One of the biggest challenges for traveling is deciding what to pack and how to know when enough is too much. Packing can be especially tough before you step onto that long-haul airline trip. While international travel can seem overwhelming if you’re not globetrotting on a regular basis, you can make it a lot easier on yourself with a little preparation and planning. Here are some of our favorite pro travel packing tips to make getting ready for your trip much more pleasant and manageable.
8 Pro Travel Packing Tips
1. Make A List If you’re like me and can’t remember something you went to get in the next room, chances are you’ll forget something you meant to pack if you don’t have a list. One of our key pro traveler packing tips is to be sure to include the little things we all tend to forget like small umbrellas, mini flashlights, medicines, cords, gadgets or anything that will make your trip a success.
2. Paper. It may be green to go paperless, but one of our next pro traveler packing tips is that this is one instance when it pays to have a physical copy of your passport, visas, credit cards and any other important documents. Keep them in your hotel safe when you’re traveling. We always keep at least one actual credit card and some cash in the hotel safe – just in case. Be sure that your credit cards actually work overseas and most importantly check if they have a foreign transaction fee. It can end up costing you a ton in extra add-on charges if you use the wrong card. Capital One, American Express Platinum, United Explorer and Citibank AAdvantage Executive are among U.S. issued cards that currently do not charge this fee. Other cards around the world offer the same benefit. The terms do vary from time to time, so be sure to verify with your card company before you travel outside of your own country. You might also want to bring a pen to fill out those custom forms when you return from your journeys.
3. Water & Snacks. When it’s offered, airline food can be often be unappetizing or worse. If you’re not flying first or business class, where the food may be substantially better, it makes sense to bring something edible along with you that you know you will like. Another one of our pro traveler packing tips is that taking healthful snacks with you can put you way ahead of the game, no matter what they may be offering onboard. Dry roasted edamame, pretzels, cheese and crackers, dried fruit and, of course, dark chocolate are all great options. Other passengers will look at you with envy when you take out your little snack pack. Go Picnic, which provides packaged combinations of snacks, is another good solution for grab and go easy but healthy alternative. When you’re in another country, you might just want a snack instead of a big meal too. If you have your snacks along, you’ll be good to go without having to pay high mini-bar prices or needing to search for a convenience store. Having your own preferred tasty snacks with you will make your life a lot easier.
If you’re not flying first or business class you’ll also want to bring some water on the flight with you. Check the regulations because some countries do not allow it at all. Others allow it only after you have gone through security. Drink lot of water when flying. Yes, you might have to get up a few times but that’s ok. It’s better to get up and move around anyway, especially during long flights. Limit your alcohol consumption while you’re at it. It only makes you more dehydrated and sluggish when you arrive at your destination.
4. Medicines. Our pro traveler packing tips also apply to prescriptions or OTC drugs. If there are any that you take regularly, be sure they’re in your carry-on bag. Flight delays or lost luggage can occur, so you’ll want to have them with you, no matter what may happen. If you have regular sinus trouble, sometimes troubled by changes in humidity, take something to help you on the flight and have it available for those unexpected sinus headaches that can make a long flight really miserable. Also bring along any over-the-counter meds you might need aspirin, Imodium, eye drops, anything you may not be able to get. We carry a small “medicine bag” that has EVERYTHING in it. We just throw it in our bags and we’re good to go. If you do have a cold or stuffy nose, chewing gum can also help alleviate the “plugged ear” syndrome when landing.
5. Layers. You never know if it’s going to be hot or cold on a plane. The thin blankets provided can help if you get chilly, but sometimes you need a little more. Our pro traveler packing tips include packing a pashmina, scarf or light sweater for the unknowable temperatures of plane travel as well as for adding some warmth if it ends up colder in your destination than you anticipated. It won’t take up too much room and will add a little style to any outfit while on the road.
6. Gadgets. Can’t live with them, can’t live without them. What’s worse than not having your device? Not having it charged. Our pro traveler packing tips include making sure you put all your gadgets and your cords in your carry-on. When traveling internationally be sure to bring the correct adapters too. Most planes now have electrical outlets at your seat, but check with your airline or Seatguru.com before you fly if you’re not sure. If your seat won’t have an outlet, bring along your own extra power with an inexpensive power bank for reserve. Bring a mini-flashlight to keep in your gadget bag. Sometimes there are power outages in some countries and it’s best to be prepared for any potential interruptions. One of the gadget I never travel without is my Bose Noise-Canceling Headphones. These make it easy to transport yourself away no matter who’s sitting next to you.
7. Entertainment. Be sure you load up your favorite laptop, tablet or phone with music, movies, books, podcasts and games. Most airlines have terrific entertainment on long-haul flights but you never know when the system might fail, you’ve already seen everything they have to offer, or there’s just nothing there you want to see. If you’re an Amazon Prime subscriber you can download movies and TV shows before you leave to your device and watch them anywhere. It doesn’t hurt to bring a real book or magazine for times when you just want to read something the old fashioned way.
8. Extras. Bring an extra set of clothes, underwear and toiletries with you in your carry-on. At least you’ll have another outfit and the ability to clean up if your luggage goes missing.
Here’s a fun infographic just for you to make it simple to remember how to make the packing process easier for yourself!
Pack light! After packing all these snacks, cords, and other stuff you say pack light? Yep! Get everything out take a look and start taking things away. Do you really need that extra pair of shoes? Speaking of shoes, be sure you pack comfortable shoes because travel for us means lots of walking. I pack my Dansko boots in the winter and shoes the rest of the year and can walk all day long. They’re comfy and my feet and help support my back. Win. Win.
Coordinate your wardrobe so you can easily mix and match. Wear jewelry that goes with everything or take different ties and a few less shirts. Even if you do check a bag remember you’re going to be schlepping it around in airports, train stations, bus terminals and public transportation. Packing light is imperative to your sanity and your back.
Flight delays, cranky flight attendants, language barriers, wrong directions, alarm clocks that fail, jet-lag, too much bad food, too much good food, all can make for rough travels. Pack your extra patience and a big smile. You’ll find the whole experience are made a whole lot easier. Remember, you’re experiencing things most people don’t get to – seeing the world, meeting new people, trying new food – count your blessings. Take a deep breath, chuckle a little to yourself and at yourself and hit the road!
Lastly, have fun. Laugh often, see the funny side of even the worst travel nightmare. Remember they will make for good stories later to share with your family and friends on Food Travelist. We love all your stories and want to know how your journeys go!
If you have any other tips you’d like to offer infrequent flyers please share them in the comments below.
THE QUICK BITE: Packing can be one of the most challenging aspects of travel. Here are 8 of our best packing tips to help make it easy for you to lighten the load.