Friday, December 28, 2018

What To Pack For Your Trip Abroad, Pt. I

By Andy

Packing for a trip abroad, no matter the length of the trip, is a tedious process. If you're a perfectionist like I am, you don't want to forget to pack any items, and you won't want to leave anything to chance. It is challenging, but not impossible to bring everything you need for your trip that fits in a suitcase and falls within legal regulations. With advance planning and some research, you can spend a lot less time on your trip abroad, worrying about where you placed a much needed item or locating the nearest store, and more time enjoying yourself. I have used my many years of experience in traveling abroad to compile a list of what to pack for that next great adventure. 

This post will focus on the suitcase, your checked baggage, and a later post will focus on what you should pack in your carry-on baggage. I should mention that, in my years of traveling, I have yet to master bringing just one bag as carry-on, that will fit in the overhead bin and not checking in any baggage. I don't know, nor have I met any fellow travelers who have done this. The only exception is those who travel domestically or for a week or less. If you're like me and you take trips of at least two or three weeks or even a month or longer, you'll understand the need for carefully packing checked luggage. 

So, without any further screwing around, here's an outline of what you should pack in your (checked bag) suitcase.

The suitcase: Well duh, this is blatantly obvious. You need something in which to pack your belongings for your trip abroad. But what you want is something that is strong, versatile, yet doesn't weigh too much. You want to be able to maneuver around airports, bus stations, train stations, and even short walks down the street to your apartment, bus stop or hotel with ease. Multi-directional double spinner wheels at the bottom are a must, and go for additional packing capacity (only available with a soft shell suitcase); you're going to need it.       

Do not get any suitcase larger than 25" because if you get anything bigger than that, you're going to have a very tough time lugging that thing around. You do not want to sweat profusely, hauling a large piece of baggage at LAX, going between the domestic and international terminals just to get your connecting flight. Also, bigger suitcases will run you the risk of going over the weight limit for checked baggage which is 50 kg (just over 110 lbs.). You do not want to look like a fool while checking in for your flight, being told your baggage is over the weight allowance, then fumbling around in your suitcase, looking for items to empty just to drop some weight. To be on the safe side, get a portable travel luggage scale that you can pack in your carry-on, and weigh your suitcase after you've packed everything you need.

If you're a novice to traveling abroad, I recommend getting a suitcase from Samsonite. They are a well known and reliable brand, and they've been in the luggage game for over a century. They have a wide selection of luggage, so you are bound to find something that is the right fit for you. I have the Samsonite Expandable Leverage LTE 25" Spinner in blue, which is a color I like and is easily identifiable at the baggage claim. It has plenty of compartments and even has a removal interior zippered suitor in case you need to pack a nice set of clothes for business or formal (your date wants to go with you to the opera or play) attire.

Luggage tag: Most suitcases come with built-in, and rather inconspicuous luggage tags. But, I have an additional luggage tag that's slightly bigger in size that I place on the top handle. The advantages to this are that it is an additional identifier not only at baggage claim in case some some other travelers have blue suitcases, but in case the airline loses your luggage. I recommend getting something noticeable like the Roaming Gnome or, if you like football, a jumbo helmet luggage tag of your favorite NFL team. Just be sure to write your name, address, and phone number on the tags; common sense comes first.

Cable luggage lock: Ever hear of the luggage mafia? Go ahead and look them up. Now, you see why you need to lock the main compartment of your suitcase with a padlock. Also, with baggage handling, you want to guarantee that the compartments do not somehow become unzipped. Just make sure to set a combination that is easy to remember or, if you must get a key lock, not to lose the keys. Oh, and make sure the lock is TSA accepted/approved.

Toiletries bag: First, make sure there is enough space inside your suitcase for your toiletries bag. As you will be hard-pressed to find an apartment or hotel with sufficient countertop space, get a bag with a hook that can hang on a shower or towel bar. A dependable and sturdy toiletries bag should cost you no more than $20. What to pack in your toiletries bag: shaving razor, travel size shaving cream, travel size after shave, small container with floss, interdental brushes, travel toothbrush, mouthwash, small tube of toothpaste, triple antibiotic ointment (small), travel size petroleum jelly, pocket size sunblock, body spray/cologne, small first aid kit, bandages, eye drops, ear drops, body wash/soap, deodorant, shampoo, conditioner, manicure kit, facial hair/nose hair trimmers, comb/brush, hair gel/spray/mousse, condoms, and a pill and vitamin case for over the counter/supplements NOT prescriptions. Prescriptions are to be packed in your carry-on. 

