Whoever said getting there is half the battle must have been referring to international travel with long flights. At about a full day of flying, trains, and cabs, it’s easy to run into problems with losing luggage, and jet lag, and ruining your skin. And honestly, I think we spent more time preparing for our trip than we were on it, though, I think the time we spent preparing was worth it. Here are my tips and lists when preparing for travel.
(This is Part II of a four part series, see Part I.)
My list of To-Dos before we even left the states:
- Make sure your credit card has no foreign transaction fees.
- Let your credit card companies know when and where you’ll be traveling.
- Exchange cash for Euros at your bank. Though most places in Greece accept credit card and don’t have high transaction minimums, having cash for tip, and small services is essential. Exchanging at your bank minimizes the transaction fees, and on the return, they should give you the same rate back, assuming the rate has not changed. You’ll only need cash for incidentals, 650 Euro was more than enough for 10 days for two people.
- Check your phone service provider for free international data service. Sprint has free global roaming (albeit low speed, but still better than nothing) and $.20/minute calls. This is a free service that you can change in your plan settings.
- Write contact numbers in one place and keep your itinerary organized and printed for expedient service at the airport.
- Schedule a vacation hold on your mail through the post office.
- Setup Blue Apron or meal delivery service. We started Blue Apron with an offer for first time users and scheduled our first delivery for the day after we returned knowing that we’d likely not want to leave the house after 20 hours of traveling. So far, Blue Apron has been great with the exception of messing up one of our orders and refunding for their mistake. (Totally a fair move on their part, but it messed up my grocery schedule for the week, and we were really looking forward to the meals that weren’t delivered, likewise, we didn’t like the meals they did accidentally send.) If you want to give Blue Apron a try, let me know, I usually get codes for a free week. I will also say, the Blue Apron app is great.
- Download Google Maps for Offline viewing.
- Download Netflix on demand shows/movies, and podcasts. (Podcasts I love that I think most people like: Stuff You Should Know, This American Life, Hidden Brain, Modern Love, Lore, and 99% Invisible)
- Confirm with hotels in writing and send them your flight itinerary and ask them to arrange transportation for you. There is often no charge beyond the standard cost of the service you are arranging.
- Create a holographic will if you don’t have arrangements. For people with pets, property, and other assets to care for, if you don’t already have a will or trust, it’s wise to create a holographic will for the worst case scenario. Include emergency phone numbers, with country code, for your family, your blood type, and any emergency medical info. Keep this in your wallet.
- Download these free apps Mobile Passport and Google translate, iTranslate in case the language barrier is really tough. Mobile Passport is for getting back into the U.S. through customs. You fill out the info on the app before you come into the U.S., but don’t submit it until you land. They will send you a code that is good for a few hours. This app gets you into a faster line at customs and you can add all the people in your family in one itinerary. Since we entered through Montreal, we went through customs at the airport in Canada, which was a quick process, and did not get a chance to use the app.
I think packing is one of the worst parts of traveling. With airport restrictions and carry on considerations for the almost full day of travel, packing is tedious. Here’s my packing list, divided into carry on and checked bag essentials already mapped out for you.
Carry on essentials
- Cetaphil Wipes to freshen up anytime. (Tip: baby wipes also make good makeup wipes.)
- Eye mask. Sleeping on the plane helps combat jet lag when traveling West to East.
- Antibacterial wipes to clean up your tray table, in seat monitor, and everything else you touch on the plane.
- Small container of pills: aspirin, allergy medicine, anti inflammatory, and cold medicine. The container is from Daiso, and part of three similar containers that are detachable.
- Earplugs-see number 2.
- Poo Pourri– just in case.
- Sheet mask- long flights with recirculated air dry your skin out badly. Staying hydrated and moisturized is the key to looking and feeling fresh when you land.
- Shout wipes- accidents happen, these wipes prevent stains from setting in, and often removes the stain completely.
- Colgate Wisps- available at most drugstores, and Target, these are pretty refreshing and come in as a good replacement for brushing when you can’t.
- Collagen eye patches to keep your sensitive under eyes area hydrated.
- Small bottle of moisturizer. This isn’t my preferred moisturizer, but it’s the right size and extra hydrating, perfect for the plane.
