As Expats we are often on the go! Whether it’s a visit to our home country, a family holiday, work trip or a weekend getaway, we need to pack a bag, and the aim is to pack it right. We’ve both done it—packed shorts when we needed jeans, or long sleeves when we needed t-shirts. Mastering any skill requires practice and a lot of trial and error … we are still working on it … and maybe 2017 will be the year we stop overpacking! Of course, if you are moving somewhere indefinitely, as you would be if you’re studying abroad, chances are you want to pack as much as humanly possible. If you are studying abroad in somewhere like America, you may also want to find a way to earn money as part of your travels by looking at something like a Cultural Care Au Pair program. This can give you the chance to work as a carer with a host family while you complete your studies, and you might want to give it a look if you are planning to study in America.
We also wish to experience the places we visit ‘like a local’, share something of our adopted country with the people we stay with, travel efficiently and most importantly safely … We know you are an avid traveller too, so please help us add to our list.
Here’s our Top 10 Travel Hacks
Apps we like
1(a) Always Check the Weather, we like AccuWeather it gives a long-range and 15-day forecast. Living in the tropics can lull you into a false sense of weather security… i.e. how cold can it really be? If you have family or friends living in the place you’re visiting, message ahead and ask ‘What are you wearing?’ ‘Do you really mean I’ll need boots, scarf and a coat?’
1(b) Spotted by Locals gives suggestions for things to do and places to eat and drink, based on local recommendations. They often include new openings and hidden gems that you don’t normally find as a tourist.
1(c) Are you visiting Australia? The Tourist Refund Scheme (TRS) App allows you to enter the information that is required to lodge a Tourist Refund claim which makes the claim process expedient at the airport.
1(d) Trip Case lets you manage flight itineraries, hotel bookings and anything else travel related in the one spot. Get airport terminal and gate information updates and notifications. Trip Case also allows you to share your itinerary with others.
1(e) Don’t forget to download the Uber App.
2. Make a copy of your passport, immigration documents and itinerary and email them to yourself. This provides an extra copy in the event of loss or theft.
Shop online before you travel
3. To provide more time with family and friends when you visit your home country and less time out of the shopping malls, shop online before you leave. Most people you visit don’t mind receiving parcels on your behalf from time to time. Don’t forget to leave space in your luggage to bring these items home with you.
Jo has a running ‘Melbourne’ shopping list (more grocery style) that allows her to head straight into the supermarket (and neighbouring chemist) to grab her items really fast. Her items are non-perishable, and she buys them early, to ensure peace of mind that that particular errand is already done. It also means that she doesn’t get a false sense of security with the amount of suitcase space she has, as her shopping is already packed into her bags.
4. Consider how much space you will need in your suitcase for gifts for family and friends; in Indonesia known as oleh oleh? If you are travelling with items such as coffee beans, tea or wooden items you will need to declare them to Customs at the country you’re entering. Packing them in your hand luggage takes the hassle out of opening large suitcases at the Customs desk.
5. Fabric drawstring bags are great for covering your shoes, separating delicate items of clothing and storing tech equipment, and they look nice in your bag. You can pick up beautiful batik drawstring bags at Jakarta Expat Bazaars. If you want a simpler option for covering shoes, shower caps also work well. The complimentary hotel shower cap fits the bill perfectly.
6. Roll and fold, we like a bit of both to keep clothing as wrinkle free as possible and to maximise space for things we want to bring home.
7. Clear plastic zip lock bags. They’re useful for so much … to keep liquids spilling over your clothes, storing jewellery, hair accessories and to use as snack bags for kids when you arrive at your destination.
8. Stash shoes and other heavy items near the wheelbase, this prevents your suitcase from tipping over.
When you return home
10. If you are a frequent traveller, keep your toiletry bag fully packed with your favourite travel sized items. This will make the packing process easier on your next trip.
BONUS TIP: Don’t forget a pen! An obvious one, but how often do you scramble for a pen to fill out customs forms?