What should you do before, during, and after your travels besides pack your bags?
Recently I posted about international travel niceties and necessities so I wanted to expand on those travel tips to include things you can do before, during, and after your trip to save time and help your travels go smoothly. Having recently traveled to the countries of Georgia and Turkey, I tried out my own tips before, during, and after traveling. With each international trip we take, I try to evaluate my packing and see what I would do differently the next time or what one investment I might make to my capsule wardrobe. Before my next winter trip I want to add a black crew neck merino wool sweater, otherwise I was pretty happy with my minimalist packing. Below are my travel tips for saving time and avoiding travel stress on your next international trip.
Ahead of time:
Lots of packing lists abound: here’s mine
Pack your bag 90% full or less so you have room for souvenirs (or consider bringing a foldable duffle bag if you need an extra bag on the way home)
Never pack a bag heavier than you can carry. Often you will have to haul your luggage up stairs or across a city on foot or lift it over your head on the plane (test the straps, handles, etc. of your luggage and backpack)
Do trial packing and trial carrying ahead of time
Do not pack things you would NEVER use at home
Have some mix and match outfits and be prepared to wear things more than once before washing
Weigh your bags before leaving, check airline specific regulations for size and weight
Photograph all your items inside your bag (all items laid out on the bed ahead of time works fine, in case you have to report lost luggage)
Research travel documents needed (visas, insurance, etc.)
Photocopy and print copies of travel documents, cards, etc.
Check if your passport expiration date is at least 6 months after you intend to come home
Research cultural modesty/clothing suggestions
Research currency/exchange rate (there are apps for this but it helps to have an idea before you go)
Research tipping customs
Photograph your luggage itself
Download Google regional map (helpful when offline)
Download local travel/taxi apps ahead of time
Download the local language on Google Translate app (helpful when offline)
Learn to say “thank you” and a few other helpful phrases in the local language
Check on transportation passes
Research free walking or food tours
Research travel blogs with 1-2 day itineraries and pick 1 or 2 must see places
Have a general idea but allow for discoveries or detours along the way
Share your itinerary or destination with at least one emergency contact at home
Decide how you will contact family/friend back home (messaging app over wifi if not using a sim card)
Let your home contact know you arrived if necessary
Exchange some money or use the ATM (try to get some smaller denominations or make a purchase to get some change to have on hand)
Check on sim card if needed
Take a free walking tour of the area in the first day or two (tip the guide afterwards)
Look into transportation passes to purchase
Be flexible for whatever adventures come your way that were not in your plan
Ask locals for suggestions for restaurants, parks, public transportation, etc.
Say “thank you” in the local language
Use common sense
Ask for help if you need it
Sip some local coffee and people watch for a bit, slow down and enjoy your trip
Collect stories and memories as souvenirs
Send thank you notes or emails to your hosts, travel companions, and home contact
Unpack your bag and do laundry
Restock your toiletries bag and any other replacement items for your next trip
Review and revise your packing list for your next trip based on what you did/did not use
Go though your pictures and make a short slide show (less than 50 pics!) to show friends
We loved visiting a small mountain village of less than 3,000 people in the Caucuses Mountains in Georgia, wandering the city of Tbilisi, walking the ancient ruins of Ephesus in Turkey, and exploring the modern metropolis of over 15 million people in Istanbul. In 2 weeks we walked over 80 miles and up 500 flights of stairs in our exploring of these 2 countries, plus enjoyed a Georgian supra and a Turkish breakfast. We used all of the before, during, and after tips.
If you have followed my other travel adventures, I am happy to report that we did not lose ANY luggage this trip or get rerouted to far away cities! We packed for 2 weeks in backpacks and one personal item each. We had just enough room for a little souvenir outfit for my granddaughter from one of my favorite stores LC Waikiki which I first discovered in Albania. Now I am already dreaming of where my next trip should be…maybe Italy or Panama? Post some suggestions in the comments of where I should travel next and why.
More travel tips?
Table Talk: What do you always do before you travel? What location is next on your international wish list?