Travel Essentials & Hacks

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Enjoy your vacation with peace of mind knowing that you have all the essentials required for your trip. Computers crash and errors occur, ensure you have a print out of any receipts for prepaid bookings and reservation codes. Proof of payment can be vital for airline tickets, transfers and parking. I have run into many situations that have required proof of booking and payment. Another important part of your vacation is to do a pre check before you walk out the door. Making sure you have all of the necessary items including travel essentials like battery chargers and phone cables. I don’t think there is any one thing more annoying on vacation than having the unnecessary expense of rebuying something you already own like a phone charger that you forgot to pack. Not to mention the precious vacation time wasted on finding a store instead of enjoying your vacation time. Here is a checklist and a few good Travel Hacks:

Documentation

  • Travel Insurance
  • Itineraries, Receipts and Reservation codes for:
  • Hotels, Flights, Trains, Transfers, Activities, Parking etc…
  • Passport, ID, (VISAS)
  • ATM Card, Credit Card or Prepaid Credit Card
  • Foreign Cash Exchange, always carry a little foreign money for transactions where Credit or ATM is not accepted.
  • Notify your bank of any out of country travel to avoid disruption.
  • RFID blocking sleeves to protect credit cards etc…
  • Coins for country of departure and arrival useful for payphones, luggage carts and vending machines.
  • Maps – paper copies or an offline version on your smartphone
  • Notepad and pen.

Gadgets Tech Gear

  • Camera
  • Smartphone, Tablet or Laptop Computer
  • Waterproof pouch for smartphone and gadgets
  • Charging cables for smartphone, camera, computer
  • Headphones (invest in noise cancelling)
  • Battery booster (inexpensive gadget for emergency charge)
  • Spare batteries for gadgets
  • LED flashlight
  • Small powerbar outlet
  • Walkie Talkies

Personal Essentials

  • Carry on size suitcase with wheels, or backpack.
  • Smaller bag or sling to carry essentials.
  • Water bottle
  • Travel snacks, trail mix, granola bars, energy bars, fruit if allowed
  • Hat
  • Sunglasses
  • Medicine prescriptions
  • Small First Aid kit
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Sunscreen
  • Insect repellent
  • Lip balm
  • Toiletries
  • Personal hygiene items
  • Eye mask
  • Neck pillow
  • Earplugs
  • Poncho or compact umbrella
  • Walking shoes
  • Duct tape for quick fixes

Travel Hacks

  • Inform your bank and credit card company about any out of country travel to prevent any interruptions.
  • Apply for Global Entry or Nexus for quicker security lines.
  • Use ATM’s for local currency, avoid airport money converters which have higher exchange rates and fees than your own bank.
  • Use Airplane mode on your smartphone for a faster charge.
  • Use a 35mm Film Canister for Coins.
  • Email important travel documentation to yourself as back up.
  • Zip lock bags are great for electronics on beaches or around water.
  • Plastic grocery bags or garbage bags for dirty laundry and shoes.
  • Google Maps, save for offline navigation.
  • Pack light and minimize using travel size items if possible.
  • Place a dryer sheet in your suitcase for fresh smelling clothes.
  • Roll clothes instead of laying them flat to maximize space.
  • Refill your travel size containers.
  • Take empty water bottles through security to fill.
  • Bring a power strip to maximize crowded plugs at airports.
  • Prepay for shuttles, parking, events and excursions to save money.
  • Airline motion sickness bag – heat up a can of soup on the go, place sealed can in bag with a cup of boiling water let sit for 5 minutes.
  • Buy groceries and snacks to save money instead of eating at restaurants for every meal.

Hotel and Resort Tips

  • Call several hotels for quotes on the best rates when you need to be within a specific area.
  • Apply for hotel loyalty programs
  • Use AAA for discounts.
  • Use booking sites like booking.com or hotwire for discounts.
  • Ask the hotel concierge for tips and secrets.
  • Ask locals for recommendations.
  • Put up the “Do Not Disturb” sign for added security.
  • Shine your shoes with the body lotion.
  • Use a coffee mug to amplify your smartphone sound.
  • Add the hotel bar soap to your dirty laundry to eliminate the smell.
  • Additional USB charging outlets can often be found on hotel TV’s.
  • Lost or misplaced phone charger – check with the front desk of your hotel to quickly charge your phone if you need a quick boost. Also check with your taxi or shuttle driver for a quick charge en route to your destination.
  • Use a pant hanger to keep the curtains closed for a darker room.

Airline Travel Tips

  • Check-In Cut Off Times – Ensure you know your flight cut off times before you leave. A good rule is to give yourself 1 ½ hours for any Domestic flight and 3 hours for international flights. Generally most airlines have at least a one hour cut off time to check in and drop off luggage. It is far better to be at the airport early and enjoy a coffee knowing you’re on time, than arriving late and missing your flight. Missed flights can also affect connecting flights, as well as check in times for resorts, hotels or car rentals. For me my vacation starts the moment I walk into the airport. Therefore, I arrive early and enjoy what ever amenities the airport has to offer prior to boarding.
  • Third Party Tickets – Avoid purchasing airline tickets through a third party. Instead, book your flights directly with your Airline of choice. The cost might be a little bit higher, however booking directly with the airline gives you the added security of being able to make any changes to your flight, if the need should arise. Flight interruptions do occur caused by weather or any other unforeseen circumstances caused, either, by you or the airline. Many third party bookings cannot be altered meaning you could loose the entire funds of your ticket.
  • If you must book through a third party, ensure you supply all of your contact information, specifically an email address and phone number. If there is a change in flight times and the airline cannot get ahold of you, you could miss your flight.
  • Airline Tickets – If you are looking for the best deal on your airline tickets, the secret is booking your flight as far in advance as possible to get the best price. Also, compare booking two one way tickets instead of a round trip.
  • Airline Apps – Make sure you download the smartphone apps for the airlines you are using which will inform you of delays, cancellations, gate changes and will often include inflight services.
  • Passports & ID – When traveling internationally, ensure your passport is valid and any required visa for travel is acquired in advance. Every country has it’s own entrance requirements, based on your residence and which country you hold a passport from, do your homework on entrance requirements.
  • Nexus & Global Entry – In addition to a Passport, the Nexus and Global Entry program is worth the investment. Often valid for 5 years, it will give you the benefit of quicker screening at participating airports.
  • Expired passports – 24 hour emergency passport services are available but the cost is often a few hundred dollars. Ensure you check your expiry date well in advance of the trip.
  • Airport Security – know what items are prohibited from carry on luggage. Any sharp instruments or objects, liquids gels, combustible aerosols as well as some lithium batteries are not allowed.
  • Kiosks – By pass the long lines by pre checking in online and using any automated kiosks for obtaining luggage tags.
  • No Credit Card – purchase a pre-paid one. Pre-paid credit cards are available in varying amounts from $50-500. Perfect for places that only accept Credit Card. Automated airline kiosks, inflight food and entertainment, pre-paid cards are also useful for parking, hotels, rental cars and deposits for activities and excursions.
  • Pre booked Seats – Many Airlines offer free seat selection 24 hours prior to departure. However, specific seats can be pre booked months in advance. This is a small fee that can make your flight far more enjoyable, especially on longer flights. Consider it a part of your vacation.
  • Checked Luggage – If you are checking luggage, ensure you put your contact information inside the suitcase. If your suitcase looses the luggage tags and goes missing, the suitcase will be reunited with you quicker if you have contact information inside.
  • Look Twice – when you leave your seat in the boarding lounge, café, bar and aircraft, ensure you have not left anything behind.

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