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Traveling With Just a Briefcase

I took a one night, two day trip to one to the provinces this past weekend. It was all very pleasant, I had a nice time, I got to stop by some local businesses and see how they were making goods to wholesale, and it was nice to be out in the clean and fresh air.

But maybe the most enjoyable part of thing was traveling with just a briefcase.

I'd only done that once before, a few years ago. I forgot about how nice and convenient it is. I wore the same pair of jeans, packed my computer and a couple basics, and bought a new shirt after I arrived. Man, it's nice getting through the airport without any luggage, and the additional mobility from not having any gear to worry about is nice.

Unless I'm under time pressure when I arrive or I already have a place I like to stay in a city that I've been before, I tend to not book anywhere to stay - I just arrive and walk around. Frequently this surprises/amazes people, but I think it works really well.

I walked into a business hotel at around 8PM in the evening after it started getting dark. Their rates were 170 RMB for their cheapest room to 800 RMB for the most expensive. I said, "I want one night. What's the absolutely best price you can do?" The girl at the desk offered me 88 RMB, which I took.

Airport currency exchange -- even worse than you'd have thought

I always knew currency exchange at the airport was a bad deal, but I never really calculated it out -- I just tried to avoid it.

I was passing through Haneda airport last night, and had a stack of Chinese RMB I wanted to sell to get Japanese Yen. 

The rate was 15% lower than the market rate. That's just one way. The selling Yen / buying RMB rate was similarly crazy.

To exchange $650 of RMB for Yen would have cost over $90.

That's nuts. You can get 1% or 2% at banks sometimes. A credit card with no foreign exchange fee (all Capital one cards, high-end Visa Signatures and AMEX cards) means you're getting 1% or 2% off the market rate. Worst-case scenario, you can et 5% pretty easily.

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