Solo travelers need to pack smart taking only the items necessary to make their trip easier and more safe. With over forty-five years of solo travel experience, I have learned the more organized your suitcase is the better. When you pack with purpose you are less stressed and tend to not lose or leave behind as many things. The following seven items help me stay stress free and know exactly where everything is in my suitcase.
1. EASYGO NECK STRAP PASSPORT ENVELOPE
While traveling to a bridge tournament several years ago, one of my partners, Nancy Neal, had a nifty strap envelope around her neck as we boarded the plane. I had never seen this travel accessory but liked it right away. The Easygo Envelope was able to house your driver's license in a see through pocket, while your passport, credit and debit cards slipped into two other sections with a zipper back pocket for carrying cash. No more digging in your purse for your identification, boarding pass or other important items because now they can be kept in this handy accessory for easy retrieval. When I got back home, I purchased one immediately and have been using it regularly on all my subsequent trips.
Currently, many types of these travel envelopes are available to purchase with some having RFID protection built into the fabric to prevent electronic pickpocketing. Besides using this accessory as a safe, convenient place for your flight and other identification papers, it can be tucked in your blouse and thus, used as a hidden mini purse or wallet. Amazon has many to chose from that can be purchased off the Internet. Prices start around $20 depending on the brand, design and quality. If you are worried about your travel identification documents being misplaced or stolen, this is a good solution.
2. SHOE BAGS
My favorite luggage organizers are the shoe bags I have collected through the years from buying designer shoes. I use these bags for as many things as possible. First and foremost, they are used to house my shoes. I never put the shoes I have walked in all over the world in with my clothes unless they are in shoe bags. Not only is this highly unsanitary, you can stain or soil your clothing. Likewise, I use the shoe bags I don't use for my shoes to carry my undergarments, scarves, pashminas, belts, hair accessories and later, for the dirty clothes I have accumulated on a trip.
3. JEWELRY ORGANIZER
Misplacing an earring, or any jewelry for that matter, will definitely upset you. Because I love all types of jewelry-- real and costume-- I have acquired many different types of jewelry organizers to protect and organize these accessories. The key to a good jewelry organizer is one that has as many dividers and zippers as possible. The type of trip I will be taking dictates which cases I will use to keep my jewelry safe and organized. (See the three featured in the photo.)
Don't forget to always put your packed jewelry in your carry-on or in your purse while in route to your destination. Once you get to the hotel, immediately lock your jewelry in the safe. I never bring valuable jewelry on a trip, but still lock up my inexpensive costume jewelry when I unpack. You never know when someone will swipe the cubic zirconia wedding ring you left on the nightstand when you are away sightseeing.
4. TECH CASE ORGANIZER
All those different cords, adapters and chargers can easily be misplaced in your suitcase. There's nothing like rooting around trying to find the right cord to charge your phone after you have been up for eighteen hours flying transatlantic. To solve the problem of keeping your tech accessories organized, I use a Travelocity Travel Tech Case priced at $15. It's wonderful when you can easily find the cord or tech gadget you need to fire up your iPad, iPhone, MacBook Air, and now, the Apple Watch, effortlessly. I never leave home without this travel essential. Trust me, you will love having this organizer. As with other travel must haves, there are many types and versions of this item to choose from and purchase on the Internet. If you don't have one, do yourself a favor and get one before your next trip.
5. ADD-A-BAG LUGGAGE STRAP
How many times have you had your carry-on or oversized purse slip sideway on top of your large, rolling luggage while you are leaving your car heading toward the airport or going anywhere where you have to roll your luggage and other minor bags? Your small bag keeps shifting off the top of your luggage and you begin to stress. The Add-A-Bag Luggage Strap is the solution. Wrap the luggage strap around the handle of your carryon and attach it to the top handle of your suitcase and voila, you will never have a bag slip off again. I purchased mine, Lewis and Clark's Get Up and Go version, for $4.99 from Pearsons Travel Store in my hometown of Baton Rouge.
When I have really over-shopped and have had to buy an extra suitcase or two, these piggyback bag accessories have made my logistics issues much easier to solve. Have you ever had to go upstairs in a European train station with multiple bags? This little travel gadget will let you maneuver stairs without a catastrophe. The Add-A-Bag Luggage Strap is a mighty little miracle worker!
6. PORTABLE LUGGAGE SCALE
Have you ever been told one of your bags was too heavy and you need to repack in order to rearrange some of your belongings to another bag, i.e. your carry-on? If you don't comply you will have to pay for excess baggage weight by the pound, which can definitely add up.
I will never forget in the Dubai airport on my return to the States, my large bag was severely overweight. The ticket agent suggested I repack right there in the airport to solve the problem. I couldn't talk her out of the overage fine even flying business class, so there I was on the floor shifting items into my carryon that ended up almost dislocating my shoulder from the added weight. Never again!
The portable luggage scale will solve this dilemma. Before you leave on any flight, just weigh your bag with this device and instantly, you will know whether your bag is over the restricted weight. Usually, this problem happens when you have had too much fun shopping-- a common occurrence for me. Don't let yourself be a victim of shopping overload causing you to have to pay airline baggage weight penalty fees!
7. BANDOLIER IPHONE STRAP
I cannot sing praises loud enough for this fabulous travel accessory. In fact, I love the Bandolier iPhone Strap so much it now stays attached permanently to my cell phone. I first l discovered this item about a year ago when reading the Travel and LeisureMagazine info section on new travel tech accessories. My first reaction to this item was one of curiosity but I wasn't compelled enough to buy it until another one of my fashionable friends was using one at a bridge tournament. I asked her if she liked it; she said she loved it! Based on her recommendation, I purchased one.
There are numerous reasons why I've fallen in love with this accessory. First, your phone is readily available to take calls, view emails or texts, check social media, and for me, poised to take that unforgettable photograph. Second, you always know where your phone is. Also, you are less likely to drop it and experience that dreaded cracked screen event. Last, it's extremely stylish. I always get compliments about how chic this Bandolier accessory is.
To date, I think this accessory is only available to purchase online. There are many styles to choose from and the prices range from as low as $30 for just the strap up to $130 for some of the leather cell phone cases with the strap.
The Importance of Staying Organized as a Solo Traveler
Being well organized when traveling solo can make the difference between a good trip and a great trip. Reducing your stress is the main focus of this travel philosophy. Many times I have learned the hard way. Incorporate these seven travel essentials and you will be well on your way to having a fabulous, stress-free trip.
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