What I do before a big trip
Even settled down in New York City, I travel enough that it still feels second nature to me. I don’t usually buy new things for a trip; instead, I’d rather save room in my suitcase to purchase new clothes overseas (in the hopes that not everyone at home will have the same item!). I can pack for a trip from two days to two weeks in the same Weekender Bag in about an hour. That said, here are a few of my tried-and-true tricks to make each trip go as smoothly as possible.
Choose a credit card that won’t charge you…
Whenever I’m in the United States or the Caribbean, I use my Discover Card wherever it’s accepted: the points and rewards are fantastic. However, I refuse to be charged overseas transaction fees when I’m traveling–so my Capital One card always gets moved to the front of my wallet when I travel abroad. They don’t charge any overseas transaction fees and because it’s MasterCard, it’s accepted pretty much everywhere.
…and set travel notifications!
There’s nothing worse than getting to a new country and not having your credit card work. Most credit card companies make it super easy to set online travel notifications these days–it takes me fewer than five minutes on the Capital One website–but you can always call your credit card company as well. I try to notify my bank and credit card company at least a week in advance in case there are any glitches.
Charge all tech devices.
This includes but is not limited to: iPhone, computer, Kindle, camera battery. Honestly, anything that runs on a battery! I hate showing up at the airport with a dead computer, or getting to my destination and realizing my camera is almost dead. I usually have one night where I just charge everything possible, and double-check that I have all of my outlet converters packed as well.
Don’t pack more than I can carry up a flight of stairs by myself.
One of my pet peeves is when I see someone (confession: usually a woman) who waits around for someone to carry her bags up a set of stairs or into an overhead compartment. There are plenty of exceptions–namely, nice old ladies or if you’re moving abroad for more than a year–but if you are an able-bodied female who is capable of traveling on your own, I think you should be able to carry your own bag. That said, I always make sure that all of my belongings fit in two bags: a backpack/duffel/rolling suitcase and one definitely carry-on tote. The ultimate test is walking up and down my stairs: I should be able to carry both for that short amount of time without any problems.
Figure out my first move…
I rarely do much planning, but I always make sure I know how I’m getting from the airport to my hotel via public transportation. That usually means saving an iPhone screenshot of the hotel’s written recommendations and a map of the area immediately surrounding the hotel: it’s nice to be able to show a local/taxi driver/bus driver a photo of the area with the hotel highlighted if I do get lost. Also: I always make sure I have a photo of my passport saved in my camera roll and my email just in case it gets lost or stolen!
…and my top five!
Like I said: I don’t really do detailed itineraries when I travel. I like to leave time to search for street art, to read in a cafe, to sit down in a sunny park, to just wander around a new city and factor in local recommendations. But I do usually write down my top five things that I want to see/eat/do in a new place, and let that guide my schedule as I travel.