Handy Extras: Other travel essentials I pack for international trips include a power strip (to cater to the ever-growing number of devices needing charge), a compact umbrella, and energy bars. I also carry Girnar Tea premix sachets which need just hot water for a quick Indian masala chai fix.
Comfort Items: For long flights or train rides, I pack items that make for a more comfortable travel. An eye mask is always good to have because it is not always possible to control external lighting conditions. Also keep a Covid-19 face mask – in some parts of the world, it is still needed. I carry my Bose QC45 headset for creating my own private space. I also keep a physical book handy.
Strategic Bookings: My company’s travel desk takes care of all my bookings, but I always guide them regarding flights and hotels based on my research on Google Flights and my knowledge of meeting locations. Once, the travel desk chose a cheaper Airbnb for me, but it was inconveniently located 30 minutes away from the conference venue. The time and hassle spent on commuting negated any savings made on accommodation.
Extra Legroom Seats: As space becomes increasingly premium during travel, especially in Economy class, it may be well worth the investment to secure seats with additional legroom. For any flight that lasts longer than a couple of hours, you’ll appreciate the decision. I make a point of always booking an aisle seat – it offers easier access to the restrooms without the need to disturb co-passengers.
Loyalty Programs: I make it a point to join every available loyalty program since they’re free, and there’s no downside to them. Even if it takes years to reap the benefits, the accumulated points can come in handy.
Travel Apps: I download apps from airlines and hotels I am using. These provide added convenience for tracking flights, selecting seats, attempting upgrades, and performing check-ins. Moreover, it’s beneficial to pre-install the local public transport apps of the city you’ll be visiting. By adding your credit card info in advance, you eliminate potential delays upon arrival, making transit as smooth as possible.
International Roaming: Despite the cost, activating international roaming on your mobile is a must, especially for shorter trips. For longer stays, consider getting a local SIM card as a secondary one. (I use the Samsung Duo phones which have slots for two SIMS.) This way, you’re not reliant on sporadic free WiFi availability, which is essential since most cab bookings now require apps.
Advance Tipping: When I use a rental car or stay at a hotel (essentially any situation not involving a single transaction), I prefer to tip pre-emptively. I’ve noticed that this approach dramatically improves the level of service I receive.
Itinerary Sharing: Sharing your detailed itinerary with a trusted friend or family member serves as an important safety precaution. In case of unexpected occurrences, someone else will always be informed of your intended locations. Prior to embarking on a multi-city international travel, I give my family a printout of all my flight details and hotel reservations. Upon reaching each hotel, I make it a point to share my room number.
Digital Backup: Always have a digital backup of your essential travel documents like your passport, ID, visas, and itinerary. This can be a lifesaver in case you lose the originals or need quick access to them. I have these saved in a Dropbox folder.