If you’re like me, you’re ready to get out and see the world again after a long hiatus from frequent traveling. As a refresher course, it is a good idea to go over tested travel tips that have served other travelers in good stead over the years.
The Not-So-Fun Stuff
First off, make sure to get your medical documents and duplicate prescriptions together in a compact folder or card available at most pharmacies. This states medical conditions, allergies and your blood type. Medic-Alert, a non-profit foundation, will maintain whatever medical data you give them on their computers, easily retrieved from anywhere in the world by a phone call, as well as providing an identification bracelet if desired. You can do this by visiting www.medicalert.org.
Check online with the CDC to determine which shots or vaccines you need for the area you’ll be traveling in well in advance of your trip to account for any reaction. Take two of everything medical, such as prescription glasses, contact lenses and any special dental equipment you use, including floss.
Since Medicare is not valid outside America, add low-cost travel insurance for a medical emergency or for trip cancellation/postponement. Some travel companies waive a pre-existing condition if you purchase the insurance within 14 days of the booking date.
If leaving the country make sure your passport is valid for six months after your return date.
The Fun Stuff
Now the fun stuff: packing what you will wear on your exciting trip! Coordinate your wardrobe around a single color. Separates are then easier to mix and match. Check the weather forecast for your destination just before you leave so you can prepare for a summer cool spell by layering your clothes. Pack light!
Roll your clothes with buttons buttoned, which decreases wrinkling. Re-purpose cleaner bags between layers to minimize wrinkling, and hang clothes in the destination bathroom when showering.
Pack some old clothes you’d like to leave behind after using to make room for new items you purchase. Make a list of everything you need to take with you, including a journal, facecloth, light raincoat, safety pins, sunscreen. Minimize liquids that can leak: tape them!
Create your own travel first aid kit and include your prescription medicines, ibuprofen, aspirin, anti-diarrheal, antihistamine cream for allergies, hydrocortisone for insect bites, insect repellant, motion sickness remedy, antiseptic towelettes, tweezers, bandages and small scissors.
Start a plane trip well-rested and hydrated, avoid alcohol and caffeine: drink water or juice in the dry cabin, to reduce jet lag. However, jet lag is a result of rapidly shifting three or more time zones. A trip west is easier to handle as gaining time is easier on one’s system. During the flight, stretch your neck, legs, feet and use good posture. Try to arrive during daylight so you can explore the sights there and adjust to the new time zone before sleeping.
A popular option is choosing a reputable packaged trip that usually includes many solo travelers. Tapping into the expertise of seasoned leaders offers special activities hard to beat independently. Be polite, smile and reach out to other travelers and the leader, letting them know early if something goes wrong, in case they can correct it.
For more information:
“How to Travel Solo” by Lyn Hughes, Wanderlust Publishing, 2021.
“Lonely Planet’s Best Ever Travel Tips” by Tom Hall with a collaborative of travel professionals, Lonely Planet Global Ltd., 2018.