It is the Holiday Season and that means many people are heading to hot and sunny destinations for Christmas.
I’m a huge fan of all-inclusive vacations. Usually, it is a very economical way to see different places. Meals, drinks (most), housekeeping and worry-free vacations are always a good thing.
This year we are going back to Havana, Cuba for a 7 day break from cold temperatures and blowing snow.
As I wait for my large Amerciano coffee in the Departure Lounge of my local airport, I wanted to share some tips that I wish I new when I was new at traveling.
The hubby and I don’t pack luggage. We pack a backpack each. I take one extra bag (the smaller black backpack in photo) for my Chromebook, wallet, sunglasses, chargers, etc.
Always put your passport, cash/cards and photo ID within easy reach. You don’t want to be ‘that girl/guy’ holding up the line because of endless digging for necessary travel documents.
Basically, whatever I don’t need until I get wherever I’m going goes into the backpack.
Whatever I need to entertain or sustain me goes in a smaller bag for easy access on the plane, airports and shuttles/taxis.
Number One rule: Always check the rules of the country you are going to. Your passport may be good for another 3 months, but many countries will deny you access if your passport is not valid for at least 6 months.
I found that out the hard way going to Belize. My passport was due to expire in 90 days. We were on a 10 day vacation. I was almost denied entry into the country.
Begging, pleading, crying and tantrums do nothing for anyone when it comes to clearing Customs. They don’t care how much money you spent or that you have to go home while your spouse and friends continue on without you. Check your Passport expiry date well in advance.
There are no further rule numbers but the above one is very important.
Ladies, you do NOT need 7 evening outfits, 15 shirts, 5 pairs of jeans, matching shoes and flip flops. I used to pack a huge suitcase and ended up using 1/3 (if that) of what I packed.
Makeup – you need very minimal make up. You are all gasping and saying “I absolutely cannot live without my _________!” Yes, you can.
I use a backpack for a few reasons: 1) saves money on checked baggage 2) saves a huge amount of time waiting to either check luggage in or waiting for luggage to come off the plane 3) if I forget anything I can get it at my destination.
HOW TO PACK
Three days before you are leaving, put everything you think you need on the bed or in one area. Leave it there until after you finish this article.
Include toiletries, lotions, hair products, clothes, gadgets, etc. This exercise is to alleviate the anxiety that comes with seriously downsizing what is lugged from airport to airport.
As a general rule here’s what you will need for an all-inclusive resort:
Bathing suits – take a few. Even if you have booked excursions, bathing suits are the main piece of clothing worn during the day.
I wear a bathing suit under my shorts and shirts when I’m on excursions or checking out towns because you never know when it will be scorching hot. Always be ready for an opportunity to present itself to jump into a pool or ocean to cool off.
Tops: light fabric cloth is always the best. Heavy cottons or sweat clothes will feel bulky and hot.
For a 7 to 10 day trip you will need 4 pairs of shorts/skorts/skirts. Pack 2 casual-dressy, all purpose shorts or skirts for supper time as most resorts ask for a bit of effort when dressing to go to supper.
Shirts: I’m a tank top fan so I pack 8 tank tops. They vary from casual to dressy. I also take at least 1 long sleeved, light weight shirt for excursions or if I get sun burned. Pack 2 or 3 dressy tops. No one cares or notices if you wear the same one a few times in the week. Mix and Match is the key here.
Pants: I’m wearing jeans, socks, long sleeved shirt, sweater and light jacket leaving from -3 degrees going to +28 degrees. Layer up for the airplane. You can always take off things to cool down but getting warm is another matter. Most airlines charge $7 – $14 for a thin blanket.
Shoes: wear a good pair of runners or comfy walking shoes on the plane and pack flip flops in the backpack. In all my travels I have never once said “I wish I had my 3″ pumps.” Leave the fancy shoes behind.
I have my ‘good’ flip flops (Merrell) and my beach flip flops (UnderArmor with super cushy soles for walking or lounging).
Headphones: many flights have movies or entertainment that you can plug into. If you don’t bring headphones, the airlines charge $3 and up for a set, in flight.
Toiletries: I love being on vacation because I give my skin a full break from make up.
I take a good, heavy moisturizer (my preference is No.7 day cream), a bottle of hair Argon Oil (replaces conditioner and much healthier for my thick, wavy hair), toothbrush/paste, 1 tube of mascara, 2 tubes of lipstick (one pink, one nude/gold) and a brush or comb. One razor. That’s it.
The hotels provide shampoo and conditioner so no need to bring your own. If you travel to 4 or 5 star resorts they usually provide exceptional toiletry products.
Sunscreen: this is very important – always take an SPF30 or higher.
Sunscreen does work and using it will give you more time to see the local sights and less time suffering in bed feeling like you’re on fire. I speak from experience, folks.
Have a small, travel size sunscreen for your purse and a larger bottle for the beach. Apply often especially if it is humid or you get sweaty from heat or exertion.
Airport tips: Do not spend good money on an extra large Americano with an extra shot prior to going through security. You either have to guzzle it or leave it behind. Open drinks are not allowed through security. There are usually many places to buy coffee, snacks, food and other items once you are in the boarding gate areas.
Leave plenty of time, especially during high travel times, like Christmas. The standard is to arrive at airport 3 hours before boarding for international flights and 2 hours for domestic.
The delay is usually through Customs. Using a backpack reduces processing time, significantly.
Download the airline app to your phone so you will always know if there are changes to flight times or boarding gates.
All flights take credit cards for in flight purchases. They do not accept cash.
Above all, have a great time planning and getting to your destination! Enjoy the flight and have a spectacular vacation.