll use and means I won't have to worry about the data cap.

Next, print out all paperwork needed to travel from home to the hotel in Reykjavik. Icelandair requires a printed version of the e-Ticket passengers receive via email. If one purchases Flybus tickets for the ride between Keflavik and Reykjavik in advance, Flybus requires printed proof of purchase as well. I also normally print out the hotel reservations, just in case.

The next subject is a big one: electronics. I normally bring a laptop, smartphone, Kindle Fire, and camera to Fanfest. Based on my experience from last year, I am also bringing an external battery to recharge my smartphone. If I did not plan to blog and do some RMT research-related tasks, I would leave the laptop at home.

The most important fact for those coming from the U.S. and U.K. is that Iceland uses the Type F socket, which is also is usable with Type C and E plugs as well. For everything except my laptop, I use a Yubi Power 4-port power station to keep everything charged. Normally in hotel rooms spare outlets are at a premium so I like the option of charging four devices with only one charger. For my laptop, I actually own a cord that plugs into the laptop's power converter instead of just using an plug adapter. I prefer the tighter connection into the wall socket, plus the price was low enough I didn't mind.

For those lugging around a laptop, I highly recommend making sure your laptop has all OS updates installed before heading to Iceland. Getting hit with an update in an airport is not my idea of fun. In addition, make sure all programs like TeamSpeak, Mumble, and Discord are up-to-date as well.

For the first time traveller, I have one tip that doesn't seem important, but is. Clean up your home before leaving for the airport. Make sure to take out the garbage. Check the refrigerator for food that may spoil while you're away. Do the dishes. Make your bed. Not just throw the covers over the bed, actually make the bed, hospital corners and all.

I didn't think making the bed was really that important until the one trip where I had to leave at o'dark thirty. I just hurriedly threw the covers over the bed because I was in a rush. After a few days of maid service, coming back to an unmade bed was a bit of a downer.

One final tip. I didn't mention anything about exchanging money to the local currency, the Icelandic Krona (ISK). Iceland pretty much runs on plastic except for the city buses, and even then some of the outlying hotels hand out passes to their guests. I have a credit card that doesn't charge foreign exchange fees, so last year I just used that and had no issues.

I'm sure I forgot some things, but I have enough practice packing for these trips that I just do some things automatically. Hopefully those travelling to Fanfest for the first time will find something useful. Who knows, some of the information concerning products may actually come not too late.

EDIT 1 April 2017: Here's what I forgot. Make sure you can still close and lock your luggage. Good thing I only needed one suitcase.

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