PACKING, AIRLINE & SAFETY TIPS

BASIC PACKING: When traveling, pack as little as possible. It is much easier to “live” in your hotel room or ship stateroom if you have less with you. Of course, the region that you are visiting will determine your packing list.  Below is a very basic list that could apply to most regions. Rolling the clothes/items and using your shoes and hat as areas for socks and underwear will save additional space. Wear a comfortable but practical outfit for your plane trip, one that can be worn again during your stay.

WOMEN:

  1. 2 pair of dark pants  (Columbia brand is waterproof and dry quickly)
  2. 1 pair of nice jeans of any color.
  3. 5-6 blouses (Long sleeved button-down style or short sleeved collared polo style)
  4. 1 good quality wide brimmed hat for sun protection
  5. 1 inexpensive pair of sunglasses
  6. 1 solar umbrella for sun protection or rain protection
  7. Pack a daily change of inexpensive underwear.  Then dispose of after each wear.
  8. 2-3 bras that can be washed nightly to dry overnight
  9. 1 pair comfortable walking shoes (Sketchers are good)
  10. 1 pair comfortable dressy sandals (again, Sketchers are good)
  11. A good quality tinted sunscreen for face. Wear as make-up.
  12. 1 pair of Dollar Tree flip flops to wear in the shower. Throw away at end of trip.
  13. Dollar tree mini mascara, eye shadow compact, brow pencil, lipstick and eyeliner that can be thrown away afterwards.
  14. Tweezers, pony-tail holders, hair clips, Q-tips and safety pens.
  15. 1 light weight jacket (Columbia brand is good) if needed.
  16. Scarves for neck, head, shoulders, etc.  Scarves are a fashion statement ANYWHERE.
  17. Fake jewelry from Sam Moon.  Wedding rings, etc.  You won’t cry if stolen or lost
  18. 6-8 pairs of inexpensive socks (re-wear multiple time before tossing in trash)
  19. 1-2 sets of workout clothes, but only if you are packing for a cruise.
  20. One formal outfit, but only if you are packing for a cruise. No one will remember if you wear it more than once.

MEN:

  1. 2 pairs of dark pants. (My husband prefers Dickies Original 874)
  2. 3-4 Shirts that are either long or short sleeved button down style.
  3. 1 pair of sunglasses
  4. Pack a daily change of inexpensive underwear.  Then dispose of after wear.
  5. 6 undershirts that can be washed to dry overnight
  6. 1 pair comfortable walking shoes that are waterproof and can be worn always.
  7. 1 light weight jacket (Columbia brand is good) if needed.
  8. 1 pair of Dollar Tree flip flops to wear in the shower. Throw away after trip.
  9. Technology gear such as Kindles, outlet converters, etc.
  10. 1 good quality wide brimmed hat for sun protection (Optional)
  11. 6-8 pairs of inexpensive socks (re-wear multiple time before tossing in trash)
  12. 1 neck tie just to have on hand, but only if you are packing for a cruise.
  13. 1-2 sets of workout clothes, but only if you are packing for a cruise.
  14. Money belt (Flip Belt at Amazon for $29)
  15. Cheap headphones (Panasonic RP-HJE120-PPK in ear headphone at Amazon $9)

NOTE: One person should carry the Passports, cash, Driver’s Licenses, Plane tickets, Cruise Passes, cell phones, Prescription meds, etc. in a small bag that never leaves the person–ever.

TOILETRIES ESSENTIALS:

We all know that Airport Security has become more difficult since 9-11.  Liquids are limited to one quart size bag and can not be over 3 ounces.  Pack the liquids together into the one bag. Try to make your toiletries in as many solid forms as possible and pack those separate from the liquids.  At the end of your trip, ALL of your items should be tossed in the trash.  (-Except for the Crystal Deodorant.) This way, you leave will lighter travel bags and have room for souvenirs. Women: make it your goal to wear your hair in a simple style. If you must, use the Hotel hairdryer (it is not going to be sanitary) and try to style your hair WITH OUT the use of curling/straightener irons or curlers. A short sassy style that requires little care or a side braid, messy bun, or pony tail (which is what I do with longer hair) is the way to go. These styles make wearing hats and head scarves easy, stylish, and fun.

When showering, use the complementary hotel soap (if you are not allergic) and always use the free shampoos and conditioners offered. Use the complementary bathrobes if provided to save on towel usage.

