After years of traveling and spending much of that time doing everything wrong, I decided to sit down and make a list of some travel tips.
Here’s my Top Ten that you can use if you’re getting ready to travel for the holidays — or for any purpose really.
Have a favorite travel tip? Be sure to post it in the comment section.
- Purchase some anti-bacterial, moisture-wicking undergarments and take them on any trips that may involve high temps, a lot of walking, excessive physical activity, or prolonged wear/re-use of said undergarments.
- Carry the travel-size packets of laundry detergent (Tide makes good ones) so you can wash clothes in your bathroom sink. This works surprisingly well, particularly for undergarments and socks. And hotel laundry fees are insane. Avoid at all costs, unless your employer is footing the bill and won’t reject the expense
- AVOID CHECKING BAGS AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE! I have flown A LOT, many times for several weeks at a time, and I’ve very rarely had to check a bag. I can fit two weeks worth of clothes into one 26″ carry-on roller. Just pack smart. If you check bags you run the ridiculously high risk of them getting lost (I’ve experienced about a 10-15% loss rate, later to be recovered, while checking). You have to wait much longer at the airport while your bags make their way to the conveyor belt, and you run the risk of pissing off all of the other colleagues in your party who were smart and carried on, and now have to wait for your stupid ass to get his bags.
- Don’t buy trendy four-wheel, polycarbonate luggage. This is a huge trend right now and these are the worst bags for travel. They’re terribly on non-smooth, flat surface, the dent and scratch VERY easily (just look at the floor models in your local luggage shop), they’re slow, and they have easy-to-break wheels. A durable two-wheeled roller is superior. Get one with nice, big rollerblade wheels. And spend money for a good one. It will last longer. I have a Tumi that has lasted me six years of heavy travel and is still going strong. Before it I went through about one bag a year. And Tumi will replace broken parts for free. Great service.
- Pack up a small first aid kit that includes pain meds, anti-diahhrial, laxatives, Benedryl, cold meds, Tums, sore throat treatment, bandages, disinfectant, and other things you’d want if you we’re sick and didn’t have easy access to them. Always keep this in your bag.
- Buy a $20 phone calling card in case you get stuck somewhere and don’t have money or phone. Keep this away from your wallet and somewhere that it’s least likely to disappear.
- Similar to above, buy a Visa gift card with $100-200 on it and keep in a similar safe, hidden location. This is only to be used for emergencies. Losing your wallet and having no ID nor money while traveling abroad can be a nightmare.
- Store copies of critical info, including IDs, in an Evernote note or Dropbox folder so you can access it from any browser if needed.
- Store your credit card numbers in an encrypted Evernote note, assuming you trust Evernote and its encryption. This can come in very handy.
- Carry a ten foot length of brightly colored string/para cord in your suitcase. If you use the hotel safe, tie one end to the handle and the other end to something you can’t possibly forget, like a suitcase. Otherwise there’s a good chance that you’ll forget that you put things in the safe and will have to get the hotel to ship it to you. Not that I learned this lesson the hard way…
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Jerry Nelson is an American freelance photojournalist. When not traveling, he can be found on the streets of Buenos Aires as Lead Photographer for BuenosTours, the largest private tour company in South America. Connect with Jerry on MosaicHub, Facebook or LinkedIn today. Have a story that needs to reach national media? Email him today.
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