Live and Learn: Packing 2.0

I’ve always crammed my carryon with an extra change of clothes, valuables, medicines, reading material, a few essential cosmetics, phone, computer and camera equipment. And, I never fail to complain that the bag is too heavy and question why did I pack so much anyway? After all, haven’t the airlines gotten better about not losing checked luggage?

Nope, they haven’t.

On my trip to Ethiopia in September my luggage was lost for a full 10 days. Although I wasforced to purchase a few items in Addis Ababa, the extra clothing in my carryon was a life-saver. Therefore, my first packing recommendation remains – never assume your luggage will arrive with you and pack your carryon accordingly.

Another packing strategy that I continue to recommend is – pack an extra fold-up bag in your checked luggage for those purchases you don’t think you will make, but invariably do. I take one carryon on the outbound trip and always have two on the inbound.

And, get Global Entry if you haven’t already. I think it is better than TSA pre-check.

What’s the difference?

“Simply put, Global Entry is designed to expedite the customs process, while TSA PreCheck does the same for the security screening process. Note: Global Entry travelers are automatically qualified for TSA PreCheck, but the reverse is not true.”
When you return home from a lengthy flight, standing in a long line for immigration and customs is not something you want to do. I sail through JFK with Global Entry. I highly recommend it.

New Packing Recommendations

My recent travels to Ethiopia, Rwanda and Nepal inspired me to add a few items to my generic packing list. My new top five:

 

1. In addition to taking environmentally friendly detergent for washing out underwear, I’ve put clip and drip hangers/portable hangers and a rubber sink stopper on the list. I’ve consistently found that many hotels do not provide sink stoppers. And, as they do not want to encourage you to do your own washing, lines or hooks for hanging your wet items seem to be increasingly scarce.

2. If you enjoy boutique hotels that are loaded with charm – a downside

 

is often that they do not provide adequate electrical outlets. To easily charge your phone, camera, laptop etc., bring your own power strip in addition to your plug adapters.
3. If you use your phone as your primary camera, you will want to carry a portable battery. I can’t tell you how often phones run out of juice and that perfect photo op is missed.

 

4. Are you a coffee drinker? Believe it or not, some small hotels in developing countries continue to serve yucky instant coffee. Short of carrying your own French Press and coffee supply (which some travelers do), one of my clients brought Starbucks VIA® Instant Coffee with her. The coffee was much better than what our hotel was providing.

5. Women – pack a shawl. It can serve a multitude of purposes. It can be a headscarf, it can add additional warmth and it can dress up your crinkled travel attire.

 

Thank goodness for DHL

I will end this newsletter by admitting that as a shopper (particularly of tribal masks), I almost always end up with some purchases that simply don’t fit into my suitcase and are too large for a carryon. The good news – I have never ever not received a shipment. I’ve shipped from small countries in Africa, Asia, from Mongolia and Papua New Guinea- you name it. If I’ve been there, chances are I have located a DHL office and shipped something. If you find an oversized item irresistible – yes it can get expensive but if you ship DHL – it will arrive, door–to-door.

 

Helpful Links:

DHL Customs, Insurance & Securities Info
How to Apply for Global Entry – Dept. of Homeland Security
Amazon’s Top Picks – Foldable Travel Bags