Travel tips before your trip? Wouldn’t you love to make travel easier? Let’s do it!
This week marks my 100th blog post, which certainly calls for some celebration! And what better way than to share some travel tips with you?
- First, a little background…
- I needed flying experience!
- Sharing my travel tips before you travel.
- Tip #1- Apply for Global Entry.
- Tip #2 – Order an Apple AirTag to place in your suitcase.
- Tip #3 – Order packing cubes.
- Tip #4 – Make your suitcase and rollaboard unique.
- Tip #5 – Sign up for a VPN.
- Tip #6 – Study your airline seat's layout and dimension when you book your ticket!
- Tip #7 – Prepare your laptop.
- Tip #8 – Check your expiration dates!
- Tip #9 – Pack a sweater in your carry-on and keep checking the weather for your destination.
- Tip #10 – Pack an extra set of underwear in your carry-on.
- Tip #11 – Create a shot list to help you bring the correct camera equipment.
- Tip #12 – Pack a champagne cork.
- Now it’s your turn.
First, a little background…
I took my first trip by air from New York to Tucson, Arizona, when I was four years old. The airplane was a TWA Super Constellation, an easily identifiable plane. It had three rudders on its tail and was powered by four propellors. (Quick aside… Skip flew Super Connies when he was a Navy pilot. He just corrected my description… “rudders” instead of “fins.” 😉)
I loved the experience but remember the return trip for two events that happened. First, we had engine problems and had to divert to Dallas, thus arriving back in New York late at night. Second, I had the cutest little red pocketbook that I left on the plane when we finally arrived. Doesn’t this sound like current air travel? Arriving late and losing luggage?
I needed flying experience!
By the time Skip and I were married, I had a lot of experience traveling by air. I needed it!
We moved to Jakarta, Indonesia, when our second son was 11 months old. It took 36 hours door-to-door for the trip. Yes, with a toddler.
When our daughter was born, she made her flying debut when she was 15 days old on a trip from Denver, Colorado, to Singapore. Her brother was just two and along for the ride. (I had returned to the States for her birth…) Thankfully, Skip was there to handle the toddler!
Sharing my travel tips before you travel.
Each time I traveled, I learned and adjusted. Since I also learned from my fellow expats, I wanted to follow their generous example and share some travel tips with you. This will be a two-part post with today concentrating on some steps you can take in advance to make travel easier.
You may know many of them, or you may not. I’ve included 12 to get us started! Use what appeals to you before your next trip, maybe to Prague?
Tip #1- Apply for Global Entry.
Have you ever arrived back in the States from a vacation to see a long line stretching in front of you in Immigration? As you dutifully take your place in line, have you wondered who those other people are who are breezing past you and entering a quick line that uses kiosks to process their passports?
They are part of Global Entry, which is a U.S. Customs and Border Protection program. You must apply to be part of it; unfortunately, completing the process takes a long time. (I’ll include a link below.) So, make the application now instead of waiting until you have a trip planned!
One of the advantages of Global Entry is that it also gives you TSA PreCheck, which allows you to go through a faster security lane when flying out of many airports.
If you travel with children, you can also apply for them.
Tip #2 – Order an Apple AirTag to place in your suitcase.
Before our last trip to Europe, I ordered eight of them and placed them in our suitcases, my tripod bag, our rollaboards, my handbag, etc. On our previous trip, from San Diego to Richmond, VA, my suitcase had become lost, so the AirTags seemed like a good idea! They help you know where your bag is! And keep you from walking away from a tripod or camera bag, too!
Tip #3 – Order packing cubes.
Do this travel tip before you take a trip, and you will wonder how you packed before! Using e-Bags (link below) makes packing so much easier! For my last trip, I was partially packed a few weeks early.
To make it super convenient, I divide my clothes into outfit collections that work together. In the before and after photo below, you can see a pair of slacks, three t-shirts, and a top. They all go together. I carefully lay them out and then fold/roll them together.
When I’m done, I place the folded set of clothes into an eBag. I often include the shoes I’ll wear with the outfits, placing them into a shoe bag before I tuck it into the eBag. When I arrive, I usually unpack the suitcase but leave the clothes in the eBags. They almost serve as dresser drawers. On our Viking cruise, I stacked them on a shelf.
Tip #4 – Make your suitcase and rollaboard unique.