Jacket: This largely depends on when and where you travel. Ideally, a lightweight, not bulky jacket that can be folded and can fit with the rest of your clothes without taking up too much space should do the trick. For example, if you travel to South America in September, the seasons are reversed from the Northern Hemisphere. So, a packable jacket that can fit in your carry-on and even a day pack will be a lifesaver during those rainy expeditions in Brazil. But if you're attending a tango show in Buenos Aires, you might want to go with something a little nicer

On the other hand, if you're traveling to Europe in autumn or winter, you'll want to take something a lot warmer. Don't skimp on warmth and please, keep your coat or jacket with you. Do not pack it in your bag; one is all you need in this case. You can put it in the overhead bin after you've boarded. In colder climes, you're going to need to have your jacket on shortly after you land. 

Shoes: When you travel, you are likely to be doing a lot of walking. So, it is of the utmost importance to be good to your feet and have comfortable walking shoes. If you're the person that likes to exercise and run along the river or in the park, you can pack some running shoes in a shoe bag and place them in your suitcase, as long as there is enough space. You'll save space if you can find good walking shoes that can double as dress shoes. 

Sandals: This will depend on the locale and the season. If you're heading to someplace tropical, pack a pair of sandals that you can take with you to the beach. You don't need expensive ones, just a cheap pair from Wal-Mart will do the trick. 

Socks: Pack no less than five pairs of socks. If you're going to be doing laundry, then you'll want plenty of clean socks while the others are in the wash and drying. Pack no more than two pairs of dress socks. For cold weather travel, Darn Tough Merino Wool socks will keep your feet toasty. Like I said, you're likely to be doing a lot of walking, so take good care of your feet. 

Pants: One to two pairs of jeans and one pair of cargo pants. Hint: If you wear your cargo pants on the day you travel to and from your destination, you'll save space in your suitcase. Plus, you won't have to worry about sitting on your wallet. Duluth Trading Co. and Wrangler are best for cargo pants.

Shorts: Depending on location and season, pack these in your suitcase. Two pairs should be fine, preferably cargo shorts. Head over to your local Wal-Mart for these if you don't have some already. 

Shirts: Depending on the location and season, pack two undershirts, and four t-shirts if traveling to warmer climes, a couple henley shirts that can be long or short sleeve. For clubbing or more formal outings, one polo shirt that can be long or short sleeve depending on season, and/or one dress shirt.

Sweater: One v-neck sweater that can be worn over a dress shirt for more formal outings and one half-zip fleece.

Swim shorts: Two pairs should be fine, and you don't have to wear a sunga. Speedo makes decent trunks that don't resemble diapers, and you don't have to wear the Water Polo briefs.

Gym/exercise: Two tank tops depending on location and season. Two gym/running shorts. If you like to be outdoors during colder weather, pack a running jacket and running/warm-up pants. If you want, you can use the half-zip fleece for those cold morning runs. Be sure to wear a beanie so body heat does not escape from your head.

Gloves: Depending on location and season, you'll want to keep your hands warm. You can also pack these in carry-on if you wish.

Hat: Keep the sun from beating down on you and avoid or minimize sunburn. 

Beanie: Keep your head warm during the colder months.

Underwear: DO NOT underpack on underwear. Again, pack no less than five pairs. Duluth Trading Company Buck Naked Underwear works wonders and is worth the price. 

Pajama bottoms: Pack these unless you want to sleep naked or in your street clothes.

Handkerchief: Pack four of these. Fold them up and they won't take up too much space.

Lint roller:  Get the lint off of your clothes before heading out. 

Travel TowelPack the larger one in your suitcase and the smaller one in carry-on. That way you are never without something with which to dry off. 

Travel size laundry detergent:  Just in case you stay in an apartment that has a washer, but no detergent, and you don't want to search for any at the nearest convenience store.

Laundry bag: Keep your dirty laundry in a separate foldable bag until you have time to do laundry or until the hotel staff does it for you.

Wash bag: Pack this in a side compartment just in case you stay in an apartment that does not have a washing machine.

Souvenirs: Pack a lapel pin or something small from your hometown to give to locals.

Documents: Make multiple copies of your passport and/or birth certificate and place a copy in a side pocket or inside compartment of your suitcase. This helps with being another identifier in case your luggage gets lost. If you take prescription medication, be sure to get a doctor's note from your primary care physician, make copies of that, and place a copy along with your passport copy in one of the compartments. 

