Travel Tips & Packing Lists

June 1, 2017

This was the disaster the night before we were leaving Iceland heh.  Packing tips (and what NOT to pack) below. 

This advice is more for the carryon traveler or the lightweight traveler, however it can be applied to those traveling with a giant suitcase as well ;)(especially if you want extra room in your suitcase coming back for all those treasures you picked up along the way) 

 

My advice depends entirely on the season of travel and on the location; for example, I packed much differently for my trip to Iceland than I have for any of my previous trips as I generally tend to gravitate AWAY from cold places having grown up in Canada heh. 

 

Travel Insurance: IS A MUST! I can't stress this enough.  If you're thinking, "I've already spent a ton of money on this trip and I don't want to have to fork out a bit more for the insurance," just buy the damn insurance.  I've heard and met too many people with horror stories of crashed scooters or ski accidents or broken limbs or what have you, and if you don't have the insurance you will have to pay out of pocket and potentially for the rest of your life if you don't have say 30 grand (or more, especially if you're visiting the U.S.!) sitting in your bank account at home to pay for it all.  (You still might have to pay out of pocket for some procedures even with the insurance (depending on the company and coverage), but at least then the insurance company will reimburse you). And read the fine print so you know what you are covered for (or what you're *not* covered for).  Always contact the insurance company before any procedure is done or it could potentially void your coverage.

 

RANDOM TRAVEL TIPS (more to come!):

 

* Keep a photocopy of your passport in your bag or take a picture of it and email it to yourself (do this with all your important travel documents)

 

* Roll your clothes!  This does two things, it helps keep wrinkles down a little, and it allows you to fit more into your bag (I know you're thinking, but it still takes up the same amount of space doesn't it? Just try it, seriously, it works)

 

* NEVER EVER EVER put anything of value in your checked bag(s).  You know those horror stories you've heard of people who have had their engagement rings or laptops or (fill in random expensive item here) stolen out of their checked bags?  Avoid this by never checking anything of value!  It's also a good idea to keep a stuffable small backpack with you just in case they force you to gate check your bag -- that way you can pull out anything of value and shove it inside the small backpack to stick under the seat in front of you.

 

* If you do check a bag, always keep at least one extra outfit in your carryon, just in case the airline loses your luggage (it happens)

 

* If you want to keep your carryon weight down, wear your heaviest items on the plane (yes that means your big boots or your heavy shoes, that thick sweater, those bulky jeans, etc).  You can generally swap these out for less heavy items if they're uncomfortable or too hot after you've gone through security, but this will help keep your bag under the weight limit *IF* they weigh it (I've rarely had my carryon weighed, but when it has happened it's a pain to try to get the weight down standing in front of a line of people who are also trying to checkin - IF the gate agent lets you and don't try to just force you to check the bag right then and there - happened to a friend coming back from Cancun once, I would have argued that but I wasn't there..).

 

* Taxi drivers in foreign countries (and even in your own) can sometimes rip you off.  To avoid this, make sure you are aware of how much the ride SHOULD cost, approximately how far you need to go, and ensure that the meter is running when you get in.  You can use a site like Taxi Fare Finder to determine how much you SHOULD be paying.  (Even though I am very aware of this, I've still been scammed a few times by taxi drivers - in Heraklion (Crete) last summer, the driver insisted that he wasn't able to get me closer to the hotel due to road closures, AND overcharged me, where the friend who was meeting me up a couple hours later was delivered right to the front door of the hotel and paid the typical taxi rate).  Years ago my mother was staying in Montreal, and she got in the taxi and told him where she needed to go, and he turned on the meter and took her on a half hour ride around the city before dropping her off.  The ride back was only a few minutes, the first taxi driver had taken her on the "scenic" route in order to beef up the meter charge.

 

Packing Lists:

 

General items for all trips:

  • PASSPORT & driver's license (driver's license only necessary if you'll be renting a vehicle, but it's always a good idea to have two pieces of ID with you when you travel anyways)

  • Travel Insurance Card (see my page on travel insurance here!) 

  • Credit card(s) & debit card(s) 

  • Cash (if I'm not going off the beaten track and out in the middle of nowhere I rarely bother trying to get money out ahead of time - as ATM's are easy to find and most places take credit cards - however some banks will charge you extra fees for withdrawing cash outside of your home country, and there are the odd locations where ATM's can be difficult to find.  I generally bring around $50-100 USD for emergencies, as many places around the world will accept USD or at least have a currency exchange place you can use - and there are the occasional places where you need to pay for a visa upon arrival and they often will only accept USD - this happened to us when we landed in Kenya, we were only supposed to have a layover and not a stopover but our incoming flight was delayed and we missed our connection and had to pay for a visa to stay overnight!)

  • Cellphone & charger

  • Music player (if it's not your cellphone) & headphones

  • Camera & charger, extra memory card(s)

  • Toiletries (shampoo & conditioner, toothbrush & toothpaste, disposable razor, comb/brush, deodorant, makeup - see carry-on liquids allowance here)

  • Ear plugs & eye mask (great for noisy airplanes or loud hotels and bad curtains)

  • Inflatable pillow (optional, for the plane)

  • Sunglasses (you may think you don't need these if you're going somewhere cold and rainy, but sometimes the cold places can have the brightest sun - it reflects off the snow!)

