Let’s get straight to it…
Buy Travel Insurance
I used to never do this, but I’ve been burned so many times with out-of-pocket expenses that I’ve learned it’s important. It’s often quite cheap if you add it to your flight cost before checking out.
‘Hacker Fares’ or low-cost flights *seem cheap*, but they often come with many restrictions, such as no refunds or ticket changes. Plans change all the time and if anything happens, like a trip delay, you could have to forfeit your originally scheduled flights.
From firsthand experience, I can tell you flights get canceled or delayed all the time in Europe due to air traffic control strikes, weather and other things that are out of your control.
ProTip! Check with your credit card provider – some provide Trip Protection as long as everything is booked on that credit card.
We have both Chase Freedom and Capital One Venture and they both have added trip protection as of August 2018.
Keep A Reserve For Unexpected Costs
I recommend carrying a 0% interest credit card and plan for unexpected travel changes (like delayed or canceled flights).*
*Note: I am NOT recommending that you put all of your travel on a credit card. You should only travel if you have the means to do so, which is why I recommend creating a budget before you leave.
One delay or canceled flight could result in a missed connection (especially if you use ‘hacker fares’ where the flights are often booked separately), and you could be left with forfeiting your flights.
This happened to us. We had to buy new airline tickets home, which was an additional $2,000 we weren’t planning for.
Having an emergency credit card with no or low interest gives breathing room for those unexpected costs and gives you some extra time to pay it back while you wait for travel insurance to kick in.
Travel with Carry-On Luggage
This goes back to the fact that a lot of ‘Hacker Fares’ and cheap flights are often booked separately and will require you to re-check your bags before the next flight. This can be almost impossible if a flight is delayed, you have a short layover and have to pass through customs.
I recommend the Marmot Backpacks. They are compact, have good back support, fit a lot of clothes and are great for country hopping.
Take only what’s necessary and bring wrinkle-resistant clothes. You’ll end up wearing the same clothes anyway, and if you pack the right shoes, you only ever need to bring 1 or 2 pairs (shoes take up the most space!).
Pack A First Aid Kit
Finding a pharmacy in a foreign country where you don’t know the language is stressful – especially if you’re not feeling well.
I can guarantee *something* could happen – you’re in a foreign country, trying different foods, hiking, exploring – it’s best to go prepared.
Here’s what’s in my First Aid Kit (it includes essential oils!)
- Band-Aids – For blisters and cuts
- Stomach Relievers / Digestion Aids – Peppermint and DigestZen Essential Oils are great for this
- Melaleuca Essential Oil – Takes the sting or the itch out of bites and helps it heal faster
- Lemon Essential Oil – Freshens up tap water and gives it a nice taste
- Bug Spray – I use Terrashield from doTERRA because it’s compact, natural and it works!
- Sunscreen – So important!
- Lip Balm – Constant switching between airplanes, temperature changes can leave lips really dry and there is nothing worse than sore lips!
- Hand Sanitizer – My favorite is doTERRA onGuard Hand Sanitizer – it kills 98% of bacteria. A lot of public restrooms don’t have soap, so this is very important if you don’t want to spread germs or get sick.
- Ibuprofen or Tylenol – This is probably the only time you’ll hear me recommend this… I’m all about natural meds, but sometimes you just need an ultra quick fix so your holiday isn’t ruined if you’re sick.
- Melatonin – I have a whole article on how to get rid of jet lag here, but this is good to help you sleep if you’re hopping between different time zones.
- Tampons – Manage your period like a boss with OB Ultra Tampons – both small and compact. Ditch applicator tampons – they take up more space than you think.
Two Meals Per Day Is Enough – It Saves Time And Money
I know a lot of foodies who would argue otherwise on this point, but I’ve found when traveling that eating twice a day is sufficient.
Our society is used to having breakfast, lunch, and dinner, but when traveling, you’re most likely trying to see all of the different sights and exploring that you forget you’re hungry. Plus eating two nice meals and packing some nuts to tide you over seems to do the trick and it saves money.
Have you picked up any lessons from traveling and have anything to add? Tell me below!
Lindsey is the author of A Life Well-Balanced, a lifestyle blog dedicated to helping people live a more balanced life – physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually.