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:

WHEELS

Tips carryonIf 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 day pack that I need because I’m 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.


DOCUMENTS

Tips documentsOne 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.


CELL PHONES

tips cellphoneInternational 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. I’ve used one to travel throughout the States and found it to be an easy and seamless process that gave me the freedom to talk, text and surf to my heart’s content for a very reasonable fee.

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 Tips Wifimuch 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.

TIP: When we travel to the U.S., we hit a Walmart for a cheap phone, and activate it for the time we need it. We’ve spent as little as $15 to get a phone that comes with a $10 credit, which gave us more than enough to confirm reservations, etc. And we could always purchase more credits for the phone if we needed to. I just wish you could do this in every country.


CAMERAS & BATTERIES

tips cameraCarry lots of memory cards, and batteries, ideally rechargeable ones, and if you are an avid photographer, consider carrying two chargers, so you’ll always have one ready to go while the other is charging. It’s also a good idea to bring along your connector cable, so in the worst case scenario, you can download images to a disk or usb key using a computer, and free up some memory.


VOLTAGE AND ADAPTOR PLUGS

tips plugIf 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. 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.


MEDS

tips MedsWasn’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

Tips InsuranceGet 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. 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). My preferred card is Capital One, and here’s why.


If you enjoyed this, you might like to read more articles on general travel tips and trip planning.

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