I’ll admit it. Our bags look pretty bad. First, we attach a pink luggage tag to all of them. It helps when we need to describe them. Then, we attach a colorful strap. That helps us see them when they come down the conveyer belt. With the exception of my ThinkTank camera rollaboard, we avoid black bags.
There is a method to this madness, and here’s a story to illustrate it. One night in Jakarta, Skip arrived home from a business trip only to realize that he had picked up someone else’s black bag off the conveyor belt. When he checked the name on the bag, the person wasn’t local. Fortunately, the airline was able to track him to a hotel in the city! Ever since then, we’ve marveled at how many black bags there are! Find a different color and then decorate it with straps and tags. No one is going to mistake our bags for theirs! (The black camera rollaboard never leaves my side!)
Tip #5 – Sign up for a VPN.
Here’s another travel tip for before your trip. Sign up for a VPN (a virtual private network.) You can look up what that means, but if you are using the internet when you travel, you need one to protect your identity, especially if you are using any passwords. I’ve used Strong VPN for over a decade and highly recommend them! (link below)
Tip #6 – Study your airline seat’s layout and dimension when you book your ticket!
There are websites to check the layout of your airplane. Plan to do some research. Today’s airlines are placing a lot of electronics under seats, which means you may have trouble getting your camera bag under the seat in front of you.
We usually fly out of Richmond, Virginia, so many of our choices feature airplanes where I will not be able to keep my camera rollaboard with me. I’ve gotten smart about checking before I fly!
Tip #7 – Prepare your laptop.
When I get a new laptop, the first thing I do to it is to tape my business card on the bottom. This way, if I must remove my laptop from its case and place it in a bin to go through security, I have a way of identifying it. I always place it upside down, so the card is visible.
I use my business card because it has my business address, not my home address. Believe it or not, thieves travel too, and I occasionally hear of someone whose house is robbed while they are away because the thief saw their address at an airport.
Tip #8 – Check your expiration dates!
Do this travel tip before you go. It may involve shopping. I have a bag of common remedies for colds, etc., that always travels with me. On our recent trip to Europe, I caught a cold. I couldn’t figure out why the Mucinex wasn’t working until I took the time to look at the expiration date. Oops! Then I checked the rest of my remedies. Almost all of them were expired! I’m blaming the Covid travel shutdown! Don’t be like me! 😉
Tip #9 – Pack a sweater in your carry-on and keep checking the weather for your destination.
Airplanes are often really cold. I recently read that it helps prevent airsickness. Be prepared with a warm sweater.
Also, weather forecasts can change right up to your day of departure. When we reached Germany in July, the temperature dipped to the 50s. No one on the cruise was prepared for the cold! I wasn’t the only person who caught a cold!
Tip #10 – Pack an extra set of underwear in your carry-on.
With bags getting lost these days, an extra set of underwear is necessary!
But here’s the real tip. Pack it in a colored plastic bag. On a flight to Heathrow a few years ago, my carry-on was singled out for a thorough search. They emptied every single thing in the bag into unruly piles in several bins to rerun through security when my flight arrived. I, along with everyone else, watched as my underwear dangled from the top of one of the piles. Never again!!!
Tip #11 – Create a shot list to help you bring the correct camera equipment.
Before you go, take some time to research photos taken at your destination. Then, decide what photos you’d like to capture. This will help you take the equipment you need and leave the rest at home.
Tip #12 – Pack a champagne cork.
If there’s a chance that you might be given a bottle of champagne at your destination, order a champagne cork and pack it in your luggage. I know this sounds a bit over the top, but it’s so nice to open the bottle and drink a small glass without the rest going flat. You can find them on Amazon. I am using the Mitba brand right now, and it works beautifully.
Now it’s your turn.
Don’t wait until you have a trip planned to work through these tips. Some of them can be done quickly, and some may take months! But I always feel like the anticipation of a trip is part of the fun!
See you next week with more tips while you’re on the trip!
You love travel and photography. Now take it to the next level with this workshop: https://www.carolinemaryan.com/camera-mechanics-workshops-info/
You can read about the Global Entry program here: https://www.cbp.gov/travel/trusted-traveler-programs/global-entry
You can learn about eBags here (this is an affiliate link): https://amzn.to/3zHnhO2
You can learn about Strong VPN by clicking here (this is an affiliate link): http://strongvpn.com?offer_id=4&aff_id=1502
For advice on the bag I carry my iPhone in, you can read this post: https://www.carolinemaryan.com/iphone-camera-bag/