You’ve saved up, purchased the plane ticket, booked the hotel, and renewed your passport. Now in mere weeks you’ll be off to (fill in exotic destination of choice here). While the movies make it look like all you need for a trip abroad is a small valise and a can-do attitude, international traveling can quickly go from fun to fraught if you’re not well prepared.
Consider adding a few of these items to your travel plan before you board the plane. It’ll make your trip easier, and your memories sweeter.
If you felt the turbulence during that 18-hour flight to Shanghai, your bags definitely did. Frayed edges, bad locks, and untrustworthy zippers can all cause loss and damage, so double-check your bags, and get new, sturdy versions if you need to.
A Tip: You’ll save stress at the luggage carousel by choosing a color and style that will stand out from the basic-black crowd.
If you’re flying with just one checked bag (charges for additional bags can cut into your souvenir budget), you’re going to need to make the most of that single suitcase. Luggage organization gear–like packing sleeves, organization cubes, and compression bags–do triple duty: They maximize space, protect your clothing, and make finding what you need inside your bag easy. Win-win-win.
Long-flight survival gear
Stuff your carry-on with cozy pants and warm socks (the plane gets cold) and make it easier to relax by bringing along a neck pillow and an eye mask with earplugs (that businessman next to you will snore). Can’t sleep on a plane? Be sure you bring along your e-reader, packed snugly in a great travel case.
It’s also worth it to throw in travel-size toiletries so you can freshen up prior to deplaning.
If you’re going low-key casual, you probably don’t have to worry about looking tourist-rumpled. But if you’re visiting a fashion-conscious destination (bonjour, France!), or planning to hit high-end restaurants or upscale clubs, you’ll want to prep for outfit emergencies with a travel iron or a travel steamer.
Make sure your checked suitcases have a luggage lock and luggage tags with all of your information (including cell number and email)–and consider wrapping your suitcase in a luggage protector. Place your passport in a cover and keep it in the inside zip pocket of your purse to prevent pickpocketing. Forget the fanny pack and carry a backpack or a bag that can’t be easily snatched.
You’ll need an international adapter that has a setting for the country you’re visiting to charge your electronics or power your hair dryer or travel iron.
What’s your must-have item when you travel? Let us know in the space below.