It’s safe to say that travel has resumed for many around the world, especially for vaccinated travelers. Over the past three months, I’ve had the opportunity to travel through France twice and over to the west coast of the United States twice, something that just didn’t happen during our COVID lockdowns. It feels good to be able to get out and see the world again, both domestically and internationally.
As we get back into the swing of things when it comes to getting on and off airplanes, trains, and in and out of automobiles, we may feel a little rusty when it comes to packing and preparing for a journey. I know I was the first time I stepped on an airplane after being away for some time–even as an experienced traveler. So, I wanted to take a moment to compile a list of some of my travel tips that may help you as you get ready for your next trip. Now, this is not an exhaustive list, and I’ve tried to leave off the obvious. Of course, you will need extra masks and sanitizers in the age of COVID travel. It’s important to check with the airline to see if there is a specific type of mask required. (AirFrance requires surgical masks. No cloth masks.) I also recommend always having your vax card readily available, as it can be your ticket into restaurants and entertainment in some destinations.
You may have other tips that work for you, and that’s great as we all travel a bit differently. Again, these are little tidbits I’ve picked up along the way that may be a good reminder for those of you who plan on hitting the road soon.
Here are my top 10 “getting back to travel” tips.
- Always carry one or more portable chargers, at least two cell phone cords/chargers, and at least two adaptors that work for your destination. Remember that different countries around the world have different voltages when it comes to electricity, so you will need a specific adaptor for that country’s outlets. If you are traveling to Europe, here is where you can purchase European adaptors easily on Amazon. It is possible for things like your iPhone charger to “explode” when plugged into a foreign outlet (happened to a friend recently), so it’s always a good idea to have at least two on hand.
- We live in a digital world, but cash is still king. Always have it! I don’t care if it’s dollars or Euros or pesos or whatever. Before you leave the airport, it’s always a good idea to have some cash on you. In many places, credit cards may not work or be accepted. I always leave a country with a little bit of leftover cash (Euro coins, 5 euros, etc…) so that when I return, I will have a bit to get me by once I land. Don’t forget that many places in Europe still require a small payment to use the toilet, so it’s necessary to have at least a few physical Euros on hand. (This is true at the Montpellier train station, by the way.)
- Carry a spare outfit (or 2), including underwear, in your carry-on. Anyone who travels frequently on multiple planes has had their luggage delayed or stuck somewhere at some point in their life. You don’t want to arrive somewhere without a clean outfit for the next day. Usually, the airline can trace your bag and get it to you rather quickly, but it’s always a good idea to be prepared with some clothes on hand. I also use these super easy organizers to pack my clothes in when I’m traveling for a long time. I stick an extra couple of outfits inside one of these pouches and throw it in my carry-on for easy access at my destination.
- Bring socks for the airplane. This is something I never really did until recently, but it does help a bit with comfort when you fly. It’s not always great to see everyone take off their shoes on long flights, but I will say that eventually, your feet will swell, and wearing shoes will hurt. I’m now in the “take off my shoes and wear socks” camp when it comes to long-haul flights. Consider compression socks if you are worried about blood flow throughout a long flight.
- Bring your own headphones and multiple types. If you’re like me, I don’t sleep well on planes, and it’s hard for me to read or work. Therefore, I end up watching movies most of the time. I always have my own headphones with me as sometimes they do not offer them on planes, or at least not for free unless you are in a premium cabin. Always carry a couple of headphone types in case you need something different for the plane vs. your phone, etc… These are the headphones I travel with and I also use them with my computer.
- Download the airline app before you get on the plane. Preferrably, do this before you leave your house where you have good wifi. I’ve seen people try to download the app while sitting on the airplane, and it just doesn’t work because the service is bad. The airline’s app will be able to give you valuable information about your reservation, connecting gates, future flights, etc.. and some airlines (like American) will provide entertainment through their app if there are no TVs on the plane. Again, make sure you have headphones that work with your phone so that you can watch shows or listen to music through the airline’s app while on the plane.
- Bringing your own refillable water bottle can be a life saver and a money saver! We all know that airlines are a little skimpy with the drinks these days, so it’s a good idea to have your own water with you throughout the flight. Additionally, your own water bottle can help you save money (and the planet!) by not having to buy plastic bottles everywhere you go. Most airports have bottle filling stations located at the water fountains now, so it’s easy to keep cold water in your own bottle. The Corkcicle bottles keep water extra cold for a very long time, and are easy to travel with if you are carrying a backpack or extra bag. Just don’t forget to pour out the water before you go through security! You can always refill on the other side.
- Ladies! This one is for you. Men, you can skip if you want. It’s never fun to be in a bathroom stall finishing your business and realize that there is no toilet paper. This seems to happen far too often when you travel. I never leave the country or get on a plane without these biodegradable and flushable wipes in my purse. They are discreet and will really make you feel better about using public toilets when you travel.
- Screenshot everything! Screenshot your boarding pass, your train ticket, your hotel reservation confirmation, your arrival host’s contact info, everything! You never know when the service may be out or wifi is inaccessible. Take pictures of all important documents and information, especially if it lives on the Internet, because you may not be able to access your email or a website at your destination. It’s always better to have backups.
- Always pack your patience. I was recently on a flight that had a medical emergency, and we had to divert to an airprt that was not on my original itinierary. Luckily, the crew was able to safely land the plane and get the person to a hospital. However, that meant the rest of us were going to be late for connecting flights. Not a life or death situation for us, but one that requires extra patience. Travel can be unpredictable, so make sure you bring your “go with the flow” attitude. Enjoy the journey–one delay could end up being a new adventure. Always remember the golden rule of the skies–don’t be a dick.
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