Travel tips: Eyeshades, sunhat, black shoes — check

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Whether you travel every week for business, or once a year for vacation, you probably have some tips worth sharing.

I've developed a mental list of do's, don'ts and don't forget to take alongs during my years of traveling - be it to a mission in a developing nation or a vacation adventure in a far corner of the world.

Advance planning

Leave a copy of your passport and a detailed itinerary - flights, hotels, tour company phone numbers - with someone at work and/or family members; make a copy of both to take with you so you have everything on one handy list. Take your frequent flier or hotel membership cards.

If you're the worrying/sensible type, ensure your medical insurance is valid in the country you'll be visiting, or look into trip insurance or medical insurance.

Consult the U.S. State Department and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention websites to see the latest travel alerts or necessary vaccinations.

What to pack

By now you know what you cannot take onboard a flight - liquids, weapons, sharp objects - so don't make enemies in the security line by "forgetting" to remove these things from your pockets. Consider slip-on shoes to make the process easier.

Put a TSA-approved lock with key on your suitcase to ensure you can lock the bag if necessary in the hotel room or a long wait for a bus on a street corner.

Apparel - Plan your daily wardrobe based on your itinerary when you can. This saves packing extra clothes you don't need. Do bring a few "back-ups" for rainy days, spilled soup or the fancy occasion that catches you by surprise. Pick two colors to build your wardrobe around to mix and match, and remember layering is your best bet. I try to do black and beige for work trips. This cuts down on the number of pairs of shoes you need; but do take more than one pair.

Chargers - You'll be lost without them, so go down the list: phone, tablet, camera, shaver; don't forget the international conversion plugs/adapters, and a short extension cord.

First-aid kit - Put a few things in a little pouch: bandages, Neosporin or bacitracin, tweezers, and OTC meds such as Pepto Bismol, Immodium, aspirin, cold meds, antacid and pain-relievers. Don't forget your daily medications (some suggest you take them in their original bottles), and never pack them in a checked bag; always carry them with you.

Kitchen sink- Take a notebook, pen and addresses of folks you might want to send a postcard; consider taking printed address labels ready to be pasted on cards and dropped in the mail.

-Camera: Now that you don't need rolls of film in lead bags, be sure to take extra digital camera cards, cables to move them from the camera to your iPad/laptop, extra batteries and a soft cloth to clean the lens.

-Take extra zippered gallon-size bags for leftover snacks/wet clothes/shoes/liquid souvenirs; a guide book, maps, hotel/restaurant/tourist attraction recommendations; extra eyeglasses, sunglasses or contacts. And about snacks, pack some protein bars for delays or missed meals.

-Reading materials: books or an e-reader, magazines, sleep-inducing scholarly journals.

After take-off

- Take a travel pillow, shawl or sweater to drape over you if it's chilly; eye shades, ear plugs or noise-reducing headphones to block out noise and light; have a little pouch handy with your eyeglass, contact lens case/solution, lip balm, tissues, small flashlight for navigating when plane lights are low, chewing gum for ear pressure on take-off/landing; meds you might need during the flight.

-Wear compression socks/tights for long flights; make sure you walk the aisles regularly; drink plenty of water, limit caffeine and alcohol that tend to dehydrate.

Out and about

Consider keeping a journal, receipts, museum admission tickets, coasters and stamps to help retell your travel story with any photos you take.

Pack the sunscreen, sunhat and a small umbrella as the best rain prevention. Light gloves are a nice surprise to find in your coat pockets on a chilly day.

Most of all embrace the culture of where you'll be visiting, be patient with all that's unfamiliar and savor every minute of your new adventure.

Augherton can be reached at aaugherton@catholicherald.com.

Share your travel tips by commenting here.

© Arlington Catholic Herald 2015

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