How many days did you spend traveling this year? Whether it was five or 50, you probably wish it had been more. Make it easier to get where you want to go in 2011 by being prepared to hit the road at a moment’s notice. Think of these things as a traveler’s kit of necessities, and put them on your holiday wish list:
Passport – Without it, you’re facing some serious delays in trip planning. Don’t let a lack of identification keep you from joining friends on a last-minute run across the border, or from passing up an unbeatble airfare to Paris or London or Tokyo. Passports are good for 10 years in the U.S. and five years in Canada, so once you have it in hand you won’t have to think about it again for a while. Visit the U.S. State Department’s passport website or the official Canadian passport website for the forms.
ISIC, IYTC, or ITIC – Whether you’re a full-time student, a teacher, or a youth under the age of 26, there are thousands of different types of identification out there. Only one is internationally recognized as proof of your student, teacher or youth status. Get this card at a Travel CUTS store or order online and start saving money on museums, bus, airline, and train tickets, restaurants, and activities in more than 90 countries (and in your home town).
Hostelling International Card – This card will get you:
- Discounts at more than 4,000 hostels worldwide
- Savings of up to 85% on international phone calls, free email access, voicemail and travel info through eKit
- Discounts at restaurants, stores, and attractions
- Discounts on bus transportation and tours
- Discounts on car rentals
- Worldwide, commission-free currency exchange
- Free seminars on traveling abroad
Luggage that won’t cause you pain – Find yourself a few different pieces (small carry-on, mid-size backpack, larger rolling duffel) that you can afford, that you won’t be devastated if they get lost or damaged, and that are comfortable to pack and carry. A good backpack is essential and one that has the ability to expand or shrink will work for weekends away or longer backpacking trips. You don’t have to spend a fortune on luggage. Check garage sales, thrift stores and discount shops for great deals.
A library card – Great travels require great planning. You don’t have to put together a daily itinerary, but a basic understanding of the region you’re visiting, the languages you’re going to encounter, and the major sights you want to see will help a lot.
Rather than spending your money on heavy books to lug with you, do your reading before you go for free, photocopy any maps or helpful language charts, and then buy a small pocket-sized guide to go with you. (Yes, there’s an app for that, but when your batter is dead you’ll be thankful for the backup plan.) If you’re an AAA member, take advantage of their free roadmaps and books.
With all of these things ready, 2011 could be your best travel year yet. Get out there!