Total Basset Case: Tips for Traveling

May 14, 2013

Tips for Traveling

Before Australia I had never traveled abroad before.
Because of that, I did my fair share of research, emailing and consulting everyone I knew in order to be prepared.
One of my biggest fears to be unprepared in any situation (hence the reason I always have snacks and/or a diet coke in my purse).  If I am scrambling around looking for something I need or didn't bring, it just really seams to ruin everything and I can't enjoy my time.
That being said, I really like to have all the answers before I get somewhere.  

So with summer just right around the corner I thought I would share some of the bits of knowledge I gathered for our trip to hopefully help you with any you have coming up!
1.  Scoop out your shopping:  I began thinking about what we would need for our trip way back in January and started making my lists then.  I also started part of my shopping in January.  I wanted to spread out our expenses for the trip over the course of a few months so they didn't all hit at once.  Thankfully a lot of stores had Spring stuff out fairly early.  Every time I was in Target I would pick up a few things, travel size bottles, etc so that by the time the end of March came I wasn't panic shopping and wasting money that could be spent on our trip (or more realistically, Tim Tams).

2.  Pack early and pack smart:  I began 'mentally packing' way before we left and gathering like things in my closet.  Then about 4 days before we left I laid every single thing that I wanted to take out on my bed.  I figured I would start with everything I wanted to take and then eliminate if I was over the weight limit. (Remember to leave room for souvenirs!)  I did my best to pack clothes that would go with a few different pieces.  I wasn't sure what each day would hold so I couldn't exactly pack outfits but I wanted to make sure I had items that was interchangeable.  
Katie saved our lives and let us borrow their packing cubes.  If you are going to invest in one item for traveling, I would make it these cubes.  I know they don't look like they would help much but boy do they!  I was skeptical too but as soon as I started packing with them I was converted.  It was so nice to be able to organize like items together and know that my shirts/shorts were in one, dresses in another, etc.  These were also very convenient for our day trips.  I could pack all the clothes I needed in one cube and significantly reduce the amount of luggage we were dragging around.
(It's important to have a very helpful packing buddy)

3. Gather your gadgets: I am always terrified I'm going to forget my phone or camera chargers.  I normally pack those first or right in my purse so they are less likely to forget.  If traveling abroad, make sure to research if you need to take additional adapters or converters.  We ended up taking both (adapter and converter-thanks to Katie!) to Australia.  We didn't want to risk blowing up any of electronic items (we only lost one gadget so I consider that a success). 
Also if you plan on using your phone, make sure you check (and double check) your carriers policies and what will work and what won't.  We have Sprint and were told repeatedly that if we kept our phones on airplane mode and only used wifi we were clear to iMessage and FaceTime at no charge. That worked great for us (where wifi was available)! We didn't use one either a ton but enough to get by and be in contact with our families.  Annnnd maybe I checked Instagram a couple times. But just a couple I swear!

4.  Know your tools: I made it a point to research and brush up on my camera skills and settings before we went on our trip.  I wanted to make sure I knew what I was doing (somewhat) when the time arose to take pictures rather than fumbling with settings.  I am NOT an expert by any means but wanted our pictures to be the best that they could be with my knowledge.
Along the lines of photography, Katie let us borrow their gorillapod.  This gadget was great for getting pictures of us and not having to bother someone to take one or explaining our camera to them.  Selfies made even easier!  

5. List it out: Mister thought I was crazy but I made a list for just about everything before we left.  And you know what, everything got done and nothing was forgotten- so there Mister!  I started these lists a few weeks before we left and kept adding to (and crossing off) items as the trip got closer.
I made a: to do, to pack and to buy list.
To do: Because we were going to be gone for such a long time I made sure to hold our mail and papers and also install timers on some of the lights in our house.
I also had to make sure Floyd was packed, organized and all of his belongings together before we left! Can't forget about our children!
I sat up someone to keep an eye on the house as well.  And it's a good thing I did because our mailbox fell over while we were gone (and we came back to a leak and hail damage yay! - more on that later).
To pack: I listed out every single item I could think of that I would need, as to not forget anything for packing.  I also tried to think through our days and what I would need for certain things (special shoes, jackets, extra items) I knew we were doing. 
To buy: Besides fun vacation clothes, early on I started going through my clothes and shoes from last summer and deciding what would work and what needed replaced.  I also stocked up on travel size toiletries, books and snacks.  We also purchased a few Cincinnati items to take to our guests as a thank you.  I also ALWAYS travel with thank you notes and make sure to write and leave one with our hosts.

Whew, I think that wraps it up!
I'm sure there are more tips but we will save those for another day.
If anyone has any questions, leave them in the comments and I'll get back to you! 

Linking up with Helene


Rachel @ front row seat said...

Ok, I'm pinning this immediately! These are all such awesome tips! I've never heard of the packing cubes, but that is ingenious. And the gorilla tripod is awesome too. Now if only I had a trip planned to use all these tips for. :)

Helene said...

such awesome tips! especially for traveling internationally!! love it!

Casey said...

These are SUCH good tips - Eric flies every single week for work, and he is a huge fan of packing cubes too!!

Head to Toe Chic said...

Such good tips!!! i haven't heard of packing cubes before but it sounds awesome!

Anonymous said...

i always start packing a week early and start with my list. then, every day i'll pack with a "theme" in mind such as "stuff for the beach" and i'll throw everything beach-related into the suitcase. 2 days before we leave, i pack/organize the suitcase and leave myself one day for things that i may have forgotten. it's the only way that i can pack with ease and not freak out about forgetting something before we leave.

Katie said...

Love this post. Such great tips. That is such a good idea to bring thank you notes and a few home-town items for gifts. I've never thought of it but love the idea!

Jayme @ Her Late Night Cravings said...

Great post!! Love that Floyd helped you pack. Don't know how you would have done it all without his guidance. :-) You trip looked like it was amazing!!

Jayme & Mendi @ Her Late Night Cravings

emi said...

this is a great post! i did a packing post last week too, love it! you have such a cute blog..XO
the well-traveled wife

ps see the packing tips i wrote HERE!

Allison said...

How have I not heard of packing cubes OR gorillapod? So many amazing tips! Thanks for sharing. :)

Anne said...

Lots of good tips! Especially the packing/shopping gradually and early - no matter where I'm traveling, if I'm going to be gone for a week or more, I start to get really frazzled ahead of time (am doing it today!) about all the stuff I need to prep around the house, for the dog, plus, oh yeah PACK. So planning out a list early always helps - especially when I need to wear some of the stuff I'm planning to pack so I can't put it in the suitcase yet :) Also, I have sworn by those packing cubes forever. Good things.

Sara said...

love this as I have trip coming up in the fall! p.s. I think I would have brought a whole suitcase of Tim Tams home with me if I could have when I went to Australia!

Nikki said...

We leave on Monday for a trip to Italy. I've been making lists, but have also been busy getting our children packed for summer camp. I love the idea of taking thank you notes!