What I do before a big trip

What I do before a big trip

Since I’m currently having the most amazing time in Turkey (have you checked out Instagram lately?!) and it’s been reminding me just how much I love to explore a brand-new country.

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.


  • Great tips! I’ve been exploring the US a lot over the past year after being inspired by Yellowstone NP! Last fall I did a road trip through Virginia, North Carolina and Tennessee and later this month I’m doing a road trip down the west coast. In the next couple years I’d love to see Arizona, Colorado and more of Utah.

  • Lobster in Maine! That’s still at the top of my list for the USA.
    I’ve been exploring the Southeast over the last few years, it’s time for me to move north and west with my travel adventures.

    Also, ditto on the itinerary — always leave time to relax at a coffee shop and people watch. It’s one of my favorite things.

  • I always have the biggest debates with myself in deciding how and what to pack when I travel. Even if I’m only gone for the weekend. This is super helpful! Thank you for sharing! I’d love to hear what products you always have to have when traveling, unless you’ve already blogged about it?

  • I usually make a top 5 list too, just to make sure I don’t miss someplace beautiful. I also like to plan a rough itinerary, but that goes along with the top 5 list!

  • You know, my top pre travel preparations are pretty similar – I would only add pack earplugs as you never know when you’re gonna need them 😉
    Claire xx | somewhere… beyond the sea

  • Lauren @BonVoyageLauren

    I’ve heard great things about Capitol One. I really need to look into that. I’ve been enjoying your Instagrams from Turkey and cannot wait to read more about your trip soon! Happy travels 🙂

  • camorose

    Love that! I need to see more of Utah too–the rock formations there look amazing.

  • camorose

    Yes Maine! Really need to figure out when I’m going to get there this year!

  • camorose

    Here are a few of my travel beauty essentials: http://www.cestchristine.com/2014/02/my-travel-beauty-essentials/

    Would you want to see a packing essentials post too?

  • camorose

    Yup! It worked out perfectly in Turkey!

  • camorose

    Yes! Such a good point. I usually steal the set from the international flight 🙂

  • camorose

    Woohoo! I will say that I love the no overseas transactions fees, but Capital One’s customer service is pretty terrible unfortunately. Something to be aware of!

  • Emily Wenzel

    I have to say that I’m, sadly, sometimes the female who needs help getting her bag into the overhead bin. But that’s only when I travel for work and have all my camera gear! That stuff is heavy! Even then, I have it in a nice compact little bag, and I can carry it up the stairs. I just can’t lift it above my head… 🙁

  • camorose

    Hey, fair enough! I just hate it when I see people with ENORMOUS suitcases–like, you don’t need that for a year abroad, let alone a week! I always just hope they’re tipping the taxi driver well to lift it everywhere!