First and foremost, when traveling, it is easier and faster to just have a carry on bag with instead of checked luggage. Being a minimalist traveler really pays off. You save time on arrival since you do not have to wait in baggage claim or risk having a lost bag.
Most countries have smaller cars and taxis than here in the USA. With excess luggage it can be hard to get everything in the car.
You can use public transit in the big cities without a lot of extra items to drag. Trust me – you can get a lot in a suitcase if you plan ahead.
Lets go over the essentials to have in your carry on bag.
- Having a short extension cord with multiple plugs, it will be highly useful as the outlets in the airports are very popular with other passengers eager to charge as well.
- Bring a small blanket and pillow. They can squish into nothing. And trust me when you are in a center seat in coach for 15 hours you will be very happy. Also pack eyeshades and earplugs and headphones. A short airport layover, might not always turn out to be a short layover…..
- Have handy some comfy socks or slippers to put on once on board. It’s the little things that help make the flight enjoyable.
- Roll your clothing to maximize every inch of space in your carry on. This also helps prevents wrinkling.
- Wear your bulkier shoes and items when traveling to save room in your suitcase.
- Bring powdered detergent in a plastic baggie and dryer sheets to be able to wash your clothes. Most hotels have self-laundry facilities. It fills up hardly any room and can come in extremely handy. You can even use the sink in your hotel room. The dryer sheets can be put in-between your clothes and help mask the smell of your dirty clothes.
- Bring some basic meds; no more than 3 oz. each. This will be worth gold if someone starts to get the chills or has a stomach-ache. They don’t carry much at the airports and who knows what you’re getting in a foreign pharmacy.
- A converter if traveling internationally
- An insulated cooler bag that can lay flat over you clothes
- A twin air mattress – more info on this to follow!
So, it might sound like you need to pack your entire closet, laundry room and camping gear………but, think small. All these items really do not fill up much room.
Depending on your destination, we have found it helpful to pack a foldable cooler. Like the ones they have at Costco and Wal-Mart. It fills up little room and when you are at a hotel, you can pack a lunch and some drinks. You can use the hotel ice machine to fill it. We hit the local supermarket and get some supplies. Bread, peanut butter and jelly. Cold cuts if the hotel room has a small refrigerator. You can save a lot of money on the road by doing little things like this.
Most hotel rooms in Europe and other countries are quite small. So in one of the carry-ons we sometimes have a twin size blow up mattress and sheet. Just so we can be a bit more comfortable sleeping. Now the tricky part is finding enough floor space to put it on!! It fills up about 1/2 of one carry on suitcase.
If the hotel you want to stay at is full, call them directly and ask when the cancellation date is; that being the date that people with reservations can cancel by and not get charged. Then call them that morning to see if any rooms have opened up.
Check your travel dates with the local public holidays. You might be in Paris on May 1, wondering why a stranger is handing you a Lily Of The Nile flower, the streets are empty and everything is closed. Then, you find out its May Day, their version of Labor Day!!!
Get foreign currency before you leave. Travelex is a good source. Credit cards do not always work overseas. Some need to have a chip and pin code. Also, sometimes your card might have additional fees when traveling abroad.
Travel insurance it not a bad idea either.
Travel in the off-season. You will get better deals and fewer crowds.
Useful links to help plan you trip:
http://www.kayak.com/ Great deals on hotels, rental cars, flights, etc.
http://www.worldatlas.com/ Maps of the country you are interested in and some fast facts.
http://www.aviewoncities.com/ Another great site for city and country maps.
http://www.weather.com/ OK Sherlock – it might seem silly – but none the less, very useful!
http://travel.state.gov/ Government site with information on US embassies abroad, travel warning and alerts and any visa requirements needed for you destination.
Travelex.com Foreign currency exchange
International holidays Great website to check your travel dates with your destination