10 Fabulous Travel Tips To Make Your Vacation Even Better
Oh it’s so cold outside –are you planning a tropical getaway? Perhaps it’s that ski vacation you’re getting ready for, a trip to Europe this Summer, or a tour somewhere exotic, or perhaps it’s a reunion cruise with all your family. Wherever you’re going, here are a few travel tips to make your trip easier, and more fun!
1. Research your destination ahead of time: 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 the sights, sample the local cuisine, check out the hottest clubs, shop for special souvenirs and local bargains, etc.
2. Take what you need, in doubles. Even in these times of luggage limitations, some things should be carried in doubles, like two sets of prescription glasses, additional drugs or prescriptions for medications and at least two pairs of shoes (no, that’s not a typo). You may find it difficult to replace these if they become broken or lost. If you doubt this, consider the woman who was in a chaise lounge on fa cruise ship, when a huge gust of wind suddenly swept the ship and blew her sandals right off her feet into the open sea. The woman screamed: “shoes overboard, shoes overboard!”Then sheepishly admitted to all within earshot, “these were my only shoes!”
3. Bring some local currency: In this age of smart phones and credit cards it seems nearly impossible to believe that not everyone takes them — but not everyone takes them. For example, cabs at the airport may not even want to take you to your hotel unless you have the right currency, although many will take your dollars (but not necessarily at a fair exchange rate)/ Better to have some local currently plus some travelers checks so you can purchase the things you need in places that won’t take your credit cards or where there may not be a place to cash a travelers check. Consider too, that your plane may be significantly delayed leaving absolutely no time to wait on line at the airport money exchange and when you arrive there will be no way for you to even buy a cold drink or rendezvous with your group ship/train/tour group. To quote one such traveler: “If I hadn’t had that Spanish lira from home, no way would I been able to meet my group and get on that tour in time!”
4. Foldable and expanding bags are lifesavers! Nylon foldable bags are great for groceries, but they are also great 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!) Use them to tote things to the pool, beach, or shore excursions. Pack them with luggage tags already attached. Be sure to include some gallon sized zip-lock bags in your luggage. You can use them for all kinds of things that might leak: Suntan lotion, shampoo, etc. But they are also great for keeping wet bathing suits (and sand!) away from dry items on the way home. Food and snacks keep better in those bags, too. Finally, zip lock bags can help you keep your luggage from smelling like the grand bazaar if you buy anything highly fragranced, like spices or soaps.
5 Don’t pack anything that is fragile or essential in checked luggage. This has gotten trickier with TSA regulations, but never pack documents, medications, glasses, or anything fragile or valuable (e.g. cameras, tech items, or jewelry) in your checked luggage. I also always carry a toothbrush, hairbrush, moisturizer and a change of clothes and underwear just in case my luggage is lost or delayed. A carry on bag will only hold so much, but if, for example, you’re coming from a cold to a warm climate, take shorts, sandals and sunglasses, so that you can enjoy being outside in the tropical sun while you’re waiting for your luggage to arrive, or if it doesn’t come on time.
6. Pack only HALF of what you think you will need in your checked baggage and leave room for extras on the way home. As someone who finds it challenging to pack light, this is a difficult lesson to learn, but even lightweight luggage on wheels can get really heavy (and more prone to damage by airplane handlers) when you have been dragging it for a while. Check before you pack on any airline restrictions on the number and size of luggage pieces. At many train, plane and bus stations you will be the porter and in some hotels, there may not be an elevator and you’ll 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.
7. Guard your passport/ It may sound like a no-brainer, but passports are paramount. Don’t even pack them in your luggage or leave them where they can be stolen. I have been witness to more than one hysterical traveler when she realized that her passport had gone missing, or she had packed her passport in luggage and that luggage was nowhere to be found!
8. Bring healthy snacks and entertainment. Don’t count on being able to pick up some extra reading material in foreign ports unless you read the language, and don’t assume there will be food stalls where you can purchase snacks prior to boarding. 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 under closed due to renovation and I hadn’t had anything to eat all day. I’ve also been anticipating a short flight that turned into a six hour delay due to a strike in by air traffic controllers in Paris. Snack bars and a Kindle made both circumstances, much more pleasant.
9. Think before you buy something you can’t ship home. When fewer people used to avoid checking bags, I used to enjoy watching vacationers returning from Mexico lugging huge sombreros struggling to get those things into the overhead bins (they couldn’t, and ended up having to keep the hats on their lap the entire trip home). Anything big and bulky that you can’t ship home is going to be an issue when you try and get it on the airplane. Do you really need that giant donkey crafted from straw that is going to end up being gate-checked (and probably crushed before it hits the baggage carousel)? If you are an art lover and must bring posters, get them unframed and put them in a mailing tube that you brought from home. Even better, mail home before you leave, if you can.
10. Think ahead: Carrying “cocktail hour” on airplanes on in your carry on has become impossible, so I like the idea of pre- ordering a bottle of wine and some snacks for your cabin or hotel room prior to your arrival. Then, when you get to your room, you can kick off your shoes, relax, and toast to a fabulous trip to come. Given a week’s notice, most cruise lines or hotels are happy to arrange this for you.
Bon voyage! Have a GREAT trip!
Love & Happiness
Alison Blackman, for The Advice Sisters
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