A friend recently referred me to a Tim Ferriss post about travel caching, something I had never heard of before. Mr. Ferriss used the Jason Borne movies as his reference point but the method might just work, depending on who you are and how frequently you stay at a hotel. I tried travel caching myself to see if I really could avoid checking a bag, and here is what I found.
What Is Travel Caching?
For guests that frequent the same hotels in the same cities, those properties can feel like a home away from home. Travel caching makes it a more formal arrangement. As Tim Ferriss describes it:
Remember the first Jason Bourne movie, when various agents are “activated” to kill Jason? One of them lands in Rome, where he accesses a hidden locker that contains everything he needs: a few passports, a gun, ammo, cash in small denominations, etc. That is an example of a single “cache.” (Yes, I’m somewhat obsessed with Jason Bourne)
Doomsday preppers (not derogatory) will often have multiple caches at various distances from a “bug out” departure point like a home or office. In the case of disaster — tornado, terrorism, zombies, Sharknado, etc. — they can set off walking empty-handed, if needed, and find everything they need waiting for them. Here’s a good intro to this controversial craft.
Travel caching is leaving yourself a “cache” of essentials in a location you often travel. While Jason Bourne and the like use lockers and self-storage sheds, Tim proposes using hotels he frequents. This saves him from ever having to check a bag by leaving his belongings for storage with the hotel in a crate at the property.
What Should I Leave in My Cache?
Packing clothes specific for that environment (Tim is packing heavy coats for New York City for example) are a help. I leave clothes at my parent’s house in Florida so I don’t have to pack anything other than a backpack. Tim is leaving cans of beans and other things he doesn’t want to have to shop for when he lands – that’s not me. Here are my essentials:
- Phone charger
- Power strip
- Preferred toiletries
- Clothes for the location
- Work out gear
I can get on a plane with just my backpack which has freed me and my family from flying on more expensive airlines where I have status and don’t have to pay for checked or (eek) even carry-on bags. I live in a mid-sized air market, Pittsburgh. There are direct flights to Florida on Spirit, Allegiant, Southwest and Frontier that allow me hop on a cheap flight without having to worry about getting hit with fees.
Travel caching eliminates so much time and process in planning. I won’t have to think about what I need or what I have, it will already be there. When I want to change it up, I can wear new clothes out and bring the old clothes back. Tim refers to this as a Steve Jobs-ian trait, personally, I prefer to think of it more as Doug Funny choosing his outfits. With less to think about, I get more time back in my day. Granted, I don’t do this at home, but I pack for a trip at least once a week and at least 26 of those trips are to the same hotel, in the same city. If I spend 10 minutes packing and five minutes unpacking every time I take that one trip alone that’s 6.5 hours/year I get back without having to do anything.
Trying It Out
My travel needs vary from place to place but there is one hotel that I frequent enough to be able to get away with this. For this to really work for me, I need it to be in business destinations and hotels. I have safety equipment that I need to carry for site visits and it would be nice to leave one these cases at my same-old, same-old hotel to lighten my load.
I recently tried it out and got a wide eye from the front desk staff that took the bag into the back. On my next visit I will see how long it takes them to search for it in the back and then work on some of the conditioning. I am sure that some of that will involve we working with the manager to have the bag in my room waiting, with the clothes laundered.
Hotels should jump at the chance for this connection with their customers. This creates intense brand loyalty and hotel-specific affection. While I am sure some managers will be concerned about liability and customers overloading them with their goods, for others, like the manager I encountered it will solidify me as a customer. It will also increase their revenue as I will stay with them every time more or less regardless of rate. Further, they will make money off of my laundering services which I don’t usually do at hotels for short trips.
Have you ever tried travel caching? Do you have a hotel you frequent enough to make this possible?