Most any savvy traveler has a quick-travel kit ready to go. Frequent fliers know the types of toiletries that will come in handy and also the sizes that airport personnel allow. Even so, there are five travel essentials that are easy to forget and should be on any travel checklist. Conversely, there are five items you can do without (trust me!). Learn from my mistakes and prepare for your next vacation with aplomb.
So what’s the savvy woman traveler to pack?
- Undies follow the duration plus one rule. Bring sufficient bras and underwear for the duration of the stay but pack one extra of each (just in case).
- Make clothes multi-task. A sarong becomes a perfect skirt, towel or shawl. A v-neck small-button jacket doubles as a sweater.
- Pick quality over quantity. Bring along comfy and high-quality shoes or boots. One pair each sees you through the entire trip. For the warm-season traveler who does not anticipate any formal meetings, consider packing some late-model Birkenstocks; they look cute and do well on the trail or along the marble halls of the Prado.
- Think like a gymnast. These competitive athletes dress in layers and their leotards do double-duty as bathing suits. Better yet, a leo – worn with a pair of shorts or skirt — is an excellent option for being out and about in the hot sun without revealing too much cleavage.
- Sun block to the tune of SPF 30+. The higher the SPF, the better. This is especially true when traveling in higher elevations, such as Colorado, or in desert areas, much like sunny southern California. Do not skimp on this one or prepare to spend a few agonizing days in your hotel room (alone).
If these are the travel essentials to pack, which items should be taken off the travel checklist?
- Leave electrical appliances at home. There is nary a hotel or motel that does not offer a hairdryer, coffee maker and iron on request. When traveling abroad, there is a good chance that the appliances won’t work anyways.
- Jewelry attracts thieves. Women travel tips for countries steeped in patriarchal law call for the exception to this rule: a wedding ring. Even if you’re single, wearing a wedding band is a good idea to head off questions and unwanted (male) attention.
- Expensive watches and sunglasses break. It is the inevitable law of travel that the expensive pair of sunglasses will get scratched on the first day, while the expensive watch will take a nosedive in the hotel pool. Invest in some cheap shades and a very inexpensive watch instead.
- Shampoo and conditioner take up space. Hotels are always willing to leave a few extras for the guest with long hair. Don’t waste space in your luggage for these items. Moreover, remember that these bottles likely as not can leak and ruin the entire wardrobe.
- Get the paperback version.War and Peace in hardcover is pretty unwieldy; it is not much better in paperback but at least there is some give. Whenever possible, pack things that will bend slightly, compress a bit and offer you the opportunity to negotiate the valuable luggage space just a bit.
Of course, when you’re traveling with kids all bets are off. Your luggage will most likely become overflow storage for the extra changes of clothes, wipes and other accoutrements that traveling with little ones bring. Yet even there you can follow some common sense suggestions to make packing just a bit easier on the traveling woman. For example, did you know that putting a complete toddler’s outfit (socks and all) into a Ziploc bag is the best way of keeping everything at your finger tips? It is also a neat way of separating soiled clothes from your clean ones while on the road. Who knew?
More by Sylvia Cochran:
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Travel Safety for Women in New York City