I have one of the most amazing jobs on earth. I get to travel the world on a monthly basis as I help Kosherica prepare for exotic cruise and resort programs. I always felt a sense of wonder and excitement every time I embarked on a new journey. I was humbled by the incredible glaciers in Alaska, the stunning canals in Venice and world class art in Russia. I also loved the less exotic trips where your main goal of the day is reading a book in a place other than your home. I simply love travel. However, the one thing I don’t love is preparing for my trip. What do I bring? How do I organize myself before I leave? I always made little notes on napkins and then added a mental check list. After years of preparing like an amateur I decided it was time to graduate to a professional traveller.
The list below is the result of much trial and error. I often wished someone pointed out these tips out to me earlier. They made my travel easier and stress free. Now, my fellow travellers, these tips are yours to use:
1. I hate waiting in long line to check in. Granted I’m a bit impatient but who really enjoys standing behind 150 people moving at a snails pace while you could be sitting down and checking your Facebook page? Luckily the wait can be avoided. Sign up for global entry. A mere $100 gets you a TSA status, wherein you’re pre-checked. You just breeze through customs and immigration (without breaking a sweat) and are on your way. American Express Platinum will generally refund the full fee of the $100 spent.
2. Check in online. Before the trip you are eligible to pick the most desirable seats, and avoid another line by the counter. Some airlines provide cheaper baggage fees if done online.
3. Weigh your luggage to make sure it’s meets your airlines weight requirements. Purchase a portable, hand held luggage scale for about $10, and weigh your suitcases before the airport weight check. It will save you the embarrassment plus the time it takes to rearrange and repack your entire luggage in public. Additionally, time taken to repack 5 pounds over the allotted limit could elicit unpleasant comments from people anxious to make their flight. Also invest in lightweight luggage to maximize your weight allowance. An online website that helps you navigate all weight allowances is www.luggagelimits.com.
4. All medications, jewellery, personal documents and electronics must be packed in your purse, briefcase or hand luggage. Your suitcase could get lost, and clothes are easy to replace. Your personal luggage is with you at all times, so you are certain it won’t go astray.
5. To avoid luggage fees, check carry-on bags for free at the boarding gate. This is not a guarantee but it generally works. I also find they are more lenient with a small difference in weight and do the heavy carrying for you.
6. If you are a frequent flyer, get a credit card issued by your favourite airline. This will give you perks like early boarding, no luggage fees and with some cards, a VIP treatment, like carte blanche to rest in their luxurious guest lounge at a lengthy stopover. Also don’t forget to earn your miles!
7. Have a travel size bottle of Downy wrinkle release inside your suitcase. It will keep you from looking sloppy in wrinkled clothes. Another great trick my grandmother taught me is to roll clothing instead of folding. It really works.
8. Get a solid suitcase that is sturdy yet lightweight. You also want a special compartment that allows you to fold pack clothes that don’t necessarily need to be folded. In addition make sure the wheels are solid and the movement of the luggage is fluid.
9. Make your luggage stand out from the rest. Most suitcases are barely distinguishable from each other. I use a trick which prevents me from reaching for the wrong luggage – I tie a brightly coloured ribbon on the handle of my existing luggage. I stay away from uniform black and choose one with unique designs are so they stand out and hard to miss even after 24 hours on the go.
10. If you’re on a special diet, order well ahead. In addition, bring with you some healthy snacks, since the fare most airlines offer is not only expensive and sugary, but is definitely not Glatt Kosher. I prefer bringing a ton of cut up apples, nuts, dried fruit.
Read my post next week as I give you a step by step Leaving for Vacation Check list. I hope you have a great trip!