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Vacation Packing-Solo Travel Tips: Vacations are upon us this summer, and the Christmas and New Year’s holidays will be here fast. One challenge is how to take what you need but not get stuck dragging extra bags around. Worse yet? The checked baggage fees add up, often per leg! As a solo female traveler, I like to travel light. That way if I am faced with danger, I can sprint. (Think, too, how hard it is to navigate restrooms on planes and trains if you try to bring things with you to avoid theft!)
Here are some of my personal tips from trips in the US and abroad. (Spoiler alert: I have a life long history of making a contest of traveling light. I once spent a summer in Europe with just an overnight bag albeit, an overstuffed one! Please send us yours tips as well on our Contacts page.
Vacation Packing-Solo Travel Tips:
Personal Comfort Before Leaving Home and En Route:
Check with care the rules of the airline you are taking. I was surprised on a 17 day Asian trip I was only allowed 11 pounds. Since my roller bag weighed a few pounds, there was not much room left for clothes.
If you are going from a blizzard to the islands, scrap a coat for a jacket. That will be easier to stow overhead. Since planes tend to be cold, you can wear the socks and a sweater on the flight.
Use packing cubes, That will make it easy to pull out your first overnight gear, streetwear and sports clothes. I also have used them for jackets that go on the conveyor belt at security check points.
Only pack items that have at least two uses. (Some examples, comb/hairbrush combination, tinted moisturizer/sunblock. Also take workout clothes that double as sleepwear.)
Cull your electronics. Take your tablet with VOIP for calls, emails and photos.
What Gifts and Treats You May Carry:
Don’t wrap gifts. In this day and age of strong security, you will likely have to unwrap items for flights.
Leave elaborate dishes at home in your refrigerator. They are unlikely to make it through security. However, simple baked cookies should. Lastly, raw food items can cause problems on arrival. (If you have heard that is a trick to avoid the long Customs lines, don’t try it. Apparently, that is popular with smugglers and could turn your dream vacation a nightmare!)
Vacation Packing-Solo Travel Tips:
What is Your Destination Like?
Check out the high and low temperatures for where you are headed. See if you are arriving in the rainy season. I have been in the Amazon Upriver in the “green” season and in the Indian monsoons. However, it will be too humid for a rain slicker. Try cotton layers that wick. Add a waterproof tote with a change of clothes. I always take a pashmina or large scarf to avoid freezing in air conditioning.
Think about local customs. In the Middle East and parts of Asia, modest dress is required. Both men and women may need to be covered, especially at special religious sites. If you are unprepared, go to a local street market, buy what you need. You can donate it to a charity bin if your bag won’t hold it, and you don’t need it at home!
Shoes are a real challenge since they are “space stealers”. You have to ask yourself these questions about your destination:
- Will my activities involve hiking through rain forests or strolling through urban museums?
- Do I have special sports activities where I have to bring my own gear (such as ski boots)?
- Will my evenings be clubbing or climbing through forests trails to set up a camp site?
I learned the hard way how much shoes matter. I arrived in Quebec City in my top apres-ski boots one winter’s day. I was surprised that the sun melted some of the snow. My feet were so wet I had to dash to a shoe store to buy waterproof local boots.
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