Packing Tips For International Travel

Packing up for an international trip involves some careful planning. Because the trip is generally longer than a domestic one, making sure that your luggage is properly sorted is a must. Think of the process as being similar to packing for a cross-country road trip as opposed to a simple drive to the next county.

Many of the items included are not needed immediately, and other items will come in handy along the way. It is very easy for your luggage to become disorganized if items needed sooner are not placed carefully. Also keep in mind that overseas trips involve a through-to-destination routing for checked baggage, and it is not unusual for you and your luggage to arrive at the final destination separately.

Your Checked Luggage

Let’s say you are taking a 10-day vacation to Brazil. Your itinerary involves a domestic flight from your home city to one of the airports with connecting flights to Sao Paulo. Most likely your flight package was a discounted trip arranged by a tour agency. In such cases, the flights were booked with partnering airlines. Your checked baggage will be ticketed from your home city to Sao Paulo, meaning that you will not have access to it at the intermediate stop.

Therefore, make sure that anything you need between home and Sao Paulo is not packed with your checked luggage. If for some reason your international flight is delayed and you are put up at a hotel for the night in your connecting city, you may be given an overnight kit. However, this kit may not contain all of the items you need. Remember to include some toiletries, snacks, and of course your passport and credit/debit cards in your carry-on bag.

Clothes that you will not be wearing for some time should be at the bottom of your checked luggage. Extra shoes can also be placed near the bottom. A rolling duffel bag is a convenient luggage type for international trips. It has a large central container and several smaller side pockets. Items such as CD players, battery recharger, and literature can easily fit into these smaller containers. If you use plastic ties to secure the pocket zippers, don’t be surprised if these have been snapped when you claim your luggage in Sao Paulo. It is merely evidence that your luggage was randomly chosen for inspection along the way.

Your Carry-On Bag

Toiletries, small snack items, passport, e-tickets, note paper, and pens should be included in the carry-on luggage. Your camera and/or camcorder should also be taken with you onto the airplane. Security personnel are used to seeing these items when carry-on bags are scanned. Remember to check with the airlines or government sites regarding changes to the maximum size limits for bottles containing liquids or lotions.

Your carry-on should be soft and expandable. Rigid carry-on bags present a problem when trying to stow them on board the aircraft. Soft bags can fit more easily when the overhead storage areas are full.

Your carry-on should have a front compartment that is just the right size for your e-tickets, wallet, passport, and writing instruments. During the flight you will have to fill out a customs declaration. This should be placed in the front pocket of the carry-on bag. You will retain part of this declaration until you board your return flight from Sao Paulo to the United States. Now you will have all of your necessary documents – passport, other identification, debit/credit cards, and customs paperwork – in the same place, and you won’t have hunt around looking for it.

Practice Packing And Unpacking

Do this several times before you leave so as to get familiar with where everything is in your checked luggage and carry-on. Because the trip is not something that happens every day, getting out of rhythm with your thoughts is very easy. Think about all of the cases where people leave their wallet on the roof of their car when pulling out of a gas station while on a long cross-country trip. Their thoughts are on their vacation, not their wallet.

The same thing can happen with luggage items when traveling internationally on business or vacation. Practice over and over until you know exactly where everything is packed, and always place these items in the same compartment of your luggage whenever you are finished using or wearing them.

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