Travel changes you. As you move through this life and this world you change things slightly, you leave marks behind, however small. And in return, life-and travel-leaves marks on you.
----Anthony Bourdain

Monday, May 27, 2024

Travel Tips from an Inexperienced Traveler

Disclaimer: The following post includes Amazon links. I am not affiliated with Amazon and receive no compensation for sharing the products.

Before I say anything else, let me get this out of the way: I am not an "experienced" traveler, so you may want to take what I am saying with a grain of salt. As of May 2024, I have traveled to the following places (along with the number of trips made) outside of the USA:

Mainland Europe: 1
Scandinavia: 2 (one was paired with the European trip)
England: 1
Ireland: 3 
Canada: 1 (This was a car flying involved)

I learned more about what to take and what not to take during this last trip to Ireland when I went on 2 different tours that were back-to-back. I stayed in the country for 2 weeks and only took a carry-on suitcase and a small backpack.
The OPAGE backpack fit my needs for this trip. On the flight over, I had the essentials: liquids, prescriptions, portable charger/converter, earplugs (more on that later), an extra change of clothes (just in case my carry-on didn't make it on time since I checked it so I wouldn't have to keep up with it during a long layover), wallet,  and other stuff I can't think of now. During the tours, I kept a sweatshirt and some rain pants in there just in case I needed them. I haven't tested the straps but I believe they would be slash-proof but there are no RFID pockets. There is a back zipper to a separate pocket so it would be safer to put anything you don't want stolen in it. 

My carry-on was bought at Walmart for around $50. Yes, it's cheap but it held up well and I didn't have to expand it (although I thought I might have to on the flight back). After watching a YouTube video on what kind of carry-on not to buy, this fits into that category! Even with it being checked, it held up very nicely, wheels and all. 

So, how did I manage to fit clothes to wear for 2 weeks in my carry-on? The first thing I did was plan on clothes for 1 week, knowing I could wear the pants at least twice and the shirts more (as long as I didn't spill anything on them). Apparently, I created a faux pas by taking leggings. I watched another YouTuber who said not to wear leggings in Europe because you'll be pegged as a tourist. I took 6 pairs of leggings and 1 pair of jeans (I wore a pair of leggings on the plane) as well as 5 long-sleeved shirts that are made out of polyester/spandex, a long-john shirt, and a sweatshirt. (I wore 1 of the long-sleeved shirts and sweatshirt on the plane.) I took way too many pairs of panties & socks (let's just leave it at that!), and 3 bras. And a nightshirt. I washed clothes once just a few days after the 1st tour began since we were in the same hotel for 2 nights. I'll talk about how I did that in another post as well. 

When I flew to Kansas City a few months ago, I used compression bags that are like giant Ziploc bags. I was so very frustrated trying to use them...I never did get the hang of it. For this past trip, I bought this set.
All of my clothes in my carry-on bag at the end of a 2-week trip.
Oh. My. Word! They were so easy to compress: you place the clothes in the bag and zip it up. Then, you zip up the second set of zippers which compresses the clothes. I liked it so much that I bought another set of 2 large and 2 small bags. The zippers held up very nicely and the material didn't tear even though I probably overpacked the bags. I can't wait until my next trip so I can use them again! One thing to keep in mind, though: Apparently some of the European airlines weigh your carry-on so overstuffing may cause your bag to be overweight. 

Looking at the picture, the open space is where I put my 2 travel bags (liquids and toiletry bag) while on the tours. I didn't take a separate hang-up toiletry bag. I'm not very "girly" and don't take much in the way of primping. I have these 2 bags that are TSA-approved
I take a minimal amount of makeup so I was able to include that in the non-liquids bag. I took shampoo & hair gel in the bigger containers that you see in the top bag, but then put things that I use in smaller amounts in these little containers:
These containers come in a pack of 4. I used my label-maker to mark what was inside on the top of each of them. 
They held my face gel, facial cleanser, and facial moisturizer securely and didn't leak. It saved me a lot of space by putting them in these containers as opposed to taking the whole tube. The best part was that everything fit very nicely in 1 of the clear bags. 

That's how I packed for my 2-week trip using only a small backpack (as my personal item) and a carry-on. Again, I decided to check my bag since I had a several-hour layover for my connecting flight to Dublin. I just didn't want to keep up with it as I was waiting or wandering around the duty-free shops. 

1 last thing I found from yet another YouTuber: Earplanes. Depending on the flight, I may have excruciating ear pain as the plane begins its descent. Definitely, on any of the overseas flights, I've had problems. Nothing works: gum, holding my nose & blowing, and any other tricks. They have all been worthless. I saw these recommended and thought I'd try them. These are something I'll never be without as I hope to start traveling more. I didn't need them on the short flight from my home airport to my connecting flight (which was 30 minutes in the air) but on the flight to Dublin, I was amazed at how great they worked. I still had just a touch of "stuffiness" but there was absolutely no pain at all. I was able to hear people talking when I walked off the plane, and I didn't feel like I had to be careful of how loud I was talking. I probably didn't have them in exactly right because, on the flight home, I had no stuffiness at all. This is definitely an item for the "win" column!

Please let me know if you have discovered any tips/tricks for traveling. I'd love to know, especially since I'm just beginning to travel more.

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