Here is my essential list: 

  1. Travel toothbrushes (one for each person).
  2. Travel toothpaste (1 for each person, depending on length of trip) —LIQUID
  3. Travel flossing sticks
  4. Disposable razors
  5. Travel shave cream–LIQUID (Unless you can get by using complementary soap)
  6. Travel deodorant Powder (Gold Bond) for shoes
  7. Travel fabric wrinkle spray–LIQUID
  8. Travel deodorant solid (Crystal-worth the money & can be reused for future trips)
  9. 1 Bar of regular soap (Only you have sensitive skin.)
  10. Travel night cream–LIQUID
  11. Travel Sun Screen—LIQUID (I pack an additional “tinted” variety for my face as well)
  12. 2-3 Travel Sanitizers to carry with you at all times.–LIQUID
  13. If traveling in Asia region, pack travel tissue (3 packs) for public toilets.
  14. Travel hairspray (Optional) —LIQUID
  15. Insect repellent —LIQUID
  16. Travel shampoos/conditioners– if you have issues with the ones provided.–LIQUID
  17. Hair styling tools and lighted mirror—but, only if you are going on a cruise.

The MAGIC of laundry:

Before you begin such a task, ask the front desk to send up two extra (large) bath towels. Okay: no one enjoys doing laundry on a trip.  But it’s really easy when you select practical clothing fabrics that dry quickly. Polyester blends are good.  Using the sink (while wearing your hotel bathrobe) squirt some hotel shampoo in the basin and wash out your shirt, undershirts, and bras until the water turns darker. When the water the clears, it’s time to rinse. Then soak the clothes in cold water for about five minutes. Side note: Usually, you can simply dry dust your trousers with a hand towel.  The same is true for shoes.

As mentioned earlier, don’t even mess around with underwear or socks.  Just buy a large 14 package bag of Fruit of the Loom or Hanes underwear in the style of choice before your trip (Walmart $16) and dispose in a sanitary bag daily after each wear. The same concept is true for socks. A large package in the style you desire is cheap at Walmart. Remember to use Gold Bond travel powder inside your shoes to keep them order-free and fresh. TIP: Take the socks and underwear out of the packaging and pack into spaces such as shoes or hats inside of your luggage to save on space. 

Once your hand-washed laundry is done, wring out the excess water. Spread out your large bath towels on the floor and lay the damp clothes on top of the towel, spacing each accordingly.  Then roll the towels as tightly as you are able and fold the rolled towel over once.  You can even add some weight by kneeling on the towel roll for about a minute or two.  Let the rolled towel “rest” for about another five minutes before unrolling and hanging your laundry to thoroughly dry overnight on a hanger.  If your garments are not a polyester blend and are cotton, they may not be ready by morning.  Wear a fresh pair of clothing the following day and start the laundry process all over that evening.  Your prior laundered clothing will be ready to wear for sure by the third day. Using a fabric wrinkled spray will smooth out clothes and give them a fresh scent.

If you happen to be on a cruise ship, most lines have a laundromat for customers to use or they provide a laundry service.  One thing that most female travelers do not realize:  Your fellow travelers are not going to notice if you are wearing the same black pants or even a frequently worn blouse as long as you are switching out the scarves and accessories.  (They are more concerned about how they look or what they are wearing to notice you.) Your fellow travelers will notice cleanliness so keeping the clothes that you wear clean it what leaves a lasting good impression.  You will notice in my photos that my husband and I look as though we always have on the same clothes—and we do!  But, if I hadn’t pointed this fact out, chances are, you probably would not have noticed at all.

TIP: Ladies: Don’t forget to wash your scarves.  Most will dry in minutes after wringing them out.  Just spread them out over a clothes hanger and the back of a chair.  For hats: Mist a little fabric wrinkle spray along the inside, stuff some toilet paper into the hat and by morning your hat will be as good as new.

AIRLINE BAG: I always pack a small bag to place behind my lower back for support while on long flights.  In this bag I have the following:

  1. Protein bars (To avoid sickness from the airline food)
  2. Medications for flight (Sleep pills, Advil, etc.)
  3. Disposable gloves. (Pack 1 pair for each flight)
  4. Clorox wipes (To wipe tray table, seat buckle, etc.  You don’t want to arrive sick)
  5. Earphones (The smaller, the better)
  6. Disposable socks (1 for each flight)
  7. Hydrating eye patch masks (1 packet for each LONG flight)
  8. Eye mask to aide in sleeping
  9. Chapstick for dry lips
  10. A tiny MP3 player loaded with audio-books, sleep sounds and music

NECK PILLOWS: I love mine while my husband hates his.  These can be cumbersome once you are at your final destination. If they slip nicely onto your bag during travel and can fit into your luggage while you are on your trip, great.  If not, try to do without.

