My least favorite part about planning/getting ready for a trip is packing. I dread it. It doesn't help that I'm also OCD about the whole process. In the past I would start the process about a week to two weeks before a trip, depending on the the length and location. In all the years of traveling and having gone through all the horror stories you can ever imagine, I've compiled a full proof list. Most of which are common sense, but for those unseasoned travelers it's something to keep in mind for when you do decide to go somewhere.
Anyways, I think I've hit on all the major points. Just be vigilant, it's so common for people to leave their brains at home when traveling abroad. With that, I need to do the finishing touches to my packing list before I leave on a jet plane again.
- Make you sure have all your documents in order at least a week before. Nothing like not being able to find your passport the day before and having to scramble to the Embassy first thing the next morning and changing all your flights (didn't happen to me personally, but has with family members)
- If you are traveling internationally, leave all your contact information and copies of your passport with family members and friends. In this day and age, social networking sites are great for this too (not the passport part). Although it wouldn't help if you are in a location that doesn't have great internet services.
- ALWAYS pack extra underwear and socks.
- If you have several flights or connections in your itinerary, pack a few outfits in your carry-on. If the airlines happen to lose your luggage along the way or on a cancelled flight that never left the airport (yes, that has seriously happened to us personally...on our honeymoon no less!), you can still try to enjoy your destination for a few days until you get your luggage.
- Make sure you have medication (particularly life saving ones) in your personal effects and not in your checked luggage. You don't know how many times I got yelled at by clients for this one. Um...how is that my fault that you were an irresponsible idiot?
- Check the weather forecast every day up until departure and pack/repack accordingly. Nothing like going from spring like weather to just below freezing or vice versa in a matter of hours. LAYERS ARE KEY!
- In Europe it's common to pay to use the toilet at a rest stop, tourist areas or train station. Hold on to .50 and 1 Euro coins.
- Tourist areas are prime-time pick-pocket areas. ALWAYS carry wallets/passports in front pockets and purses slung across your body at all times, even while eating. A friend of ours hung her purse across the back of her chair while eating in London and didn't notice it had been taken until she and her husband were done eating. They never even left the table, but somehow "they" got it. Her money, credit cards, and passport were gone on the first day of their trip.
- This may sound silly, but sometimes dressing like a poor person is good too. I don't mean rags or shirts with holes either. If you were a thief, would you go for the tourists who wore head-to-toe name brand everything or the t-shirt and jeans person?