I’ve been thinking a lot about my travels past, present and future and how much I have learned over the years about making my life easier when I am traveling. So I’ve decided to share a few of my hints and tips with you. Some you have probably heard of, some you probably already use but hopefully there will be something here you can take on board.
One of my greatest memories and learning experiences is of my mum and dad traveling back and forth from the US to Australia. Dad had to go back to California every couple of years for work and of course mum always went with him. All of us kids (even the kids who were ring-in members of the family) made their list and checked it twice and off mum went, lists in hand ready to do some shopping once they hit the shores of California.
And shopping she did, suitcases stuffed to overflowing, dad carrying on like a pork chop about how much stuff they had to bring back for everyone! I’m surprised they had the strength to carry it all! So you would have thought I would have learned something from this…. But no!
My first big trip to the UK was an exciting one. I was heading to London with a friend as a 21 year old. We had work and planned to travel so we packed as much as we could in our suitcases and headed to the airport. Now back in the early 80’s the luggage allowance wasn’t quite as strict as it is now but upon check-in we were told we had to cull. So off we went to the back of the line, taking out what we could do without, repacking what was left and doing this all on the floor at airport check-in!
My next big trip was a solo one. I took the biggest suitcase I could find, a backpack and my handbag. You see, back then we didn’t have things like the IPod and the IPad that we could have music, books and games on so we had to carry around cd’s and a cd player, books, magazines and games. They take up a lot of room. But really I didn’t need to take such a big suitcase as I struggled with all of these things especially when you have cab drivers in Vegas who don’t even get out of their cars to help with your luggage but still expect a tip!!! I don’t think so….
So after that struggle I took it upon myself to get a smaller suitcase but still took a small backpack and this time my laptop. Again, struggle street! Too much to lug up stairs in all those B&B’s in England. Now I have a small suitcase, a tablet and my handbag (which is big enough to hold the tablet! So I have learned from all my past mistakes..
So here are a few hints to help you prepare for your travels.
- Research, research, research.
- Buy the smallest suitcase you think you can cope with and don’t forget most cases expand these days so you can start your trip with less but after many shopping trips you can expand your suitcase to hold everything (but keep an eye on the weight as airlines charge a small fortune for excess baggage).
- Take a small carry on or decent sized handbag which will hold your tablet/camera/phone and wallet. And make sure your bag has a decent strap so you can through it over your body and keep it close.
- Packing is always the hardest part of traveling. What to take, what will you need and what can you buy along the way. I lay everything out on my bed and with clothing I make sure that all my tops and bottoms are interchangeable.
- Take clothing that can be easily washable (sometimes you may have to wash in the sink!) and quick drying.
- Think about your shoes. I always take a good pair of walking shoes and a pair of ankle boots that can be dressed up or down. Shoes take up a lot of room so you need to put some thought into this. Also a pair of thongs/flip-flops to wear around the room, in the shower, on the beach……
- Only take enough clothing to last about 5 days as you can wash along the way.
- Toiletries can also take up a lot of room. I’m lucky as I don’t wear makeup so I take a good moisturiser that can do the whole body. Small containers of shampoos, gels, conditioners are the best. Don’t forget if you run out you can buy them at your next destination.
- Take one all-round scarf and jacket.
- Learn to pack your bag so everything fits easily and doesn’t get too wrinkled. I like to fold and roll, heavy items on the bottom and more delicate ones on the top. Shoes and toiletries on the bottom as well and make sure that anything which has the ability to leak is sealed in a zip-lock bag (takes extra bags for later use).
- Write up a check list to make sure you have everything and have done everything before you leave home. Tickets, passports, turn off power points, hold mail, etc!
- Photocopy all important documents (passport, credit cards, etc) and leave them somewhere safe just in case you need them at a later date.
- Make sure you leave contact details, phone numbers and itineraries with a family member or friend.
- Always, always make sure you have some form of travel insurance. You never know when you may need it.
- Also make sure you check with your doctor for any injections or medication you may need.
- Always, always drink plenty of water and keep your body moving on and off the plane.
- One of the things I learnt through all my travels is that eating out continually can be very expensive. I love food markets and most places you will visit have some form of food market. Visit these markets; buy some fresh bread, local cheese and some ham or salami. Buy some fruit and a bottle of wine or local beer and find a beautiful, sunny comfortable park or beach and enjoy!
- Oh and make sure you get to the airport on time! There is nothing worse than getting stressed before you even get on the place. Get to the airport early, check-in then head to the bar or coffee shop for a drink. And Relax!
And now I have one last thing to say. When you travel have fun, be safe, get out there and experience the world.