Whether you’re traveling with us, on your own, or with others…here’s some travel tips you might find useful, especially if you’re in for the long haul overseas. Of course, you know not to pack medications, eyeglasses, and other necessary items in your check-in luggage so that’s not even mentioned here. But here’s some more tips; maybe you’ll want to adopt a few of them. AND, if you have a good one that isn’t mentioned here, why not share it and let us know?
• Stop or make pick up arrangements for your mail and newspaper delivery.
• Pay any bills coming due before you leave.
• Notify your credit card companies (fraud departments) that you’ll be traveling so they won’t put a stop on your credit card due to unusual activity in a foreign location.
• Plan to use your ATM card for better rate exchanges, but be sure to check with your bank to confirm your ATM card is compatible abroad. Some countries only allow 4 digit passcodes.
• Register your trip with the State Department at https://travelregistration.state.gov/ibrs. I’ve done it — and highly recommend it.
• Leave a copy of your itinerary with loved ones. Make sure it includes emergency contact #s and country access codes for their ease. Also provide the name of your tour company and flight info.
• Leave a note in your apartment or with a neighbor of who to contact in case of emergency in your apartment/home.
• Make a copy of your itinerary and put it in your suitcase in case you become separated en route.
• Note “itinerary inside” on your ID luggage tag. It might help get the luggage to you faster.
• Get a TSA lock. It’s combination with key access for security reasons but inaccessible to baggage handlers.
• Take lots one dollar bills. They come in handy until you change to currency of the land.
* Pack a wrap in your carry-on and carry-with-you tour bag(s). Great for a/c or nighttime chills and covering exposed arms or legs when visiting religious institutions.
• Consider sizing down from your one ‘huge’ piece of luggage (29-30+ inches) to two smaller pieces (24-26” and a carry-on size). Many airlines (particularly domestic) are now charging for overweight luggage, but will allow you to check 2 bags of 40-50 lbs. each. Another benefit to the 2 pieces system is you can pack a day’s worth of clothes and some other important items into a carry-on piece and be sure to arrive at your destination with at least a change of clothes. Also, check with each airline you use as to their luggage restrictions because it is not uniform throughout the industry.
• Pack some healthy choice snacks (dried fruit, nuts, wheat crackers).
• Consider bringing your cellphone. Cingular, for example, only charges $5.95 a month for international roaming service…and you can cancel the service when you return. But, if you’re expecting calls from home…make sure to remind everyone of the time difference!
Research Your Destination
• Google map it for a visual of destinations and distance between them.
• Check hotels online — again a visual of the place and what it has to offer as well as its location to important sites, restaurants, etc.
• Look for non-touristy experiences where you can really get to meet the people or partake in their culture.
• Unless you have digital camera and it doesn’t matter how many photos you take, give yourself some time to acclimate to the location before you start shooting.
• Get a tour book – Fodor’s, Frommer, Lonely Planet etc. so you don’t miss any important sites.
• Read a novel set in your location or about its people — or see a movie of the same theme — to put you in the zone.
• Read the local English-language newspaper.
Visit http://www.magellans.com/store/catalog for lots of goodies to help make the journey easier.
• If your feet swell from long distance flights, get and use compression socks en route. Of course, it’s also recommended that you get up and walk around, do in-seat isometric exercises, go light on salt and alcohol.
• Other products from Magellan which I’ve used and think are helpful: “No Jet Lag” tablets, “InFlight Nasal Spray”, and a Travel Rescue Kit that has four natural products for common eventualities, like sore throats, colds, etc. All products are homeopathic. Check out “Urinelle” a handy little helper for nasty bathroom facilities.
• Electrical adapters, converters and other travel supplies are also available from this website. • Your quart size carry-on baggie should include face spritzer, moisturizer, travel t-brush & paste, hand cream, lip balm, eye drops, anti-bacteria gel.
• Don’t wear face make-up for the flight so that you can keep spritzing yourself with water or a revitalizing face spray (don’t forget it has to be 3.5 ozs or less to carry onboard). And keep applying moisturizer.
• Take Airborne or Zicam or some herbal supplement containing echinacea to help thwart inflight germs.
• Wear loose, unwrinkable, clothes.
• Consider eye mask and ear plugs. Some airlines give them out; others do not.
• If you’re not using the compression socks, bring a pair to walk around in on the plane. (They also come in handy if you’re visiting a country that has mosques or temples where you are required to remove your shoes before entering.)
• If at all possible, bring your own bottled water aboard. Water served from a pitcher from the galley tap is highly suspect and serious bacteria could be present. That goes for ice cubes too — and there have been warnings about coffee/tea as well because water is not brought to sufficient temperature to kill germs. Soda is not so great because it’s carbonated and could make you gassy inflight. It’s a struggle to keep hydrated and healthy these days – sometimes you have to choose one over the other.
Who wants to waste time once you reach your destination with unpacking? Here’s my full proof 1-2-3 method — which starts at home in the packing stage.
• Slacks & Skirts are packed on hangers — the kind with descending space for about 4 pair of slacks — and then covered with a plastic dry cleaner bag and laid crosswise on the bottom of the suitcase. When you get to your location, just lift it out of the suitcase and hang it in the closet. (You can also double up with dry cleaner hangers which are lightweight and hang a couple of pair of slacks on each.)
• Tops, Underwear, Misc.(pjs, bathing suit, workout clothes) are packed in individual large plastic bags, one bag to a category. I used to save and use the wonderful zippered bags that come with bed linens and curtains but on my last trip I used store-bought compression bags which reduces the space they take so it provides a double benefit. I do not unpack these bags. They serve as see-through drawers.
• Toiletries are also packed in individual bags – hair products, shower stuff, make-up, etc.
• Shoes are in fabric bags I’ve collected over the years from pocketbook purchases, but supermarket plastic works too. Just toss them in the bottom of the closet.
So – there it is. You arrive at the hotel, open the suitcase, remove the bags, put the hangers in the closet. 1-2…you may not even need 3.
See you at the bar!
[Note: Airline regulations change frequently. Some comments here may have been updated, particularly as regards luggage. As of this writing, most domestic flights charge per piece for checked luggage.]