Essential Travel Tips: before you pack your bags, read this article!
If it’s been a while since you’ve traveled, you might not remember some of these essential travel tips that really help make your trip easier, safer, and more fun. These are my top 10. but this isn’t an exhaustive list. If you have more suggestions, please add them in the comments section!
Essential Travel Tip #1: Be prepared and do your research:
Know what you’re getting into, where you’re going, and what to look forward to, before you get there. Get information about your destination while you’re waiting to go on that trip. Besides, it heightens the fun to anticipate all the things you can do, and all the memories you can make as you see the sights, sample the local cuisine, check out the hottest clubs, shop for special souvenirs and local bargains, etc.
Add travel apps to your phone and fill them out before you leave. This is an easy way to keep track of your flights and luggage. It’s one of the more essential travel tips. Apps can save your trip if something goes wrong. Apps should include a calculator (for exchange rates) and those for airline, hotel, and car rental. I also have used Google maps to direct me through parts of cities I didn’t know well.
Make sure you leave enough time to get to your train, plane, bus, etc. Check-in kiosks could be down and you have to wait in a lone line. Same for security. Be there well in advance.
Tip 2. Take Must-haves in Duplicates:
Even if you are going on a trip with luggage limitations, some things should be carried in duplicate. These include prescription glasses (a lens of mine popped off during a sunset beach stroll and I didn’t have a replacement), and your prescription drugs. Bring more than what you think you will need. You may be unable to get home in time for more. B
Take at least two pairs of shoes. If you think this is a silly tip, consider the woman whose sandals fell off her feet on a cruise into the open sea. They were her only shoes!
Tip 3. Bring some local currency:
In this age of smartphones and credit cards, it seems nearly impossible to believe that not everyone takes them — but not everyone does. If you do take plastic, use an RFID wallet to protect them.
When you arrive at your destination some cabs may take $$ but not necessarily at a fair exchange rate. Some cabs won’t take you at all. The last time I was in Paris, for example, I had about $100 in euros with me. When my plane was diverted to another airport leaving me no time to exchange money or even to buy a cup of coffee, I had enough local currency to get to my destination without a hassle.
Tip 4. Bring A Foldable Nylon Tote:
This is one of my favorite essential travel tips. Some countries charge for shopping bags, so if you want to save money, bring your own nylon bag that folds into a pouch. They cost just a few dollars and take up very little room in your luggage.
Use that same bag for shopping, or the beach, or to carry whatever you need as you’re checking out the sights. I used mine to take SPF, sunglasses and a wallet and camera when I’m on a tour so I don’t have to bring a purse. If I find something I want to buy, I have a place to put it.
These bags can do double duty as laundry bags or for taking home souvenirs that don’t fit in your regular luggage (my sister once got a big samovar from Moscow home that way!)
I also use my foldable bag when I have to gate check my carry-on rollaboard but I have fragile or personal items in the bag. I’ll stuff them into the foldable bag (it always fits under the seat or in the overhead).
Tip 5: Zip Locks Are A Must!
Zip locks are my favorite travel accessory. They’re not just for food and storage at home. If you take some gallon (or larger) sized zip-lock bags in your luggage you can use them for all kinds of things that might leak. They are also good for keeping wet bathing suits (and sand) away from dry items on the return. They also help you keep your luggage from smelling like the grand bazaar if you buy anything highly fragranced, like spices or soaps.
But that’s not all: The largest sizes of ziplock bags are the perfect place to store lingerie and tee shirts. Simply pack them flat into the ziplock and squeeze out all the air. Your items will be clean and dry, and you’ll have more room in your luggage. Your socks, tees, or whatever are already stored in the bags, so unpacking is a breeze! You can also protect your camera from fogging with a zip lock bag.
Tip 6: Don’t Check Essentials!
