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Packing & Travel Tips

Information Worth Noting Before You Pack
Fashion vs. comfort: When the options are looking good and feeling miserable or looking practical and staying comfortable, most experienced travelers choose comfort.

Jewelry: The more you leave at home, the less you will have at risk. Think about what you will need and what you will be heartbroken over if it is lost or stolen.

Footwear: The most important item in your luggage will be your shoes. Make sure your footwear is in good condition, waterproofed (or oiled with mink oil) and well broken in. Select shoes that are sturdy, with non-slip soles. Bring along some lambs wool or bandages to prevent blisters. Plan on wearing shoes at all times since protozoa, fungi, and worms enter the body through the skin, and often through your feet. Open toed shoes and sandals aren't very functional in some areas. Bring slippers or shower shoes, etc. Some foreign homes won't allow street shoes in the house and going barefoot is really taboo! Be prepared. Bring along wool or cotton socks. Chances are you'll be doing some walking and you might find yourself changing your socks more often.

Laundry: Most natural fabrics (cotton, denim, etc.), stand up to laundry methods around the world - but not delicate items and knits. Pack some fine washable detergent and hangers and wash some items yourself. Don't bring clothes that require dry cleaning. Choose items for their lightness and washability.

General: Coordinate your wardrobe around one main color. Choose separates that can be mixed and matched. Scarves, belts, and costume jewelry can change your look. You may notice that women in other countries dress up more than they do in the U.S., especially for dinner in a restaurant. Although pants are acceptable the world over, you may want to bring along at least one skirt if you expect to be eating frequently in restaurants. Dressing with dignity is key in many foreign cultures.

If you'll be traveling to a country that has altitude fluctuations or temperature extremes, plan on layering clothes (i.e. turtleneck, flannel shirt, nylon wind breaker, light t-shirt, shirt/blouse, sweater combinations). You can peel off layer-by-layer as the day warms - replacing each layer in the evening. Most countries do not have central air/heat, so you'll feel the temperature changes more.

Items the streamlined traveler often does without include pajamas and nightgowns (a t-shirt will do); bathrobe (a raincoat will serve just fine); fancy clothes and expensive jewelry.

The ideal raincoat is crushable, dark in color so that it never shows dirt and looks great on you at any given time. Raincoats that can be folded, rolled and stuffed into your suitcase or carry-on are ideal.

Bring a hat: A beret or wool hat for cold weather, a crushable hat with a visor or baseball cap for sunny climates.
The black rubber galoshes people wear over their shoes are perfect for traveling because they take up little room in your suitcase, will save you from wet, uncomfortable shoes, and are easy to tote around daily in case of a sudden rain storm.

Traveling Clothes: You may want to wear your bulkiest outfit, suit, heavy sweater or overcoat the day of travel. Pack one more complete, coordinated set of clothes, for a total of two complete outfits. Women should not include dresses in this formula, which are less versatile than separates. Many women travelers claim that a full-skirted, comfortable dress is great for flying.

Knit Items are Ideal. A jogging suit is also comfortable on the plane (but carry a change of clothing in your carryon).

Planning Your Wardrobe
The age old advice to the packing dilemma is as follows: Take the lightest suitcase you can find, fill it with the least amount of clothing that your courage will allow, close your eyes and remove half of what you have packed and then rapidly depart.

Your freedom of movement and peace of mind will depend to a great extent on what and how much you take. The inexperienced traveler is unable to move without the aid of taxi drivers, porters, and passersby.

Seasoned travelers carry one light suitcase and enjoy their travels to the hilt. Don't spend time packing, unpacking, choosing, searching, wrapping, washing, ironing until you are in a state of frustrated exhaustion.

You are not going abroad as a slave to your soapsuds, ironing boards, and clothespins! Besides, most foreign lodging rooms are small, with a 12" closets and small two-drawer dressers.

Problems increase as you buy souvenirs, gifts, and more clothing abroad that may better fit the climate and ambiance. If you followed the advice above and your elimination technique has been too thorough you can always make inexpensive purchases abroad to remedy your errors.

First and foremost, don't drag around clothing you don't like. Bring familiar, comfortable clothes you enjoy wearing and you know look good on you. Make sure they're all in good repair.

Bringing a wardrobe that layers well and can be mixed and matches is essential! You will bring less and be able to plan for temerature variations.

Try investing in some "quick-dry" clothing or underwear. It can be purchased in many outdoor reatail shops. Made of synthetic materials, this fabric is designed to dry in as little as 10 minutes, meaning that, theoretically, you could get by with just ONE pair of underwear.

