Travel is my favourite pastime. The pandemic put the kibosh on my plans for many months, but the friendly skies are reopening now. Triple-vaccinated and masked when necessary, I am ready to resume my quest to visit 65 countries by the end of my 65th year.
So far, I have been to 51 countries (not counting airport layovers) and I am determined to meet my challenge. Because I am, actuarily speaking, in the third part of my life and I refuse to live a life rooted in fear. A change of scenery has always broadened my perspective and does wonder for my spirit. Travelling wins the balance, for me, from anxiety over the effects of Covid mutations and seeing more of this awe-inspiring world in which we live.
Carry-on packing list
I frequently travel alone and I consider myself an excellent budget traveller. Of course, I enjoy luxury, but I also am adept at knowing how to save money when I can. However, when considering what to pack for a trip, whether a long holiday or a weekend, things can become overwhelming quite quickly: there are matters of both organization and essentials, all of which make your trip much easier to bear.
Here are some of my best tips to ease and streamline your way.
- Bring a reusable water bottle
I bring a whole bottle of water to the airport and drink it before entering the security area. Once through security, I refill it on the other side. Many airports have water filling stations outside toilets for this very reason. Staying hydrated is important for one’s health, staves off wrinkles and can alleviate jet lag. Bringing a bottle from home is also cheaper than buying one at the airport and is better for the environment.
- Opt for healthy snacks
Never travel without snacks! Just as traffic and weather are unpredictable when travelling, so is the snack selection. Packing one’s own snacks can help you avoid overpriced airport items. Fewer airlines offer meals nowadays, and consuming healthier food is more within your control if you bring it with you. Nuts are a healthy energy source and easy to pack as well as fruit bars or carrot sticks.
- Invest in a great carry on bag
Because I avoid checking luggage—I indeed have had my bags lost for a few days when I travelled to Ireland, and do not like to waste time at baggage claim-I try to keep my belongings to a compact minimum when travelling. I am a master at rolling my clothes to fit what I need into my carry-on luggage and take only what I need on a given trip. Invest in a good, sturdy bag, in which the wheels can easily roll in all directions. Consider one that expands, so you can store souvenirs you may pick up. My travel purse is a nice looking, stain-resistant bag that converts into a backpack for hands-free movement. I pack my shoes in plastic bags in my rolling carry-on suitcase. The plastic bags double as dirty laundry bags for the return trip home.
- Get a good travel pillow
Travel pillows are designed differently to meet the specific needs of the user. They also come in different sizes, weights, shapes and filing. Comfort is one of the most important factors to be considered when buying one. That’s why it’s advisable to always choose the neck pillow that could provide maximum support in all your preferred sleeping positions.
I prefer the Trtl Travel Pillow, which is like a turtleneck scarf with enough rigidity to keep your head from flopping when you fall asleep. It is compact and more comfortable than the self-inflating type.
- Choose the right book
I am an avid reader, which I consider to be another form of travel, as my books often transport my mind to faraway lands. Although I prefer to have one in my hands rather than to an eReader, I am learning to read books on a tablet: it saves room in one’s carry-on, and I despise finishing a book with nothing else with me to read. And airlines provide fewer magazines to their passengers these days.
- Don’t forget your earphones
Earphones can save you from having to endure a baby’s wails (been there, done that), loud talkers or conversation with seatmates when you are not in the mood. Moreover, you can use them to plug into the aeroplane’s audio system in some cases and not have to wait for the flight attendants to come around to offer some.
- Wear comfortable clothes
My favourite pair of travel pants have several zippered pockets into which my passport, and cell phone fit. My boarding pass is always stored in my cell phone, as are photos of my Covid vaccination card, passport and itinerary. My travel coat squashes into a small pouch that also can serve as a soft travel pillow. My preferred travel sweater has hidden pockets, feels like a warm blanket and has a hood that can be pulled over my head to cover my eyes when I want to sleep.
Do a few exercises while in your aeroplane seat if you are on a long trip. Small movements can assist your circulation, ease your muscles and make you more ready to go exploring when you land. Lift your legs off the seat, one by one, for example. Circle your ankles and hands. Stretch your neck from side to side.
Consider getting Global Entry or TSA Precheck, or the equivalent in your country of a travel security clearance. With TSA Precheck, I do not have to remove my shoes when I go through the airport security area or take my laptop or tablet out of my bag. I recently walked past a line of hundreds of people to reenter the United States on my last trip abroad because I was able to use an express Global Entry kiosk instead of waiting in the border control line. Currently, Global Entry costs $100, includes TSA Precheck and is good for five years.
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