Travel and Packing Tips
Read and print for the best travel tips and packing suggestion for trips overseas. Don’t get bogged down with too many suitcases and stuff you won’t need. Travel light and smart while being comfortable. Tips on how best to stay in touch with friends and family back home.
Before You Go
- If you don’t speak the local language, learn a few common phrases such as: please, thank you, excuse me and I’m sorry.
- Call your credit card company before you leave and put a travel alert on your card. Remember to write down their international customer service number. I make copies of my cards front and back so I have all the numbers with me in case of loss.
- Consider obtaining a credit card that offers no foreign transaction fees.
- Register your trip with the U.S. Embassy. This allows the State Department to better assist you in case of an emergency. At the very least, you should have their contact info on hand.
- Make copies of your passport. Leave a copy at home with your travel professional, family or friends. Keep a copy on your person, a copy in your luggage so it’s the first thing to be seen when opened and email yourself a copy.
- Be sure to have enough storage media for pictures and videos. Download all media at the end of each night, either to an external hard drive, laptop or online storage account.
- Always purchase travel insurance. It will cover things like trip cancellation, trip interruption and health issues. Most insurance is not accepted internationally. My group trips include this if we are going out of the country!
- Contact you wireless provider about an international rate plan.
- Download Viber or What’s App if you have a smart phone before you go and have people at home do it as well. You can text for free. Also texts from iPhone to iPhone are free if you are in a wifi spot.
- Memorize the 3-1-1 rule for acceptable carry-on luggage: 3 oz. bottles or less, in a 1 qt. plastic bag, 1 bag per passenger at the checkpoint. If you have a medical exception to the 3-1-1 rule, declare the item, which will then be inspected and most likely allowed through. Visit the TSA website for the most up-to-date information.
- Purchase foreign currency from your bank before you leave. Avoid currency exchanges in the airport or from sidewalk vendors.
Packing / What to Bring
- Wear easy-fitting clothes and slip-on shoes. This will save you time at the security gates. Bring along a scarf or travel blanket to avoid using the airline blankets.
- Bring a travel first aid kit: ibuprofen (or other pain killer), decongestant, Nyquil, bandages, Hydrocortisone cream, Pepto-Bismol, Imodium, Neosporin, antibacterial wipes, Benadryl and bug spray.
- If you can’t afford to lose it, don’t pack it. Put it in your carryon or leave it at home.
- Pack a change of clothes in your carry on in case your luggage is delayed. Pack extra underwear. Also, pack the following in your carryon: toothbrush, toothpaste, prescription medications, deodorant.
- Carry the travel size packs of wet wipes and tissues. Toilet paper is not a given in many parts of the world.
- Instead of folding your clothes, roll them. It saves spaces. Plastic packing bags save tons of space- you can buy them online or at many stores like Target…
- Bring Ziploc bags of different sizes or a trash bag for wet or muddy clothes.. Believe me, these will come in handy. If you plan to buy lots of breakables (ie. Waterford…) take some bubble wrap or use dirty clothes as packing material.
- Don’t forget extra batteries and charger for your electronics (camera, laptop, cell phone). Be sure to get charger when leaving your hotel. Number 1 “left behind” item.
- Converter if traveling to foreign country to pug in your chargers…
- Pack a shoe holder with plastic pockets to hang over the door to keep things like room key, camera, chargers… makes searching for things easy as you head out the door and saves lots of counter space especially on cruises if you put shampoo and toiletries in them too.
- Leggings are easy to pack, don’t wrinkle and can be worn with different tops each day. Jeans are bulky and heavy.
- A sweatshirt, sweater or jacket- even warm climates may get chilly at night and many sites can be on a mountain or by the sea and be windy.
- COMFORTABLE SHOES! Forget fashion when you will be walking around all day for 10 days- many older sites have uneven walkways and stairs. Rockports, ECCO, Mephisto, Merrell and others make excellent walking shoes that are also nice looking. Sandals for spring and summer/boots in fall and winter.
- One decent skirt or pants and nicer shirt in case there is a dress code for dinner somewhere. Nothing fancy just nicer than t shirt/shorts.
- Small day pack to carry your camera, sunscreen…. May be left on secure bus or carried with you during the day.
