TravelTips

This or That? and How to Pack

After having actual experiences traveling, there is some advice that I now realize would have been much appreciated before I headed of on my splendid adventures.  Hopefully this kind of information can be useful to others’ future travels. (Most of the information is for multi-destination travels) If you have any questions with regards to how to pack that I didn’t answer here, feel free to contact me. I may have some answers…

This or That? –

Backpack or suitcase?  For my first big travels, this option was tough. I was going to be spending about 5 months in one place (Spain), but also would be taking weekend trips to other parts of Spain and other countries. Not only that, but at the end of my excursion I would be spending about a month on the road (buses, planes, trains, you name it). Against my will, I was talked into the suitcase option, and it was the WRONG CHOICE. If you are planning a trip where you will be on the move in any capacity, I would choose a proper backpack. It is much easier to carry (hands-free, and you don’t have to worry about those difficult cobblestone streets). With both hands free there are so many more practical things you can do – read a map, take a drink of water, use your phone (which I avoid when traveling, but hey), eat a sandwich (vegetarian, I hope!), etc. I struggled with the suitcase: there were not as many small pockets as what are available on my backpack, and it was a pain in the butt to drag through airports and small cobblestone roads, not to mention if you want to do anything outdoorsy! Overall choose a backpack! My backpack of choice was the Carin 68 by Gregory (http://www.gregorypacks.com/products/womens/technical/329/cairn-68). It is a large backpack, but I did not want to be limited with my size (In a week I am heading to Portland, OR with it, and in August, I will be walking 3 weeks on El Camino de Santiago in Spain with it.) So far on my weekend excursions, it has been a great choice.

Just after the sun goes down. Lake Michigan

Just after the sun goes down. Lake Michigan (Carin 68 Backpack by Gregory)

Cell Phone or Wifi-Capable device? This is dependent on the situation. If you are going to be spending some major time in one country, I would suggest to by a phone there. Get a cheap pre-paid phone. The amount of hassle saved when trying to meet up with someone was definitely worth the 20 euros I spent to buy it. Plus, it was easy to put extra minutes (in Euros) onto it, and I will be using it again when I go back to Spain in August. On the other hand, if you are planning on hoping around a lot, the best thing is a wifi-capable device. If you bring your phone out of country, the phone companies like to charge you lots of money for things, even if you don’t use your phone (because it is “looking for” or connecting to signal). If you do choose to bring your cell phone from home, I suggest leaving it on airplane mode or something of the like to avoid extra charges. Wifi-capable (smart) devices work even better though, as long as you can connect to the internet you have free international calling and texting right on the tips of your fingers. The app “Viber” allows for this, and is super easy and reliable.

Tips on How to Pack –

1. PACK LIGHT – In the past, I have over-packed, and I have under-packed. Over-packing simply weighs you down when you are on the move. You really don’t need those extra two pairs of jeans or those three bags of make-up. Traveling is not a fashion show ladies! Besides dragging around a lighter bag, you can always purchase something if you really end up needing it.

2. GOOD SHOES – usually when traveling you end up walking a lot, whether it be to and from public transportation, seeing the sights, or hiking through the woods. Good worn-in shoes are a must. I personally like my keens (http://www.keenfootwear.com/us/en/product/shoes/women/trailhead/verdi%20wp/brindle!hot%20coral), but they are more of a hiker-type shoe. When it’s warmer and I have a day without heavy walking, I love to wear my Birkenstock sandals.

3. Chargers and ADAPTERS/CONVERTERS – don’t forget chargers for your phone (if you choose to bring one), camera, laptop, ebook, ipod, or whatever other device you might bring along. Some devices will only need an adapter. Check and see if the charger/device can handle the voltage (it is usually in small print on the charger for ipods/phones and on the device for items such as hair straighteners or curlers). If the device/charger is compatible with the voltage used in the country you are going to, you will not need a converter. You only need a converter when the voltage is not compatible.

4. WEATHER GEAR – Don’t forget to check the weather before you go, and depending on the forecast, make sure you have proper gear for all the weather. Depending on how long you will be gone, you may want to pack some gear for other types of weather. The longer you are gone, the more chance you have of experiencing all different types of weather – rain, sun, snow, etc.

5. Learn to LAYER – layering makes packing lightly easier. You can dress for cool or warm weather. Plus, you can create different outfits, so it doesn’t look as if you are wearing some of the same cloths over and over again (even if you are!).

6. Pack SMART – Dress in heavier cloths, so they don’t take up room in your bag. Stuff small items such as socks into shoes. Pack anything breakable by wrapping it in cloths (this is especially helpful after buying souvenirs). Put things that you want easy access to in side pockets or on the top (ie. toothbrush, toothpaste)

7. ROLL – I prefer to roll my clothing instead of folding. I feel that it saves space, and makes things easier to find.

Before you leave, do NOT forget –

1. If you are traveling out of the country, remember to notify your bank or credit union. If you do not do this, it is possible that they will close your account thinking you are being Xhacked. Also, some banks may require you to put money on a pre-paid debt card, which takes a couple of weeks to process.

2. If you take any prescription drugs, make sure you have enough for your time traveling. If you are going to be gone for an extended period of time, you may have to talk to your insurance carrier to see how much medicine you can get in advanced.

3. If going abroad, make sure you passport is up-to-date. And, do NOT forget it! (Also, it is good to have a copy of your passport and other travel documents sent to your e-mail just in case it some how gets lost.)

4. Mark your luggage with contact info (name, number (with area and country code, and e-mail address).

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