Ah, summer. The season of island getaways, long road trips, the odd plane ride or two to exotic locations and possibly camping out in the woods. To deal with common vacation worries like packing, sanitation, dealing with pests, and other traveling woes, here are a few tips to ensure a smooth summer holiday.
1. Reuse empty candy dispensers
Empty Tic-Tac boxes can be repurposed as containers of useful small items like bobby pins and safety pins, or as a handy dispenser of your favorite spices for cooking outdoors. Altoids tins are similarly useful for carrying matches, thumb drives, batteries and other small items.
2. Gather those soap slivers
Going camping? Instead of taking an entire bar of soap, get a sharp knife and slice off a few “splinters” of soap. Pack the splinters in a resealable bag or that Altoids tin as mentioned above.
3. Bring your own shower
What good is soap if you don’t have a shower? Pack a camp shower and stow it in your car. If you’re in for a long road trip and there aren’t any motels along your route, you need to wash off the sunscreen after a day at the beach. If you’ll be out in the woods for a few days, a camp shower is a very good thing to bring along.
4. Cables in sunglass cases
If you have any spare cases for sunglasses, you can use them to store all your charging cables for your camera, tablet, phone, MP3 player, GPS and other gizmos you bring on your trip. Prevent unsightly tangles and ripped-up wires by rolling up those cables and packing them nice and neatly in unused cases.
5. Pre-mix your pancake batter
When camping, wake up to the smell of pancakes. Before hitting the road, mix up a batch of pancake batter and pack them into plastic bags. Snip one of the tapered corners right before you’re ready to cook. You can easily squeeze out the batter and control the size and thickness of your pancakes.
6. How to pack a razor
There’s a better way to pack a disposable razor than jamming it into a plastic bag. Get the right-sized binder clip and “clip” the blade to cover it. Do this to avoid dulling the blade, as well as prevent it from jiggling around inside your luggage and risk cutting your clothes.
7. One-use tubes
Unused drinking straws have another function. Fill several of them with toothpaste, sunscreen, shaving cream, shampoo, and calamine lotion to create one-use applicators. Push each straw into the tube or tub of whatever you want to fill it with, then fold the ends of the straw and staple them closed. Label the straws with a marker to avoid confusion.
8. Roll, don’t fold
When packing your luggage, roll up your shirts and pants, don’t fold them. Rolling them up like towels frees up more space in your bags, and there are no air pockets to make your clothes bulkier. Stuff pairs of socks into each other, then stuff them into any shoes you will pack to save even more space.
9. Shower caps for shoes
Don’t have a shoe bag? Stuff your shoes in shower caps.
If you’re vacationing abroad here are a few tips to take note of:
10. Use your phone’s camera to make your way
Your phone’s camera can do more than take selfies. If you’re in another country where you don’t speak the language and can’t get internet access, take pictures of places and items you are looking for with your phone. Wave and smile politely at locals, then show them a picture of what you’re looking for so they can send you in the right direction. Take a picture of your hotel’s facade, a restroom sign, a beer, a pub, a bottle of water, the station you need to get to, a taxi, and other important things you may need.
11. Carry your hotel’s business card
Once you’ve checked in at your hotel, stop by the front desk. Ask the concierge for business cards for you and each member of your party, just in case any of you get lost or are separated. If you’re vacationing where you don’t speak the language, ask the concierge to write “Please take me to this hotel” in the local language so you can simply show the card to a taxi driver.
12. Be wary
If you travel to a place you’ve never been (local or foreign), do a quick search if there are any scams your destination may be “famous” for, and do what’s advised to avoid them.
Remember that any popular tourist attraction, local or foreign, will have scams and scammers. Get informed about any scams, prices of local goods, and the local currency exchange rate so you don’t get ripped off by anyone.
13. Charge devices on the TV
Notice that USB port on new flatscreen TVs? As long as you’ve got the charging cables, you can use that to charge your phone, MP3 player or tablet.
14. Get pocket WiFi
When traveling, ensure that you always have a means of communication by getting a couple of pocket WiFi devices. Some destinations (like Tokyo) actually rent them out, so inquire and reserve a unit online before your arrival. Use them with your WiFi capable 4G phones, then use a VOIP app like Viber or WeChat to stay in touch. Use a local prepaid 4G SIM card when you’re in another country and load it with just enough credits to last your trip.