As some of you may or may not know, my younger sister, Twist, just spent the past five days exploring the city (and Syracuse) and is now off on her first foreign adventure to Germany. I could not be happier/nervous/jealous, but more importantly I am extremely excited for her to catch the travel bug! After helping her prep and pack for this trip, I was inspired to write a blog on my top ten travel tips because international travel is anything but stress-free.
- Check in 24 hours before hand! While in Europe, some (budget) airlines required us to print out boarding passes before hand, but more often than not I opt to go for the eTicket to save time and the environment. This also enables you to change your seat before getting to the airport and check for upgrades. Who doesn’t love a free upgrade? I also recommend purchasing your airline’s app (usually free) on your iPhone and signing up for gate changes and updates. After I get to the airport all I have to do is show my boarding pass on my phone and everything’s a go. If your gate changes or there are delays, updates are sent directly to your phone – super convenient, right?
- Set aside enough time to get to the airport and make sure to set enough alarms if you have an early flight. This is an important tip and one lesson that I’ve had to learn the hard way. I’ve unfortunately missed my fair share of flights but have learned to give myself adequate time to get to the airport – especially around the holidays in New York!
- Have necessary information (card numbers, passport number, flight information) in a safe place. Sh*t happens and you’ll never know when you will need this information. I usually keep a copy of my passport on my email and phone and send it to my parents. It’s also critical to make sure someone you trust has access to your flight information in case anything happens.
- Travel light! I know this sounds ironic coming from the “packing Princess” (see below), but trust me on this one. Weigh your bags before hand to make sure they aren’t over the weight limit, otherwise you’ll find yourself either repacking at the airport or paying an extravagant baggage fee (no thank you!). If you want to save yourself some time and money just pack carry-on’s – I usually opt for the functional back pack and duffle bag.
- What (not) to wear? Everyone has varying opinions on how you should dress while traveling, and my answer of course is, “it depends”. I travel a lot for soccer and often times we are required to wear the same thing. It’s comfortable and I thoroughly enjoy being able to wear sweatsuits on the plane. On the other hand, when I travel alone I enjoy dressing up a bit. A blazer, jeans, cute top, scarf and flats is cute and functional. You never know who you’ll meet at the airport!
- After you decide what to wear, make sure your choice is easy to get through TSA. I often times avoid putting on a belt until after security (or not at all) and make sure I empty my pockets before getting to the airport. Nothing annoys me (and other travelers) more than somebody who stalls the TSA line because they didn’t “know” they had to take off their belt.
- Maybe it’s just the soccer player in me and the bottomless stomach I possess, but I always pack some snacks and an empty reusable water bottle when I travel, whether it’s just a quick trip uptown or a longer international excursion. When you travel internationally, you run the risk of not having food you’re used to or like. My go-to’s are pre-packaged trail mix from Trader Joe’s and Chocolate Chip Cliff Bars for Kids. Just keep in mind some countries don’t allow certain foods to enter into their country so check before hand!
- Choose your carry-on wisely. If you decide to pack just a single bag for your carry on, I urge you to pack it in the most ergonomically way possible. I usually keep my laptop closest to my back and have my camera on top so I can pull them both out quickly as I go through security. The front pocket of my backpack usually has gum, headphones, lip balm, and my business card in case I ever accidentally leave it. The middle pocket contains the valuables: passport, boarding pass, wallet, snacks, and a few toiletries. I reserve the pocket closet to my back for my laptop, camera, chargers and a good book.
- Have a positive attitude while traveling. Planes get delayed, luggage gets lost, and sometimes you just flat out miss your flight. Everything is going to be okay! If you stay positive, your travels will be! Relish in the adventure.
- Document your travels! As an avid shutter bug and self proclaimed traveling photo journalist (I wish!), I thoroughly enjoy looking back on my adventures and reminiscing of the “good ole days”. One of my goals when I went abroad was to snap photos of everything in sight – the namesake for this blog.
I hope these tips help you out and you enjoy your next adventure wherever in the world you are!