9 Things I Wish I Knew Before Becoming A Travelista
As a New Yorker raised in a Caribbean household, traveling has always been second nature to me. While my friends attended summer camp and went to amusement parks, my parents sent me to Aruba to spend the summer with my family. When I invite friends on international trips, it is always a hassle to get everyone on the same page. I must say, THANK GOD for my best friend and travel partner. We’ve traveled to over 5 countries together and created some dope memories. But with all this traveling, we’ve learned many lessons along the way.
1. Organize Your Luggage
I know this tip may seem obvious, but you’d be surprised at how many people throw their things in a suitcase and keep it moving. When you’re in your hotel room; rummaging through your messy suitcase and trying to find that cute bikini, remember you’re wasting precious vacation time. One way to keep your suitcase super organized and create extra space is to roll your clothes up. If you’re like me, your outfits are planned to the T. Try rolling your clothes up by outfit and watch how easy it is to get dressed.
Purchase space saver and organizational bags. Under garments should be with under garments, toiletries should be with toiletries. I literally have a small travel bag for EVERYTHING. The space saver bags are also perfect to store your dirty clothes.
2. Always Check The Weather
I cannot stress this enough. ALWAYS CHECK THE WEATHER!!! Before booking a trip, you should already know what season it is and what the weather forecast predicts. This way you’re able to pack appropriately. You should also check the weather a few days before your flight. There is nothing worse than traveling to Europe expecting warm weather, arriving in London with a luggage full of summer clothes and it’s freezing cold. This was my best friend and I in August 2015. Learn from our mistake.
3. Your Valuables Go in Your Hand Luggage
Whatever you consider a valuable should ALWAYS go in your carry-on. After all, things happen and airlines lose luggage everyday. Your passport, wallet, money, keys, phone (+ charger), camera, journal and first aid kit are a few things that should always be in your carry-on. There is one more thing; that should ALWAYS be in your hand luggage… An outfit! You may not consider this a valuable, until TSA loses your luggage and it ends up on a flight; that doesn’t come in until the next day. Pack that extra outfit! It’s better to be safe than sorry.
4. Shoes Are Important, but Not Too Many!
This is really hard for me to say. Ladies, we do not need to pack 10 pair of shoes for a vacation. I don’t care how long your trip is. This is something that I still struggle with because I always want to be “prepared”. Shoes are heavy and take up a lot of space, so pick your top 5. Only add an extra 1 or 2 IF space permits. You should always have a pair of sneakers, flip-flops and heels packed. After those necessities are added, then (and only then) you can add more footwear based on your vacation. Try packing shoes that can be worn with multiple outfits.
5. Know The Exchange Rate
It is very important to get familiar with the native currency. Know the exchange rate before you land, so you know how much cash to travel with. Tourism brings in money for the country, so when the natives see tourist, they’re really seeing money. Knowing the exchange rate will prevent you from getting swindled into paying more. To get it out of the way, exchange your money in the airport. Keep this in mind: the airport kiosk charges a fee to exchange money. If you want to avoid this fee, check with your bank before your trip. Some banks allow customers to order international currency ahead of time and the money will ship directly to your home. Another option is using local ATMs. These come in handy when you run out of cash.
SIDE NOTE: Always lock up your cash, debit and credit cards, ID and passport!!! Do not keep all of your cash in one place.
6. Weigh Your Luggage
You’d be surprised at how many people forget to weigh their luggage. There is nothing more embarrassing than holding up the line at an airport, removing a bunch of things out of your suitcase. Now you have an agent all up in your business, seeing your underwear that you forgot to tuck away because your luggage is unorganized (refer to tip 1). You may decide to say F*ck it, I’ll just pay the overweight fee. But did you really want to spend an extra $200, when this is something you could’ve avoided? Aside from the airport hassle, who wants to travel with a heavy luggage? Imagine traveling country to country with a 60 lb suitcase. This was me a few years ago, trust me when I say, I learned my lesson.
7. Don’t Be Late
It kills me when people complain about arriving to the airport a few hours early. I understand it is annoying to sit around for hours waiting for your flight. But would you prefer to be the traveller who is running for their life to catch a flight, only to arrive and see the plane pulling off? Plan to arrive 2-3 hours early. Thing happens so it is always better to be prepared. When waiting to board the plane, sit-down, have a nice meal and jot down some of the things you’d like to do during your vacation. You can even write a to-do list of all the places you’d like to visit. You can also use this time to download any travel apps that will be useful during your stay like Google Translate, Food Spotting and Like A Local.
8. Wear Comfortable Clothes When Traveling
You may not think this tip should be included in this list, but this is one of the most important things I can advise. When I travel, I always dress in comfortable clothes. You’re already on the move so why worry about tight, itchy and uncomfortable clothing? You can catch me at your local airport wearing a t-shirt, joggers, sneakers, a jacket and an oversized scarf. The jogger and a t-shirt are mainly for comfort. It is easier to move around in sneakers and this saves some space in your luggage. I always travel with a jacket because some warm countries have breezy nights. An oversized scarf is a must because it can also be used as a blanket in the cold airport.
9. Triple Check For The Essentials
Oh, you said you double-checked? Well, triple check before heading to the airport. Things go missing all the time. Make sure your passport, chargers, phone, ID, underwear, toiletries, first-aid kit, sneakers, flip flops, and any necessary documents needed for your trip are accounted for. Before you get out of the car, double check that nothing fell out of your bag. I remember one year I was heading to Trinidad, my passport fell out of my backpack and was left in the car. Thankfully I arrived at the airport 3 hours early (refer to tip 7) so I had time to retrieve it. Long story short... Always triple check for the essentials!
Let us know if these travel tips were helpful and share some of your travel do’s and don’ts using #GNG.