After two months of planning the time is very near. I’m leaving North America for the first time and yes, I’m so excited my skin is breaking out!
Over these two months I’ve read countless blogs, countless travel sites, visited United.com more times than I want to know, and created a decent sized pinterest board relating to travel. I’ve shopped. I’ve packed. I’ve re-packed. I’ve rechecked the location of my passport weekly — just
in case I’ve misplaced it. And through it all I’ve learned a few things worth considering.
- Follow your own travel habits. Every other blog or pinterest pin talks about traveling internationally with just a carry on. Guess what? That’s not me. I’ve flown for twenty years checking a regular bag and using my carry on for just what I need at the airport and on the plane. In all this time I’ve never lost a bag. And since I put my initials in nail polish all over this bag, I’m pretty sure that no one else has a bag looking like mine.
- Packing cubes equal more space. I’ve found I couldn’t put everything into packing cubes, but they’ve done wonders for my organization, especially the narrow 4x8x2″ ones which now I wish I had more of. Everything is categorical thanks to the cubes. I even have one just for toiletries, allowing me to keep those together.
- If you are checking your bag, don’t stuff the carry on with clothing. Influenced by those websites I became convinced I needed a big packing cube in my carry on. There’s
two problems to this. One: space. In a soft side carry on, just one packing cube will take up half of the space, space I need for my netbook, my snacks, my medicine, and other things I really will use in flight. Two: weight. Soft sided carry ons are shoulder bags — no wheels. Burdening yourself down as you board and leave planes and navigate the airport is not only no fun, but makes that walking more difficult. I use a white cane to walk. Believe me, that cane is useless if I’m encumbered; I just don’t have the range of motion with my arms that I need. When I stopped following the fancy travel blog advice and repacked all but a pair of flat shoes and whatever socks/underwear I could stuff into my shoes back to the checked bag I found, to my delight, that my carry on now weighs HALF of what it did before.
- Drawstring purses for electronics chargers. Years ago I picked up a couple cute silk drawstring purses — the kind that is nice for when you are out on the town and only need your id, some cash, credit cards, and your payment cards for public transit. As it happens, those are PERFECT for my cell phone chargers (one phone for US, one for UK) and my netbook power cable, keeping everything neat and compressed and recognizable in my carry on.
- Limit computer accessories. Unless you are giving a business presentation at your destination, you really DON’T need more than your power cable for your computer. Leave home your nice case and slip the computer directly into your carry on. After all, TSA makes you remove the computer from its case to scan it. Why add to your weight and space with more than you need?
- Keep a folder for all your paperwork. Creating a folder for the document part of my bag makes it easy to find my itinerary, photocopy of my passport id page, and other important papers. Keep everything together.
- Photocopy all cards and identification and email to friends/family. Anything can happen when you travel. Making scan copies of your passport id page, official government identification, and front/back of every payment card you are bringing with you makes replacing those documents easier in case of an emergency. Once scanned, print out a copy of your passport identification page and a page with your home address and your destination address and put that in a visible place inside your bag. Email yourself and trusted friends/family copies of your documents and financial documents.
- Don’t over think the trip. People will give you great advice. They will give you poor advice. They will unnerve you with horror stories meant to help you. At the end of the day though you need to follow your own instincts. The more relaxed you are, the better you can solve problems should any come up. Think but don’t over think your trip. Plan but don’t over plan. Stay grounded and have a good time.
Travel is an adventure. Embrace it and enjoy what comes your way!