The Art of the NOT Stressful International Travel

My parents used to drag me and my brother all over Europe since we were very little (thank you, mom and dad, for making us decently well-rounded individuals!). I still remember, rather vividly, our tiny green Fiat Uno that took us through 12 countries in one go. But all that travel taught me little on how to manage my travel stress. After all, I had very little say in where we went and what to pack.

That, however, changed after I moved to the US and started traveling quite extensively by myself. Over time, I learned a few tricks of the trade and I figured I'd share them here...

First and foremost, I have one very big rule: always fly with one carry-on. Period. Why, you ask? Many, many, many reasons, but mainly, risk avoidance. First, it's much faster to not have to wait for checked bags; second, you don't risk having your luggage lost (and having everything you need on you is just plain more comforting), and finally, it gives you an incentive to really pack only things you need. 

So here are my other few favorite lessons from my years of travel...

Comfort Items: Let's face it, it's next to impossible to be comfortable on a long flight (unless you have more money than you know what to do with or you own an airline, or both). But there are a few things that can make your economy seat feel a whole lot better. Most importantly, that neck pillow (as seen on the left which is especially kind to your traveling self by conveniently attaching itself to your luggage :). Other tricks in my bag include promptly getting rid of my shoes in favor of soft socks, having a nicely large sweater to wrap myself in, and a good book that hopefully puts you to sleep. Fast. 

Technology: I read somewhere that the ability to disconnect is nowadays a luxury. This is one luxury I am happy to forfeit! I love my technology and I love dragging it with me everywhere I go. I typically haul my Macbook (for creative work on the road), my iPad (for work-related emergencies), my one and only phone and, last but not least (and not pictured for obvious reasons), my camera. I usually dump the heavy Macbook in the rolling carry-on while keeping the iPad and iPhone handy (FYI, all the iProducts are just a coincidence, I am not an Apple evangelist, promise! :). 

Speaking of technology, we need to power those babies! And cord/power management is kind of a big deal for me (aka, I HATE CORDS - Apple, when are you going to do something about this??). So I have two sets of cords... the ones I will readily need in my purse and the ones I will need after I arrive (which I conveniently place on wheels). Another key to international travel has been my lovable power adapter. I spent a good $49 on it but it is worth every penny. This thing powers equally well (anywhere in the world) your PC, iPad, phone, curling iron, straightener, and so much more. Hard to beat that!

Now on to the fun part of packing - picking your clothes... I have to admit, I don't really have a mind-blowing strategy here. But the one lesson I have learned is that even if I try to plan outfits, my mood changes too much to be able to stick to my plan. So, instead, I just pick things that go well with each other, no matter how I combine them. I try to get at least 2/3 tops, 2/3 bottoms, 2 sweaters and one jacket. For shoes, I truly stick to basics - running shoes are always a must (which take up pretty much half of my bag), and then I try to make it happen with maximum of 2 more pairs. 

Last but not least: some tricks on how to make going through TSA a bit faster... I have lately been very lucky and getting PreCheck, but when I do not, I always try to make it very easy to reach the items I would need to remove from my luggage. For example, I always keep my laptop in the front pocket of my rolling carry-on which makes it super easy to take out. I also have a great makeup bag that has a detachable clear section which snaps right back in when done. And finally, I have my system down with the bins: grab two bins. First gets the laptop, second gets top coat, shoes, and liquids. In, out, done. 

With that said, I am now ready and packed and away. Hope your summer travels are safe and happy! See you in a week (or two)! (PS: for all of you, thief blog readers, certain precautions have been made to welcome you warmly should you decide to make a visit :). 

Posted on June 8, 2015 and filed under Travel Diaries.