Monday, June 2, 2014

Traveling Abroad Essentials

As I wrap-up my posts regarding my study abroad experience to China and Taiwan, I wanted to provide some suggestions on things that I found helpful to pack (or I wished I had packed). My hope is that future students going on this particular study abroad experience will find this helpful. I also believe it is just a good overall list for people traveling for a couple weeks, in general. 

1.) Comfortable Sandals // I cannot even begin to tell you how many times I wore my Tevas while we were sightseeing. They are more comfortable for walking than a standard pair of flip-flops, yet I was also able to wear these with dresses without looking completely unfashionable. 

2.) Melatonin Supplement // While I was in Asia, we traveled ahead 13 hours. I would wake-up at 5am almost every single day, because my body was out-of-whack from the time change and travel. However, a couple of nights I took a melatonin supplement that I had packed, and I found that I fell asleep better and slept more soundly. I also packed Dream Water, but never ended up using any.

3.) Neck Pillow // Prior to heading off on my Oriental excursion, I had never owned a sleep pillow. But boy was I glad that I picked one up at good ol' Walmart for $8.00! While I didn't sleep much on any of my flights, it was nice to have some support on your neck while you are watching countless movies on the flight. 

4.) Face Towelettes // While the flight attendants handed out face towelettes during our flight, I preferred having a travel pack of my own. A couple hours after our meal was served on our flight from Seattle to Beijing, I washed my face with one of these towelettes. (I prefer the Yes! to Blueberries brand). I felt more refreshed and able to unwind for the rest of my flight with a clean face. 

5.) Almonds // When I travel, I like to pack some of my own snacks. It is often difficult to find some of your favorite foods when you are far away, so I suggest you pack some that are approved to come with you on your flight. My go-to snack is almonds. I love grabbing handfuls when I need a little pick-me-up. Many students also packed their favorite granola bars. 

6.) Ear Buds // During our flights, I watched movies on the personal screen in front of me almost the entire time. While the flight attendants will provide you with a set, it is always nice to have a pair that you are used to. 

7.) Water // Obviously you can't bring a bottle of water with you through security, but be sure to pick one up prior to boarding your plane. I know using the bathrooms on the planes is not the most appealing, but make sure you are staying hydrated. Every time a flight attendant would walk by with a glass of water, I always took him/her up on the offer. This goes for once you arrive in your destination too! The days where I was properly hydrating myself were also the days that I felt my most alert and energized.

8.) Fuzzy Socks // This is kind of a silly suggestion and is probably just my personal preference...but once we were a couple of hours into our flight, it felt so nice to slide my feet into the soft, fuzzy socks that I had packed. When you are on a flight that long, it is not uncommon for your feet to experience some swelling. (I know mine did on the flight over). Since the swelling might be inevitable, it was at least nice to change into a fresh pair of socks and give my feet a break from my tennis shoes.

9.) Umbrella // When I packed for Asia, it never even crossed my mind to pack an umbrella. In fact, I didn't even own one to begin with. Unfortunately, we were in Taiwan during the rainy season and it rained almost the entire time we were there. Luckily for me, I picked up an umbrella for really cheap while in Taiwan. However, if you already have one, it certainly would hurt to pack one if you have the extra space.

10.) Tennis Shoes // While I mostly wore either my Tevas or my Toms, it was handy to have a pair of comfortable tennis shoes along. I brought my Nike Frees. If you are ever going to the Great Wall of China then I would definitely recommend comfortable shoes with a little traction for that day. It is a lot steeper than it looks!!

11.) Pen // When you travel to a different country, you will be asked to fill-out a departure and arrival card to hand-in at customs. Keep a pen handy to make this process that much simpler.

12.) Backpack // This is the tip that I wished I would have followed: bring a small backpack to use instead of a purse! I brought a cross-body bag with me to use each day. It was fine the first couple of days, but soon the strap started digging into my one shoulder and it was a bit of a hassle. In hindsight, I wish I had brought my small Vera Bradly backpack to use each day instead. You live and you learn!

Follow these tips and you'll be as happy as I am in this picture at the Forbidden City! :)

There you have it! What are some items that YOU would suggest to travelers? Does you list share any similarities to mine? Leave a comment in the section below or on my Facebook or Twitter page. I would ove to hear your travel tips as well!

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