Tuesday, May 08, 2012

Smart Travel Supplies

All of our world travel has caused me to become a smart and light packer. Through trial and error I've come up with a list of what I believe are long travel essentials. I see decadent travel lists in magazines often, but this list is for the rest of us.

Let's first address clothing. Make sure that you know what clothing is culturally appropriate. They can already tell you're the goofy foreigner, so try not to stick out like a sore clothing thumb. A coat can come in handy anytime of the year while traveling. You can use it as a blanket, pillow or object to block out light while sleeping. A scarf for ladies can also be useful for covering necklines that are too low or as a light blanket to ward off the chilly air in the plane.
After learning the inner of airlines, I'm shocked that any checked baggage ever makes it to its destination at the same time as the passenger! So, always bring at least one full change of clothes in your carry on.

Since luggage is often lost, accidentally torn open or otherwise treated with no TLC, never pack anything of value in checked luggage. If you can't toss your luggage across your yard and have your luggage stay intact, then don't expect it to last long in the metal underbelly of a plane. Again, no meds, breakables, valuables, electronics in checked baggage unless you're prepared for its possible loss.

Think about how big of a carry on you might want to bring. Make sure it's a bag or backpack that you don't mind running with through a large, crowded airport. Bring a water bottle and fill it up as soon as you can after you clear security. Flying is dehydrating, so you'll be more comfortable if you consciously hydrate. Melatonin, tylenol pm or other OTC sleep aids are great for overseas trips. Melatonin may help your body adapt more quickly to a new time zone if you take it as you fly to your destination.
Flying and sleeping are not compatible and I've found some things that make my overseas flight sleeping a little more comfortable. Bring a couple of blow up camping pillows to cushion you from a hard seat or arm rest. A neck pillow can also help keep you from slouching onto your neighbor. A light blanket, coat or scarf is also great to help you feel more cozy which in turn might help you relax enough to get some sleep.

As for entertainment and navigation overseas, and iPod can be your best friend. There are translation apps that can help you have phrases available if you don't know the language. You can save maps of the area you're going to for reference when you arrive as well.  If you have a long layover, can't sleep, or need to look like you don't care about your surrounding and certainly aren't lost thank you very much, then you can stick your headphones on and tune out on something that's familiar. I load mine with free TV shows, some movies and entertaining podcasts. I would also recommend getting a couple exercise routines (pilates, yoga) that you can do anywhere to help an achy back or tight shoulders. I also recommend an e-reader to keep your packing light. Most libraries are now loaning e-books, so check a couple out before you leave on your trip. Any mindless game like Sudoku, crosswords and the like can keep you occupied while you have to have your devices off during take off and landing.

Because I'm a mom, I have always traveled with a large bag of snacks. Here's some of our favorites:
-Trail mix
-Granola bars
-baby carrots
-red pepper
-bagel w/ crm cheese
-candy bars
-string cheese
-pumpkin seeds

Most of this I see as common sense, but some of it may be new to you and I hope you find it useful.
Anything I've missed?