A Few Notes on Barcelona and SMWCon

My trip to Barcelona was an adventure that I’ll never forget. The city was beautiful and the people I met and made friends with even more so. The conference was rewarding and invigorating.

I don’t know if I have the language to put into words what I experienced. I’ve been trying to write this post for a while and continue to be fruitless. I can say, that for a person who hasn’t traveled internationally much (until this past year) it remains one of my favorite things to do. You can travel alone, but if you do it right you’ll never be alone.

So maybe I’ll just try to be as succinct as possible.

Travel. Do it often. Take photos, but not too many. Make opportunities. If invited to go out – Go.

I’ve put together some perfunctory notes on the professional aspects of the conference on the MediaWiki Stakeholders’ Blog. Again, it doesn’t do the trip justice.

Unsolicited Travel Tips

While waiting for my return flight from Barcelona (via Zürich) I jumped on Twitter to dump a few things I’ve learned in the last year of travel. Instead of leaving my thoughts there to disappear into the ether I thought I’d collect them here. 1 While by no means a travel expert these are a few things I picked up that serve as both a reminder to future me and might be helpful for you as well. YMMV and all that.

  1. If you bring something to entertain you while hanging out in your hotel room (like a tablet) leave it behind. You’ll never have time to play with it.
  2. If asked to go out into the city by instead of staying in the hotel – even if you’re tired – do it. Regret makes for a terrible story.
  3. Don’t use your local phone service overseas. If possible, unlock your phone & get local SIM. On this last trip I paid $15 (Euro) for gb from Orange. AT&T, my home provider, wanted to charge me $120 (US) for 800mb.
  4. Pack extra socks. Lots of socks. Change them midday. Your feet will thank you (and your nose too).
  5. Travel light. Roll clothes. Don’t check a bag. Don’t take lots of toiletries. Unless traveling to the Sahara, just find a store. Being able to just get on/off a plane without checking/picking up a bag is amazing.
  6. Go away from the city center. Use public transit. Ask locals for dining suggestions. None of this is that scary. It will make your trip even more unique and interesting.
  7. iPhone users: Turn on Low Power Mode and keep it on. You don’t need push email/notifications when you’re on a trip! This means longer times between charges (more time to look up at the place you’re in and less time looking down at your screen) and no need to scramble for a charger.

  1. Montreal, Panama City, Rapid City, Lyon, Mexico City, and Barcelona in the last 1.5 years is a crazy amount of travel for me.

Kottke’s Intro to Joanna Goddard’s “Motherhood Around the World”

 “On sleep camps: Government-subsidized programs help parents teach their babies to sleep. I haven’t been to one (though I did consider it when we were in the middle of sleep hell with our daughter) but many of my friends have. The sleep camps are centers, usually attached to a hospital, that are run by nurses. Most mums I know went when their babies were around six or seven months old. You go for five days and four nights, and they put you and your baby on a strict schedule of feeding, napping and sleeping. If you’re really desperate for sleep, you also have the option of having a nurse handle your baby for the whole first night so you can sleep, but after that you spend the next few nights with your baby overnight while the nurses show you what to do.”

Jason Kottke does a great job introducing Joanna Goddard and her series “Motherhood Around the World“. As a parent in America who grew up in a time where it was normal for us kids to be gone all day – out of sight and without technology – I often struggle with what is “normal” or “safe” for kids in these modern times. Joanna’s series helps put some things in perspective and is a great read. The above quote is from a mom in Australia. From Joanna’s introduction,

“Every Monday, we’ll feature an American mother living abroad in a different country around the world with her family. (First up today: Norway!) Honestly, the interviews have been FASCINATING. While working on them, I kept running into the living room to tell Alex the surprising things these mothers were revealing. Thank you so much to all the incredible mothers who shared their stories”


Nine Hours in an Airplane at the Cost of a New Car

“And then he knelt down next to me as I sampled the tea. He told me about the high quality tea leaves. He told me about the hand-sewn cotton teabags. He told me about the fragant cherry blossoms and red fruits infused into the tea. Somewhere in between, he might have mentioned about the history of coffee trade and the East India Company, but I can’t be sure.”

If I had $18,400 to spend on a single flight I could not think of a better way to do it.