So many people show up completely unprepared for their vacation. I’ve seen summer sightseers hit Alaska without a pair of pants, wild wanderers on the edge of Ecuador without a map, and completely prepared pilgrims who return home to an empty house. If you travel abroad, even the premier resorts won’t be able to offer everything that you may have forgotten at home, and forgetting the lamp on at home will be the least of your worries if you tell strangers about your travels.
1. Be prepared for whatever weather may come your way, even if it’s not in the forecast when you leave.
Being prepared for weather sounds like a fairly open and shut case of packing with your destination in mind, but there are still people who are surprisingly unprepared. Taking the time to inform yourself about potential weather hazards is so vital. So many people will leave for a ski resort under the impression that they can rent a coat once they arrive, but once they arrive, the expense of purchasing a jacket is a stab to the wallet that could’ve been avoided by bringing gear with you.
2. Read up on the temperature ‘real feels’ in the destination you’re going to.
Even if you are staying indoors for much of your vacation, packing appropriate gear still has a huge impact on the enjoyment of your trip. Some places that might seem forever sunny will surprise you. Even sub-tropical climates like Costa Rica have a rainy season that might surprise a North American traveler. While leaving America in July, you might expect to land in a humid jungle, but surprise! Wet season is May to July, with hurricane season sweeping a great deal of rain right into your hikes.
If you are totally unsure of where to go, pack a raincoat, long sleeve shirt, and sweater, which can be layered as needed. A raincoat is great as it also adds wind protection, can be tucked into your luggage fairly easily, and captures the heat of your other layers.
3. Bring layers.
Your trip to the Amazon basin may be drop dead gorgeous, filled with foggy humid mist that clings to the lightest tank top, the perfect sub tropical vacation until you travel to the highlands. You may find yourself freezing during the night, or sun burned that day. If you’re really having trouble narrowing down your packing or figuring out what to put in, look up historical temperatures and plan accordingly. If space is limited, try to bring something that could have multiple functions, like a single long sleeve shirt for a tropical vacation (just in case it’s cold) that can also function as a sun shield. Pack light with layers, and stay warm.
4. Always bring sunscreen if you’re going to be outside — even if you don’t think you could burn.
Adventure travel can give you some of the most exciting ways to see a country. When looking into adventure travel, whether you’re ascending Denali, or zip lining across Mexico you might assume that most things are included, which sometimes it is, but missing sunscreen with 23 hour sunshine will leave you burned. Being incredibly inquisitive on what you need to bring and what exactly will be provided can make the difference between having a happy summer ski trip on Alaskan glaciers or a sad evening crying with your sunburnt eyes into a mug of hot cocoa.
5. Be prepared for adventure!
Sometimes adventure travel can be expensive to travel with, moving skiing, tents, or just a mountain of gear. Know what you can get there (can you rent a bike for your bike trip there?) or can’t, will make a world of difference. Showing up on a ski vacation without a ski jacket might seem insane, but the number of times hospitality snow-bunnies have watched a family crawl out of minivan draped in blankets, asking where to rent cold weather gear, is too many. If you’re going for adventure, be prepared for adventure.
6. Start prepping for your trip in advance, so you don’t run around at the last minute trying to do a million things.
Pre-planning will save you the discomfort of a chilly night on the beach, it will prolong your best hike, and keep you going all vacation. It will also save you stress when returning to a potential disaster. Nothing ruins a vacation like worrying that you left the stove on, didn’t automate payments, or left your spare key under your mat and posted tons of pictures on social media.
7. Pay all of your bills before you go.
An extended vacations overseas, relaxing under a shady setting sun that lingers on the edge of the horizon for what seems like forever in a moment is a hard thing to leave behind. It’s even more sorely missed if you return home to the electricity shut off or a fat stack of overdue bills. Before you leave make sure everything is either automated, or paid in advance. This could mean calling your utility companies and paying in advance (or having them turned off during your vacation).
8. Leave your home safe when you’re away.
We all know the obvious: wait until after your vacation to post pictures on social media, have a neighbor collect the mail, and if available, keep lights on a timer. Home safety is vital if you are any part a worry wart and want to enjoy your trip, so lock all the doors, make a checklist if you are one of those people who leave the house and immediately turn back to check the kettle. It’ll give you peace of mind, and make sure you come back to your home as you left it.
When going on a trip, be prepared. Prepared for the cold, any gear you may need on your fabulous trip, and of course your home. It will save you miles of stress abroad, and make your trip better.