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Packing for Your Trip

Travel Tip

Pack important items in your carry-on luggage.

This includes anything you really do not want to be without: prescription medicines, eyeglasses, travel documents, electronics and chargers, and sufficient clothing and toiletries to keep you going for a day or two should your checked luggage be delayed in transit.

Remember: DO NOT pack any cash, valuables, or important travel documents in your checked luggage.

If you are traveling with a spouse or companion, it is always a good idea to put a few of each other’s things in the other’s suitcase, in the unfortunate event that one piece of luggage is delayed en route to your destination.  That way, you won’t be stranded without a change of clothes.

As you undoubtedly know, you may not bring any liquids, gels, creams, or oils through U.S. airport security checkpoints, except for those in a 3.4-ounce bottle or smaller.  Per the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), remember 3-1-1: your liquids must be in containers of 3.4 ounces or less; your liquids must fit in one quart-sized clear plastic zip-top bag; and you are allowed one zip-top bag per passenger.  The 3-1-1 restriction applies in foreign countries as well.

Travel Tip

Protect your luggage and make it easy to identify.

The following are some tips to help protect your luggage, as well as to make your luggage easy to identify:

  • Lock your luggage with a Transportation Security Administration (TSA)–approved lock.
  • Attach a colorful ribbon or keychain to make your luggage easier to identify on baggage carousels.
  • Use your Odysseys Unlimited luggage tags (with your name and address filled in) to help ensure that your luggage accompanies you on all transfers while on tour.

For more tips on keeping track of your luggage, see our blog post on luggage security.

Travel Tip

Bring a lightweight, collapsible travel bag for souvenirs.

In the event that you think you might return home with more than you started out with, you may wish to pack a collapsible bag or small tote inside your checked luggage.

Travel Tip

Pack an extra memory card and batteries for your camera.

You’ll want to bring along an extra memory card for your digital camera.  Also remember that you will need a plug adapter (and an electricity converter for older single-voltage chargers) in order to charge your camera and other devices while abroad.

It’s a good idea to check your camera before you go to ensure it is in proper working condition.  This is also a good time to put in fresh batteries.  In addition, you may wish to bring along extra batteries, as it can be difficult (if not impossible) to find batteries for your camera in some destinations overseas.

 

Packing Suggestions

We can’t tell you exactly what to pack – there are too many variables, such as your personal preferences, the time of year, any pre- or post-tour extensions, etc.  But we do have some suggestions.

As a general rule, our trips are casual.  If you think you might choose to go out to high-end restaurants or the theater on your own while traveling, you’ll want to pack appropriately.  And it’s always a good idea to bring one or two nice outfits for evenings out in cities and for welcome and farewell dinners.

The most important aspect of packing for any tour is your comfort.  No matter where you’re going, be sure to pack comfortable walking shoes that are already broken in and clothes that you can layer to accommodate changes in temperature.  It's also a good idea to bring along such items as a bathing suit, umbrella and/or rain jacket, sunscreen, hat, etc. to prepare for varying weather.  Note that some destinations may have specific requirements or recommendations for clothing or other items to pack; before you depart on tour, you will receive detailed information in your General Information document located on your My Odyssey portal.

Please note that in order to enjoy a worry-free trip there are a few things we recommend you DO NOT bring with you, such as valuable jewelry, precious or sentimental items, expensive gadgets, and anything you can’t afford to lose.  You don’t want to ruin your vacation by worrying about your possessions.

Finally, there are a few handy items that can go a long way towards easing the usual strains and stresses of travel:

  • Money belt to wear under your clothing
    • If you’re bringing a purse, consider a cross-body bag that stays in front of you, rather than a shoulder bag. This is the best way to avoid theft or loss of your belongings.  We also recommend keeping your purse in your lap while in restaurants instead of hanging it on the back of your chair.
  • Extra set of contact lenses and/or eyeglasses
  • Small flashlight
  • Small daypack for long days of sightseeing – for your camera, an extra layer, umbrella, binoculars, water bottle, etc.
  • Emergency repair items: sewing kit, safety pins, string, small roll of duct tape, stain removal pen, eyeglass repair kit, etc.
  • Universal plug adapter or plug adapter(s) specific to where you’ll be traveling (if necessary), and an electricity converter for older single-voltage electrical appliances
  • Chargers for your electronics: mobile phone, camera, tablet, e-reader, etc.
  • Heavy duty resealable plastic bags to carry any plastic bottles filled with liquids, such as shampoo, lotion, cleansers, etc.
  • Face/wash cloths (as many European hotels do not provide these)
  • Pocket tissues (especially useful as toilet paper when out sightseeing)
  • Hand sanitizer and antibacterial wipes (at least 60% alcohol)
  • Standard First Aid kit with pain reliever, alcohol wipes, tweezers, bandages, adhesive tape, antibacterial cream, medications for colds and diarrhea, moleskin for blisters, etc.
  • Sunscreen, sunglasses, and sun hat
  • Mosquito repellant containing DEET
  • International 800 number(s) for your credit cards in case of loss or theft

You may wish to bring some items to give to the local people in more remote areas, such as:

  • Souvenirs from your hometown or a small hostess gift if your tour has a home hosted dinner or other get-together with a local family
  • Small gifts for children: crayons, stickers, pens, pencils, erasers, books, small notebooks. Please do not bring candy or gum.
  • Sample or travel-sized cosmetics and toiletries: lipsticks, nail polish, etc.

The last and perhaps most important things to bring on your trip: your smile, sense of humor, patience, and an open mind.  They will serve you well.

For a comprehensive packing list of both general necessities and specific items we recommend that you bring with you on tour, visit our Ultimate Odysseys Unlimited Packing List.

 

Mobile Phones

If you intend to bring your cell phone on a domestic tour, you can plan to use it as you do at home. If you are traveling outside the United States, a variety of possibilities exist that will help keep you connected while traveling.  One option is to contact your cell service provider and ask if they offer a short-term international travel plan.  You can also explore options such as buying an international SIM or eSIM card, using a pay-per-minute calling app, etc.  For more details about your international cell service options, visit our blog post: Tech on Tour: 6 Ways to Call Home while Abroad.

If you choose not to obtain a separate international cell service plan, be sure to inquire about the cost of international calls made from your destination(s) with your regular cell service plan (generally you’ll pay roaming charges of $1 to $7 per minute) – you don’t want to be shocked upon opening your bill when you return home. And remember that you will be charged overseas roaming rates for text messages as well.

Lastly, if you do not wish to pay for international cell service, you can plan to use Skype, WhatsApp, iMessage, or Facebook Messenger (if you have Wi-Fi access).

In addition to your cell phone provider’s website, you can visit one of the following websites to help guide your decision:

KnowRoaming – Offers data-only international prepaid eSims (nonphysical SIM cards) that allow you to stay connected to the internet without Wi-Fi.

OneSimCard and Telestial – Offer international SIM cards with a variety of different service options and data limits.

Cellular Abroad – Offers international prepaid SIM cards, hotspot rentals, and cell phone rentals.

 

Traveling with Electronics

Please note that when traveling abroad, in addition to bringing the proper plug adapter(s) and voltage converter (for older single-voltage electrical appliances), you’ll also want to protect your electronic devices (cell phone, laptop, tablet, etc.) from inconsistent electrical currents that may occur.  Though unlikely, it is possible that a power surge (or failure) can damage your belongings and cause unnecessary frustration and costs.  We strongly recommend you back up any important information you may have stored on your laptop or other device prior to departure.

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