- Avoid Jet Lag with our Top 10 Tips
- Posted by Fodor’s Editors on March 02, 2011 at 12:38:09 PM EST
- Most travelers try to make the most of their limited time overseas, yet fail to take into account the leap in time zones they make in a matter of hours. It can take your body’s internal clock several days to catch up to that leap, and in the meantime you’re likely to experience the disruption of your sleeping and waking cycle known as jet lag. Symptoms of jet lag include sleepiness during the day, insomnia at night, poor concentration, confusion, hunger at inappropriate times or lack of appetite, and general malaise and irritability. Here are our top tips to fight jet lag.
- Adjust your internal clock. Several days (at least four) before departure, gradually shift your sleeping and eating times to coincide with those at your destination. Once you arrive, adopt the local time for your daily routine.
- Opt for overnight flights. You’ll have dinner at a normal time and be much more likely to sleep than on an afternoon flight. Depending on the length of the flight and the number of time zones you cross, you’ll arrive at your destination in the morning or afternoon. This is the best way to replicate your normal schedule, and it’ll be easier for you to reset your clock.
- Curtail coffee. For 12 hours before, as well as during, your flight, avoid overeating and caffeine. Although caffeine can help keep you awake longer, it makes you wake up more often once you do fall asleep and so reduces total sleep time.
- Stay hydrated. Drink at least 8 ounces of water for every hour you’re in the air—even if you don’t feel thirsty. If you wear contact lenses, clean them thoroughly before your flight, use eye drops in the air, and consider removing your lenses if you nap. In your carry-on pack a bottle of moisturizing lotion, lip balm, and a hydrating spray with essential oils (not just water) to spritz your face with occasionally. Just be sure all toiletries are TSA compliant.
- Avoid or limit alcohol inflight. Cabin air dehydrates passengers, and altitude changes can quicken the effects of alcohol (the rule of thumb is one drink in the air is the same as two or three on the ground). A cocktail may relax you, but it’s also apt to dry you out, and even worsen symptoms of jet lag.
- Try to sleep on the plane. This is especially important when you’re traveling overnight or flying west to east. Travel is extremely tiring, and the more rest your body gets en route the more prepared you’ll be to deal with the stresses of jet lag. If you’re taking a very long flight—United States to Asia, for example—consider saving up enough dollars or frequent-flier miles to fly business or first class, as it’s a lot easier to sleep when your seat reclines all the way back. If you can’t avoid coach, opt for a window seat and bring enough padding (pillows or something that can act as such) to prop yourself up against the wall.
- Use sleeping pills wisely. A pill with a short cycle may be helpful on overnight flights. Make sure, however, that you time the dosage correctly or you may be very groggy when you land. Also, an airplane is not the place to try out a pill for the first time, so only take medications you are already familiar with.
- See if melatonin is for you. Consider taking the nonprescription drug melatonin. Research suggests that the body uses this hormone to set its time clock. Because melatonin seems to control when we go to sleep and when we wake up, a number of scientists advocate supplements to alleviate jet lag. Some (but not all) studies suggest that taking 3 milligrams of fast-release melatonin prior to bedtime for several days after arrival in a new time zone can ease the transition.
- Always wear shoes in the airplane lavatory. It’s just disgusting not to.
- Reading material- I love my kindle and download several books or magazines before I go. Easy and much lighter than carrying heavy books with you. Plus you can check your emails and access wifi.
- Always wear sunscreen if you’re going to be outside regardless of temperature or weather.
- Eat like a local. Avoid places with menus in English. Never ask a hotel for recommendations.
- Never carry your wallet in your back pocket and never carry your purse on just your shoulder. Put money and ID in a zip pockets or a money belt .
- Be sure to get small change in local currency. You may need it for vending machines, tips even public restrooms.
- If possible, use credit cards instead of debit cards. Credits cards offer a higher level of protection if lost or stolen. Debit cards are linked to your assets. It may take a while for banks to reissue stolen funds to your account.
- Tip housekeeping staff each day. Housekeeping is instructed not to move money or personal items, so leave a note with the tip.
- Always a good idea to grab a card from the hotel with the address on it- in case you get lost or grab a cab and need hotel address.
Most of all bring your passion for seeing different cultures, sites and adventure. Don’t forget to pack your sense of humor and spontaneity- things happen and go wrong to even the most organized, well planned travelers, but those are often the most remembered, treasured moments.
I hope these travel tips and packing suggestions helped- feel free to send me some of your best learned travel and packing tips I can share with fellow travelers everywhere.