Suggestions on How to Pack
Check the zippers, buttons, seams etc., of all the clothes you're going to pack. Make sure they're in good repair.

  Put plastic garbage bags on the bottom of the suitcase and between layers to reduce wrinkling. They also make great organizers.  
  Stuff socks into your shoes and put the shoes in a plastic or cloth bag.  
  Roll up undergarments and fit them into the corners of the suitcase.  
  Place the heaviest things on the bottom of your bag such as shoes, belts and books. Follow that with jeans, sweaters, heavy skirts, sweatchirts, etc. Next add light but bulkier items like dresses, jackets, light skirts, sport shirts, blouses. Follow with wrinkle-prone, light items.  
  Do a trial pack. Weigh your suitcase(s). Twenty pounds should be the maximum. If it's heavy now, it will feel three times heavier by the end of a long jouney. Streamline before you go.  
  Roll your clothes into neat cylinders. This works well in suitcases, since you will end up with a lot of tight rolls that fit together well. If you roll several items together, you will end up with less wrinkles.  

  Consider using packing cubes to keep things more manageable in your suitcase.  
What Clothing to Pack
Take much of what we've said to heart. Consider your personal taste, age, length of stay, luggage, destination, and activities, and read the suggestions below. Repeat the following mantra: Layers, Layers, Layers!!!!!

Clothing Suggestions for Women

  3 wash and wear casual outfits (mix and match separates, including jeans)  
  2-3 pairs of conservative shorts if going to a warm climate  
  1 lightweight daytime dress or comfortable crease-resistant travel dress  
  1 conservative suit or dress  
  1 two-piece jogging suit or sweat suit  
  2-3 pairs of walking shoes, tennis shoes, or boots  
  1 pair of comfortable dress shoes  
  1 sweater (cardigan preferably)  
  1 all-purpose coat (to be used as a raincoat, evening coat, bathrobe, beach cover, etc.)  
  1 or 2 swimsuits and a cover-up (which could double as something else)  
  6 changes of underwear  
  6-8 pairs of wool or cotton socks  
  Panty hose or colored lightweight tights (depending on climate and personal taste)  
  Sleep wear (your preference, but something conservative, comfortable, easy to pack and wash, i.e. a light knit sweat suit, oversized t-shirt, etc.)  
  Assorted accessories (belts, scarves, jewelry, etc.)  
Clothing Suggestions for Men

  4 sport shirts, casual knit shirts, polo shirts, or colored/designed t-shirts  
  1 dress outfit (pants, coat, shirt)  
  1 two-piece jogging suit or sweat suit  
  2 pairs of informal slacks or jeans  
  2-3 pairs of conservative shorts (if going to a warm climate)  
  2-3 pairs of walking shoes, tennis shoes or boots  
  1 pair of comfortable dress shoes, plus 1 pair of appropriate socks  
  1 sweater (presentable, yet heavy enough for alpine conditions) or a down vest or insulated rain proof jacket  
  1 all-purpose coat (which could double as a raincoat, dress coat for cool evenings, and a bathrobe in emergencies)  
  1 or 2 bathing suits  
  6 sets of underwear  
  6-8 pairs of wool or cotton socks  
  Sleep wear (your preference, but something conservative, comfortable, easy to pack and wash, i.e. a light knit sweat suit, oversized t-shirt, etc.)  
  1 tie to dress up a shirt  

Generic Checklist

  Booklight for reading or study  
  Beach towel  
  Binoculars  
  Calculator (for calculating conversion rates)  
  Clothes hangers and folding hangers  
  Over-the-counter cold medication  
  Earplugs Ear plugs (the come in handy for all sorts of things - especially the airplanes and trains)  
  Feminine hygiene products  
  Film for your cameras (it's costly in some places)  
  High energy snacks - They are great for traveling and just to keep around when you are sightseeing, exhausted, and far from food.  
  A few small, travel-sized packs of tissues.  
  $10-$15 USD in singles and a couple of $5 and $10 for emergencies  
  A Money belt A Money belt - or a small pouch that you can wear under your clothes. Put your passport, currency, all credit cards, and airline tickets inside and always wear it when you are traveling.  
  A notebook and a few pens  
  Your PASSPORT!!  
  US Drivers license - This may even come in handy for identification if you lose your passport in a foreign country.  
  Small pocket knife (size that will fit on a keychain works well) that includes scissors, a knife, a bottle opener, and a pen (instead of the toothpick - it's more useful and you can't loose it)  
  Extra plastic bags (they're very hard to find in some areas of the world and you can use them for just about anything)  
  Rain Poncho and/or an umbrella (AA votes for a cheap umbrella - count on losing it and having to buy another)  
  Rubber sandals for the beach and/or the shower  
  Small sewing kit  
  Sunscreen/Sun burn relief lotion  
  Multi-vitamins  
  Wet wipes (antibacterial - for hand sanitation) Hand sanitizing gel works well, too  
  Small notebook for addresses and important information  
  Small First Aid Kit You can purchase tiny, prepackaged kits that include band-aids, ointments and gauze at most drug stores.  
  Travel Alarm Clock Travel alarm clock that runs on batteries  
  Camera  
  Glasses, contact lenses to last you beyond your intended stay and solution, which can run many times more expensive in other countries AND and extra copy of your prescription  
  Guidebook (look over the large stock and take along your favorite)  
  Bilingual dictionary and small phrasebook if you do not speak the langauge  
  Small flashlight with batteries *AA recomends a really small LED light that fits on a keychain works great AND will last for thousands of hours.  
   
