As I’m thinking about my upcoming trip, I’ve been thinking about my pre-trip rituals. Although I travel pretty frequently, I get a little stressed out about my pre-trip ritual/planning every single time. I mean, it shouldn’t be that hard – find passport, make a packing list, eat any perishable food, stop the mail. But I always feel like I’m forgetting something… does that happen to you?
Here are some tips/tricks I’ve been thinking about in the last few days while I get prepared to head to South America:
- Even if you are a regular traveler, it’s a good idea to know exactly what you can & can’t take with you in your carry-on and checked luggage. I recommend bookmarking the TSA website and checking before every trip, since the prohibited items list can change frequently and without notice. Did you know you CAN take disposable razors & cartridges with you in your carry-on? I’m so glad I checked! It would not have been a pretty moment in Miami if I hadn’t had a razor for a week (although a good hotel will have toiletry items available for guests either for free or a small fee).
- I like to print out any itineraries (including flights & tours) and other trip documents and put them all together in a plastic sleeve and in the outside pocket of my suitcase. This way I can always find my hotel’s address to emphatically point to when the cabby & I don’t speak the same language. If you feel so inclined, include the address of the local embassy & any addresses for postcards to send too.
- I make 2-3 copies of my passport – one to leave with a friend/family member, one to leave in my desk at work, and one to bring in my suitcase. On recent trips, I’ve scanned my passport and emailed it to my web-based email (Hotmail, GMail, etc.) so I can access it if needed while I’m abroad.
- I always make a point to check out currency exchange rates, but I rarely exchange any currency before I get to my destination – depending on your bank’s ATM fees, it is often cheaper to get cash that way than to get cash in advance or even use the currency exchange desk at the airport.
Stop the mail
Did you know you you can stop your mail online? No need to go to the post office! Head over to the USPS website and submit the Hold Mail form. This is an important part of leaving town – unless you have a great neighbor to take in your newspapers & mail, you’ll want to stop these services so any burglars that are scoping out easy targets don’t pick your house. To that point, you might want to put a light or two on a timer so it looks like someone is home during evening hours – especially on longer trips.
My upcoming trip is a little tricky in the packing area. I’m headed to Ecuador (with an extra day in Miami on the tail end), and the weather there is pretty varied (60’s & rainy in Quito, but 80+ & humid in the jungle!). To add to that, we are aiming to do carry-on only for luggage because we have three flights each way (talk about a setup for lost luggage!). To get some inspiration to make the carry-on work, I’ve found this slide show – “10 Days in a Carry-On” – by a flight attendant. There are quite a few packing tips on Pinterest too (oh, Pinterest, I love thee!). Seriously, Pinterest is the best thing that has happened to the internet since… the internet. I love this infographic on how to pack just the essentials with pops of color & limited accessories.
This one shows you how to pack around a “core” of socks/undies (why haven’t I ever thought of this!?) and to wrap everything else around it.
I am always looking for packing tips (I never seem to pack the same way twice) – so please, send them my way! I haven’t made my packing list yet for this trip, but I am looking forward to giving some of these tips a try.
Do you have any other pre-trip tips or rituals? I probably am forgetting something (hopefully nothing too important – I always triple check for my camera and clean underwear!) – but as long as I have those and my passport, I figure I can buy whatever else is needed. 🙂