TIPS: Packing & Other Stuff
Packing for Grownups
You don’t need me to tell you how many pairs of underwear you should take on a trip. And if you are one of those people who can travel only with a carryon, that’s awesome. But here are some things that you should consider when you travel now that you’re a grownup, regardless of how many bags (or underwear) you travel with:
If you have to bring it with you and it’s bigger than your purse or camera, make sure it has wheels. I suffered from the overweight, overstuffed, carryon shoulder cramp for many years. Now, unless it’s a small pack that I use to carry my computer (which doubles as a daypack for hiking), my carryon has wheels. Just like the rest of my luggage.
TIP: Carryon sizes seem to be changing with many airlines, so be sure to check the dimensions that are allowed by your specific airline. And if you are going to be travelling domestically within your destination on small planes, it’s a good idea to know what those luggage restrictions and allowances are as well.
One of the best tips I’ve ever heard was to use your digital camera or smart phone to take pictures of your important documents, whether it is your passport, itinerary, drivers licence, etc. That way, if you lose the documents, you have a record of them. If you’re worried about losing your phone, email the photos to yourself, so if you ever need them, you can access them via your email account.
International charges can be exhorbitant, whether you are phoning home, texting or emailing, and especially if you are surfing. But if making sure your phone has been ‘unlocked’ and has the correct SIM cards that work in different countries is too confusing, there are international phone and data plans that you can buy from your home carrier, so you should check with them first to see if the price makes sense for you.
But for those who are willing to do a little research, there are also many other service providers that offer plans that are flexible and even cheaper than your local provider. We’ve used a RoamMobility SIM card to travel throughout the States and found it to be an easy and seamless process that gave us the freedom to talk, text and surf to our hearts’ content for a very reasonable fee. And we’ve used an international SIM card from TravelSim to travel in Europe that was affordable and easy to activate.
If none of these options appeal to you, my best advice is to be a WiFi bloodhound, and only connect when you’re doing it on someone else’s dime. Many hotels offer free WiFi, and although it may not be blazing fast, it’s a much better alternative to getting sticker shock from your cellphone bill when you get home. Plus there are always internet cafes that still cost a fraction compared to full plans.
CAMERAS & BATTERIES
Carry lots of memory cards and batteries, ideally rechargeable ones, and if you are an avid photographer, consider carrying two battery chargers, so you’ll always have one ready to go while the other is charging your depleted batteries. It’s also a good idea to bring along your connector cables for your cameras, so in the worst case scenario, you can download images to a usb key (you will either need to do this on a computer or using a portable flash drive that connects directly to your camera.) Many cameras now have built-in wi-fi capability that allows you to upload your photos directly to the cloud as well but this can take time if you have a lot of images. In any case, the most important thing is to back up your images so that if something happens to your camera, you will still have your photos stored elsewhere.
VOLTAGE AND ADAPTOR PLUGS
If you’re planning on bringing any of your own devices, you’re going to want adaptors so that you can replug whatever it is you are bringing. If you’re wondering what travel adaptors are required for the country that you are in, you might want to check out a comprehensive travel adaptor guide online. There are plenty of adaptor kits and even universal adaptors that will make sure all your prongs fit – just check to see which ones are needed for your destination.
Oh, and those hair appliances you can’t do without? Consider buying ones with dual voltage, or ones that are more compact. You can use them at home, and when it’s time to travel, just flick the voltage switch, attach the appropriate country adapter for the plug, and you’re good to go.
Better yet, fly without the extra weight (weight = surcharges) and use the hotel’s blow dryer instead.
Wasn’t it nice when we travelled only with an aspirin to help with a hangover? Well, being a grownup means that has probably changed. So if you are on prescription medications for whatever reason, take a digital photograph of all your prescription medications, doctor’s information, etc, just in case something gets lost. And obviously, carry your meds with you in your carryon, and have more than what you need for the time you are away, just in case you are delayed coming back (volcanoes erupting in Iceland, that sort of thing!)
TRAVEL MEDICAL AND CANCELLATION INSURANCE
Get some. The last thing you want is to find yourself with a huge medical bill because you slipped on some skree on your descent from the SunGate at Machu Picchu. Even less adventurous cobblestones can turn an ankle and cause a sprain, so make sure you’re covered. Getting the right travel insurance plan is crucial in making sure that you are safe and secure on your travels. To read more travel insurance tips, visit our Insurance Tips page, or read the article ‘Living on My Edge’.
TIP: If you pay for a premium credit card, the medical coverage included in your card’s benefits can be comparable to a separately-purchased plan – read the coverage to see if you are already insured, but be careful to check that you are not going to be away longer than the terms of the insurance (some have limits of 21 days at a time after which you are not covered).
If you enjoyed this, you might like to read more articles on general travel tips and trip planning.