(Photo by: Grant Wickes)
Ugh! The security line! Don’t pack anything that will cause question.
Essential Packing Tips for International Travelers
The biggest mistake we all make is packing too much. It doesn’t matter if you are taking your dream vacation halfway across the world or going home for the holidays. We all get stuck in the, “Well, I might need this… I might need that… Oh! Better not forget this…!” cycle and, alas, we are loading up the car with more suitcases than the trunk can accommodate. What’s worse? Who’s going to lug all those suitcases into the airport, from the airport to the hotel, from the lobby to the room… and if you’re thinking your husband, I beg you to reconsider, as you want to have a good time on your vacation!
If you are traveling internationally, packing can be an even greater challenge, especially if you’re backpacking across Europe or embarking on some other trekking adventure. When traveling afar, it’s best to pack light. After all, again, you want to have a good time while on vacation, and lugging around heavy suitcases a good time does not make! You don’t need to take everything but the kitchen sink when traveling abroad, but there are some necessities you cannot leave home without. Here are my essential packing tips for international travelers.
- Proper Identification – You’re not going to get on an international flight, much less be admitted into another country with your driver’s license. Make certain all travelers in your party have valid passports packed safely with your carry-on items. You’ll need to show them at the ticket counter, gate, and upon arrival.
- Visa – I’m not talking about your credit card. Depending on where your international travels take you, you might also need a visa to enter the country. Research your destination prior to booking your trip, as you’ll need to allow for plenty of time to apply for and receive your visa. Your travel visa will be fixated in your passport, so it will already be packed for you!
- Immunization Record – While researching your destination to see if you need a visa, also take a gander at any immunizations you might be required to have prior to entry and get yourself immunized. After you’ve been tortured with the “don’t worry, you’ll only feel a prick” lies, you’ll be given an immunization record. Keep it with your passport.
- Medical Supplies – Count out how many days you’re going to be traveling, tack on an extra week in case you are stuck somewhere, and pack the necessary amount of prescription medication you are taking. Also, toss in an OTC painkiller, an antihistamine, anti-diarrheal meds, antibacterial cream and bandages, an ACE bandage, and make sure you have your medical insurance card with you.
- Don’t Be a Clothes Horse – You must exercise discipline when packing clothing. You cannot pack a different outfit for every day you will be on vacation; it takes up too much suitcase space. Pack lightweight clothing items that you can layer between day and night temperatures. Pack clothing with the same color scheme so you can pack less clothes and shoes. Pack clothing that can be easily rolled or folded tightly to make the most of your suitcase space.
- Travel Toiletries – Just as you might be tempted to pack a different outfit for each vacation day, you might also be tempted to save money and pack your full-sized toiletries instead of purchasing travel ones. Don’t do it! Do you have any idea how much space a full-sized bottle of shampoo and conditioner take up, not to mention the mess you’re going to have to clean up if they leak or explode? Consolidate all toiletries that you can into smaller sizes to save carry-on space. If you don’t want to purchase travel-sized toiletries, place them in smaller containers and label them, but don’t do anything that would make TSA anxious!
- Valuables - Don’t. That’s my packing tip. Yes, you have to have your passport, your visa and immunization record (if applicable), and your medical card. Do not pack a ton of cash, credit cards, jewelry, expensive accessories, etc. These items can be stolen or lost and then what will you do? Pack one credit card for emergencies, and carry traveler’s checks. Carry only the amount of checks you will need each day and lock the rest safely away in your hotel safe.
- Travel Towel/Sheet – If you read The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, you know why I’m saying pack a towel. Seriously, though, if your international trip includes trekking, hiking, camping, or “hostelling”, you’ll need a towel and a sheet. Some hostels don’t provide these necessities; others, well, let’s just say that you’ll want to put YOUR sheet on top of theirs. If you’re going to be roughing it: bring your own towel and bring your own sheet. The towel can be whatever you prefer, although the smaller and thinner the better; silk sheets work best for packing, as they are lightweight and pack tightly.
Yourself! The most important thing to take on your international vacation is yourself. There’s a huge and wonderful world out there ready for you to explore to your heart’s content. If you pack logically and lightly, you’ll have an even better time! Remember, you’re on vacation to have a good time, so don’t over pack and give your husband something to grumble about the entire you’re there! Now, get packing!