Travel Planning Supplies
Things to Get Before You Go: Saves time, money and aggravation
Travel planning supplies are the items you buy well before a trip -- GPS, calling cards, SIM cards, guidebooks, phrasebooks, maps -- when you are still in the travel planning stage.
Perhaps you've been taking foreign language lessons, but want a phrasebook to help you out when you are on the road. If you plan to take pictures of your travels, you'll want to prepare your camera for the trip. All these items are travel planning supplies, some of which are listed here, and others listed on specific pages.
Plan on How to Call Home / Keep in touch Decide how you will call home or otherwise keep in touch before you travel. Check settings to block roaming, and check cell phone forums for tips on using a cell phone abroad. Update or get a new SIM card.
If you plan to connect via internet (Facebook, Skype etc., check your social media passwords and security questions beforehand, as those sites will notice when you log in from another IP and want to verify you are you.
Handheld GPS system If you have a handheld GPS, take it along. Make sure it is updated first, as this can be tricky to do. On an RVing road trip in eastern Canada, our un-updated GPS lady wanted us to go the wrong way on a divided highway on more than one occasion! Amazon.com has some GPS systems; take a look at the styles, etc. These are especially helpful if you will be traveling by road over great distances.
Map and Travel Guides Before I decide on a destination, or start any planning, I look through a few travel guides and pore over maps. That way, I'm aware of factors like rainy seasons, possible routings with interesting stop-overs (and which places to avoid), high season versus low season, travel health concerns, local customs, upcoming elections, suggested hotels. (I've posted some specific guidebook and phrasebook titles by destination on the Books page). All these and more help me decide whether or not it's a good time to travel.
Learn a Language Even if English is commonly spoken in a country, if it's not the official language, I like to learn a few phrases. That way, I can at least say 'Please, Thank you, Good morning, Good night'. A basic phrasebook can be a great help if you find yourself on your own, or with a group wondering what the Mandarin word is for 'wine'. Best of all, these little books fit easily into a purse or pocket, and give you something to read. iPhone apps can be a great help, but in some countries, it's not a good idea to use expensive electronic gadgets in public.
Travel Forums and Hotel Reviews Most tours offer a choice of hotels, and give links to the hotels. Naturally, on the web sites, they all look pretty good. Check the location and the services such as free WIFI and breakfast.
I like to check hotel reviews online and see what other travelers think of a hotel and resort. For a spur of the moment trip to Costa Rica, I also posted on Twitter, asking about the Adventure Inn in San Jose and got several helpful responses.
Travel Photos I take hundred of pictures and videos, so before a trip, I get spare batteries. I used to use long life lithium batteries for travel. It's a lot easier to buy them at home than go hunting when on the road. A new camera has a rechargeable battery, so now I pack an adaptor. And make sure you have a power cord connection that works with the power supply in the foreign country
Make sure you have lots of storage space on your camera card, or buy a second card, or find a way to download photos, if necessary. Consider taking a disposable camera as a back up. If you plan to snorkel, take along a waterproof disposable camera. See more photo tips this page.
Travel watches When I travel I leave my good watch and jewelry at home (see travel safety comfort page), so pick up an inexpensive watch or travel alarm clock before you go, or shop at Amazon online for travel watches and clocks to save time (no pun intended).
Travel and Volunteer/Teach English Abroad I have a TESL certificate (Teacher of English as a Second Language) and although I have not yet had the opportunity to teach abroad, it's nice to have that option. There are a number of tour operators who offer volunteer type holidays for you to test your wings.
Keep a record of Your Trip Travel journals help you remember all the details of your trip, especially photo information. You think you'll never forget your experience, but when you have so many new impressions and details, it's easy to forget. See travel notebooks, journals.