'Defensive' packing & planning for a trip.
Packing = Prevention is always better than a cure, so always pack with the following in mind: First, know that you may very well lose one (or more) pieces of your luggage while traveling (and that the more times you change planes the higher the probability of this happening is) . If you pack 'defensively' for this situation & know how to minimize the effects of losing a bag, you could save yourself from having a 'nightmare' of a trip. Rule # 1 = ALWAYS split up your possessions between bags. ALL of your bags should contain (at least) one each of the following: Underwear = Socks, knickers, bras etc Casual wear = T-shirt, pair of shorts & pair of pants Formal wear = Crease-resistant shirt & pants or skirt (these are great to wear when talking to officials!) Shoes = Flip flops or sneakers & a pair of 'nicer' shoes . Medical bag = Any important prescription drugs you take, birth control pills, headache & stomach ache remedies, any 'can't live without' toiletries (specialist type face creams, hair gels etc), essential make-up. Rule #2 = Don't rely on one type of currency. It is always best to have several different types of currency on hand: Cash = US dollars work well in most most countries (even if the country you are in doesn't take them, you should be able to exchange them for the local currency easily enough). Travelers cheques = Keep a copy of the cheque numbers separate & only sign in front of the cashier & only when you are ready to use them! Credit cards =Visa, Mastercard, Amex take whichever of these floats your boat....But remember not all of these cards are accepted everywhere. Rule # 3 = DON'T keep all of these 'currencies' together in one place/bag. This is a very important rule as your bags/hotel room could get broken into & you definitely don't want to be left destitute in a strange country! Prevention as always is best = Use hotel safes whenever you can - if one is provided in the room, use it. If there is no safe in your room = See if there a safety deposit box or a 'communal' safe at the hotels reception that you can use (if using this option check to see how the hotel will identify you & put your belongings in a SEALED envelope & sign across the opening). Rule # 4 = Backpacker alert. If you are backpacking I would take security issues one step further: Money = 'Hide' some of your cash, a credit card or travelers cheques in an 'unusual' place within your belongings (e.g: in a pair of old socks, at the bottom of your sleeping bag, under the insole of your shoes) Even better = Buy a money-belt & sleep with it on! ( I have numerous friends who had their bags 'rifled through' by people in their hostel room while they were asleep, keeping important papers & money 'on' you at all times is sometimes the only way to insure you aren't a victim). Alcohol & 'friends' = Not everyone you meet in hostels are there to be your friend, take care whom you invite back to your dormitory, if in doubt - keep them out! Rule # 5 = Information you MUST carry. I recommend carrying copies of anything 'irreplaceable', this is a MUST whatever type of traveling you are doing: Photocopy the following before you travel = Passport &/or birth certificate , travel insurance documents, flight details & itinenary. Not only should you have a copy of these for yourself, but I recommend leaving another copy with someone at home - that way you can always get this information if you need to. Other information you should always carry = Cell phone #'s of friends traveling with you & of people/places you are visiting, emergency contact details including, Embassy or Consulate phone numbers for the country you are in, next of kin contact details, travel insurance phone numbers to call. Rule # 6 = Insurance. Whatever else you do, don't 'skimp on it! Travel insurance = You never know what might happen before, during or after a vacation so always get the maximum amount of travel insurance you can afford, covering all the activities you are planning to get involved with while away (e.g:: skiing, scuba diving etc). Travel insurance is very inexpensive when compared to what you could lose if you have to cancel a trip, or visit a medical facility while on vacation. These are just a few of the 'defensive strategies' I have learned to use during my years of traveling.....plan for the worse case scenario & you will have all your bases covered!