Today, Erika and I are sharing PART THREE of our three part series where we chat about what we pack and how we operate when we head to certain destinations with our families.
Once a month, we’ve been sharing tips, tricks, dos and don’ts we’ve learned as we’ve traveled/planned other people’s travels. Erika and I talk to people all day, every day at our travel agency, and one of the most popular questions we receive is about packing and just day to day “how do we…” for their trip. So, we’ll share our tips and then PLEASE SHARE YOURS TOO! This can be a great resource for all of us! Because isn’t the worst feeling ever arriving at your destination and realizing you packed all wrong and planned incorrectly?
Today, I’m sharing some of my favorite tips/strategies for TRAVELING ABROAD and Erika is sharing all about BEACH VACATIONS!
These are just a few of our favorite suggestions and ideas, but please, please, please comment and share yours too!!
I mean…traveling abroad is basically like packing for all of these other trips…just maybe a little more intense since you’re leaving the country.
I would say people’s number one question is: HOW AM I GOING TO TALK ON THE PHONE/USE THE INTERNET?
Does that sound like a 2017 kind of question or what? People want to know how they’re going to be able to talk to their friends/family back home and post pics on Instagram. I always suggest two things, but if you have other ideas, PLEASE CHIME IN! First, you need to call your cell phone company before you leave the States. You can upgrade your data plan for the time that you’re abroad so that you can use your phone freely. Just make sure you call them first AND make sure you ask the price. We personally NEVER upgrade our data plan because for some reason, our cellular plan is so darn expensive if we use our phones overseas. It’s like 7 billion dollars a minute. (Or at least it might as well be. #holycow) So, we strictly adhere to Plan B: we connect to WiFi when we can (like in our hotel) and are able to FaceTime (or even just the audio portion of FaceTime) instead. Now, this means that we can only communicate with iPhone people…but that’s basically everyone we know, so that works for us. If you turn your cellular off and place your phone on airplane mode, then you won’t accidentally call/text someone overseas…but if you connect to WiFi, then you can text, FaceTime, post pics on social media, use the internet, etc. I’m not going to lie…it’s also really nice to get away for a few days without your phone ringing or pinging, so we don’t go to great lengths to get a better data plan because we like the phone break.
And I would say the number two question is: WHERE DO I KEEP MY STUFF ON MY BODY WHILE I’M OUT?
I get this one all the time too. Unfortunately, pick-pocketing is a real thing, so I understand why people ask. Some people like to wear their money/passports around their waist in one of those belt things under their clothes. I tried that once and it annoyed me around my middle, so instead, I wear a crossbody bag and keep it in front of me the whole time (and not on the backside of my hip). I would never suggest wearing a backpack. In crowded places (museums, subways, waiting in line, etc), backpacks are easy targets. Andrew always wears a crossbody bag when we travel and he keeps all of the major stuff in there (our passports or copies of our passports, money, anything we’ve bought throughout the day, sunglasses, antibacterial, maps, etc). We figure the odds of someone coming up to the 6’5″ guy and trying to steal stuff is less than them coming up to the 5’3″ girl. Now, we almost always carry our passports with us at all times overseas and leave the copies in our hotel room but you could do the reverse. We feel more comfortable having those on us than leaving them behind. That’s clearly a personal choice, but for us, we’d rather always have our identification on us in case of any sort of emergency situation.
This leads me to another question about stuff I carry around on a trip…
DO YOU TAKE AN ACTUAL CAMERA?
I stopped traveling with an actual camera several years ago and only use my iPhone for pictures now. I do this for several reasons:
1. I’m lazy and it’s easier to just carry one thing.
2. I am less likely to pull out my camera than I am my iPhone.
3. My iPhone takes fantastic pictures. They’re probably better than my camera pictures!
4. It’s just easier to upload things to social media/my blog from my phone than a camera.
Now, all of this iPhone talk leads me to another frequently asked question…
HOW DO YOU KEEP YOUR IPHONE CHARGED?
We (and by we, I mean Andrew) carry around a portable charger. These things are life-savers! We carry one of these, so that if the battery on our phone goes way down, we can charge it. You just plug your phone into the charger and off it goes!
Another question that I’m asked a lot is: HOW DO YOU CONVERT MONEY?
The answer is: I try and let my bank do that for me. Most places in the world accept a good old-fashioned credit card, so we try to stick mostly to that when we’re abroad. This way, my bank is doing the conversion and when I get my credit card statement the next month, it’s all right there on my statement in US dollars. Now, what if we need actual money for things and not a credit card? Then, we get money out of the ATM there so that once again, my bank is doing the conversion for me and it will show up on my next bank statement. Now, sometimes, we exchange money other places (so we give them US dollars and they give us Euros or whatnot) like at a hotel, but for the most part, we just walk right up to a bank and use their ATMs. It’s basically just like using an ATM at home. We click “English”, we swipe our card, we enter in how much money we need and it pops out. This keeps us from having to carry around a bunch of US dollars and exchanging them. Make sense?
So, how do we actually pack our suitcases when we travel abroad? Well, not to sound repetitive or anything, but we pack just like we do for cruises…we pack our suitcases by days.
Allow me to explain once again:
Let’s say you’re going to be gone a week with your family of four and you decide to take three suitcases for the seven nights. I would pack a third of everyone’s stuff in one suitcase and then repeat with the other two suitcases. So, in this scenario, when we arrive, I would immediately, put away suitcases two and three (probably under the bed to get them out of sight) and only unpack or open suitcase number one which has everything everyone needs for the first two days. Then after two days, I put all of the dirty clothes back in suitcase number one and shove that under the bed while at the same time removing suitcase number two and opening it for days three and four. And then I repeat with the last suitcase for days 5, 6 and 7. Make sense?
I love this method for several reasons:
1. If your luggage gets lost, at least all of you have one or two suitcases with a third of your things in it. (My parents went on a cruise just this past September with their best friends and the wife’s suitcase was lost for 5 days of the 10 day trip! Speaking as a travel agent, let me assure you, suitcases do get lost.)
2. You’re not cross-contaminating dirty clothes with clean clothes.
3. You save room in your hotel.
Now, here are things I pack every vacation:
1. Baggies (both large and small). They corral items, they hold stinky items, they keep things organized, they’re good for trash…the list goes on and on.
2. Trash bags. For dirty laundry. It keeps your dirty stuff away from your clean stuff.
3. A lint roller.
4. A portable charger for iPhones (because sometimes, you just cannot find an outlet to charge your phone and you need it charged.)
5. Band-Aids, Band-Aids, Band-Aids.
6. Fingernail clippers and tweezers (because sometimes, you just need these things!)
Now, it’s your turn! Tell us your secrets for traveling abroad. I know you have tips!! Share please!!!
And if you missed this…
…you can read that post HERE.
If you’re a new client and are interested in a vacation by Mix and Match Travel Agency, we are offering our services to Walt Disney World, Mexican all-inclusives, and cruises departing after September 1st. Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions!
Happy Monday! I hope everyone had a wonderful weekend!