Working at a travel insurance company, I’d like to think that I’ve heard it all when it comes to trips going awry. From attack monkeys in Africa to forgetting a passport at home to paying an additional fee at the airport because of over-stuffed luggage. Certainly, many things come into play when a traveler’s vacation doesn’t go according to plan. But, live and learn, as some people would say. Thankfully, some of our well-seasoned travelers who’ve seen it all have shared travel secrets for a smoother trip with us. In this instance, I scoured our archives for pertinent packing tips to help you avoid a potential packing snafu on your next trip.
Make Copies of Travel Documents
Carry copies of important travel documents including passport, credit cards, driver’s license and your Travel Guard insurance policy, and pack the copies in your luggage. Also, leave a set of your copied travel documents with your travel agent or a relative. You can also scan your travel documents and store them in your web-based e-mail account along with emergency “lost card” telephone numbers. If your credit cards are lost or stolen, you will have to call the carrier collect if you are outside of the U.S. since toll-free telephone numbers are only useful inside the U.S. By scanning or making copies of your travel documents, you will have immediate access to all important information if it is lost or stolen. You can even e-mail the details page of your passport to an embassy or consulate when applying for a new one.
TSA Screens All Passenger Baggage
The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) screens every passenger’s baggage before it is placed on an airplane and sometimes security will review the contents of a bag. To avoid the possibility of your luggage lock being cut, purchase a universal lock that can be opened by security officers using a universal “master” key. These locks are available at airports and travel stores nationwide.
Check Baggage Policy
Check ahead of time with your airline or travel agent to determine the airline’s baggage policy, including baggage fees, number of pieces you can check and size and weight limitations. Doing so can help you avoid additional baggage fees (for example, if you are required to check a bag that’s over the acceptable dimensions that you had planned to take as a carry-on), as well as help you avoid overweight baggage fees, which can cost up to $90 or more per bag. In that case, it could be less expensive for you to pay to check two bags versus paying an overweight fee on your first checked bag.
Don’t Over Pack
Only pack necessary items and clothes you can mix and match and easily hand wash. You can always purchase items along your trip. In fact, I recommend purposefully saving room for some new purchases that you are likely to make.
Resist Packing Full-Size Products
Resist packing items such as full-size personal hygiene products or a flashlight. These items are usually available in travel-size and you will save space. You may also want to check the amenities provided by your hotel; many provide in-room personal hygiene products. An inexpensive LED penlight can light up a room or a hiking trail and easily slip into a carry-on bag.
DO NOT Pack the Following Items in Your Checked Baggage
Cash, jewelry, laptop computers, electronic or fragile items (no matter how they are protected).
Whether packing for a beach, golf or ski vacation, consider pre-packing whatever you might need for particular events in a specific stand-alone bag or separate bag inside your suitcase. When you arrive at your destination, you can grab and go, especially if you are traveling with a large group of people or with kids. This will prove to be a great timesaver!
Use Unique Tags
Use unique luggage or luggage tags so you can easily see your bag coming on the baggage carousel rather than having to check every non-descript black bag that goes by. Another way to “mark” your bag is to write your last name on the handle of your luggage with a liquid ‘white-out’ pen.
Wear the Clothes You Buy While on You’re on Vacation
There is no need to “save” them until you return home. How fun is it to wear the sunglasses or cool new shirt you bought in Maui when you are actually in Maui? Plus, when you get home and wear your new garb it will bring back pleasant memories of your vacation.
Carry Hand Sanitizer
Always carry small packets or bottles of hand sanitizer, so when you are out and about, you can sanitize when necessary.
And my personal favorite, “Don’t forget to pack your travel insurance.” Clearly, a Travel Guard fan.
As you hit the road, air or sea this Labor Day weekend, I hope some of these helpful packing tips save you time, so you can enjoy more with your family and friends on this long, last weekend of summer!