Thursday, 3 July 2014

7 Tips: Packing for International Travel

1.  Keep it minimal.

It is my sincere belief that airline officials stay up through the night thinking of new restrictions to interject into my latest travel itinerary including luggage rules.  When you book an international flight you will most likely have more than one layover.  Whichever company takes you "over the pond" or the main leg is the company that determines the amount and weight of your luggage.  

Know the facts before you get there, otherwise you may have to pay excess baggage fees and that is not a good way to start out on a trip.  Plus the more bags you have, the greater the opportunity to have one lost in transit.

2.  Keep it light.

Do you really need to take a copy of "War and Peace" with you or might a Kindle-like apparatus be a better choice?  Are 4 jars of peanut butter your best use of weight?  Keep in mind when you are packing that you are not only trying to keep it under the airline maximum to avoid fees, but you're also going to have to schlep these bags at your final destination which is not always easy.

3.  Keep it necessary.

Really think through the clothing you'll need.  Make a list and create a game for yourself to see how many outfits you can create out of the least amount of clothing.  Packing clothing that is all in the same color family will reduce your list considerably.  Take shoes that are in the same palate so that they will coordinate with a number of outfits.

Medicines are good to have, but make sure that they are in the original prescription bottle they came in.  Putting them in a Ziploc will get you a visit from the customs officer and your goods confiscated.

4.  Keep it organized.

This may sound over the top but keeping a list of every item you pack will prove helpful.  If your suitcase is lost in transit, many times the airline representative will ask you to describe the suitcase color, size, shape and its contents.  You may think you'll remember, but under pressure and many hours awake makes your mind fuzzy.  If you have a list, it will be ready to go.

Recording each suitcase brand, size, shape and color with its total contents will relieve a lot of stress at the beginning and end of your trip.  You'll know right away if everything arrived and if you are leaving with everything you brought.

Put complete outfits in each suitcase.  Don't just put shoes in one and blouses in another.  If one suitcase is lost, then you're stuck.  And always keep 1-2 outfits in your carryon just in case none of your luggage arrives.  You will be very happy to have some fresh clothes after the long travel.

5.  Keep it appropriate.

What kind of culture are you entering?  In some Asian cultures, showing your arms is taboo, but shorts are acceptable.  In others, showing legs or arms is inappropriate.  Pack clothes that will be appropriate to the weather, but more importantly will show respect to the host culture.  You'll receive their unspoken appreciation as well as avoid unwanted comments.

If you are entering a hot environment, pack natural fiber clothing.  Most places do not have A/C readily available and if they do, blackouts occur often.  To keep from turning into a burning ball of fury, think cotton.

6.  Keep it functional.

When choosing your luggage, think about how you will get it from Point A to Point B.  Does it have wheels?  If not, is it a manageable weight to carry?  Is the lock janky?  Will the luggage endure the rough treatment that it will receive over the next many hours?

Clothing and shoes should be functional, too.  You may look like a fashion plate, but will those stilettos really work when you have to walk all day?  Or will those "every day" shoes you have hold up in muddy, rocky terrain?  Choose clothes and shoes that are durable and comfortable.  (No, I am not being sponsored by Rockport.)

7.  Keep it secure.

If the item(s) you have is very important, put it in your carry on.  This includes all media items.  If you want to put it into a checked bag then put the important items in the middle covered by other items.  I've even been known to put items in plastic Walmart bags, tie them in a knot and then tape all of the bags together with strapping tape creating one big large block inside my suitcase.  This has proven the best deterrent from theft, but ticks off the TSA.

Purchase TSA locks and make sure you lock each piece of luggage and have an identification tag with a full name and address on the outside.  I also pack zip ties for the return trip.  Most airlines abroad allow zip ties plus locks and plastic wrap for checked bags.

Implement these tips with a little hard work up front and you'll have a less stressful time once you've arrived at your final destination!  Bon voyage!

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