The countdown is on – it’s T-minus 8 days until Belle’s take off to Paris! I’ve been working very hard to be prepared and organized well in advance of my departure so that there are no surprises along the way, and I’ve got a slew of tips that I want to share with you today. From luggage tags to voltage converters to travel-skincare routines, read on for all the advice you could possibly need to get you ready for your upcoming travels!
PASSPORT CHECK AND HOLDER:
This one seems obvious but often people check to make sure their passports are still valid only after time is of the essence to get it renewed. I’m guilty of this! In fact, I had to expedite mine to be renewed for a hefty $200 price tag when I went to Mexico. I thought for sure it was still valid, but it had expired just months before.
I also recommend getting a separate passport holder that is easy to identify with your hands when you’re reaching into your purse. I found this one at Target. It’s squishy yet structured and protects you from identity theft scanners – plus it’s CUTE and matches my luggage tags.
BRIGHT LUGGAGE TAGS:
Which brings me to bright luggage tags! I keep several in the same color to attach to all my items while in the airport – even my purse. You’d be surprised how many times I’ve put it down and almost walked away without it – having the bright tags helps to spot it quickly and I take it off as soon as I land.
Orange is a great color because it catches your eye when your luggage comes around the baggage claim carousel, but any color that contrasts against your suitcases will help you spot them. Also, I usually don’t put my phone number but instead put my email address – it’s universal and works in every country (v. a phone number to your cell that might not even work where you are).
CLEAR OR MESH TOILETRY BAGS
I try to only carry clear or mesh toiletry bags so that I can easily spot what I’m looking for instead of rooting around in everything I’ve brought until I find the lipstick or whatever it may be that I need. I also carry a lot of them in different sizes, colors and shapes, so that each can hold a different type of item (e.g. makeup in one, brushes and tools in another, toiletries in another, etc), and therefore can be easily located.
LANGUAGE PREP: WRITE OUT PHRASES & GET A TRANSLATION APP
I think it’s really important to at least TRY to speak the language of wherever you are traveling. Most people who do speak English will switch over when you make it obvious you can’t speak their language very well, but they appreciate the effort. Plus, it shows respect to the people whose country you are visiting.
I took one year of French, so I’m nowhere close to being proficient, but I do know I can recognize what’s being said to me and do have a few phrases I can use as long as I practice them in advance. I like to write down those phrases and keep the card in my purse – not because I’ll show it to anyone but because writing things down helps to seal it in my brain, and the card will be easy to reach in a pinch if I don’t have wifi to access a translation app.
Speaking of, there are some AWESOME translation apps out there these days! My favorite is iVoice, which I used the entire time I was in Mexico when I couldn’t remember certain words. You can choose a number of languages, speak into the phone and have the translation spoken back to you and written out so that you can hear and see what you should be saying.
CREATURE COMFORTS: NECK PILLOW, SOCKS, ETC.
Many international flights leave at night – especially those to Europe – so you get the chance to sleep and arrive refreshed and ready to start the day exploring a new place in a new time zone.
I’m a nervous flyer, though, so sleeping isn’t always easy for me. A neck pillow is critical for me to even hope to sleep, and an extra pair of socks keep my feet warm. I also carry an oversized scarf that can double as an extra layer if the plane is short on blankets. Some people also like eye masks and earplugs to bring on the zzzzz’s, but I’m not as into having all my senses dulled when I’m in a setting that makes me nervous the way that flying does. Instead, I go for a couple glasses of champagne!
This neck pillow is another Travel Smart by Conair gem I snagged at Target – it’s full of microbeads so it’s very firm. I’ve had other neck pillows that you inflate yourself but they require a little extra maintenance to keep full, so I splurged on a new one.
AIRPLANE SKINCARE ROUTINE
This step may seem high maintenance, but I’m not kidding. Long flights will dry you out so be ready for this by packing a little skincare pack for your purse and by reading up on the best ways to prep and treat before, during and after the flight.
I was flipping through my favorite makeup book – Jemma Kidd’s Makeup Master Class – the other day looking for wedding makeup tips when I stumbled upon this amazing set of tricks for skincare and makeup while traveling – it was totally meant to be that I flipped to these pages! These pics should show you all the text to see her suggestions. I plan to follow all of them – except for the epsom salt bath upon arriving at my hotel – that’s just not gonna happen.
This adorable little Travel Trio – a gift from my amazing facialist at Clarins – is perfect for the plane! The Beauty Flash Balm is my go-to product for priming and hydrating myself and my makeup clients, so having a travel-sized for my bag is going to be key to maintaining great skin in Paris.
ADAPTERS AND CONVERTERS:
Okay – this one is mission critical so read carefully and don’t skip this step.
Don’t forget that many foreign countries have different outlets that you’ll need to get an attachment for to be able to plug in your electronics. If the item is SINGLE VOLTAGE (like many hair gadgets), you’ll also need a voltage converter. If the item is DUAL VOLTAGE (like a phone), you’ll only need the adapter.
I would’ve been in HUGE trouble had my sister not mentioned that I might need both. As it turns out, my curling iron, hair dryer and flatiron are only single voltage, so I realized I’d need an adapter and a converter. I’m doing the hair and makeup of the bride….can you imagine the DISASTER we would’ve run into on wedding day without these items?!
I found this All-in-One gadget that acts as a voltage converter and an adapter for only $50 at Target. Totally worth the money and better to be safe than sorry.
CHECK THE WEATHER AND TUCK A SMALL UMBRELLA INTO YOUR PURSE
Sure, weather is unpredictable, but I might as well be prepared – especially since I like to leave the hotel for hours at a time and could get caught in a rainstorm. The last thing I want is to interrupt my plans to head back to my room and change.
This teeny tiny umbrella is flat and fits in almost every clutch, cross-body or tote I’ve got. And remember that oversized scarf I mentioned above? I also keep that on hand if it will fit in my purse in case the air is chilly and I need an extra neck or head layer.
MAKE A GAME PLAN FOR EXPLORING
I have 48 hours in Paris before I head to Vallery for 3 more days with our gigantic wedding group. I want that time in the city of love to be chock-full of adventures with me, my camera and all the sights I can possibly devour with my eyes. I decided to make a loose plan in advance so as not to waste any of that precious time.
To do this, I checked out the hotel website to get a sense for the few blocks that surround it, and I looked up “Paris in 48 Hours” articles from publications I trust for ideas. Most importantly, I looked for travel blogs for recommendations on how to travel alone safely and like a local.
Specifically, I found this great blog called Weekend in Paris that had some awesome ideas for getting used to a new city quickly. Here’s a link to the specific post I’m referring to, but my favorite tip she gave was:
“The first thing I like to do when alone travelling in a city where I do not speak the language and particularly when I can’t guess at the signs, is to get up early in the morning when traffic is light and less people are walking around to distract me; I walk out the hotel in one direction, usually to the right and go to the next block and turn right again and make my way back to the hotel. This gets my bearings and feeling for the streets programmed into my head. Then I head out again in a wider circle taking a few blocks at a time, noting where public transportation is and noting local landmarks.”
Awesome idea that I’ll definitely be putting into play!
AND WHEN ALL ELSE FAILS, CALL ON THE WISE WORDS OF PINK MARTINI
And here’s a little taste of one of the songs we always listened to in French class…
I’ve got a few more posts in me before I leave my friends, so stay tuned and bonne chance with your travel planning – I hope you found these tips helpful! A special thanks to my sister, Claire Kurtz of The Well Organized Woman, for the advice! She’s in Paris now paving the way for her little sis!