Travel preparation

Travel preparation

You can never be too prepared for travel.  There are plenty of things to consider before you travel to make your travel experience a much more pleasant one.  I discussed a few ways of travel preparation in a prior blog post. Here are a few more ideas to think about before you travel.

Cell coverage

When traveling internationally, mobile phone charges can be an unexpected expense.  Remember to turn off cell service roaming before you leave the country to avoid roaming charges.  If you try to do this in an international destination, you may be charged for the time trying to complete the effort.  Try to arrange for a global cell service plan with your carrier before you leave the country.  You can often use a phone for dollars a day rather than dollars a call if you choose an international package for the duration of your time out of the country.

Notify credit card companies

Without prior approval, using your credit card in another country can be problematic. Your card can be flagged for fraud, and you may not be able to use it.  To prevent this, notify your credit card company before you travel to avoid the inconvenience and embarrassment of having your credit card declined.  Additionally, getting in touch with your credit card company from another country and verifying yourself will be a hassle you can avoid.

Currency exchange

Try to have some local currency before you enter the country.  Currency conversion fees can differ where you choose to convert your money.  Also, converting before you leave on your trip will give you an idea of the exchange rate, so you know before you go.  If you plan to take local transportation, having local currency can be helpful. Knowing and understanding foreign currency also prevents you from being taken advantage of as an unaware tourist.

ATM fees

Using an ATM in a different country can be expensive with built-in foreign conversion fees and daily changing exchange rates.  Research what bank or system your bank card or credit card is affiliated with before you go so you can avoid unnecessary expenses.

Carry small currency

Having local or foreign currency in small denominations can be a lifesaver when you arrive at an international destination.  Some businesses and people will prefer the US or other foreign currency rather due to instability with their currency.  It is also safer to have cash in small denominations than trying to get the correct change back in your own or foreign currency.

Have you had any unexpected hiccups with forgetting to plan for international travel? I’d like to know.

How I packed for a weekend trip in a carry-on.

How I packed for a weekend trip in a carry-on.

Packing well for travel is a skill that comes from practice. Recently I traveled on a weekend trip that included a wedding and was able to do this with only a carry-on. Travelers can consider a few things that will make their packing easier and improve their ability not to overpack and fit in just a small bag or suitcase.

Check the weather for your destination. As I discussed in a previous post, pack for the realities of your destination, not what you expect it will be. Therefore, think in layers. Weather is not always predictable. When packing for a warm, sunny destination, consider the cool evenings by the beach or weather changes that can cool considerably as the day progresses. Similarly, when thinking of cold destinations, remember that you can become overheated if dressed too warmly.

Limit your footwear. For travel to any destination, you can almost always limit footwear to three pairs of shoes. Consider one set of footwear for walking, one for evenings out, and flat footwear. These three pairs of shoes will cover almost all types of travel itineraries. Your initial traveling outfit should include one of those three types, which means you will only need to pack two pairs of shoes.

Plan your travel. If you organize your trip, you will know what activities you plan and can pack accordingly. Think of how many changes of outfits you will need. How many times will you go to lunch or dinner? Will your plans call for business casual or comfort? In most cases, one pair of bottoms can be made unique with a different top or jacket.

Try different packing techniques. Rolling items rather than packing flat can allow for more things to fit into your carry-on. However, your outfits may need to be ready to wear and will not be suitable for rolling. Think of what items will be best rolled, such as jeans and tee shirts, or folded flat such as dresses or suit jackets.

Pack in advance. Packing in advance allows you to consider what you are packing rather than rushing to pack at the last minute. Preparation also will enable you to determine better if you are over packing or packing according to plans. It also limits forgetting items you will need, such as pajamas, socks, workout wear, or underwear. Advance packing helps in packing light.

Are you able to pack for a weekend with just a carry-on? What’s your secret, or what prevents you from packing light? I’d like to know.

Five travel must-haves post Covid-19.

Five travel must-haves post Covid-19.

With many people choosing to vaccinate against Covid-19, the possibility of safer and healthier travel is closer to reality.  However, being vaccinated does not ensure that you will not be affected by the virus, and there are certain health precautions, such as wearing masks, that we still need to take.  When it comes to travel, here are five must-haves I think all travelers should have post-covid-19.

Antiseptic wipes

No matter how much the airline tries to clean and sanitize an airplane, the short timing between deplaning and reboarding an airplane does not seem guaranteed to sanitize the aircraft thoroughly.  Therefore, having your sanitizing wipes and sanitizing your seatbelt, tray table, armrest, and general area, would be a more intelligent and healthier choice.

Disposable masks

Post covid, wearing a face mask has become more of a fashion statement in addition to a measure of health safety.  When traveling, it is advisable to use disposable masks to change often rather than the pretty fashionable ones you tend to use at home. Stylish face masks are great for use when at home because you can wash them often.  When traveling, cleaning your masks is not usually an option, and disposable masks can be a safer, healthier, and economical choice when traveling.

Sanitizer spray

In addition to sanitizer gel, sanitizer spray is also another excellent option for travel.  Travelers can use sanitizer spray to disinfect surfaces without coming into direct contact with surfaces.  They are now available in travel sizes, and travelers can make homemade solutions to fit travel-sized containers.

