Travel Tips

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Also see Road Trip Tips.

Temperature Conversion

Easy C-to-F conversion guide, courtesy Valdis Krebs and Bob Blakely:

  • 10=cold (jacket)
  • 20=cool (nice)
  • 30=hot
  • 40=hellish


Must have items:

  • Outlet Extender. Great for airports.

Others I've seen recommended:

  • Sink plug. For doing laundry in your hotel room.

See also:

Leaving Town

Holding mail

  • Must be for at least 3 days, but no more than 30 days.
  • Must submit request at least one business day and no more than 14 calendar days in advance.
  • Can do so online as long as your zip code is one of the ones that offer this service.
  • Otherwise fill out Form PS8076 in person at your local post office or call 1-800-ASK-USPS (1-800-275-8777).
  • Once back in San Francisco, best to call the hold mail facility (415-643-3721) the day before you plan to pick up your mail to make sure it's delivered to the Geary post office (at 21st Ave).

Traveling Internationally

International Electric Adapter Index

When traveling internationally, it's a good idea to register your trip with the State Department in case of emergency.

Currency exchange at Travelex (in the U.S. Bank building, next to the Castro Theater):

443 Castro Street
San Francisco, CA

Electricity: "Staying Plugged in while Traveling."

International Cell Phones

Eight part series on international cell phones. seems to be the most promising place for SIM cards and phone information. They also have a call-back service. Their prices seem good, and they seem reputable.

Hostelling International USA sells SIM cards and refurbished phones. The prices seem high, and the phones are very old.

Other possibilities:

I'm investigating the Siemens A70 unlocked GSM phone as a second phone for international travel. There seem to be some decent deals on eBay.


RashmiSinha tweeted about Seat Guru, which helps you identify the most desirable seats on a plane.


In Canada, you need a Non-resident Inter-Provincial Motor Vehicle Liability Insurance Card, which you can get for free from your insurance company.

Cheap Fares

Start looking about two months before trip, when sales start appearing.

For domestic flights, there's Hipmunk and Kayak.

A good way to fly cheaper to continental Europe is to fly to London, then find cheap round trip fares to final destination. For fly/drive deals, see Auto Europe and Also, it can be cheaper to fly to JFK (NY) and then to European destination rather than flying direct from other states.

Amsterdam is second to London in this regard.

Icelandair offers free seven day stopovers in Iceland for anyone heading to or from continental Europe.

Underbid on Priceline 20 percent less than the lowest airfare you find.

John Breslin recommended RyanAir, a super cheap airline in Europe (based in Ireland).


TripAdvisor has worldwide listings and user ratings. I used it to find a place to stay in Sedona for November 2005.

Call to make reservations during regular office hours. I have had many poor experiences with evening staff who didn't know anything, gave me misinformation, or were generally rude and unhelpful. has advice on successful bidding.

Web Sites