International Travel Tips for Globetrotters Part II: What to Pack & Airport Tips

by Nancy S. Wang

What to Pack

  • Photocopy three sets of your passport, driver’s license, airline tickets, traveller’s checks, trip itinerary and hotel confirmations. Keep one copy with you, another in your luggage, and one set with a family member back home. If any emergencies arise, you will have photocopies as proof.
  • Bring unwanted T-shirts, baseball caps, chewing gum, candies and pens for children in exchange for photo opportunities.
  • Bring staple items such as a first aid kit, plastic utensils, dental floss, toilet paper, sanitary napkins/tampons, stomach remedy medication, insect repellent, and plastic bags – because you never know when you might need them, or if you can even get hold of them in remote areas. Incidentally, dental floss doubles as a clothesline for your hotel room.
  • Bring prescription drugs in their original containers. Keep in mind, many prescription drugs in the U.S., such as Claritin, may be purchased over-the-counter in foreign countries.
  • luggage

  • Bring a universal adapter for your blow-drying/electrical needs. Otherwise, ask the front desk clerk at your hotel/hostel.
  • Carry a small notepad or journal, to take notes during your travels. It will alleviate the chore of labeling photographs when you get home.
  • Pack an empty duffel or sturdy shopping bag for souvenir purchases.
  • Always bring film from home. It is less expensive, and you know what you are getting. There have been times when I had inadvertently purchased sun-exposed or expired film abroad, without knowing any better. There is nothing worse than coming home with ruined pictures.

At the Airport

  • Upon check-in, inquire about sitting in an exit row or the bulkhead seats for extra legroom.
  • Bring your own meal unless you enjoy paying the airport’s astronomical restaurant prices for mediocre cafeteria food, or eating the airline’s "plastic" meals.
  • Sending film through the x-ray machines at the security check is perfectly safe. As long as the film is under ASA 800, it does not need to be hand-inspected.
  • If travelling as a twosome, ask for a window and an aisle seat, leaving the middle seat empty. Chances are if the flight is not full, you will have the entire row to yourselves. However, if the flight were full, most likely the person sitting in the middle would be more than willing to switch seats for a window or aisle one.
  • Ask for a seat in the back of the plane. You will avoid the long lines because airline personnel board the rear passengers first. In case of an accident, your survival rate is statistically greater.
  • If your luggage has been damaged in any shape or form, report it to airline personnel immediately. In most instances, the airline will pay for the repairs when you fill out their claim forms. In the event your luggage cannot be fixed, you will receive a replacement of comparable value.
  • Lost luggage compensation on international flights is a maximum of $640 per bag.
  • Cab rides from the airport cost twice as much as the going rate in the opposite direction. Unless rates are posted, bargain with the driver before getting into the taxi.
Previously: How to Pack »
Next: In-flight Activities & Customs/Immigration »

All International Travel Tips for Globetrotters Articles:
Uncle Dan’s tips on what to pack
How to Pack
What to Pack & Airport Tips
In-Flight Activities & Customs/Immigration
Jetlag Tips & Destination Planning
Money Matters & Personal Safety