Packing for a big trip overseas is exciting but overwhelming. There’s so many to-dos to remember. It’s important to think about your purse just as much as what you put in your suitcase. Being prepared and having everything you need at your fingertips can keep you safe and stress-free.
Protect Your Data
Thieves don’t have to steal your bag these days. They can scan your personal information just by standing next to you. RFID-blocking sleeves have a thin wrapper that protects items such as credit cards, IDs, and passports from being read by hackers. You can find packs for less than $10 on Amazon. But if you travel a lot or have a long summer trip coming up, I’d recommend investing in an RFID-blocking wallet and passport holder because, while the sleeves are great and cheap, they’ll rip and break down over time.
Keep Crucial Info in Your Wallet
911 isn’t 911 in other countries. Make sure you know the local emergency numbers ahead of time. In an emergency, there’s no time to google it. And in case of an emergency, it’s always good to have the address and phone number of your hotel and closest embassy in your wallet. I make tiny cards with this information to stick in my wallet before every trip abroad. It’s also great to keep some currency conversions handy if you’re hopping around several countries. This helps you stay on budget and know what you’re really spending in US dollars.
Most travelers know to pack the basics for an overnight, international flight: sleep mask, earplugs, eye drops, etc. But Afrin should be a travel staple right up there with Advil. You never know when you’re going to catch a cold or get congested. Flying with fluid in my ears ranks as one of the most painful experiences of my life: I thought my eardrums were going to explode. And if that hits you 2 hours into a 10-hour flight, it’s no fun. It can be dangerous to equalize your ears by blowing too hard so I always pack Afrin. This spray is different than your average sea salt spray. It has a decongestant in the formula and will clear your tubes. But only use it occasionally when you need it most. And talk to your doctor before starting to use it.
Portable Phone Charger
When you travel you may use your phone more. All those photos, directions, Yelp reviews, and internet searches drain batteries fast. Another phone-drainer is having WiFi on 24/7. If there’s no WiFi to connect, your phone will constantly look for it and that uses power too. Keep WiFi turned off and pack a portable charger to juice up on the go. I travel with two at all times. These packs are pretty slim and don’t take up much space. Just remember to charge the charger!
Taking in all the sights can mean 10-mile plus days. You might be surprised by how many steps you log just in a museum visit. I’ve fallen victim to ankle blisters at the Louvre. It’s no fun. Slip a couple of blister pads or dollar store bandages into your wallet so you can prevent blisters from popping up.
Clear Packing Tape
This might seem random but I swear by it. I always carry a roll of sturdy, clear packing tape when I travel because I can use it in a pinch to fix a shattered phone screen. I dropped my phone at bus stop in Alaska a couple of years ago and the screen cracked in several places. Everyone in line gasped in unison but I kept my cool. I placed the phone into a sandwich bag (do you also carry sandwich bags?) until I got to a store with tape. I cut a strip of tape that fit the phone screen exactly and carefully placed it over the screen. Then I added a second layer just to reinforce. Sure, it looked crazy, but it worked. And I was able to take photos and post to social media for the rest of the trip without slicing my fingers off. Plus, the tape can quickly repair a broken suitcase, pack up a box full of gifts to mail home, and be used to pick up a dead bug all while keeping your hands clean.
Calls To Make Before You Go
Notify your bank and credit card company with travel days and countries you’ll be visiting. If you don’t, you run the risk of your cards being frozen on a fraud alert. As a rule, I never use my debit card when traveling internationally but I do take it with me as a back-up in an emergency. Also make sure your credit card doesn’t have international fees or you’re in for a big surprise on your next bill. Several credit companies offer cards without the fees, such as American Express and Chase.
Make sure to call your cell phone company and ask about international data options. Depending on where you’re traveling, companies can usually match the same plan you have in the states for a small fee per day. Ask for the customer service line for international travel plans. It’s typically different than the basic customer service line. Keep that number in your wallet in case your phone doesn’t work properly once you land overseas. Use an airport phone to call and troubleshoot. Or, you may purchase a SIM card upon arriving, and use it to replace your card for the duration.
Take Out What You Don’t Need
Library cards, membership cards, smoothie club punch cards. You won’t need any of that abroad so why take them along? It’ll just add extra weight. Plus you want to limit how much ID you carry around with you so if your purse is stolen you don’t give thieves extra clues about your identity.
Opt for a Crossbody Bag
When you’re out and about carry a crossbody bag. This bag makes it harder for pickpockets to snatch as it’s close to your side. In some cities or tourist attractions notorious for pickpocketing, I keep my bag slightly in front of me, zipped and with one hand on the strap.