As I’m getting ready for my next trip, I thought I’d share some of the things I do before to prepare!
- Make a copy of your passport. Keep it with you (not in the same place as your passport) and I also emailed a copy to my boss and my parents. This came in very handy when I took a late night train to Florence to go dancing on my birthday and decided to check into a hotel around midnight but had left my passport in Tuscany since this was just a spontaneous get away. The guy at the desk was not going to let me stay there without a passport until I remembered I had a copy in my email and he was satisfied when I showed it to him! Also make copies of any important documents.
- (Adding this one I forgot to write about this earlier) Contact your bank!! I completely forgot to do this for my trip to Nashville, Miami & Barbados but at this point I think my bank is just like, “OK, nothing out of the ordinary here…” which was good luck for me. I’ve forgotten to do this before and it’s the WORST when your cards don’t work. In Paris, my bank expected me home earlier and when I extended my stay they deactivated my cards. My phone wasn’t working and some Parisians were nice enough to let me borrow their phone to call my bank. (side note: not all Parisians are rude 🙂 )
- I always pack my makeup eraser. This is made up of some kind of sorcery. No, really. I swear it even gets off waterproof mascara without using any face wash or product. (I prefer to actually wash my face but if packing light, I’ll use this. Also I like to pack my satin pillowcase (It keeps my hair smooth so I don’t have to even really brush it some days, I’m bad, I know) . You also don’t get those sleep lines on your face. And if I’m sharing a bathroom with someone I bring a small mirror with suction cups so that I can sit anywhere to do my makeup and let the other person have free reign over the bathroom and we both can get ready faster.
- Get a good cross body bag that you can carry a few items in that is difficult to pick pocket. This is perfect for jumping on the back of a scooter. 🙂
- Look at your finances when you’re planning. Good rule to live by is to bring twice as much money and half as many clothes! If you’re traveling with someone find out what they’re interested in doing so you can decide which things are most important to you both and set aside enough money for them. (and then some). I ended up living in some of the same casual pieces I had with me all summer and actually hand washed them alllll summer so most of my clothes from Italy are done. Be practical when packing. Consider bringing cheap underwear and throwing it away as you go (depending what country you’re in – we didn’t have access to a laundromat for a few weeks).
- Get a wax. When you’re trying to make the most of each day and spend as little time as possible doing tedious tasks like shaving this can be a big time saver. I go to European Wax Center in Huntersville and see Katie- she is amazing!
- Make sure your bills will paid in your absence. I was house/dog sitting for a boyfriend’s parents while they were in China for a few months one winter and when a bill didn’t get paid I came home to find the electricity and heat were off. The puppy and I high-tailed it out of there for the night until we could get in touch with them to get it turned back on. Set up automatic bill pay so it’s one less thing to worry about!
- Consider insuring any valuables you’ve decided to bring. I insured my camera since it was pretty expensive.
- Get some currency ahead of time if you’re traveling to a country where cash is king. A lot of times I couldn’t use my credit card so I had to make sure to have plenty of cash on me and in my checking account. The ATM in my village in Tuscany actually ran out of cash all the time! Be prepared for not always having access to your money.
- Get my eye brows threaded. ( I prefer threading my brows to waxing them, just personal preference ) I go to Idolize in Charlotte and they’re pretty reasonably priced.
- Look into an International Driver’s License (only $15) I haven’t done this and I’ve heard mixed reviews on whether this is valid depending on the country you’re visiting.
- Consider registering with the U.S. embassy in the country you’re going to & Look into International health Insurance if you’re traveling for a while (and like to live on the edge : ) )
- I love to get a spray tan before heading on vacation because I feel like I look wayyyy more fit and I don’t need as much make up with a little bit of color.
- Make extra copies of keys. I just went the other day to do this and was talking on the phone in the parking lot of Lowe’s and somehow managed to drop my key straight down between my driver’s seat and the console. After 30 minutes of trying to get it out my sweet roommate came to the rescue and I made a million copies of her key : ) I have a pet and will be asking a few people for help this next time I’m traveling.
- If I want to be spontaneous, I at least book a place for my first night or two so then I can decide what I want to do after that. Obviously, it’s easier to save money by planning ahead.
And Finally….Put your best foot forward! I read something about two people who go to the same place. One had a miserable time and the other had the experience of a lifetime. Some people you can bring anywhere and they will never be happy. Do your best to be open. Don’t judge the culture off the bat and try to have a positive mindset so that you have a great time! Sometimes people complain about things not working out and I just want to shake them and say, “you’re missing it!” This can be an amazing time if you let it be. Have fun getting lost 🙂