When planning and packing for a business trip or pleasure trip, there is a lot to consider and usually, several things to contend with before leaving home. So it’s not so surprising that often times things are simply forgotten.
Whether you’re a novice or a seasoned traveler, tips & checklists are proven to be very helpful, which is why, over time, Been Here Done That has developed a series of specialized articles, including:
Now that you’re equipped with some pre-travel information thanks to the links above, here is our Top 10 list of Don’t Forget to Pack items that are often overlooked simply because they go beyond clothing and toiletries.
Telling you to take cash along on your trip might sound like silly advice considering most places these days accept credit cards. And with the addition of debit cards, prepaid cards, access to ATMs, and travellers’ cheques, it might seem unnecessary to take cash. But even a small amount of local currency is a good idea to have on hand given that some small businesses will accept cash only. There’s also the issue of very small purchases, such as a newspaper or a snack, being too cheap to warrant using a credit or debit card, not to mention that cards won’t be helpful if you need to tip a valet or bellboy. Using an ATM for cash withdrawals means not only trying to locate on a machine but also running up your user fees. So, despite how busy you might be before leaving on your trip, make sure you visit your bank or, better yet, a foreign currency exchange (for better rates) and tuck some cash into your wallet.
2) Copies of Travel Documents
No one goes on a trip with expectations of losing their belongings. But it can happen quickly and easily. Therefore, it’s wise to make copies of your passport, birth certificate, driver’s license, and even your credit cards so that in the event of a loss of the originals, you’ll have the numbers with you. For a lost or stolen passport, you can locate your nearest embassy for a re-issue. In the meantime, the copy of your birth certificate and driver’s license can act as ID. Similarly, a photocopy of the front and back of your credit card will provide you with your card number as well as the phone number to call in order to report it missing. For added security, ensure that your travel insurance and travel itinerary (including all hotel reservations and flight numbers and times) are backed up to your phone or tablet, or are photocopied and packed ‘separately’ from the originals.
3) Documentation for Children
Carrying special documentation for accompanying children is something that is rarely thought about, but given so many child abductions in the news, it’s not uncommon for single parents to be questioned at border crossings/customs, particularly if the child’s surname differs from the parent. If you’re a parent that has undergone an acrimonious divorce entailing custody issues, and especially if you’re in the midst of one, it’s wise to consider travelling with documentation that clearly defines your permission to take your child out-of-province, out-of-state or out-of-country. Simply take any original court-issued documents, such as Custody Papers, a Statutory Declaration, or a Mobility Agreement that asserts your right to take your child away on vacation. If you’re lucky enough to have a cordial arrangement with your ex-partner in which you both agree that the child (or children) can travel with just one parent and no court ordered documents have ever come into play, consider a notarized agreement or having your lawyer draft a Letter of Consent to Travel. Such documentation can save a lot of time and hassle at border crossings/customs should any questions arise.
4) Phone Charger
Love them or hate them, cell phones today are a necessary companion for business and for pleasure, as well as staying in touch with loved ones while you’re away. They have become an extension of our hands so most people automatically remember to take them along when travelling.
Unfortunately, what often gets left behind is the charger, which is every bit as necessary as the phone itself. Although replacement chargers can be purchased at the airport or on the road, tracking down what you need is an unplanned expense and can prove problematic if you can’t find the type of charger you need. Not to mention that it’s an added hassle. So the next time you travel, ensure that your charger is packed with your phone.
5) Extra Memory Card (SD Card)
Whether you’re travelling to an exotic location or simply going home to spend time with family or friends, chances are that your trip will include plenty of photos in order to capture the memories. Therefore, limited space on your camera or phone will prove frustrating and disappointing and might lead to deleting existing photos or simply not taking any more. Similarly, having to go out and search for an additional card will prove every bit as frustrating and, depending on where you have travelled to, might be quite expensive.
So before you leave on your trip, take the time to stop by your local electronics store and pick up an extra memory card.