  Electrical Converter and Adaptor Plugs If you cannot leave home without electrical appliances, you'll need these. However, if you are bringing a laptop computer, most have built-in power convertors.  
  General toiletries - Rasors, lotion, toothpaste/brush, deodorant. Try to limit how much of this you bring with you. Be daring and try out the local offerings.  

Planning Resources & Tips
You will never be able to plan for everything, but doing a little preperation in advance never hurt anyone.

Research Checklist:
A culture is made up of incalculable influences that over time have created a belief system, a language, a political structure, a government, etc. While you will never know a culture better than your own, you can try to peer into the influences that helped to form and that are currently forming your host culture. Try researching the following subjects to get a glimpse into the complexities that influence your host culture.
One more thing to keep in mind is your gender, as custom and courtesy relate differently between men and women in most foreign countries..

    1. Forms of greeting and gestures
2. Courtesy, general attitudes
3. Eating in the home and at restaurants (meal times, table manners, typical diet, etc.)
4. Local dress
5. Population of the city and country
6. Religion
7. The family structure including views on dating and marriage
8. Customs
9. Social and economic levels
10. Work hours and hours of doing business
Art, craft, dance, music, theater, etc.
11. Local, regional, and religious holidays
12. Forms of recreation, sports
13. Land, climate, weather
14. Past and present relations with the United 15. States
16. History
17. Current government
18. Economy, the value of a U.S. dollar, exchange rates, etc.
19. Education
20. Transportation
21. Tipping and other forms of compensation
 

Planning for the Unpredictable:
Kurt Vonnegut once wrote that travel plans are honey slowing dripping down toward your lips - sweet anticipation. Everything you do in preparing, up until the moment of departure, should be like appetizers before a feast. Savor this preparation time, however little there might be.

Travel planning requires you to consider how you live now versus your needs when you're far away from your comfortable home -- and this will require some research on your part.

Visit your local library and do some reading on your destination. Check out a guide book or two for ideas on things to do during your free time. Write the government tourist office of the country you'll be visiting - or check with the travel editor of your local paper regarding recent articles. Your local university and their library should be able to help you with a bibliography.

If you will be studying a foreign language, brush up on your language skills. The more you know before you go, the faster you will learn abroad. Not to mention that you'll enjoy your trip more and be able to relate to the culture more effectively when you're not in class. Buy, borrow, or rent a language tape or video. Listen to foreign language broadcasts on radio or TV. Do some volunteer work with a local group who may be assisting foreign nationals from the country you'll be visiting.

Collect the names, addresses, and phone numbers of friends or friends of friends who may live near or where you're going. Having even one contact in a foreign country makes a difference. This is the best way to experience the life of the foreign country you're visiting. It is also a good safeguard should you need assistance. You can write a note in advance of your trip, introducing yourself. Or, ask your friends to do so, and you can drop them a line when you're in the vicinity. The people you visit may then send you to their friends, until you have a network of acquaintances around the country.

Get a map of the country, region, and city (if available) you'll be visiting. Map stores, libraries, and government tourist offices should be a good starting point for finding out what's available. If you're a member of AAA, you should tap into the resources offered to you. You may have to wait till you get to your destination to get an updated city map, but in the meantime you should be able to photocopy local maps at your local library.

Culture grams, published by Brigham Young University's David M. Kennedy Center for International Studies, are another resource. Check with your local library, or call Brigham Young University at (801) 378-6528.

