The Luxepatriate's Guide to International Travel
International travel is a lot of fun, but it’s unsettling to be outside your comfort zone for long periods of time. Plus, traveling through multiple climates and time zones wreaks havoc on your appearance.
Whether you’re headed out for a European summer vacation or spending an extended Christmas holiday in Thailand, having what you need when you need it is critical. Here’s our list of travel pro tips to get you adjusted to life on the road while looking and feeling your best.
For Air Travel, Put Together an Airplane Kit that Suits Your Needs:
Melatonin - For the plane, or if it is nighttime when you arrive at your destination.
Advil - Great for minor aches and pains.
Lavender wipes - Keep you smelling fresh.
Gum or mints - Don't be offensive to your spouse or neighbor.
Anti-anxiety pills - A natural supplement to relieve anxiety. You may need something stronger if you're a basket case by nature.
Deodorant - Don't be offensive to your spouse or neighbor.
Travel brush - Will come in handy when you're a hot mess.
Emory board - Broken fingernails catch on everything & are a real pain.
Airborne tablets - To support your immune system.
In Your Carry-On, Include the Following:
Airplane kit - All the items above you think you'll need.
RFID blocking wallet or sleeve w/ passport - Protect yourself from electronic skimming of your information & identity theft.
Eye mask - Helps you fall asleep and stay asleep when it's light out.
Electronics carry case - Helps to organize your cords and chargers.
Pen - You'll need one for immigration forms.
One additional outfit and a toothbrush - Just in case your luggage goes missing.
A week supply of vitamins and medications - Just in case your luggage goes missing.
Contacts case w/ solution & glasses - When your eyes get tired, switch to glasses.
Sunglasses - Definitely a must-have if your eyes are sensitive.
Purse insert - This makes switching bags much easier and faster.
Items of value including jewelry - Keep these on your person at all times.
Instant coffee packets - For when you can't find it and you're desperate.
Keychain flashlight - It's best not to use the one on your phone when you're in a place where pickpocketing is common. I have one attached to the keychain in my backpack (Martha).
Snacks for specific dietary needs - Avoid making poor dietary choices by being prepared. (Low carb/gf bars, nuts, sugar free treats, dairy free creamer packets, low carb sweetener). Make sure you have additional snacks in your suitcase (Nicole).
For Your Travel Wardrobe:
Comfortable shoes that are easy to slip off - Move through security faster.
Compression socks for long flights - Keep you from getting blood clots.
Anything that is too bulky to put in your suitcase - Boots, hat, overcoat. These items take up precious room in your suitcase. Wear them on the plane instead.
Comfortable, stylish clothing - You don't want to look like a hobo.
A scarf that can be used as a blanket - Keeps you warm on chilly flights.
Choose A High Quality Travel Bag:
A cross body bag that zips and snaps - I have never been pickpocketed, and I have traveled all over the world using a bag like this (Nicole).
A backpack - I use my trusty JanSport (Martha).
Additional Items to Consider:
Power converter and adapters - So you can continue use your electronic items abroad.
Purse cutlery - I find that when I travel abroad sometimes I just want to grab a yogurt and banana at a market, and I like to keep travel cutlery in my bag for such an occasion (Nicole). This also comes in handy when you are sick of eating foreign food and just want to grab some snacks to eat in your hotel room (Martha).
Toilet paper - Depending on where you are traveling, it might be a good idea to bring tissues or baby wipes for public restrooms.
Lint roller - If you have pets, you know the reason for this!
Plastic bag - If you are headed someplace where you might get wet or muddy.
Our Best Travel Hacks:
Get Global Entry. It's an amazing thing to bypass long lines of weary travelers. Plus, it gives you TSA Precheck for domestic flights.
If going somewhere with lots of mosquitos or high altitude, take chlorophyll. Start taking it a couple weeks before the trip (Nicole).
Purchase foreign currency before your trip at your home bank. You can use an ATM for additional cash once you arrive, but sometimes it takes time to find one.
