Tips and lessons learned from a travel expert
I wouldn’t trade the thrill of traveling for anything, but as joyous and fulfilling my worldly adventures have been, I had my fair share of mishaps and less than favorable travel moments. After a decade of independent travel around the world, I think it is time to share some of the lessons learned and tips I have accumulated thus far.
Lock your suitcases
There were couple of occasions when my checked in luggage was opened and things – mainly fake jewelry – were stolen from my suitcases (beware of Ukranian Airlines!). Since then I firmly decided not to take any chances and make sure to put a special little padlock on my suitcase. It is cheap and doesn’t require particular effort, so I’d rather do that than have something taken out of my bag again. Another way you can secure your bag is to have it wrapped in plastic wrappers available at the airports.
Pack your valuables and essentials in your carry-on
Make sure you have all your valuables (jewelry, laptop, camera, etc.) in your carry-on. This way if your luggage got lost you’d have your loots in your possession and out of harm’s way. I also make sure I pack my make-up kit, toothbrush, deodorant, small bottle of toner with cotton pads, underwear and maybe a change of clothes in my carry-on as well. Again, if the luggage got lost or delayed you’d have at least something on hand to help you freshen up.
Dress and pack smart for a comfy flight
Long haul flights are the hardest for me. I can never fall asleep properly, neither do I enjoy being cramped in the narrow space with unknown people. Thus, it is important to pack a few essentials to make yourself as comfortable as possible. I do want to look cute and neatly dressed, but I try not to compromise on comfort. I usually wear soft leggings and a long, slightly loose cotton top. My soft and lightweight, yet incredibly warm pashmina scarf is a staple. Oh, and the neck pillow is an absolute must. I also prefer to wear converse/sneakers vs. regular shoes. I honestly can never understand ladies who wear 4” pumps whilst traveling. KUDOS to them, but I’d die.
Pre-plan your outfits
I have always been a huge over-packer simply because I’d randomly pack clothes and shoes, which usually resulted in extra luggage consisting of items I never even got use of. For the last couple of years, I have started to pre-plan my outfits which has been a huge game changer. I still might pack an extra dress or top just in case I’m in mood for something else, but planning still helps me save lots of space and weight, plus time whilst on vacation – I don’t have to spend valuable time trying to decide what to wear.
Learn common phrases of the local language
A simple “Yes”, “No”, “Please,” “Thank you,” “Check please”, and “I’m sorry” in the local language goes a long way. Even if I cannot proceed with my conversation, a warm smile and hello on a local language usually does wonders for me. Plus, you show respect for the host culture.
Alert bank and credit card company of your travel plans
This is a great habit to get into if you don’t want your credit card company or bank to put a hold on your card while you are overseas. I learned it hard way, when my credit card was blocked on the day my girlfriends and I planned to go shopping in Los Angeles! I was so bummed and mad at myself.
Travel first aid kit
It is a must for me. J is very accident-prone, and every time we travel he always ends up either sick or somehow injured. I always make sure to pack at least a bottle of Advil and a pack of band-aids in my bag. Although, the ultimate thing is to take a small first aid kit with basic medications in case of traveler’s diarrhea, minor allergic reactions or cuts/burns. We may not always have easy access to these when traveling so it is convenient to have something on hand for an immediate help.
Back-up your photos
As a travel blogger, the content I am creating is extremely valuable to me, so I got into a habit of copying my photos into my laptop at the end of every day. That way if something happened to my camera or memory card, I’d have at least some visuals safely saved and backed up.
Prepare your electronics
Make sure you find out what is the voltage AND what type of plugs they are using at your destination. More than once did I arrive and found out I couldn’t charge my phone and laptop because the plug didn’t fit. Actually, I plan on getting one of those lifesaver super sophisticated plug adapters that can be transformed to fit any socket and never take it out of my carry on.