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You’re traveling overseas, now how should you pack and what should you bring?
World Travel 101 – Index
- Part 1 – Planning
- Part 2 – Travel Documents
- Part 3 – Foreign Languages
- Part 4 – Money
- Part 5 – Accommodations
- Part 6 – Transportation
- Part 7 – Packing
- Part 8 – Health & Safety
- Part 9 – Staying Connected
- Part 10 – Cultural Awareness & Respect
Here are some packing tips to help you prepare for your 1st trip overseas!
Avoid Over Packing!
Over packing is very tempting. You’re going to be a long way from home and you want to be prepared. But packing too much can cause you a lot of hassle! Rick Steves has a great packing checklist that you can use to help prepare for your trip.
You may have to walk quite a bit before you get to your hotel or your next destination. Don’t get weighed down by carrying around heavy bags.
Here are some ways you can avoid bringing too much with you:
- Pack clothes that can be mixed and matched
- Bring layers – Even if the weather is projected to be warm, it may rain and hotels and airports can get chilly
- Don’t worry about preparing for every possible scenario – Most destinations will have stores close-by where you can purchase last-minute items
- Use packing cubes or vacuum bags – This is a great way to organize and condense your items, so it’s easier to fit everything into your bag
- International travel adapter – This converter safely adapts your US electric plugs to international plugs
- Medicine and prescriptions – Always carry your prescriptions in case you lose your medication and need a refill
- Copies of passport & visa – Carry both print and electronic copies
- Ear plugs and eye mask – You’ll never know when these will be useful, and they don’t take up much space
If you’re going to a developing country and have extra space in your luggage, consider bringing donations for families in need. You’ll almost certainly see people who you can help, and it doesn’t take much effort or money.
Save Money on Checked Bag Fees
It’s also important to pack light because checked bags can get expensive, especially if they are overweight! Most airlines don’t charge for the 1st checked bag on international flights. But you could pay ~$25 to ~$100 per person each way for a 2nd checked bag!
Keep in mind that you may still be charged for your 1st checked bag on some flights to the Caribbean, Mexico, and Central America. You can avoid paying with credit cards that waive checked bag fees such as:
- American Express Delta Gold Personal and Business – 1st checked bag fee waived for you and up to 8 travel companions on the same reservation
- Barclaycard US Airways – 1st checked bag fee waived for you and up to 4 travel companions on the same reservation
- Chase United Explorer – 1st checked bag fee waived for the primary cardholder but you must USE the card to book.
- Citi American Airlines Platinum Personal and Business – 1st checked bag fee waived for you and up to 4 travel companions on the same reservation
You could also wind up paying ~$100 to ~$200 per bag (each way!) if your checked bag is over the ~50 pound weight limit.
This is why I always use a luggage scale. They are affordable, lightweight, and can save you from unexpected luggage charges! If the weight limit is 50 pounds, I stop at 48 pounds just to be safe.
Prepare for Mishaps
While undesirable, it sometimes happens, your checked bags get lost. You can minimize the impact by putting essentials in your carry-on bag. I like to pack at least 1 change of clothes, important documents, and valuables in my carry-on.
Leave Room for Souvenirs
We like to bring back special items to remember our trip and to share with friends, family, and our readers.
If you plan on returning with more than you left with, remember to leave extra space in your suitcase. I typically leave one-third of a bag empty for souvenirs.
Checked bag fees can add up! So try to pack light. You can also save money on bag charges with a credit card that waives your 1st checked bag fee. And by using a luggage scale to ensure your bag meets the airline’s weight requirements.
Unfortunately, there’s always a possibility that your bags could get lost or stolen. So keeping valuable documents and items in your carry-on could save you a lot of time and stress!
And remember to leave extra space in your luggage for any souvenirs you might bring back from your trip.