Useful tips for a relaxing trip from an experienced traveller

Update:25 Jun 2010
 
With airlines charging for excess and/or refusing overweight luggage, it pays to pack carefully for trips away - both for holidays and business.
 
Carry-on bag essentials: passports with up-to-date visas, extra passport photos, vaccination certificates, international driver's license, travel/health insurance, and travel tickets - for everyone going.
 
Pre-pay as much as you can. Bring credit & ATM cards, traveller's cheques, and a security pouch to wear under clothes. Pack small camera, mobile phone, laptop, chargers, power cords, adapters and flash drives, spectacles or lenses, a copy of your prescription and cleaning supplies. Include name cards and any necessary business papers. Check the destination's electrical power voltage.
 
Toiletries: soap, shampoo and deodorant if you use special kinds, toothbrush, toothpaste, dental floss, razor & blades, shaving cream/oil, comb and/or hairbrush, safety pins - they have many uses, including pinning your trousers pockets closed to deter pickpockets in crowded areas, rubber bands, sewing kit. Plastic bags and sticky tape to store dirty clothes are also handy for storing half used containers of liquids - well wrapped - just remember to put all bagged liquids, gels and lotions in your check-in luggage along with small folding scissors.
 
Don't take food with you. That goes for places where you will only be changing planes and not exiting the airport. I had a box of mini avocadoes from Chile confiscated from my check-in bag when transiting through USA. Check the laws of countries with off-shore territories i.e., nut products are not allowed into Tasmania even from Australia.
 
Clothes: Eliminate whenever possible. Keep to a set colour scheme. Choose fabrics carefully: natural fabrics wrinkle more easily and dry more slowly than modern synthetics. If your check-in pack is soft learn to "roll and wrap", which avoids hard creases and saves space. If it's a hard suitcase pack flat, folding jackets or coats in half lengthwise with the lining facing outwards. Don't forget a pair of sandals as hotels in some places of the world do not provide slippers, which can also be worn at the beach.
 
Medications: Along with any prescription medications take a copy of your doctor's prescription carried separately, to replenish your supply in an emergency, and to verify your need for something that might otherwise be illegal in your destination country. List by brand and generic name, and include the dosage. Handluggage should contain antibacterial wipes, and medication for Delhi-belly; all natural charcoal pills are useful for this. Remember that prevention is better than cure - so be careful of what you eat and drink. Pack mosquito and insect repellents, malaria tablets, sun screen lotion, lip balm, personal hygiene items, sunglasses and reading spectacles. A notebook and pen are always good to have. You may want earplugs and a sleeping mask.
 
If you're a reader, take a book or two. Reasonably priced books in your language may be hard to come by. Don't forget children's toys.
 
Roll socks and put inside spare shoes, and if you're going to be tramping around the countryside ladies - take trainers or boots!
 
Climates: One of the best tips if you're travelling between north and south hemispheres, is layering. A set of long-johns (thermal underwear) may look like something Grandpa wore, but the newer varieties are much more efficient than a heavy coat. Try the silk versions "made in China" - wonderfully comforting on a cold day. Make sure that the clothes you take will dry out quickly.
 
To avoid unpleasant reactions in some places, don't wear military-style clothing, which can definitely send the wrong message. This includes anything with a camouflage pattern, or colored khaki-green!
 
Pay particular attention to underwear and socks, especially on longer trips. They can make or break your comfort zone. And make sure you have enough - or wash them every evening - they're often difficult to replace, especially in areas where the local people have body shapes much different from yours. If you wear silk garments add a little hair conditioner to the final rinse - silk like hair, is a protein, and conditioner keeps the fabric soft and lessens the wrinkles. Lay washed clothes flat on a towel and roll them up to get rid of excess water and hang on the bathroom clothesline to dry. Long T-shirts are a boon for all, they can double up as nightshirts too. You can pick them up as you go, and they could be good souvenirs too.
 
White socks and underwear are unlikely to remain that way over time, and nothing looks worse on kids or adults than dingy grey underwear or socks, much better to start off with dark colors. For adults take a minimum of three pairs of socks made from synthetic yarns, acrylic or a wool mixture as they are much kinder to your feet than cotton, for children double that number. I find tube socks are useless, stretch socks too tight, and those with a seam over toes uncomfortable.
Loose, light, washable long-sleeved shirts are good everywhere except the most extreme cold climates.
 
Clothes: Of course, choice will depend on your destination and the purpose of your journey, for business you will probably need a two-piece suit and a blazer with extra slacks, that goes for women too in this day and age, although a skirt suit is also a good choice.
 
I have seen jackets in Europe made with inner and outer pockets that close with a zipper. In Hong Kong, our tailors or alteration shops can easily accommodate your needs, and usually in double-quick time. Denim jeans don't work for travelling; they are too heavy. And dark blue, dark grey, brown and burgundy work better than stark black.
 
For seaside resorts, a hat for a child is essential. For men, swimming trunks with built-in pouch can double up as shorts. A one-piece suit for ladies can also be worn under a loose blouse, cardigan or jacket. And a sarong or headscarf can be adapted to many uses; dressing gown, nightshirt, beachwear or to keep off heat or wind.
 
Last but not least: take photocopies of your passports' main page, prescriptions, driving licenses, card account numbers, traveller's cheque serial numbers, special telephone numbers necessary to deal with the loss of any cards and carry the copies separately from the originals.
All this advice doubles up if you're travelling with children - and pack easily accessed items to amuse them on the journey.
 
One old adage aptly applies to holiday trips: pack half as much clothing and twice as much money. You should plan to carry the most important items on board if you're flying - it pays to remember there are two kinds of luggage: carry-on, and lost ... Happy Travelling!
 
SOURCE: China Daily
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