it’s been a great week over here on the blog. thanks to you, travel week has been an absolute success. we’ve had tens of thousands of views and an outpouring of support through comments and emails. to conclude the week, i’ve put together what i’m calling the definitive international women’s travel guide.
i’ve compiled tips, tricks and hacks for everything from luggage, travel credit cards, airport lounges, to passport & visa requirements for foreign countries. i’ve also interspersed my favorite outfits from my fall trips to New York City and France, many of which can be found in October’s top 5 fashion flash videos, compiled for you above.
there’s a tendency these days to try and fit all of our belongings into our carry on(s). this is totally understandable, as most airlines now charge for checked bags. as many of you who follow me regularly know, i’m an exception to the new norm. i still check my bags.
this is particularly true on international flights. international luggage limits are based primarily on weight. most airlines require your luggage to weigh 50lbs. or less. however, this can vary depending on your departure city, so make sure you check with your airline prior to leaving. (here’s a great resource for luggage dimension and weight limitations.)
for those of you that can afford to fly business class (or higher), many domestic airlines (and their international affiliates) like Delta offer will check up to 2 bags for free. don’t be afraid to use that service!
if you’re in the market for luggage, there are so many options these days. even companies like West Elm are in the luggage business now. here’s a great compilation of luggage sets for women i’ve found for you. but a couple of additional pieces of advice. i) 3 piece luggage sets are investment pieces everyone should own; ii) most luggage sets look similar. to save yourself time at the bag carousel, distinguish yours in some way. whether you tie red ribbon to the handle or invest in a statement piece like this watercolor roller, find a way to make your bag identifiable.
passports & visas
have you ever booked an international flight only to realize your passport expires prior to departure? expediting passports can be an expensive nightmare. obtaining them same day requires you to physically go to a passport agency and pay close to a $200 fee.
even if your passport is valid, it can sometimes be difficult to return to your country of origin if that passport expires within, say, 3 months. US passports last for 10 years. here’s a good rule of thumb: check your passport right now. if it is going to expire within 1 year, start the renewal process now. you’ll save time, money, and a massive headache. here’s a great resource for passports and renewals.
did you know that travel to Australia requires a visa? if you’re traveling internationally, many unexpected countries require you to either obtain a visa prior to entry. make sure you know whether the countries you’re traveling to require a visa. here’s a list of such countries.
much of the above advice seems obvious, but i can’t tell you how many people i’ve known have found themselves in an unbelievable and expensive bind trying to obtain passports and visas last minute.
travel credit cards
we all have credit cards, and many of them with floating APRs which ultimately work against us. make sure your credit card is working for, at least in part. there are many credit cards out there geared toward the traveler. i happen to use the Chase Sapphire Reserve. it offers a 60,000 mile early use incentive plan, 2x points on travel and dining amongst other travel incentives. here’s a great list of credit cards geared toward the traveler that will earn you points that you can put towards your next European vacation.
frequent flyer programs
with the advent of flight aggregators like Expedia or Travelocity, it’s easy to shop for cheapest flight—airline loyalty be damned. oftentimes that makes sense. however, picking an airline, signing up for their frequent flyer program, and sticking with that program (and its affiliates) is worth it in the long run. whether you get bumped to first class, priority boarding, or a free ticket, a few extra bucks today can save you money and headaches in the long run.
i found this great article outlining various frequent flyer programs and their rewards. a couple of additional pieces of advice. know your domestic airlines international affiliates. if you fly Delta domestically, it’s good to know their partners include Air France and Korean Air if you’re in Europe or Asia.
picking a frequent flyer program is a totally personal thing. i hear great (and horrible) things about all airlines. just make sure to do your research and if you settle on Jet Blue, Alaska Airlines, or Delta—know their international affiliates so you can get points for your trips!
TSA precheck, Clear & airport lounges
post 9/11 travel is stressful. there’s no way around that. security lines can be nightmares, airports overly crowded, and flights delayed. a little pre-planning and investment can alleviate some of this misery.
want to shortcut security lines? apply for TSA precheck, Clear or both. these services are most useful for domestic travel, but are still useful for international travel if your departure city is here in the US. i’ve used both, and i give TSA pre a slight edge. but if you travel at least 2 times a year, particularly through a major airport like Atlanta, enrolling in one of these programs is a must.
many frequent flyer programs or credit cards like the ones mentioned above will give you access to select airport lounges around the world as part of their benefits. but did you know that you can access many airport lounges for a fee? here’s a website i found outlining ways to score airport loung access. and let me tell you from personal experience, lounges are worth it. once you’re in, they offer you free food and (alcoholic) drinks. and they’re generally less crowded than airport terminals and gates, alleviating some of the travel stress.
domestic layouts: New York
for those of you that follow me regularly, you know i’ve taken two big trips this fall. New York City in September, and France this October. in case you missed my New York travel diaries, you can catch them here and here. below, i’ve compiled the outfits i took on my domestic trip that lasted from a Friday to a Sunday. i want to contrast them with what i packed for my roughly weeklong trip in France.
international layouts: France layouts
in case you missed this week’s travel diaries, you can see them here, here, and here. contrast what i took domestically versus internationally, taking into consideration that i spent roughly 6 more days in France than New York. if you’re looking for more packing tips, suggestions, and ideas, make sure to catch my YouTube video posted here.
shoes & accessories
that’s a wrap gang. i hope you enjoyed this definitive international women’s travel guide, as well as my travel diaries from France. let me know what you think in the comments below. did i miss anything? do you have further suggestions? as always, i love to hear from you.