  • Plug adapters (& potentially converters, however I've only needed one of those once - for charging one of my portable battery packs - see electrical outlets & plug adapter information here)

  • Drugs (and I don't mean the fun ones, NEVER bring those on a trip if you're into that):  but if you're going somewhere where pharmacies could be difficult to find it's a good idea to bring things like headache pills, anti-diarrhea pills, allergy medications, epipen if you need one, antacids

  • Mini first aid kit (I generally travel with at least a few adhesive bandages and maybe some antiseptic wipes with me - if I'm going to be doing more intense activities I will bring a small but full first aid kit along)  

  • Towel (I recommend the PacTowl or looking into another of the lightweight towels - see my page on lightweight travel gear here)

  • Portable battery pack(s) (handy to recharge your phone or camera if you're out and about all day)

  • Small flashlight (not really necessary with cell phones but can be handy if your phone battery dies)

  • Snacks for the plane

  • Bug spray and/or sunscreen (depending where you're going)

***If you are bringing electronics, double check what you are allowed to bring  in your checked bag and your carryon - especially given the recent US and UK electronics bans!***

 

The following clothing lists are what I tend to bring on a trip as a bare minimum, add or remove things as required

 

What to pack for a COLD climate:

* Boots (depending on where you will be going these could be: hiking boots, snow boots, rain boots)

* Shoes (MAX 2 pairs: 1 comfortable pair for walking around in, and 1 nice pair to go with your 'going out' outfit -but even better if your comfy pair can double as your going out pair as well!)

* Toque (pronounce two-k, for those non-Canadians this is also known as a beanie, or a knitted cap)

* Scarf

* Gloves (I recommend going with windproof & waterproof) 

* LAYERS LAYERS LAYERS:

   * Top Layers:

      1 long johns (aka long underwear)

      3 t-shirts (one to wear, one to wash, one for while the washed one is drying)

      1 long sleeved shirt

      1 sweater

      1 lightweight jacket (either a thin wind and rain proof jacket if you're going to a rainy place, or an insulated one if you're going to a cold place, in rare occasions both could be required (eg Iceland in May))

   * Bottom Layers: 

      1 long johns (aka long underwear)

      2 pants

      1 comfy loungy or yoga pants

      1 pair of rain proof or snow proof pants (optional, depends on what you'll be doing while you're traveling: snowboarding? hiking to waterfalls?) 

* 5 socks & 5 underwear (not necessary to bring enough for the entire trip, they're easy to wash in the sink)

* 1 nice outfit (but lightweight: this means maybe a dress with leggings or a dress shirt and nice pants) for going out 

* PJ's

* Swimsuit (optional - if you're going somewhere with hot springs or a hot tub I highly recommend it!)

 

What to pack for a HOT climate (hint: much less!):

* Comfy shoes (1 pair)

* Sandals (1 comfy pair)

* 1 nice pair of shoes or sandals for going out

* 1 nice outfit (sundress or nice shirt & dress pants)

* 1 pair of shorts

* 1 pair of pants (even if it's going to be extremely hot where I'm going I always wear pants on the plane - if the A/C is on they can be freeeeeezing!!!)

* 4 shirts

* 5 socks & 5 underwear (not necessary to bring enough for the entire trip, these are easy to wash in the sink)

* Swimsuit 

* PJ's

 

What to pack for a MIXED climate trip:

* Boots (depending on where you will be going these could be: hiking boots, snow boots, rain boots)

* Shoes (1 comfortable pair)

* Sandals (1 comfortable pair)

* 1 nice pair of shoes or sandals for going out 

* Toque (pronounce two-k, for those non-Canadians this is also known as a beanie, or a knitted cap)

* Gloves (wind & waterproof) 

* LAYERS LAYERS LAYERS:

   * Top Layers:

      1 long johns aka long underwear

      3 t-shirts (one to wear, one to wash, one for while the washed one is drying)

      1 long sleeved shirt

      1 sweater

      1 lightweight jacket (either wind and rain proof if you're going to a rainy place, or warm if you're going to a cold place, in rare occasions both could be required (eg Iceland in May))

   * Bottom Layers: 

      1 long johns aka long underwear

      1 pants

      1 shorts

      1 pair of rain proof or snow proof pants (optional, depends on what you'll be doing while you're traveling: snowboarding? hiking to waterfalls?) 

* 5 socks & 5 underwear (not necessary to bring enough for the entire trip, they're easy to wash in the sink)

* 1 nice outfit for going out (but lightweight)

* PJ's

* Swimsuit

 

What NOT to pack:

  • guns

  • knives or other sharp objects

  • aerosol cans

  • lighters (you are generally allowed one but not more than that, and generally not allowed in your checked bag)

  • meats and cheese and other food items (check with each countries import regulations, some places allow certain items but not others, know what you're allowed to bring!)

  • booze and cigarettes outside of your import allowance

bullets

 

Hopefully you find some of these suggestions useful, if you have tips of your own or items that you never leave without let me know in the comments below!

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