NOTE: ALWAYS, ALWAYS TAKE THE TIME TO PUT YOUR SHOES BACK ON WHEN USING THE RESTROOM ON THE PLANE. THE FLOOR IN THE BATHROOM IS AS DIRTY AS THE TOILET. Enough said.

MY FINAL AIRLINE TIP:  GET UP OUT OF YOUR SEAT AS OFTEN AS YOU ARE ABLE.  FIND AN AREA NEAR THE RESTROOM TO STRETCH. WHILE WAITING FOR YOUR FLIGHT IN THE AIRPORT, DO SIMPLE STRETCHES TO PREPARE YOUR BODY FOR LONG HOURS OF SITTING. READ ABOUT ALL OF YOUR MEDICATIONS AND STOP THOSE THAT HAVE RISKS OF BLOOD CLOTS AT LEAST TWO WEEKS BEFORE YOUR FLIGHT.  DRINK LOTS OF WATER BEFORE, DURING, AND AFTER THE FLIGHT. AVOID ALCOHOL AT ALL COSTS.

SAFETY:

Before you leave for an extended trip, it is wise to hire a house-sitter.  Often this can be free if you are willing to have a college student live with you in your house for a semester or two.

Always wear “fake” or costume jewelry when traveling. Keep such items simple because even flashy costume jewelry might make you appear as a target to crime.

Purchase a money belt that fits comfortably under your clothing.  Hotel safes are not always secure, and it is often best to keep cash, credit cards, passports, and other valuables with you at all times. Especially if you get lost and have trouble finding your way back to your hotel.

Research dress codes before traveling.  To avoid being a target, dress exactly as the locals do and refrain from giving eye contact.  My husband and I tend to blend in so well that we are often mistaken to be from the country we are visiting.  This actually happened to me while in the Saint Petersburg Rail Station in Russia!  If you don’t speak the language (And, I don’t speak Russian), use gestures such as nodding or pointing with your head. Make little or no eye contact and maintain a serious demeanor.  If you do happen to speak the language in the country that you are visiting, you might just find that you’ve made a new friend for life. Tip: Learn a few key phrases of the language before you go.

Modesty is always the best policy.  Regardless of your age, showing too much flesh is going to attract the wrong kind of attention.  This advice applies to both males and females. The same is true for bright colors.  To truly blend into a crowd and avoid misfortune, wear dark colors or neutral shades for a better experience. My recommendation is to keep slogan T-shirts and casual shorts at home unless you are spending time in a warm beach location. Even then, be careful not to look too American, as dressing this way can (sadly) make you a target to misfortune.

Avoid carrying excessive bags.  One small roller bag (carry-on) as mentioned above is ideal.  When you are settled into your hotel, a money belt or small bag that can be worn “sash-style” across your shoulder and chest is best.  Struggling with maps, camera gear and even cell phones puts you at risk for unexpected crime.  Be alert of your surroundings and when in doubt, duck into a public place such as a restaurant, shop or coffee house to re-group.

Know your way around your destination by thoroughly studying your locations and the metro systems before you travel.  Obviously, avoid dangerous areas and try to see the crowded attractions during the day unless you are in a larger, safer city that has plenty of security patrols around.  As a last resort, blend in with travel groups holding up tour signs.  The group won’t notice that you’re there and it is always “safer in numbers”. Try to order cabs from your hotel (or the airport) rather than hailing one from off of the street.  The metro systems in most cities are very safe to use (and much cheaper than a cab) and as long as you appear to be familiar with the system and blend in with the locals, you will be fine.  The same is often true for the city buses and the experience of living like a local can really be a lot of fun.

Book a small group tour if you feel uncomfortable seeing a foreign country on your own. Most of these tours have local experts as guides and know how to ward off persistent sellers in the market places.  These tours often include treasures that the average traveler might miss, such as a meal in a local person’s home.  This might be a good option if you chose to see your destination at night when it may not be as safe to roam alone. Such tours often provide round trip to and from your hotel leaving you with little to worry about.

Final tip:  Key in the phone number of the hotel where you are staying.  If you should have problems or get lost, there is usually someone at the hotel who can keep you calm, determine where you are, and send you a cab to get you back safely to the hotel.