Soon: The Dominican Republic

We will soon be celebrating 6 adventure-packed, wonderful years of wedded bliss. This is not the sentimental-tribute-to-love post. This is the we’re-headed-to-paradise-with-some-best-friends post!! And I can’t wait. In a few days, we will be taking off for the Dominican Republic! But before we jet-set, a friend asked me about packing, so I thought I’d include a few of my favorite tips and tricks of travel.

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We always try to pack carry-on only. It’s typically easier – you never know how many steps, stairs, or cabs are between you and your  final destination. It’s the best way not to lose your luggage. And it’s usually quicker because you bypass baggage claim – especially if transferring internationally and a customs check is involved.

In a smaller space, efficiency and organization rule. I stack all my tops and dresses together and then roll them into one single huge roll. That goes at the top of my carry on. I do the same with bottoms – pants, shorts, capris, skirts – stack and roll them into another single roll at the bottom of my carry on. Shoes and accessories fit around them.

I usually pack socks, undies, and any other delicates in separate ziplock bags by type. Two reasons: you never know when you might need an extra gallon-sized ziplock bag or dry undies if something leaks or your bag gets wet. These I usually shove into the front pockets of my carry-on.

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For toiletries, we bought empty travel-sized bottles a long time ago. We fill them with whatever products we’re currently using – no need to buy travel sized stuff – and I put each of them in little ziplock bags, then all the toiletries together in one large ziplock bag, which I keep easily accessible for the security check.

I usually travel with little to no jewelry. If I do pack some, I keep valuables in {you guessed it} a ziplock bag in my purse, along with travel documents, passports, and IDs. Additionally, we keep copies of each other’s passports and identification in multiple bags – just in case any of our IDs were to get lost or stolen. It makes the embassy’s verification process quicker and easier.

Technology: I research what voltage adaptors or power converters are needed and pack accordingly. Note that resorts typically have more options than other areas, so check the FAQs on where you’re staying. Similarly, I find out what kind of internet accessibility and international calling options are available. I visit my cell phone provider to inquire about the cost of calls or texts and make changes to my plan if necessary. Typically, we only travel with our iPhones. If it’s domestic travel, we make take an iPad, but by and large we’re there to explore, take pics, access our travel info – without worrying about what technology might get stolen. Keeping it simple, we just grab our phones and go. We also bring something to protect our phones against water – if we get the urge to repel waterfalls like we did on our honeymoon, or if an elephant or camel tries to sneak a taste during a close up. A case that provides additional battery life like this mophie juice pack is a brilliant idea if you’ll be out and about all day taking pics.

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Contact info: I always have these things available for me and my family back home when Grant and I travel. The US Embassy phone number and address (in english and the local language via screenshot if necessary – to be able to show a cab driver in China, for example). I keep hard copies and electronic access (see TripIt below) to all relevant travel accommodations, reservations with directions to and from, and any other contact information I might need. For example, if I know I’ll need wifi, but my accommodation does not provide it (or it’s pricey) I may look up the nearest internet cafe and make note of their hours of operation, directions, contact info, and prices if listed online. When reviewing travel documents, I make sure to have both the local and international contact information, just in case.

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Travel Docs: I am a huge fan of TripIt.com. It’s the best free way to organize a trip and share itineraries or details with fellow travelers or family members back home. Grant and I traveled a lot when we lived in London; being many miles and several time zones away (and phased by the movie Taken), we started using TripIt to keep up with everything in one place, and for sharing trips with family so they could both live vicariously and know where we were in case we ran into trouble or ended up needing help – so far so good. TripIt has a free app that synchs trip details over wifi, but more importantly saves travel itinerary for viewing with or without internet. It’s unbelievably convenient to view documents, reservation details, confirmation numbers, and contact info without requiring wifi. Just synch up via wifi right before you leave and access all the details by opening the app wherever adventure takes you.

I seriously cannot wait!

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