Okay, so that about covers what you should pack in your suitcase. Hopefully, you have a starting point on things you should take on your next trip. My next entry will cover what to pack in your carry-on. Until then, happy travels. 

Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Marrying A Colombian Woman? Here Are Four Things To Watch Out For!

Dating and marrying foreign women is all the rage nowadays. Chalk it up to the high divorce rates in North America or maybe just a massive change in romantic interests, but Western men are trailing their eyes overseas in the hope of finding the perfect bride. We all know, however, that perfection does not exist. Colombian women might seem perfect (and in many ways, they outshine all other women on earth), but trust me, they have their strange side as well. Four to be exact.

Before you plan on dating a Colombian girl, you might want to be aware of these facts:

Thursday, August 30, 2018

Happier Abroad Support Network

Do you have a book, blog, website, Youtube channel, forum, small business, or any product or service that needs promoting? Frustrated because you can't find reliable help?

It's not easy to succeed when there is so much competition and you have to fight so hard just to get a few clicks, views, and sales.

At Happier Abroad, we are building an outlet for getting what you need: clicks, views, reviews, subscriptions, sales. We call it the Happier Abroad Support Network.

Sunday, August 5, 2018

Expatriation Ragnarok – My New Guide For Expatriating in These Dark Times

Hello everyone, Markcus McCloud here. You may know me better as Ghost from the Happier Abroad forum. I think it is evident that expatriation is harder these days, as the condition of the world continues to rapidly deteriorate. Ten years ago must seem like the good ol' days of being happier abroad. Where is there left to go that is still relatively good? How can you get started going abroad if you are starting at zero? And once abroad, how can you get what you need out of it? I talk about these things and so much more in my new guide, Expatriation Ragnarok.

The successor to Expatriation Apocalypse (2015), Expatriation Ragnarok expands on why the West is declining and collapsing, how we got into this mess and where it is leading, the ultimate economic doom that may be coming over the next few decades, and how to make the most of going abroad when things are so grim and difficult.

I have always had a focus on the 'common man' who is starting from zero or near zero. There are not enough resources for these alienated men who need help the most. Expatriation Ragnarok is the same – a guide for those who are at bottom and just want to get out of the West before it is finally too late.

Marrying A Filipina? Here Are Three Things To Watch Out For!

These are some tips about marrying a Filipina lady from a Filipino guy that I know. Some very interesting insights that you need to know if you are headed this direction with a women from the Philippines.

It's not a big surprise that many Americans today prefer to abandon ship when it comes to love and swim over to the other side of the world in search of their elusive soulmate. The relatively toxic culture of the West when it comes to marriage and commitment is an open secret, hence the collective eyes of its men are all turning to Eastern countries, one of which is the Philippines.

Thursday, August 2, 2018

Life is a Scam – Enjoy Going Abroad While You Still Can

I'm going to tell you a secret that isn't so secret: life is a scam. If you are red pill, then you probably know that by now. But do you understand the depths of it? That is what I want you to realize. I'm not saying that life is a scam only right now, at this particular point in history. I am saying that it was always a scam. Sometimes the scam is a little better or a little worse for you, but it is always a scam. And it is specifically a scam for men.

What do I mean by that?

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Traveling Abroad As Explained By The Joker

By Andy

Greetings, my fellow lateral thinkers. The picture below is so very true. But you know what? Screw what others think. Happy travels!

Monday, February 5, 2018

Review of Latvia

By Andy

Latvia is an amazing country. It is one of my favorite places to visit. I was very impressed with this country during my first visit. I was so impressed that the day I arrived there, I already wanted to come back. Latvia, at least for me, has that unique charm that keeps people coming back.

Where is Latvia, you ask? Well, I'm glad you asked because most people in the U.S. don't know where it us. I myself, had never even heard of it until the early 2000's. Latvia is in the Baltic region of Northern Europe, and yes, it is a sovereign nation. It's not a big tourist destination, at least historically due to being a former Soviet State, so it's not as popular, and is very underrated.

Sunday, January 28, 2018

Xiongmao in Zhejiang. Dating Paradise or Freezing Hell Hole of No Eye Contact?

Xiongmao reporting in.

In this post I'll review my first 4 months living in Chinas's Zhejiang Province.

I've lived in China before of course. In 2013 I lived in Guangdong Province for a while. It was fun, but an incredibly annoying place to live. After 4 months I went for a 2 week holiday in Thailand, and stayed there for another 6 months.

So I'm back in China, albeit a different province.

Is Zhejiang better than Guangdong?