Have no doubt, there is an art to packing for an international flight. International travel can be filled with confusion, stress and exhaustion, all before you've even arrived at your destination. So anything you can do to ease or avoid stress is worth the effort. Packing is the very start to a trip and everyone has his or her own system. Just be sure to avoid some simple but easy to overlook mistakes before closing up that last zipper.
International flights are long and often interspersed with layovers in random airports at odd hours of the day, so having some basic toiletries on hand can be beneficial. Being able to brush your teeth and reapply deodorant is a delight for you and your seatmates, and this freshening up can really make long travel days less miserable. You should also carry on valuables such as jewelry, electronics, and gifts. As much as you might trust that your luggage is being taken care of and protected, theft does happen, so it's smarter to keep these items with you while traveling.
Bring plenty of entertainment options to keep you busy during your journey, like books (preferably digital to save space), movies, games, music (and headphones!), podcasts, or magazines. Not only will the flight time drag on for hours, but waiting at the airport before your flight or on layovers can create tremendous boredom. Of course sleeping during the flight is a great way to pass the time quickly as well. To help you fall asleep, bring the essentials such as earplugs, an eye mask, and a pillow to help rest easy on the flight.
Sometimes it's tough not bring your entire closet - just one more pair of shoes or a couple more shirts or pants. But even if you manage to squeeze that zipper closed tight, you'll probably have issues later. Be sure to save some extra space for any souvenirs you'll pick up for yourself or others while traveling abroad. Sure, you could ship items back home, but then you'll be paying more for shipping and testing your luck with foreign mail carriers. It's better to play it safe and keep some extra space in your bag. One way to prevent overpacking is to avoid bringing things you can easily and affordably purchase at your destination. For example, shampoo and conditioner can take up precious space and are easily found abroad.
When traveling internationally, you'll almost always have to pack an adapter or converter to use your electronic devices with foreign outlets. Know what sort of plug you're going to encounter and ensure you have the right adapter. But more than knowing the sort of plug, you should also be aware of differences in voltages and frequency. It's important to ensure your device will be compatible in all these aspects, lest your device not work, or worse, you damage the device or the plug.
Lastly, or perhaps this should be first, you need to pack in an appropriate bag for your trip. For example, if your international destination is a rural village high up in the mountains, then an oversized rolling bag is probably not the best option. A much better choice would be a travel backpack. However, if you are going to a modern and developed city and intend to take a taxi to and from the airport, an oversized rolling bag would be just fine. Either way, it's important to recognize that the destination should determine the bag.
What tips do you have for packing for an international trip?
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Auston grew up in Phoenix before escaping to Chicago in 2008. After 4 years working as an engineer, he sold his belongings and embarked on a round-the-world trip. After traveling non-stop for a year, he finally settled in Spain with his husband where he now calls home. When he's not traveling or writing guides about events, festivals or the best LGBT destinations, he enjoys the long sunny days and nightlife of Madrid. Read Auston's blog at Two Bad Tourists, or follow him on Google Plus, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, or Instagram.
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