I’ve traveled enough abroad to warrant needing extra pages in my passport. Along the way I’ve gathered the following useful suggestions.
1) Go to the Bank First: You’ll need plenty of clean, un-torn and unwrinkled bills in small denominations. These are handy for tips, taxis and souvenir shops. Remember, any change you get will be in the country’s currency and you don’t want too much of this. It can be hard to unload at the end of your trip.
2) Just in Case, Take Two: Few things can put a damper on a vacation like camera trouble. Don’t just take extra memory cards and batteries; take an extra camera, even if it’s a disposable one. It’s also wise to pack two of other must-haves like sunglasses, reading glasses, and house keys.
3) Pickpockets Love Vacationers: Be extra careful. One gentleman tells of an experience he had while traveling abroad. He’d bought a pair of travel pants with an inside pocket zipper where he carried his credit cards. One day as he bent down to tie his sneaker, he was jostled by a swarm of people. When he stood up, this pocket zipper was open; his credit cards gone. He reached for his cell phone in his shirt pocket. Taped to the back were the phone numbers of the credit card companies, the cards numbers and security code. He cancelled them immediately.
4) Bano? Toliet? Bathroom? WC?: You better learn the necessary words for the country you’re visiting before leaving home. Understand that in foreign countries the standards may not be up to those at home, but with a few Kleenex in one pocket and Purell in the other, you’ll be ready for anything.
5) Slip Them In: For a clean fresh scent in your suitcase, spread some fabric softener sheets among your clothes. While you’re at it, pack a few disposable plastic grocery bags and different sized zip-lock bags. They’ll come in handy for damp bathing suits and sandy shoes. Some hotels supply wash cloths and tissues—some don’t.
6) You’ll Be Glad To Have Them: A flashlight that works, insect repellent with 35% Deet, travel alarm, pens, Sharpie marker, money belt, copy of your prescriptions and passport, extra batteries, duct tape, sun block, Tylenol, pocket size dictionary of that country’s language and hope-you-don’t-need-it, but-you-may, Pepto- Bismal tablets and Imodium.
7) Partial Truths: Travel brochures will tell you, “Everyone speaks English” or “The US dollar is accepted everywhere.” Well, sometimes. It depends on where you’re going—Cities? Usually. Rural areas and small shops? Often not. Best to have small amounts of the local currency and to use credit cards where accepted, in spite of the transaction fee. ATM’s are found in most locations; Traveler’s Checks can be problematic to cash.
8) Just In Case: Put a copy of your passport and itinerary in each suitcase and carry-on. That way if your luggage is lost or misplaced, it will have a better chance of finding you.
9) Don’t Take Chances: More and more hotels have in-suite safes that are simple to use. All you have to do is type in a three or four digit code of your choice to secure your passport, jewelry, spare credit cards and extra money. If there is no safe available, ask to use the hotel’s.
10) Find Room: Try to squeeze a small duffel with its own luggage tag into your suitcase. You’ll find it handy to carry souvenirs and/or dirty laundry.