Once you're on the road, you are in touch with the "travel circuit." Plugging into this network allows you immediate access to a wealth of up-to-the-moment information. Keep you eyes open for places to exchange information. Waiters, street vendors, and taxi drivers are valuable resources for the traveler. Swap reading material or travel guides with others instead of tossing them out.

Always travel with an open mind and a kind heart. Your experiences will be ones that will last you a lifetime. Be prepared to enjoy them.

For many, a vacation is a much needed getaway. An intercultural learning trip is an enriching part of your life experience. The difference is simply a matter of planning and being intellectually prepared.

Anticipate and Avoid Travel Stress
According to many travel sources, traveling is going to get a lot worse before it gets better. Until relief comes in the form of new airports or fewer travelers, we'll just have to grin and bear it. The Partnership for Improved Air Travel, a consortium of frequent flyers and travel suppliers, has some suggestions to make travel more tolerable. In general, plan ahead and plan for the worst possible scenario. Have "what if" alternatives thought out in advance. Verify and re-verify everything. Here are some specific ideas for you to consider:

Before you travel

When reserving flights, ask the airlines about:

1. Documents required for the destination country
2. Checked and carryon baggage policies (so you can plan for the most restrictive)
3. Seating (some airlines pre-assign)
4. Special needs (special diet, wheelchair, under age, etc.).

Then, at least 72 hours prior to departure, call the airline(s) to reconfirm your flight(s), and information given you as it pertains to items 1-4 above. Many airlines will cancel your space if you do not reconfirm. Ask if there have been any flight or schedule changes.

    Know your flight options... Assume the worst will happen to your schedule, so delays or cancellations won't be so stressful. Have an alternate plan ready in case your flight is delayed or canceled. Jot down some possible alternate airline phone numbers. Sometimes it's faster to make a reservation from an airport public phone than to stand in line at a ticket counter. Know how much you will have to pay to change your return date.  

    Plan on having some extra cash or credit line just in case the worst happens, i.e. needing an airline ticket, or a night or two in a hotel.  

    Bring along something to do... A favorite book, cassette player with headphones and tapes, travel diary, foreign destination guide books, pictures of your family. You can use them to break the ice with your foreign family.  

    Check the weather at your destination city and connecting cities along the way. You can't do anything about the weather, but you can be prepared for it. Surprises can be stressful. Various organizations have weather hotlines. All have a cost per minute.  

    Pack lightly and intelligently... Pack special medicines, a change of underwear and socks in your carryon just in case your luggage does not arrive with you. If you have checked luggage, bring along a folding luggage carrier on wheels.  

    Know your ground options... Best laid plans for ground transportation can get all fouled up when planes are late or diverted. Plan options so you can make last minute changes. Foreign bus and train travel usually require a reservation. If you simply arrive at the station, you may have to wait for the next scheduled departure.  

On the Day of Travel...

    Call the Airline. Are flights on schedule?  

    Check in at the Airport 2-3 hours early for international flights; one hour for domestic flights with international connections. You should receive a boarding pass and seat assignment for each flight. Verify the information with airline personnel (not from fellow travelers and computer displays)  

    Carry Air tickets & documents on you at all times , not in your suitcase.  

    Theft... Thieves frequent airports, bus & train stations, etc. Be on guard.  

    Taxes... Airports may add "transit costs" ($1-$30 USD). Keep reserve funds available.  

    Funds... Bring some foreign currency with you, especially if you might be arriving late or after banking hours.  

    Film will be more expensive abroad, so bring extra with you. Security equipment is now safe for most film, but to be on the safe side, always ask.  

    Sense of humor... Pack yours and keep it with you. Don't expect any from security personnel, immigration, etc. Watch what you say.  

    Patience... Relax, enjoy the trip. You're almost there!  

    On board... Talk to the flight crew and fellow travelers. Ask about relative costs, construction delays, distances, money exchange, tipping, ground transportation, what to expect on arrival, etc.  

    Delays... If you're delayed unexpectedly, try calling your family en route to advise them of your delay. Consider spending the first night on arrival at a local hotel. Most homes will not accept students after 9:00 P.M. Likewise, if you're calling an "after hours" or emergency number for a foreign center, chances are it's someone's home phone and they may be getting groceries, or outside when you call. Allow for delays in planning.  

On Arrival...

    Immigration/customs... Proceed through. Best to hand-carry your bags (don't plan on a porter).  

    Airport cabs... I If in doubt, always use the official airport transport (vans/ cabs).  

    Ground transportation... Most cities have several stations, so make sure you get to the right one if you're making intercity connections. Remember, you may have to wait for the next available bus or train due to volume of travelers, advanced reservations, etc.  