Make sure your phone is unlocked before you leave. Buy a local SIM card for your phone upon arrival to the airport so you are still able to use WhatsApp and Google Maps. Just look for kiosks that sell them when you land. The salesperson should be able to help you switch out the cards, but bring a SIM card tool with you just in case.
Download an offline Google map to your phone for your travel destination. Offline maps are invaluable when your internet stops working in remote places.
Use packing cubes. They’ll save you a ton of time rummaging around in your suitcase.
Pack different colored contact lens cases to avoid confusing your lenses with your partner (Martha).
ABC - Always be charging. You may be away from a power outlet for long periods of time or the electricity could suddenly go out. Always have your phone and computer at full battery to avoid disruption (Martha).
Buy a luggage scale so you know how much of your stuff you need to put into your partner's bag to avoid overweight luggage fees at the airport. This really helps you avoid re-packing your bag in public en route to a second or third destination (Martha).
Sleep on long trains/overnight buses to save on accommodations. Oftentimes, the luxury buses are a much more pleasant experience than a flight-- with leather seats, wifi, T.V.s, snacks, and more leg room (Nicole).
Download movies and podcasts to your phone or computer beforehand, so if you're in the air or in a place without wifi, you’ll have entertainment.
Get a membership at your local library. Use online access to download audiobooks and e-books before the trip.
Purchase a paperback travel guide. You'll want to bookmark pages, make notes, and pass books along to friends.
Travel with a signature scent. When you’re feeling out of place, it’s a familiar reminder of home. This can be a candle, a bath soap, a perfume, etc. I literally don't leave home without my favorite soap. I can smell it on my skin throughout the day (Martha).
To fight jet lag, stay awake as long as you can when you get to your destination unless you arrive at night, then go to bed. Jet lag pills will help you with the fatigue you encounter when it is not time to sleep yet (Nicole).
Use a travel credit card with perks. The Chase Sapphire does not charge an international fee and comes with Priority Pass that gets you into business class lounges all over the world. You get free food and beverages, including alcohol (Nicole).
Don’t forget to call your bank and credit card company to let them know you will be traveling internationally.
Consider also opening a Charles Schwab checking account. You can use any ATM in the world with no fees and great exchange rates. Plus, their customer service is top notch (Martha).
Use rewards programs to get discounts. I book through Booking.com often enough that I am part of the genius rewards program that comes with perks like early/late check in/check out and 10% off booking prices. I have found that the same locations listed on sites like AirBnB are also listed with Booking.com, but with my genius discount I have saved a lot of money booking this way (Nicole).
Insure your jewelry against loss, theft, and damage. Check your home or auto insurer for options.
Weather proof/stress proof your skin and hair. If you’re going someplace dry, bring travel-size versions of a hair mask and a moisturizing face mask. If you’re going someplace humid, make sure you pack a texturizer to control your hair and oil blotting wipes. Always include a zit zapper cream, eye cream, and Abreva if you get cold sores.
Look naturally flawless with products that are multi-purpose and travel friendly. I use EltaMD tinted moisturizer with sunscreen, Burt’s Bees tinted lip balm for lips and cheeks, Benefit Bo-ing Concealer & Watts Up combo, and Dior Show Mascara since it gives me amazing lashes, but doesn’t irritate my eyes when I’ve been wearing my contacts for longer than I should (Martha).
Reduce stress on your animals by hiring a house sitter to watch your home and pets while you are away. We travel so often now that it makes sense for us to have one person on a consistent basis, but initially we used TrustedHouseSitters.com with great success (Martha).
Make sure you have international travel insurance. Many expat health insurance plans offer coverage worldwide.
Dress appropriately for where you are visiting. More conservative dress than normal may be required if the country you are visiting is very religious. Reconsider jewelry also if visiting a country with a largely poor population. Even everyday jewelry you wear in the US could be considered too conspicuous.
Be mindful of what you pull out of your carry-on at the airport. I've had water bottles and nice writing pens deemed "contraband" and confiscated. Having backups is never a bad idea (Martha).
Please leave any travel hacks you'd like to add to the list in the comment section, and have an amazing next adventure!
Martha + Nicole