Spring Break Countdown: T-Minus 24 HoursMarch 6, 2014
If you’re lucky enough to be going on a Spring Break vacation this year, you know that it’s just around the corner. Don’t worry, the rest of us will hold down the fort in this rain/snow mix we’re still getting.
For those who will be traveling this year, we’ve compiled a list of some of the best packing tips from around the web and through our personal experience:
- Don’t procrastinate, make a packing list. Even if you are a last minute packer, having a list can save your trip (example: forgotten passport). Go head-to-toe and think about everything you will need while on the trip. Write down EVERYTHING you can think of, you can always scrap the extras later. Not only will your list be complete of everything you’ll need, but it’ll give you time to make some last minute purchases like sunblock, or calm your nerves when you’re still not packed the night before.
- Rolling is way better than folding. Roll your clothes tightly and they will take up a lot less space than folded clothes. Not only is this a space-saver, but it’ll keep your clothes less wrinkled, saving you valuable time on your vacation. Worried about jewelry? Roll them into the clothes for some added protection. (Valuables should always be packed in your carry-on.)
- Divide clothes among baggage. If you’ve ever been one of those lucky travelers to have their luggage lost, you know it can really put a damper on your trip. If you’re traveling with friends, put a change of clothes into each other’s suitcase. That way if a bag is lost, you’ll have something to wear until it’s recovered. Want to hit the pool as soon as you get there without bothering to search your suitcase? Pack a swimsuit in your carry-on.
- Know the carry-on and baggage rules, especially if you are flying to another country. Your carry-on might be perfectly fine for the flight to your destination, but getting home might be another story. Carry-on sizes vary in foreign countries and on smaller planes. Checking ahead of time can save you a headache once the vacation is over.
- Put thought into what you pack. Packing lightweight pieces that you can create several different outfits with will help lighten your suitcase and avoid baggage fees. Layers are key as many warmer climates will have lower temps at night. If you need a light jacket, wear it on the flight. Dressing in layers can help you bring several more pieces of clothing without having to shove them into your suitcase. As for shoes, wear the heaviest/bulkiest on the plane. Speaking of layers, packing in layers (electronics, shoes, clothes…) can make screening your bag easier on TSA. The easier they can screen your bag, the quicker you will get through security.
- Pencil bags are not just for students. Remember those pencil pouches you used to have as a kid? Use them to organize the loose ends of your suitcase: jewelry, socks, first-aid, make-up, etc. They offer a little more support than zip-locs will. Bag shoes individually. Plastic grocery bags or small fabric bags work well. By not bagging them together, you have more flexibility in packing. Roll socks and other small items and tuck them inside of shoes. Bring a small package of disinfecting wipes to wipe down shoes before returning to your bag to repack for home.
- Don’t over pack. You do not need or have room for all of your health and beauty supplies. Take what you’re comfortable with wearing every day, and pack that. Most major chain hotels will offer complimentary shampoo, conditioner, lotion, soap and even some extras (razor, toothbrush, toothpaste, etc.). If you’re traveling within the United States, it never hurts to call the hotel and ask what they provide. Blow dryers are in the same category for the most part, and will save you lots of room in your suitcase.
- Most airlines allow two carry-ons. This means a small bag within the TSA/airline’s limits and a personal item such as a small briefcase or handbag. Your carry-on should contain all of your medications, valuables, snacks, electronics and anything needed on the flight. If you travel with special medical equipment or have implants, know the rules. You may need a letter from your physician to document health needs. Don’t forget to pack liquids in plastic bags. Don’t forget the 3-1-1 rule! Liquids must be three ounces or less and they all need to fit in a quart-sized zip-loc bag. If you’re traveling outside of the U.S., fresh fruits and vegetables are not allowed. Check the rules before buying a bunch of snacks only to get them thrown away as you approach security.
- Know your money! If the local currency isn’t US Dollars, what’s the comparison rate? One option is to order another currency in advance from your bank. Airports and exchange stores charge percentage fees and sometimes take advantage of foreign travelers. Frequently, the least expensive route is to use an ATM at your hotel and make a withdrawal from your personal account or to access cash from a credit card. Check with your bank or card company so you know what fees you’ll be charged. Know what credit cards will be accepted in the country you are traveling to. Many European countries do not accept all cards! Also, be sure to contact your bank and/or credit card company to notify them you will be in a new area so your card will be accepted and not blocked for suspicious activity.
- Pay Attention. The more prepared you are, and the more you pay attention the day of travel, the faster and easier it will be to arrive at your destination. Remember: TSA/Security is there for your safety. Be nice to them!
Finally, RESEARCH!! If you’re going to a new country, research the area and culture. What’s the electricity like? Will you need an adapter? Are you going to an area where you will be charged an arm and a leg for using your cell phone? What’s the elevation/climate/time zone? What is the language? What key phrases do you need to know?
Knowing any of these answers can save you a lot of time and hassle. Rules change, so always check your airline’s web site and TSA rules.
One way to forgo a traveling headache is to let someone else do the planning and preparation for you. The Truman Alumni Travel Program offers worry-free trips annually. The prices are competitive, and include all tours and many of your meals. Not only that, but you have a representative from Truman there with you, answering questions and helping you prepare for the trip ahead.
This year’s destination is exotic Costa Rica. Sounds pretty nice compared to the polar vortex that is Missouri, right? While this trip is full, 2015’s trip will be to Southern France. Seriously, it’s gorgeous there and definitely worth looking in to.
TruAdventure, also through the Truman Institute, offers summer excursions for those looking for more of a wilderness adventure. Spots are still available for the Zion – Bryce Canyon Tour in June, and you are even accompanied by experienced guides.
More information can be found on our website, alumni.truman.edu/TravelProgram.asp, or questions may be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Wherever your travels take you in 2014, above all else be safe! Happy travels from those of us stuck in Kirksville!
Coordinator of Alumni Relations