Travel Checklist / Tips

Money

  • Use a credit card with no foreign transaction fee
    • Amazon Visa Signature
    • Costco Citi Visa Signature
  • Set a credit card travel notice
  • If you need cash, just withdraw it from the ATM of a big bank. The currency conversion rate is just 3%. However, there are withdrawal limits.
  • Upon arrival, look for an ATM of a big bank at the airport to withdraw cash. The money exchangers will rip you off big time.
  • If you need to exchange cash at the airport, do so after you pass through immigrations near the exit rather than before passing immigrations. There are more options and the rates are cheaper there.
  • Get and set up a currency converter app

Booking Sites

If purchasing plane tickets, buy direct from airlines if the price is not much more expensive. It’ll be much easier to make changes and cancellations by dealing directly with the airline.

Hotels

  • If traveling within the US, consider Extended Stay America. Some nice features of it are
    • on-site laundromat
    • full-size kitchen
    • usually cheaper than regular hotels since house cleaning only comes once a week (daily housekeeping available for extra fee)
    • stable rates
    • unworrisome cancellation policy
    • free wi-fi
    • and more

For all hotels, make sure to notify the hotel if you will be arriving late.

If staying at Extended Stay America for a few days, be sure to bring

  • disposable plates and cups
  • disposable eating utensils
  • napkins
  • mini dish soap
  • dish scrubber

Pre-Departure Planning

  • Get and read a travel guide (Lonely Planet)
  • If travelling internationally, enroll in STEP (Smart Traveler Enrollment Program) and register your trip
  • Print a copy of all trip arrangements (plane tickets, hotel reservations) as a backup
  • Download a copy of all travel documents to your phone. You can do this by uploading them all to a folder in Google Drive and then setting the folder to “Available Offline”.
  • Make a Google Doc and Sheet list of
    • places to visit
    • opening hours
    • costs
    • directions
    • etc
      See template
  • Save each place of interest in Google Maps
  • Download Google map of all destinations for offline viewing
  • Download videos, e.g. from YouTube, to watch on plane, in hotel.
  • Check the weather forecast

Carry-On Bag

  • For your carry-on, if you can, just bring a backpack. It can be pointless to bring a carry-on luggage since max weight allowance is so low.
  • Within your carry on backpack, bring a thin, lightweight backpack to put under the plane seat in front of you. This will not take a lot of space and carry your in-air essentials like laptop, munchies, smartphone, earphones, etc.

Munchies

  • Chewy nutrition bars, e.g. Nature Valley Peanut Butter bar
  • Goldfish
  • Sunflower seeds (without the shells) in a zip-loc bag
  • Pringles
  • Beef Jerky + Cheddar Cheese (Costco)
  • Hawaiian Sweet Bread + Nutella + plastic knives
  • Disposable cup in which to put munchies for easy access

Toiletries / Bathroom Accessories

  • Hair dryer
  • Flat iron
  • Argan oil-infused hair smoothener
  • Sunscreen
  • Plug adapters
  • Shampoo
  • Soap
  • Medium towel
  • Wet tissue / Bring fragrant-free wet wipes to wipe the sweat and dirt off your hands and face.

Swimming

  • Swimming shorts
  • Swimming shirt (rash guard)
  • Swimming shoes
  • Swimming socks
  • Swimming hat (Nammu Ex Uv Protective Swim Bandana (black+visor+ear flaps))
  • Swimming goggles (prescription)
  • Eyewear retainer (Chums Original Cotton Standard End Eyewear Retainer, Black)
  • Sunscreen
  • Waterproof watch

Day-to-Day Clothing

  • Cap / hat
  • Visor
  • Sunglasses
  • Columbia thin, waterproof hiking pants
  • Wear shirts designed for hot and humid weather when traveling to hot and humid destinations. Golf clothes usually meet this requirement (PGA Tour Airflux – 100% polyester)
  • Walking shorts (cargo shorts with many pockets are good to hold many things)
  • If you’ll be doing a lot of walking, bring comfortable walking sandals. Test your shoes thoroughly before departing. What may feel comfortable at first may not actually feel comfortable after a few hours of walking. Maybe get a memory foam one, e.g. from Skechers.
  • Pickpocket-proof pants

Gadgets / Electronics

  • Power pack to recharge phone and laptop
  • USB adapters / cables, e.g. USB-C to USB
  • Voltage converter (220 -> 110)
  • Laptop + charger
  • Cell phone + charger
  • Portable digital luggage scale
  • Wired earphones with plane plug adapter
  • Extension cord and power strip (since houses and hotels in many countries don’t have enough outlets where you need them or the outlet is too high above the floor)
  • 3 prong to 2 prong plug adapter
  • Headphone DAC + Amplifier to drown out the ambient noise on the plane and make your music or movie you’re watching sound better. Make sure to also bring an extra 3.5 mm male to male cable. If you have the Fiio Alpen 2,
    • the USB port supports DAC + amplifier
    • the AUX port supports only the amplifier feature

Miscellaneous

  • Bring plastic bags to hold your wet clothes, dirty clothes, etc
  • Scissors
  • Gray duct tape
  • Clear plastic tape
  • Small tape measure