If there is one thing I have learned after 20+ years of solo travel, it’s how to pack more efficiently and take precautions when it comes to my travel documents, valuables and personal identity. My “Pre-Travel Packing/Safety Tips” are listed below. Of course, solo travelers are not the only ones who can benefit from these practices. Therefore, I recommend you share them with any family or friends with whom you may be travelling.
- Share your flight, hotel and travel itinerary with one or 2 family members or close friends. Include hotel(s) phone numbers and e-mail addresses.
2. Make a photocopy of your
passport (the main page with all pertinent information, passport no. photo, etc.) and share it with one or two family members or close friends. You will be covered, if your passport is lost while traveling. You will be able to phone, text or e-mail your loved ones for the copy which you can present at a foreign passport office as proof of identity to get a new one issued.
3. Make a second photocopy of your passport to keep with you in a separate place from the original. The original should always be kept with you while travelling. The photocopy can be kept in the safe in the hotel room (if there is one).
4. Keep a list of your credit card companies’ customer service 1-800 numbers, as well as your travel agency’s phone number (if applicable) in a separate location from your credit cards. I recommend keeping this list in your hotel safe, along with your passport. If your credit cards get lost or stolen, you won’t have to scramble to look for the phone numbers for the credit card companies, in order to cancel the existing cards and get issued new ones and temporary numbers for your the remainder of your travel. In addition, you will have your travel agency’s phone number safely stored, so you can call them with any questions, concerns or changes to your travel plans.
5. Buy RFID-blocking sleeves for your credit cards and passport, so thieves cannot scan those items and steal your identity. RFID-blocking sleeves can be purchased at most travel stores or on-line. I purchased mine through HSN (Home Shopping Network), when I bought my new luggage. They are very inexpensive and you’ll get a few sleeves in a pack. RFID (radio frequency identification) is how credit card and passport agencies can track your locations. These days, thieves carry scanners to steal those frequencies and your information. Those scanners are used without even touch you. They need only scan your body, purse or luggage from a short distance away. Crazy, right?! The RFID-blocking sleeves will prevent the radio frequency on your cards and passport from being stolen. Note: RFID-blocking bags are also available.
6. Don’t overpack clothes and shoes. In my experience, people tend to wear the same clothes and shoes more than once because they favor the look and comfort of them.
a) Bring no more than 3 pairs of shoes. Wear the bulkiest shoes on the plane. Pack the other two. Choose shoe colors that will go with everything e.g. black and beige (or taupe).
b) Bring clothes you can mix-and-match. For instance, in one regulation size carry-on for a plane’s overhead (dimensions vary by airline but approximately 22 inches in length, 9 inches depth, 14 inches width), pack 3 pairs of pants, 3 tops and 1 dress and you’ll have 10 outfits. That will more than cover a one week vacation. If you pack a skirt instead of a dress, you’ll have 12 outfits.
c) The increased space in your luggage will allow you to pack a few extra undergarments and socks which I highly recommend because you might be out all day long and wish to freshen up before the evening’s events 😉
d) Wear a blazer or sweater on the plane that matches back to the outfits you packed.
e) Pack 1 or more decorative scarves that can complement your packed outfits and which can also be worn on the plane. Planes can be quite chilly at times. Keep one scarf handy in your carry-on or smaller personal item.
f) Pack all necessary medications and liquid items (this includes liquid make-up) you will need for your comfort. Make sure that each of your carry-on liquids is no more than 3 oz. and that they ALL fit into one quart-sized, resealable baggie. All other non-essential items should be packed into your checked luggage (if you have one) or left behind at home.
g) Carry on to the plane any clothes or other items you need or would miss terribly, if your checked bag got lost or delayed en route to your final destination.
h) Carry on to the plane one or two changes of clothes, including underwear, socks and sleepwear, in case your checked luggage gets lost or delayed in route to your final destination. At least you’ll know you’re set for a few days.
i) Pack an umbrella. Bring it on the plane, if possible.
j) Carry on your chargers for your phone and other electronic devices (camera, laptop, etc.), and adaptor(s) for foreign countries . If your checked luggage gets lost or delayed, you’ll have peace of mind that these items are ready and available for you.
k) Carry on a few energy bars or other snacks for your plane ride or your waits at airports.
l) Carry on tissues and dental floss. I don’t like to bother brushing my teeth on planes because it’s too cumbersome and plane bathrooms are gross; floss is easier.
m) E-mail your hotel(s) in advance of your trip re: available room amenities (hair dryer, toiletries/dop-kits). This can help you decide what, if anything, you don’t want/need not to pack. You may be able to lighten your load. Ask them about complimentary (or paid) airport/hotel shuttles and early check-in policy (your plane may land at the crack of dawn!).
n) Buy some local currency for the country(ies) you are visiting. You can do this in the airports. I recommend that you have at least USD $50-$100 worth of local currency to pay for taxis, tips and other small purchases where credit cards may not be accepted. In addition, always travel with a VISA or MASTERCARD, as well as an AMERICAN EXPRESS card. There are many restaurants, retailers and other establishments around the world which do not accept AMERICAN EXPRESS. If you decide to bring traveler’s checks, get those before you leave on your trip. Just remember to follow the safety precautions for the traveler’s checks.
There you have them, folks! My top pre-travel packing/safety tips. I hope you find them helpful. Travel should be fun with minimal stress. These tips are meant to reduce your stress and lighten your physical and mental load.
Now, get out there and have a great vacation!
ROAM. REVEL. REPEAT.