- Rose water spray– my favorite for anytime. A few spritzes feel refreshing and leaves your skin glowy without oil.
- SPF stick, preferably for babies because these are made for sensitive skin, while having a high protection rating.
- Snacks and sandwich.
- Change of clothes and pajamas (just in case your luggage shows up later than you).
Makeup essentials for a quick face
- Sonia Kashuk travel eye brushes.
- Neutrogena Healthy Skin Primer- best primer for a glowy, no makeup look.
- Bronzer- I’m preferential to bronzer over blush, and bronzer lets you balance your foundation if it’s not the right shade at the moment.
- Buffer brush- to blend out face makeup.
- Versital eye shadow palette.
- Foundation stick– These blend smoothly, are lightweight, and have medium, build-able coverage.
- Brow palette
- Micellar wipes
Checked bag essentials
- Long extension cord, converter, and adapter. I brought one converter, and three adapters. The long extension cord is a must for all travel; when’s the last time you had an outlet exactly where you need it in a hotel?
- Mesh bag for dirty clothes.
- Divided compartment bags. everything in the suitcase is packed into compartment bags for easy organization and to prevent things from falling out in case TSA wants to check my bag.
- Ziplock bags of different sizes. Just in case bottles start leaking from the pressure, or to separate wet clothes.
- Downey Spray. Perfect for loosening wrinkles after landing and refreshing clothes half way through the trip.
- Grip pads for shoes that don’t have traction. Cute sandals and flats were great for Santorini, but a little scary going downhill with no traction.
- Tea. I was surprised that the tea offered at hotels and restaurants were Lipton yellow label. I usually pack my own tea, but I didn’t bring any this time expecting better options in Europe.
- Peppermint foot lotion and aloe gel, sunscreen. After sun care and foot care was great after walking around all day.
- Toilet seat covers. More of an FYI, but because older buildings have plumbing that can’t handle anything other than waste, there are not toilet seat covers.
- Samples of perfumes from Nordstrom. A little hack I like is to ask for samples of my current favorite perfumes, or perfumes I’ve been wanting to try. These tiny little spray bottles disperse the scents like a normal bottle, and have a low risk of breaking or leaking. It’s also a great way to try a new scent for a few days.
- Camera padded inserts. I love these camera inserts! They are very sturdy and thick, while folding down pretty flat. I have the small and large. Both sizes are great for packing in different bags that don’t look like obvious camera bags.
- Sony Rx100 IV. I could not be more happy with this camera! There are so many awesome and useful features, but I’ll cover only a couple favorites that were perfect for Santorini: The flip up LCD screen was amazing for fuss free selfies, the built in ND filter was essential for the super bright white buildings, the viewfinder with a built in live view LCD screen let me see the photo and make adjustments before pressing the shutter in very bright conditions, and the built in wifi sent my nearly perfect photos to my phone for easy editing and uploading on location. I didn’t bring a laptop or my DSLR for this trip, and I think this setup was just as effective.
- Instax 50s. Traveling is all about living in the present and making memories that last. You only see things for the first time once. I love using my Instax to capture all the things that first catch my eye. I stock pile all the photos while I’m exploring and only look at them when we get back to the room. This lets me be present and experience the scene and culture while still making a memento.
- Small articulated tripod. I love this tripod! It’s lightweight and super versatile. I was able to get pictures of the two of us without worrying about handing my camera to a stranger. And with the articulated arms, I could safely attach my camera to many different objects, including a tree, fence, and gate.
- Camera case-super cute, light weight, and not obviously a camera case for an expensive camera.
- Film (Portra 800, Porta 400 and Fuji 400h, Portra 160 speed film, instax refills).
- Pentax 645n.
- Canon ae-1.
- Spare batteries, memory cards, and hard drive.
With all the time it takes to travel, we like to make sure that we enjoy all our free time on the ground. Staying prepared and organized is the key to maximizing your time abroad. Knowing our habits, I never felt like I forgot anything I needed or didn’t use anything we brought, so adjust your list as you need to.
FTC disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. Delighted Images is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com. While I do get a small return on your use of the links, rest assured I only recommend and link to products I love!