Predeparture Travel Tips
- Several masks, hand sanitizer, a roll of toilet paper and a wash cloth.
- Duct tape: Patches jeans, luggage, just about anything. Wrap a few yards around a bottle to save space.
- Pocket knife, bottle opener and corkscrew: Don’t forget to pack them in your checked bags.
- Sunglasses, sunscreen and a hat.
- A small flashlight.
- Prescription eyeglasses or contact lenses, as well as hearing aids and batteries, if needed.
- Cell phone and charger.
- Electrical adapter if traveling internationally. In many countries, an adapter is needed to plug in appliances, such as hair dryers and computers.
- Energy bars travel well and are easy to pack. They offer the perfect, healthy pick-me-up snack when needed.
- Ziplock bags hold everything from wet swimsuits to shampoo bottles to prevent leakage and keep other items in your luggage dry.
- Safety pins offer a million uses from holding up your pants to securing your bag’s zipper.
- Extra foldable bag to carry home purchases.
- Bring some cash, preferably small bills, for tipping.
- Carry a list of important phone numbers that you might need: credit card companies, insurance agencies, airlines, doctors, U.S. embassy, etc. Carry a photocopy of your passport and your credit card in case they are stolen. If you purchased travel insurance, be sure that you carry your certificate of insurance and your policy number. Block expiration dates and names on the credit card copies to render them usable. Pack these copies in your carry-on luggage.
- Print a copy of your travel documents to carry with you (in your carry-on). Don’t rely solely on your phone or other device for directions, reservations, flight schedules or other crucial information. Batteries die and electronics can get stolen.
- Leave a copy of your itinerary, a copy of your passport and the emergency phone numbers of your tour operator with a family member or close friend.
- Your ATM card allows you to access cash during your trip (thus reducing the amount of cash you must carry at any one time) and provides you with foreign currency. Call your bank to ensure that your card is part of an international network and that your PIN will work in foreign countries. Know your daily limit and ask for it to be increased, if necessary.
- Most cell phones work internationally. Check with your provider to see what kind of data plan they offer for your destination. Some companies offer short-term international plans.
- If you want to spend more time offline, you can also use public wifi, which is generally found in most restaurants, cafes and hotels. However, you should protect your personal information by getting a VPN so that no one can grab your unencrypted data such as usernames, passwords and credit card numbers. ExpressVPN has a stellar reputation; you can sign up for one month, six months, or a year plan.
- Be sure that your checked luggage is within the weight and dimension requirements for your airlines. Also check the airline policy on liquids.
- Be sure to pack essentials, such as medications, chargers, laptops and cameras, and one change of clothing in your carry-on in case your luggage is delayed. Always carry your medications in their original containers, if possible. And, carry a list of your medications, including the strength, in a separate location. If you lose your medication, you can better communicate with foreign medical personnel about your needs if you have a list readily available. Also, valuable jewelry should only be packed in your carry-on and is really best if left at home.
- Other carry-on items to consider are: lip balm to keep your lips hydrated, shawl, scarf or fleece to keep you warm when the airplane cabin cools; headphones; book, Kindle or entertainment (a season of shows on your tablet or laptop); and toothbrush and toothpaste.
- Inform your credit card company you will be traveling — even domestically. Provide them with your travel dates and destinations. This avoids any blocks being placed on your card that can occur if the company deems your purchases suspicious.
- Pickpockets are prevalent in other countries. Don’t put money, credit cards or passports in a wallet in your back pocket, backpack, fanny pack or shoulder bag. These are easy targets. Instead, use a hidden pocket wallet (that attaches to your belt) or a neck/shoulder security pouch to conceal your money and documentation inside your clothing.
- Research and respect the cultural dress codes and customs of the countries you will be visiting. Tour operators provide clothing suggestions. Please adhere to them.
- Get your luggage out of storage a week before departure and inspect it for problems before you begin to pack.
First Aid Kit
Dr. Richard Wenzel, an expert in infectious diseases at Virginia Commonwealth University, listed 11 items that should be in every traveler’s first aid kit for Budget Travel online. If you already have some of these items on hand, be sure to check expiration dates before taking them on another trip.
- Pepcid Complete The drug eases heartburn by combining a stomach-acid reducer with an antacid. “But be careful mixing antacids and antibiotics – it can reduce the effectiveness of the antibiotic,” Wenzel says.
- Band-Aids and Neosporin Bring various sides of Band-Aids, liquid bandage or moleskin for blisters or banged-up knees. Neosporin keeps cuts from getting infected.
- Advil The ibuprofen in Advil not only reduces pain and fevers, it also can relieve inflammation of the muscles and tendons at the end of the day. Tylenol doesn’t do that at all.
- Ultrathon Insect Repellent Repellents with higher concentrations of deet protect longer against bugs. “Find something with 30 percent deet or more,” says Wenzel. Ultrathon is a 34 percent deet lotion with a time-release forumula.
- Meclizine (Bonine), Cyclizine (Marezine) and Scoplamine (Transderm Scop – patch behind the ear) They help prevent motion sickness in the air, at sea and on buses traveling curvy roads. If you are susceptible to motion sickness, consult a doctor to choose a medication.
- Imodium A-D When diarrhea strikes, Imodium can stop the symptoms within 30 minutes, unlike Pepto-Bismol, which takes up to six hours to work.
- Benadryl Alleviates hay fever symptoms and can be used to treat hives and an itchy nose or throat caused by food allergies.
- Neutrogena Sunscreen Many Neutrogena sunscreens are made with a formula called Helioplex, which helps stop UVA absorbers from degrading too quickly.
- Zithromax Wenzel says this prescription antibiotic is the most effective diarrhea cure –– especially in India and Thailand where bacteria are being resistant to Cipro. For quick results, take four 250-milligram pills with Imodium.
- Cortaid Maximum Strength This anti-inflammatory cream contains one percent hydrocortisone, which soothes rashes and bug bites.
Mail. Arrange for your mail to be either picked up by a friend or neighbour, or arrange with your mail service to have your mail held or redirected.
Bills. Pay and pre-pay all bills which will become due while you are away.
Home Services. Cancel or suspend any home services which you will not require.
Contact your alarm company. If you have a security system, let them know the dates you’ll be gone, as well as the name and number of a house sitter or neighbor.
The Day Before You Go
- Photograph the contents. This makes it easier to file a baggage loss/delay claim, if anything happens to your luggage.
- Check your luggage tag and identifiers. Are your bags marked with the right info? Are they easy to spot on the baggage carousel?
- Weigh your checked bag. If it’s more than 50 pounds, you may be charged an extra fee.
- Measure your carry-on. Airlines are strict about size. Check the carry-on requirements first.
- Reconfirm Flight Times. Confirm flights and confirm actual flight times. Sometimes flights change – confirm what the latest published flight times for your particular flight. Sometimes airlines don’t call to advise you of changes. If you can check in online, do it now.
- Prepare home for departure. Clean perishables out of fridge and cupboards. Set your home temperature to maintenance level, 50 in the winter and 85 in the summer. Turn off all nonessential electrical items in your house to save on power bills and reduce the risk of fire. Ensure all windows and doors are locked. Close blinds and curtains. Place lights on automated timers. Give keys and contact details a family member or trusted neighbor or friend. Put final rubbish in outside bin.