6) First Aid Kit and Medications/Prescriptions
No one wants to think about getting injured while on vacation, or at any time for that matter. But it happens. And if you are travelling with children, your chances will increase for needing some type of First Aid. Certainly, you don’t need to pack braces and tourniquets, but it is definitely handy to have some antiseptic, a few gauze pads, and Bandaids on hand. A scraped up knee or a foot blister can ruin a good time, but if you have something with you to doctor it up, fun times can quickly resume.
With this in mind, it’s also wise to carry some Tylenol for headaches and pain, some Gravol for nausea and motion sickness, and perhaps even Immodium for any potential bouts of diarrhea that ensue from rich foods or problematic drinking water – for example, in places like Mexico or some places in the Caribbean. All of these over-the-counter medications can be purchased in travel sized packets and are light as a feather so they won’t interfere with the weight of your luggage.
And, of course, never forget to pack prescribed medications. Refilling prescriptions before your travel date is a good idea so you don’t run out while you’re away. And don’t limit yourself to packing 7 days worth of prescriptions for a 7-day vacation, because you never know when the unexpected will happen that will involve a layover. It’s best to be prepared for a few extra days worth of your required medications, packed in the original prescription bottles with the original labels to avoid any questions or incidents when travelling across borders and through customs.
7) A Cheap Pair of Flip-Flops
You don’t need to be headed in the direction of a beach in order to benefit from a pair of flip-flops. This is an item that can come in handy virtually anywhere you go – ideal for protecting your feet at a hotel’s indoor and outdoor pools, as well as whirlpool or sauna facilities. Not only can they save you from cutting your feet on something sharp, they can also protect you from such viral infections as plantar warts, which are contagious and are commonly spread near public swimming pools and communal whirlpools and showers. They are also useful at lodgings of questionable cleanliness. If you don’t want your feet on the dirty carpet or touching the floor of a dodgy bathroom, cheap rubber flip-flops can save the day. And they’re perfect for a quick run to the ice machine, or to the gift shop in the lobby.
They’re available at numerous stores and pharmacies, they don’t take up much room in the corner of a suitcase or carry-on, and they weigh next to nothing. So like the above-mentioned First Aid Kit, they don’t add to the weight of your luggage.
8) Laundry Items
Consider packing a laundry bag in your suitcase or, if you lack such an item, simply take along a large plastic bag in order to separate your dirty clothes from unworn items.
You might even wish to consider an extra plastic bag so that wet or damp clothing, such as a bathing suit or beach towel, can be kept completely separate from everything else in your suitcase while you’re on the move. This can prevent mould and mustiness from forming inside your luggage considering that mould spores can germinate after only 12 hours, and the right conditions for this to occur are certainly found inside a dark and locked-up suitcase.
Also, consider packing a stain-remover pen and perhaps even a small baggie of laundry soap that will allow you to quickly rinse out a stain in your hotel room.
9) Headphones or Earplugs
Travelling can be frustrating, particularly if your seat on the train or plane is next to a loud talker, a snorer, or a crying baby. Similarly, a room located near an elevator or close to a pool or a snorer in the next bed (or even in the next room if the walls are thin), can prevent you from getting the kind of sleep you’re used to at home.
With this in mind, it’s best to think ahead and pack your headphones and/or a set of good earplugs. Headphones will not only tune out the noise but will provide you with the calming effect of music you enjoy. Earplugs will help to drown out everything.
In a day and age when airlines have cut down on niceties – meals are no longer served on short flights and snacks are available for purchase but at ridiculous prices – it just makes good sense to carry something that will fill the inevitable void while you’re on the move. This is especially true if you’re travelling with children.
However, your trip doesn’t need to involve air travel in order to be prepared. Whether travelling by train, plane, boat or automobile, non-perishable snacks like trail mix, granola bars, cookies or nuts are convenient and practical and are easily tucked into the corner of a carry-on, purse, or even inside your coat pocket.