So, I travel a fair amount. More than some, less than others. I almost always travel for leisure, in fact I think that I have only ever been on one business trip ever! Anyway, I’ve decided to compile this list of tips and tricks that I have learned so that you don’t have to! If you have a great travel tip, please let everyone know about it in the comments section!
Things to Pack
*Travel Panties (and socks): When you have worn-out panties (or socks) that have holes in them, or worn-out elastic, or whatever, set them aside. I quite often toss them in the empty suitcase. When you travel the next time, just throw them away after you have worn them. It’s not a lot of weight or space, but it does keep you from having to haul back dirty underwear (and socks).
*Thrift store clothes: Buy some clothes at a local thrift store in your size (and that you would actually wear). When you are done wearing them, leave them at the hotel on the bed, preferably with a note saying (in the local language) that whoever would like these clothes can have them. This saves a LOT of space on the way back if you are a big shopper. It is especially good for jeans, sweaters, sweatshirts, bulky items that take up a lot of space in a suitcase.
*Soak sample packs: This is a great rinse-less delicates wash that can be really useful when on the go. It’s sold in little sample packs that are great for one or two loads if you don’t do the whole “travel panties” thing.
*Purex 3-in-1 laundry sheets: My mom found these before our big Alaska trip and they work great. If you are going to be on a longer trip where you are going to be doing laundry, these are the ticket! You just toss one of the sheets in and it has the detergent, fabric softener and anti-static for the load already embedded in sheet. Genius! No more detergent getting spilled and making a mess of the car!
*No Whites: This one I got from my friend Malin at KC last year. Don’t pack any whites, then you don’t have to do a load of whites! So simple yet so easily not thought of!
*You get what you pay for: If you are going to be doing a LOT of traveling, invest in a good bag for goodness sake! The Hubby’s folks bought him a good TravelPro roll-aboard a few years before we were married. If that bag got frequent flier miles, it would be in the pilots seat! It’s still in really good shape, you couldn’t tell that it’s over 6 years old at this point (and used to get lived out-of for probably 45 weeks of the year for years!). I also have a TravelPro and am really pleased with it. Another bag that I have that has stood the test of time really well is a Boyt bag that my mother gave me when I was 12. You read that right, 12. It still looks really new. If you are going to travel any significant amount, just get a good bag. If nothing else, it’s better than shleping a busted bag around a foreign city! (Ask me how I know that one:-)) Another bag company that we’ve really liked is Reisenthel.
*Personal Med Kit: Take a zippered bag and put in it a selection of OTC drugs for sicknesses that you get. I get sinus infections, thus I have a sheet of Sudafed pills in mine. Also, antacids, sleeping pills, ibuprofen, etc. I also throw in a little tiny sewing kit for good measure. It sucks to get sick when you are traveling. It really sucks if you can’t get any meds. A few packs of pills are light and will save your bacon if you do get ill!
*A light wrap: I usually carry a light pashmina-type wrap with me on the airplane. It can be used as a scarf sure, but it is great as a little blanket if you get chilly. Plus they are usually really light.
*Underwear, Socks and toothpaste: Put a pair of socks a pair of underwear and your toothbrush and paste in your carry-on. If your bag gets lost, you’ll thank me!
*Print-outs: Print out the details of hotels, flights, etc that you have booked prior to your trip. You may not be able to easily get to the info on your computer or smartphone once you get in the cab from the airport… Also, a copy of the front page of your passport is a good thing to have on hand in case it gets stolen or lost.
*TP: I always carry a little plastic clam-shell that contains a mini-roll of TP. It’s Charmin to go, but other companies do similar things. It’s saved my ass many a time! (Yes, pun intended!)
*Plastic Baggies: Just throw a few extra Ziplocs in the suitcase when you leave. I really love the Jumbo Hefty zipper bags (2.5 gallon!!). They are good for putting that bottle of exotic booze, perfume, or whatever it is that you want into. I’ve saved myself a damaged suitcase and clothes many, many times by doing this. They don’t take any space, and when you get home, just leave them in the suitcase for the next trip!
*A flashlight: This one I’m a little OCD about. I usually have 2 or 3 of them in my purse on a normal day (including a headlamp, yes I know I am a serious dork!). As good as the LED technology is now, there is no excuse not to have at least a little key chain light in your bag. This is more for safety than anything, dark streets, dark hotel rooms are all a great way to trip and fall. In a power outage, you’ll be the most popular person around!
*A Collapsible shopping bag: Handy to have when you hit the markets in a new city. Carrying a crappy, ripping plastic bag with something breakable in it as you are sightseeing around a city is NO FUN.
*Scale: If you are staying at a hotel while you are traveling, a luggage scale can save you a lot of money at the airport. Especially if you like to shop:-)
*Earplugs: Screaming baby + 6 hour flight. You’ll thank me!
(I know that this sounds like a ton of stuff, but most of it is quite small and a lot of it you wouldn’t take on every trip.)
*Hotel: Take a matchbook, business card, whatever with you when you leave the hotel. If the crap hits the fan and you cannot, for whatever reason, remember where you are staying (believe it or not, it’s easy to happen) you have a name and address. However, do not keep it in the same place as your room key in case of pick-pockets.
*Carry-on packing: Remember to pack for how long you are going to be traveling for. A flight of a couple of hours doesn’t need as much stuff to keep you entertained as an over-seas flight. Don’t pack 3 books, a 2 knitting projects and a selection of magazines for a 2 hour flight!!!
*Allergies: If you have an allergy, make sure that your travel companions know about it. If you are unconscious in a foreign hospital, you want someone other than you knowing that you are allergic to morphine.
*Sleep: If you don’t sleep well on planes (I don’t) , don’t try to force yourself with sleeping pills unless you absolutely have a serious meeting the next morning. Otherwise you will end-up cranky and feeling unwell.
*Sleep Part II: Take a 3 hour nap after a red-eye flight then get up and have a full day. Your clock will be pretty much reset.
*Driving: Don’t drive in the UK if you’ve taken the red-eye and have never driven here before. It’s dangerous. Trust me. I would be wary of driving in Europe in general (cannot say for anywhere other than N. America and Europe) as the laws are quite a bit different from the US. Spend a day on foot or public transit before hitting the road.
Tips for Knitters
*Needles on Airplanes: You can, you can’t…. who the heck knows?!?!? Here in the UK it is different from airport to airport and even airline to airline in the same airport. So, take your knitting, but don’t take your favorite needles, don’t take metal needles and don’t make a big deal of it.
*Don’t take big, long, straight needles. They freak people out. Take dpn’s or circulars.
*Leave the knitting in the bag during take-off and landing. That sometimes freaks out the flight attendants. I think that they are afraid that you will stab yourself if there is an accident during take-off.
*Have knitting on the needles when you go through security. That makes them freak out less:-)
*If you are really worried about having needles taken away, put them in with a bunch of pens and pencils. They look more or less the same.
*Only carry-on the needles that you need for the project. Put the rest of them in your checked-baggage.
*If you’re still really nervous about knitting on the plane, take up crochet!
Please feel free to add your favorite travel tips and hints in the comments! I’ll hopefully blog tomorrow about Amsterdam…..