   
Returning Home

    Reconfirm your flights at least 72 HOURS prior to your return or you may lose your reservation. Call again the day prior to check changes in departure times or schedules.  

    Problems... If you have problems with an airline, review your options calmly with airline personnel and if an acceptable solution cannot be reached, speak with a supervisor. Generally, airlines will not take responsibility for mechanical or weather related delays, but they must provide alternate flights. If the delay is their fault (as in over booked flights) they must provide lodging, long distance call if someone is waiting for you, and meal expenses or denied boarding compensation, plus an alternate flight. (Exceptions may apply on charters and bulk purchase fares.)  

    Lost/damaged baggage... If baggage is lost or damaged, a claim must be filed at the airport. Keep your claim checks. Airlines should pay on the spot for immediately needed items (usually $25-$50 for toothbrush, socks, etc., that which you need within 1-2 days) while your bags are located. Have lost luggage forwarded to the school.  

    Reservations... Sometimes computers lose names. You could check-in and not be on the flight. It's a good idea to keep documentation, dates, names, etc. of the airline personnel you speak with at all times so that your record can be reconstructed and problems resolved. Be firm and polite and get a solution that is reasonable, acceptable, and easy for you.  

    Going Beyond the Basics  
    * Dressings for minor injuries (they need more care in severe climates to avoid infections). Steri-Strips and similar adhesive tapes for holding together the edges of a clean wound if immediate medical care cannot be found.

* Water purifiers. For weight, convenience, effectiveness and low cost, rely on the simplicity of iodine. The dose is 5 drops of 2% tincture of iodine in a quart of water. Double the dose if the water is cloudy. Wait 20 minutes before drinking. Filters, cheese cloth, immersion heaters may also come in handy. Portable purifiers are sold by backpacking supply stores.


* Broad-spectrum antibiotics, if you're traveling out of reach of medical attention. Ask your doctor for the most appropriate choice or a prescription for ear, eye and/ or skin infections; pain, fever or cramps; anti-diarrhea (antimotility and anti-microbial agents).

* Where sterile medical equipment is scarce, consider carrying a small supply of sterile needles, syringes, and a stitch kit that can be used by a doctor in an emergency. Some countries require a prescription for these items and they will cause problems with customs officials. If you feel need to carry these items, get a certified letter from your doctor explaining wh
 

Tips to Make it Memorable
Begin a travel journal. Record the memorable moments and the lonely times. Pin down the essence of a place - its colors, smells, sounds, the native costumes, the food you eat, the people you meet. Jot down particularly useful words and phrases. Collect addresses and keep track of expenses. You won't believe how precious this journal can be until five or ten years after your trip.

  Keep a journal just of interesting people you meet. Ask if you can take their picture to make the memory keeper more complete.  
  Consider your hobbies and career and make attempts to meet people with similar interests while abroad. Take career/hobby mementos to share or exchange abroad. Set career/hobby projects to pursue abroad. Business or hobby cards can also be used as conversation openers. Meet the people!  

The Art of Traveling
When you pack your bags to explore the beauties of your own country, or to travel around the world, consider these keys to a happy journey:

    1. Travel lightly. You are not traveling for people to see you.
2. Travel expectantly. Every place you visit is like a surprise package to be opened. Untie the strings with an expectation of high adventure.
3. Travel hopefully. "To travel hopefully," wrote Robert Louis Stevenson, "is better than to arrive."
4. Travel humbly. Visit people and places with reverence and respect for their traditions and ways of life.
5. Travel courteously. Consideration for fellow travelers and hosts will smooth the way through the most difficult days.
6. Travel gratefully. Show appreciation for the many things that are being done by others for your enjoyment and comfort.
7. Travel with an open mind. Leave your prejudices at home.
8. Travel with curiosity. It is not how far you go, but how deeply you go that mines the gold of experience. Thoreau wrote a big book about tiny Walden Pond.
10. Travel with imagination. As the old Spanish proverb puts it, "He who would bring home the wealth of the Indies, must carry the wealth of the Indies with him."
11. Travel fearlessly. Banish worry and timidity; the world and its people belong to you just as you belong to the world.
12. Travel relaxed. Make up your mind to have a good time. Let go and enjoy it.
13. Travel patiently. It takes time to understand others, especially when there are barriers of language and custom; keep flexible and adaptable to all situations.
14. Travel with the spirit of a world citizen. You'll discover that people are basically much the same the world around. Be an ambassador of goodwill to all people.