Travel|January 15, 2011 3:37 am

5 Essential Packing Tips

Heading into the airport in Shanghai I noticed a rather small woman wrestling a rather big and burly suitcase. She was losing. She was losing and was clearly annoyed at being pitted against a bigger, stronger opponent. I watched and wondered, “Who taught this lady how to pack?” Clearly, nobody had. Lady in the airport, these 5 essential packing tips are for you.

1. Travel light

When it comes down to it, there are really only two things a person needs when traveling–socks & underwear. Anything more than that is just extra baggage, so to speak. If you must, throw in a couple t-shirts and a pair of shorts, a sun dress for you ladies. You don’t need four pairs of shoes. You don’t need six pairs of pants, and you certainly don’t need your 17-inch laptop computer. Leave behind anything that, if lost or damaged, will make you cry.

2. Make Two Copies of Your Passport

Make two copies of your passport and put them in different places. Having to walk into the embassy in Manila and ask for a new passport is a real pain in the neck. Having to walk in, claim to be a certain person from a certain country and having no official way to prove who you really are is a nightmare! It’s not likely that your passport will be lost or stolen, but, if it happens, you’ll be glad you have copies.

3. Keep at Least Two Stashes

I’ve met people who were far from home, cleaned out by thieves, and left to the mercy of other foreign travelers. To avoid having this happen to you, pack two stashes of money/cards. For example, you can keep some money in a money belt and the rest in your pocket (preferably one with a zipper). I like to stick a hundred dollar bill in my shoe, just in case.

4. Pack Emergency Contact Information in Your Brain

Before going on a trip, I always choose a friend to be my backup plan, just in case I need some emergency cash. Of course, if their number is in my cell phone, and my cell phone is stolen, I’m going to be out of luck. I always remember one friend’s number and the number to my credit card company.

5. Bring Your Traveler’s Insurance Documentation

Hospitals aren’t always as nice as we would like to believe them to be. In fact, unless you’re dieing right in front of them, many will refuse to give you any treatment at all until you can prove your ability to pay. Show them that you are fully insured, and you’ll be treated like a king!

Have any packing tips or stories that you would like to share? Tell us in the comments section below!

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