Disposable gloves

Using gloves when disinfecting surfaces is just another precaution to take from coming into contact with infected surfaces.  Travelers can use a disposable glove when wiping down their seatbelt, tray table, or armrests, and even when they go to the restroom to sanitize toilet seats or accessing toilet seat covers.  Gloves are just another way to minimize your contact with items that might be infected.

Travel soap

Consider the ramifications of pressing the button that everyone else pushes for dispensing soap after using the bathroom but before washing their hands.  Having personal travel soap can make for even less avoidable contact.  There are now tiny travel packets of soap flakes available that are small enough to carry in your purse.

Travel realities have changed post covid, and travelers now have a few more precautions to consider when traveling to avoid becoming sick.  Have you changed the health precautions you now take for travel?  Let me know.

Realities of hotel stays.

Realities of hotel stays.

Anticipating your destination is never the same as finally reaching it.  The first stop of your travel is your accommodations, and whether Airbnb or hotel, here are a few ideas to keep in mind when you finally reach your vacation stop.

There’s always that “ahh” feeling when you finally reach your destination where you want to lay on the bed in either exhaustion or relief at finally reaching your goal.  Hold on! Most likely, the hotel did not change the duvet or bed covering since the last guest.  As a former flight attendant who spent most of my life in hotel rooms, I could write a whole blog post just on the realities of hotel bed coverings. Your first notion when reaching your accommodation should be to remove the outer bed cover, especially if you cannot tell if it’s fresh linen. You can always tell this with white sheets and bed coverings.

Another hotel tip is to never drink from hotel glasses, especially those found in the bathroom before you wash them yourself.  I have often walked into hotel rooms in the process of being cleaned and, from my lived experience, often seen the maid wiping rather than washing the glasses.  Since Covid, many hotels have switched to plastic, but if your hotel has not, be mindful and wash those glasses before you use them.

Always check your sheets before you get into bed.  If after you’ve checked in and your bedding appears slept on or wrinkled, you can request to have them changed to be entirely sure they are clean.  In addition, check your towels, and if they appear soiled or used, please request fresh towels. Often only the towels used are replaced, and those not used stay in the room despite a new change of guest.

Along the same lines as hotel bed coverings, hotel carpets are also rarely cleaned.  I would highly suggest that you treat hotel carpet flooring as you would with public showers and never go barefoot.  Carpets are often only vacuumed between guests, but when maids are rushing to have rooms ready and the carpets appear clean, this is usually not done.  In most cases, when the carpet is soiled and needs cleaning, it is often only a spot treatment as this can take a room out of service.  Maids avoid this by heavily vacuuming instead, so be aware and try not to go barefoot.

These hotel realities are often not found at pricier hotels and accommodations, but sometimes the price does not guarantee quality.   Be aware that the standards you expect from your hotel may not be the reality.  Remember that these and other hotel realities can be addressed and do not have to spoil your vacation.

Have you had any unexpected hotel experiences? I’d like to know.

Travel snack ideas

Travel snack ideas

In a few weeks, my colleagues from the airline industry indicate that some limited food and beverage services will soon return for airplane travelers.  It’s always a good idea to travel with your snacks as airport food is expensive, delays are unexpected but a regular occurrence, and you may have your own dietary needs.  Here are a few snack ideas to keep in mind when you plan your travel to save you money and are healthy for you.

Fruit

Fruit is one of my go-to travel snacks.  Whole fruits like apples, pears, and bananas are great to have and travel well if packed correctly.  Cut fruit is also a great choice, but it should be fully drained of liquid and chilled the night before departure.  Another great idea is to freeze grapes, and they can also serve to keep the other cut fruit chilled.  For security screening, clear Ziploc bags are best.  Please remember that most fruit and vegetables are not allowed into international destinations. You are subject to fines, so please dispose of all your fruit before leaving the airplane to be safe.

Vegetables

Vegetables are also a great idea. Carrot, celery, cucumber, and broccoli are great choices.  However, dips will have to be in containers less than 3 ounces to go through airport security, even if unopened.  Salads are also a great choice, but they do not travel well.  If your travel is over long distances and especially in the summer months, this is not a great travel snack idea. Like fruit, vegetables are also not allowed in many countries so remember to finish or dispose of them before you land in an international destination.

Smelly snacks

Avoid smelly snacks at all costs, and remember you are traveling in a confined space.  Hard-boiled eggs are an easy snack to travel with, but I would not recommend them.  Similarly, meals like smoked salmon and tuna can also be quite smelly and not great choices for travel in public transportation.

Sandwiches

Sandwiches are another excellent choice as a travel snack.  Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches are great, but if you want to make other sandwiches, it would be advisable to carry disposable condiment packages like mayo and mustard to use when ready for your snack.  Additionally, wrapping fillings like lettuce, tomato, and pickles separately makes for a fresher sandwich when you are ready to snack.

Air pressure and gas

More than anything, remember that air travel often creates gassy conditions for most travelers.  Most importantly, if you know how your body reacts to certain foods, please refrain from them on the airplane.  It creates a better environment, not only for you but for the travelers and flight attendants who have to contend with your problems. Also, many people have food allergies like peanuts, and they can be dangerous for them, so please be aware of how your snack choices may affect others.

I hope this blog post has given you pause for thought in your travel snack ideas.  Have you had any experiences carrying or having to deal with other travelers’ snack choices? I’d like to know.

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