|Subject: tips for first time travelers (long)|
Here are my suggestions for first time travellers. After several trips to Europe, I am still learning new things!!
Pack light, pack light, pack light!! I have changed my packing over the years - obviously taking less each time. I take one carry on size bag 20x13x9 and a backpack-style microfiber purse. I use one pack-it cube (10x14) and one pack-it envelope (10x15) from Eagle Creek for all my clothes (yes, amazingly I fit them all into these two items), a zippered toiletries bag from Outdoor Reasearch, and two spillproof sacks for laundry stuff (flexo-line, available from Rick Steves or Magellans, a sink stopper, shout wipes, concentrated soap), vitamins and other meds, picnic supplies(lexan silverware, pocketknife, little Coleman salt/pepper shaker), and antipacteriall wipes (Target sells the resealable packages of the Nice 'n Clean brand for $.99).
I agree with the other posts about taking a wardrobe that is coordinated. We usually travel in the summer, so I am able to take lighter weight clothing. I usually take two skirts, one pair of black pull on pants from Chicos, 4-6 tops, two pairs of sandals, swimsuit, lightwight sweater, underwear, scarf for shoulders in Italian churches. You have to have enough variety not to get sick of your wardrobe, but still balance that with taking less. I find that the Travelers line at Chicos is great for lightweight, wrinkle-resistant clothing. The prices are about the same as LL Bean's and Travelsmith's knit separates (I ordered some of the LL Bean separets recently and wasn't crazy about the material - it wasn't very substantial and seemed like it would pill easily). Choose clothing with materials that can be washed in the sink and left to hang dry without looking too wrinkled. Depending on your itinerary and interests, you may need hiking shoes and shorts, but don't wear shorts in the cities!
Other things to consider: 1. Take your ATM card. We now only take $200 in traveler's checks, just in case. We did have a problem with using the ATM's once last year, but usually they are no problem to find and they have a better exchange rate. Check with your bank for their fees (if they charge you) and make sure you have a 4-didgit pin number.
2. Make a copy of the front page of your passport and keep it in a separate location.
3. Take a small notebook with your travel info (hotel info, restaurant suggestions, shopping ideas, addresses, credit card numbers and contact for lost/stolen cards), and for having a place to write down your daily journal and expenses.
4. Try to limit travel books. We always end up taking more than we want in weight, but we do use them. I can't bear to rip out the pages of a book! Take something fun to read, too.
5. Make use of internet cafes. You can keep up with email, check your bank for withdrawls made and check current account balances, and make hotel reservations.
6. Take lots of film, since it is more expensive there. Take your camera and film in you carry-on to avoid overexposure to xray machines.
7. Go with an open mind. Don't expect your travel destination to be like home. Be culturally sensitive. Enjoy the differences. At times you might get homesick for 'stuff', but all too soon you'll be on the flight home wishing you had more time to spend there.
8. Don't overplan. You can't see everything in one trip. Know that you'll have a chance to go pack.
Just my thoughts...