I know it’s been quite some time since I’ve posted. Blame it on the beginning of summer and several big life decisions. The short version of the story is I’m staying in Chicago for now (frustrating parking and all), and I’m pretty content with the fact that the UPS workers around the corner from my office now know my name.
There are several things I’ll never get used to in this land of concrete and body odor, constant travel being one of them. Since moving to Chicago last July, I’m not sure if I’ve ever stopped moving. And this includes travel outside of the city. I regularly wander to Valparaiso, Indianapolis, and Fort Wayne back in Indiana – and recently my boss paid for his entire team to go to Mexico!
Now I’m pretty sure if it’s done right, the bite of the international travel bug never stops itching. Previously, I’ve been to Rome, Paris, and London, but Cancun, Mexico was a whole other fantastic experience.
For those of you who are novices to traveling the world, I’ve included a few of my top travel tips this week. So here we go!
- Because electricity is different in Europe, make sure to get an international plug converter. Don’t plug ANYTHING in without it, or you’ll fry whatever you plug in. You can find these converters at Best Buy or Radio Shack.
- Roll clothing, instead of folding it in your suitcase. It leaves more room.
- In your carry-on, pre-pack all liquids and medications in a see-through Ziploc bag. Put it in a front pocket. That will make it easier to grab when you go through security.
- Pack an empty carry-on sized bag in your checked luggage. You can fill it with souvenirs then for your travels home.
- Even though we want to believe that your luggage will not get lost, it’s always good to be prepared. Pack one change of clothes and some essential toiletries in your carry-on just in case. Change of underwear is most important!
- Pack good headphones. Most international flights have unlimited movies and TV for you to watch. Or you can always download shows from Netflix and YouTube to watch offline.
- Make sure to sleep at least a little on the way there if you can. You’ll thank yourself later.
- Usually adult passengers on international flights gets one complimentary alcoholic beverage. Enjoy some champagne to take the edge off the plane time!
- Pack gum in your carry-on. It helps with takeoff and landing times because of air pressure changes.
- Some of the best advise my mom gave me: Don’t feel like you need to spend all your money on souvenirs for others. Your pictures and stories are cheaper and will mean so much more to them.
- Check out the travel laws for whatever country you’re heading to before buying alcohol. Some countries might confiscate it before you get it back on American soil.
- As you buy souvenirs, keep an ongoing list. This will help you when you have to fill out customs forms to reenter the country.
- If you can, don’t pack 10 brand new outfits. Pack lots of clothes for layering. One pair of pants, two or three pairs of shorts, and one skirt. If you want something nice, pack a dress that doesn’t wrinkle easily. Then pack shirts that go with all of them. The more you can pre-plan outfits and be prepared for any weather, the happier you will be.
- PACK GOOD WALKING SHOES! I know you guys will be going to and fro by car and bus a bit, but we Americans always underestimate how much Europeans are used to walking from one place to the next.
- If you have a smartphone, this is honestly the best option to use as a camera. Put it on airplane mode while you’re overseas (so it doesn’t use up data), and then only use it to take pictures. This makes them easier to edit and share online later, instead of waiting to put them on a computer when you get home.
No matter what, always be polite and appreciative to airport security. I have stopped counting the amount of times I’ve received special treatment because I smiled and thanked them for doing their job.
Bon voyage, readers! Where are you planning to go this summer?