I’ve been doing quite a lot of travel over the years. So far, I’ve been to Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Croatia, Dominican Republic, France, Italy, Mexico, Philippines, Portugal, Puerto Rico (yup – I am aware it’s part of the US), and Spain. I’ve picked up a few things along the way that have made my travels much easier. I’ll share with you, and update this post as I learn more things throughout my travels.
Travel Tips & Tricks
1. Bring undies & essentials in your carry on: When Antonio and I went to Brussels in 2013, our flight was delayed an entire day. We arrived 3 hours early for our 7pm flight. They boarded us on the plane and let us sit in the plane for 5 hours. We were taken off the plane and were made to wait while they got a new plane. We boarded the 2nd plane, but “the catering carts” did not make it, so they cancelled the flight. This was at 3am the next morning. The “help” desk got us a hotel room in lovely Jamaica, Queens (eww). We did not fly out until 7pm the next day. Lesson learned? Be prepared for the unexpected. I now always carry the following in my carry on (click here for a few more things you may want to bring):
- spare undies
- a simple tee-shirt dress
- spare socks
- a pre-pasted toothbrush
- a travel pack of baby wipes (perfect for refreshing your face when you land)
- Spare contact lenses (if you’re visually impaired like me)
- Prescriptions (I always keep these with me, always)
- Granola bar
2. Take a photo of your rental car: I forget things…so it’s much easier to find your rental car if you’ve taken a picture of it as well as the license plate. Also, take a video of your rental car when you pick it up and when you drop it off. Makes it much easier if you need to argue with the rental company.
3. Important Vital info: I put vital information onto a google spreadsheet. It includes flight number & times, addresses and contacts for where I will be staying, travel insurance, and confirmation numbers. As long as there is internet access, I can log onto google and get this info. Then I take a screenshot from my phone so that if I am offline I can access this info…and for just in case, you can print out this sheet and print out multiple copies (your hand bag, luggage, etc). I email this to Antonio (my life & travel partner) and to my mom – so that someone trustworthy has a copy.
4. Compression bags: These are awesome, and not just because they save space. If airport officials need to open your bags, it is much easier to re-organize if things are in bags. These are see through, and each time we’ve had our bags opened, airport officials have nicely put them back. No need to re-fold.
5. Maps: Take screenshots (or pictures) of maps (I google my destination and screencap that). This can include a map of the whole city, or say you are going to a restaurant, the route from your residence to the restaurant.
7. SIM Cards: Whenever you land, find a mobile communications store and get a SIM card. Switch it out and you’ve got yourself a phone for that country. I usually also get an internet plan. UPDATE: T-Mobile has an incredible International plan. Check it out (not sponsored – but I’m so happy with their service).
9. Pack light, dress like a local: There is no need to bring three bags of clothing with you. Tourists stick out because they look completely different than the locals. I usually bring the absolute basics, and find a store to shop in the day after I arrive. This makes the trip to the airport much easier, it helps with blending in, and I have “souvenirs” to bring home. It’s kinda nice to remember that you were at a particular place the last time you wore a certain outfit.
10. Leave the toiletries at home: These are heavy, cumbersome, and can be purchased at your destination. Bring just travel size if you absolutely need to, and hit up the local stores when you arrive. I find that (at least in most European countries) toiletries are also in English.
11. Documents: I’ve scanned my passport and ID and emailed it to myself. This will come in handy if they are lost or stolen. My mom has a copy of these as well.
12. Money: Bring money of course, and bring both your denomination as well as that of the country you are traveling to. American Express is not loved throughout the world, so make sure that you have a visa/mastercard with a healthy limit. Lastly, ask your credit card provider to send you a “chipped” card. A lot of places abroad cannot read an un-chipped credit card.
13. Airbnb: Or homeaway or a similar service. Why? You get so much more for your money. In a hotel, you get a room. With Airbnb you can get an entire home with a kitchen. This means you don’t have to buy a plate of $15 eggs for breakfast. There are all types of properties available on these websites and you can choose according to your budget and needs. If you’re worried about safety, I’ve been using Airbnb for years and I still love them…so you’ll be a-ok. If you want some tips on choosing the perfect Airbnb for your needs, click here for my post on that or watch the video above.
I’ll be adding more Travel Tips as I come up with them. If you have more, add them to the comments. I’d be thrilled to learn how you travel smart, and if you have specific questions, do the same. I’ll answer you in a jiffy.