1/Get ready for the unexpected with extra time
Always allow for extra time to account for the unexpected at the airports and other places of transportation
Traveling should be as much fun as possible : running through the aisles of an airport, or panicking to find the right track for your train, are never fun. When you are to embark on a trip (plane , train, car) make sure you account for extra time to account for the unexpected small delays ( Nothing you can do about BIG delays).
2/Traveling by plane : Seat assignment
I am always surprised by the number of people who wait until check-in to get a seat assigned when traveling on a long distance flight.
There is absolutely NO reason not to get a seat assignment on a plane as early as the airline allow it . All INTERNATIONAL air travel allow this and most domestic airlines as well ( although some won’t let you do it when you purchase the ticket and / or charge you a fee to do this)(see my Rants & Raves section)
3/Traveling in warm climates : Leave your cotton clothing home
When traveling in hot weather, remember that Cotton is your enemy. Prefer wool for your socks and nylon/synthetic materials for your shirt and underwear. Contrary to popular belief , wool (chiefly high quality Merino wool) is a total must for any serious walking or hiking when traveling regardless of the temperature.
4/Bring essentials medicines
Nobody likes to get sick regardless of the place but getting sick when traveling is worse.You won’t have access to your own doctor and depending on your location, medicines can be hard to find and/or expensive. Being a smart traveler means you must bring your medication (if you are on some) and your favorite pills for pain relief, upset stomach, and allergy relief
5/Do not forget the bag in the bag
As you know , I always advise people to travel light, with only small carry-on whenever possible. But there are of course many of us who want to bring back some stuff you bought locally ( maybe some local crafts as souvenirs for your friends/and or family. Obviously you can bring a larger bag with some empty space but I would advise you to get one of those packable duffles that takes no room ( and weighs practically nothing) in the luggage.This option also allows you to pack for a two day trip when you are traveling from a location where you stay a few days
6/Cash in more than one place
This one seems self-explanatory enough but I cannot count how many stories I have heard or read about travelers losing all their cash at some point during one of their trips. A smart traveler would always have a small amount of cash tucked away from its body in an envelope (enough to make a phone call, get a taxi back to your hotel, give to someone who is trying to rob you…).
Depending on your situation, in 99% of the cases,the bigger amount of cash should be on your person or in a secure place somewhere. (hotel safe , in a locked bag…). Another thing to keep in mind. Of all the places to carry cash, having your wallet in the back pocket of your pants is the absolute worst choice.
7/Extra copies of your id documents
I will make this one very simple: you should NEVER travel without carrying, in some kind of sleeve or envelop, a color copy of your all important ID’s (passport, driving license, visas, national id). Losing its id when traveling is always a hassle but if you have copies to show it will make the process of coming back home A LOT smoother.
This also allows you to have id on your when some less formal ID check is required ( like payment in some stores ) and if you prefer not to carry your passport on you. As for me, I have a scanned color copies of all my ID on my I-pad mini AND a printed color copy in an easy-to-spot colored plastic sleeve.
8/Electricity is key
Nowadays international travelers tend to be cable carriers : Cable for the phone , for the computer and/or the tablet for your camera(s), (extra cable, no check in for batteries or cables).
Unless you work with a full manual film camera, cameras are very energy dependent. There is nothing worse that being unable to make a picture of a special place or moment because your camera is out of power. If you are careless enough to travel with only ONE battery, you have no one but yourself to blame.
Please also keep in mind, it is now prohibited to put any batteries with your checked luggage. They must be with your carry-on. There are even several legal limits for batteries when flying in the USA but fortunately I have never seen those enforced anywhere
9/Avoid bringing a brand new camera on an important trip
If you are serious about Photography or just embarking on a trip of a lifetime , you should not rely just on your phone to make pictures while traveling. And even if you are an experienced photographer, you always want to avoid getting a brand new camera just before a BIG trip. Nowadays, digital cameras tend to have a very different user interface and button layout depending on the brand you select.You do not want to be fiddling with the buttons or looking for that special feature you need in the menu when the kids(spouse, significant other, check which applies) are posing in front of that specific site you want to immortalize while the light is just right
10/Back up, back up ( chargers, sd cards)
Outside the necessary extra batteries , there are other things to consider taking in double. If you are a photographer on assignment or a one in a lifetime make sure you bring enough cards ( cards can fail) and an extra charger for your main camera . This would also you to recharge faster for the next day.