By now you know this, but it never ceases to amaze me when I see hysterical passengers who don’t have their documents, medications, glasses, or anything fragile or valuable (e.g. cameras, tech items, or jewelry) because their checked luggage is somewhere they are not. It’s a good idea to take a change of clothing or at least clean underwear and a toothbrush, hairbrush, and moisturizer/SPF in case your luggage doesn’t make it to your destination.
A carry-on bag will only hold so much, but if, for example, you’re coming from a cold to a warm climate, try to stuff in a bathing suit, and sundress (guys a tee and shorts) or coverup, sandals, and sunglasses, so that you can enjoy being outside in the tropical sun while you’re waiting for your luggage to arrive or your room to be ready.
Tip 7. Leave room for Extras:
I’m someone who hates to pack light, but even lightweight luggage can get heavy, quickly. Consider what you are packing before you put it in that suitcase or tote, and then edit the collection down as much as you can.
At many train, plane and bus stations you will have to lug your bags quite a distance. Consider too, that your hotel may not have an elevator and you will be the one lugging those bags up four flights of stairs (and down again).
If you are renting a car, you’ll have to fit all your bags in it…and that car may not be as spacious as the one you drive at home. I’ve been stuck between the luggage in the back seat and one on my lap more than once when traveling with a group. It’s not fun! The upside of packing light is that you can also bring more home if you want!
I like to travel with mini-sized products whenever possible. Here are two suggestions for essentials:
Tip 8. Protect Your Passport:
Your passport is your essential document for getting in or out of another country (you know this). It is also an essential form of ID and is required at many hotels. Please don’t ever pack them in your luggage or leave them where they can be stolen. This is a definitely one of those essential travel tips!
I have been witness to plenty of people who get pretty anxious when their passports are missing or they were packed in lost luggage. Make print copies of your important documents and charge cards and put them somewhere safe. Get a passport card and keep your actual passport in the hotel safe when you’re touring. You can’t use that in place of a passport for travel, but at least you will have proof of it. You can also take photos of all the important documents on your phone. Just be sure not to lose it!
Tip 9. Bring Snacks & Entertainment:
Even a short trip can turn into a long one because of a delay. I’ve been stuck in airports where all the food stalls were closed due to renovation and I hadn’t had anything to eat all day. Most of the kiosks are overpriced and full of junk food anyway. Small packets of dried fruit and nuts or granola bars can save you from hunger while your short flight turns into a long delay.
A charger and noise-canceling headphones, plus an E-reader make delays a lot more pleasant. These are great for the plane or train, as well.
Tip 10. Rethink Souvenirs:
This seems like one of those obvious travel tips, but I’ve always been amused by people who bring oversized items onto the airplane, thinking they will somehow “fit” in the overhead bins (they won’t). This includes huge sombreros or oversized stuffed animals. Do you really need these things? Ship large items home. If not, think before you buy.
Of course, don’t bring in anything illegal. That also means some plants, seeds, fruits, and vegetables. It won’t be a good trip when security finds something illegal in your luggage and you are “invited” into a private room.
More Words of Travel Wisdom:
Travel isn’t as glamorous as it used to be in the old days. However, it is much better if you exercise common sense and courtesy.
It’s amazing how many people forget that they’re not the only ones in a shared space. There are so many ways to irritate other people I can’t even list them all. Turn off your phone when the pilot requests it. Bring headphones or something to occupy children that won’t beep or sing endlessly. This is one of those essential travel tips that everyone will thank you for heeding.
Don’t linger in the aisle to chat it up with someone rows ahead or behind you (it is a safety hazard as well as an annoyance for the flight crew and other passengers).
Be polite to the person in the next seat, and don’t be offended if they really don’t want to chat with you (they may be unsocial or more likely, exhausted). Most importantly, do not pick fights. I can’t believe the viral videos I see where people are acting like wild animals,
Just suck it up if something bad happens. It can and it probably will. Your goal is to safely get to your destination. That is one of the most essential travel tips to remember. In the end, travel has always been about adventure, and the unexpected is part of the experience.