As one look through my travel archives will tell you, I’ve done my fair share of international traveling. And although I still don’t have the sleeping on a plane thing totally down (although I’ve had some success with motion sickness), I take pride in being able to pack well. For instance, I did very well traveling through Europe for 3 weeks in 2006 with only a small bag (one that was probably small enough to count as a carry-on). And when I went to China in 2008 for 5 weeks, I only had one full size rolling bag and a backpack. And in that case I’m pretty sure it was half-filled with hair product. Or at least that was the case when I studied abroad in France in 2007 for 5 months with the same number of bags.
Which brings me to why I thought this article from Apartment Therapy about packing for international travel would be interesting. I was wondering what would be the same but mainly what would be different. Would I strongly disagree with any of their recommendations or would it all be the same?
What I found was that it was mainly stuff that was already common sense to me: don’t bring a lot of shoes, make and bring copies of important documents, medicines (prescription and not), and an inflatable pillow. And although it somewhat makes sense to not leave money stuff until your arrival when you’re exhausted from your flight, I’ve never found it more useful to enter a foreign country with their currency than using an ATM at the airport. My parents used to make a fuss about this, going to the bank weeks before to order foreign currency, but there’s always a working ATM and I can pretty much always use a credit card. This was also in the days when having a local bank account was also recommended, so it’s possible things have just changed.
What the author didn’t include, and what I found handy, was to go with at least one guidebook with an ok map in it. I love Lonely Planet and it usually allows me to read and daydream about all the things I’ll do on my trip before I even get there. Of course sometimes it’s impossible to get a map beforehand, as I found out in China (I couldn’t google map a thing in 2008 but perhaps it’s since changed).
Well, now that I’ve blathered on and on with my critique of this article, what do you think? Did the author give some good ideas you wouldn’t have thought of otherwise?