Several years ago I started using a checklist for our trips. I won’t say that it prevents all problems, but it certainly reduces them. I use an Excel spreadsheet ( reflects my background as an accountant/business manager). I’m sure there are many other options available, including apps for your smartphone. I created a template, which gets revised regularly, based on our experiences. I’ve added sections for international travel, for cold and hot weather climates, and for vacation rentals or timeshares. I can pick and choose which categories to include.
I save the template to a new sheet and then add dates and destinations. I often refer to old sheets when planning a similar itinerary.
The list includes things like reservation and ticket information, travel books, medications, toiletries, electronics and their respective chargers, power adapters, passports, backpacks, binoculars, toothbrushes, and so on. I even list the clothing we bring, just in case our luggage gets lost.
Here are a few things we consider essential to our travels:
Expandable tote bag – I use a Longchamp foldable nylon bag, which I call my expando-bag. In fact, I wore the first one out after about ten years. They are waterproof, come in several sizes, and fold up to a size that fits easily into your suitcase. It can work as an additional checked bag if you are successful in your shopping.
Backpacks – I have a couple. I use a firm leather one in lieu of a purse for air travel. It holds my travel documents, puzzle book, iPad, and anything else I’ll want on the airplane, plus it leaves my hands free.
The other backpack is a Longchamp bag. This one is foldable and waterproof as well, and almost impossible for anyone to open when it’s on your back. The drawstring and straps are of one piece, tightening up when you are wearing it. Apparently, the nylon bags are no longer available, but the feature is available in leather (much more expensive).
Go Girl – This little kit puts a woman on equal standing as a man, when she’s in the woods, or stranded somewhere without access to a toilet.
Electrolyte Powders – These can be mixed with a bottle of water to prevent heat exhaustion, dehydration, or combat altitude sickness. Gaterade, Propel and G2 all carry these products.
Hand Sanitizer or Alcohol Wipes, Neosporin, Immodium
Rum Runner Flasks – If you have some leftover wine or alcohol, but don’t want to pack a glass bottle, simply pour the liquid into one of these plastic flasks. Some people have been known to use them to smuggle alcohol onto a cruise ship. I confess to knowing some of these people.
Stain Remover and Wine Remover – Don’t forget the wine opener as well.
Lip Balm and Body Lotion – Air travel is notorious for drying out the skin.
Hats and Suncreen
Portable Charger – We use Anker power banks. They come in several sizes, depending on your needs, and are quite inexpensive. You can charge one or more devices, usually a couple of times before needed to recharge the Anker.
Reading Materials – You never know when you might be stuck waiting for a delayed flight.
Satellite Communication Device – This is a device that keeps you connected around the globe. You can send a text message with your location to family and friends so they can track your travel, or you can send an SOS if you run into difficulty, like getting lost in the desert, being stranded in the middle of the ocean, or any other emergency. There is a small monthly fee for the service, which is more than offset by your peace of mind. We have used both DeLorme inReach and Spot Satellite Messenger.
And now, I’m ready for my next trip. I hope you can join me.