The first time I went to renew my visa, I got my exit stamp from Costa Rica and to my surprise, was denied entry into Nicaragua. I was officially in no man’s land with a no longer valid passport and no visa. Once I finally had my new passport, more than two weeks later, now in the country illegally, as I was almost to the Panama border I realized in a panic, I FORGOT MY FREAKIN’ PASSPORT!! Five countries later, a visa run every 90 days, and countless round trips from my beloved home State to Costa Rica, I have gathered a fair share of travel hacks and tips. Here are a few of my favorites to save you time, space, money and avoid unnecessary hassle.
1. BRING AN EMPTY WATER BOTTLE.
I’ve brought a full water bottle to the airport so many times thinking I was so prepared, only to have to throw it away or dump it out. Once you’re at your gate, past security, fill it up and stay hydrated!
2. FOLD CLOTHES ON YOUR WAY THERE, ROLL THEM ON YOUR WAY BACK.
Rolled clothes take up less space. Folded clothes take up more. Follow the formula. Arrive with folded clothes + leave with rolled clothes = just enough space for souvenirs 🙂
3. PACK UNDERWEAR, SOCKS, OR OTHER SMALL ITEMS INSIDE YOUR SHOES.
Save space and keep your favorite pair of vans from getting squashed.
4. STASH SOME SOCKS AND A SCARF IN YOUR PURSE/BACKPACK.
Cold feet increase your chances of catching a virus, which the recirculated air in airplanes is full of. Nobody wants to be sick while traveling. A scarf doubles as a small blanket or a pillow! Better yet, if it is cold upon landing, wallah, you have a scarf!
5. PLASTIC BAGS ARE EVERYTHING.
Plastic bags for your liquids. Plastic bags for your dirty laundry. Plastic bags for your shoes. Plastic bags are everything. Just bring them. Lots of them.
6. PROOF OF EXIT TICKET.
If you don’t have a roundtrip ticket, do make sure you have something to prove you’re leaving the country. You can purchase a refundable ticket, up to 24 hours, with United Airlines. Do not make a fake reservation with the same airline you’re flying with, as they can look it up! That happened to a friend of mine once and the whole thing was a really awkward disaster…
7. HIDE LARGE AMOUNTS OF CASH.
My favorite is inside a sanitary napkin wrapper – nooobody is going to open up that! Or you can roll up smaller amounts of money inside an empty chapstick container or even a highlighter.
Keep a pen handy, and an extra for your plane buddy, who probably forgot one.
9. DON’T FORGET GUM.
Your plane buddy will thank you for this as well. And then you can refer them to this blog.
10. TRADEMARK YOUR BAG.
Tie a small colored ribbon on your checked bag to easily spot yours. Is it just me or do they all suddenly look the same circling around the carousel?
11. KEEP THE ESSENTIALS TOGETHER AND HANDY.
Keep in a small bag your phone, passport, and tickets. After filling out customs forms place those in there too to avoid misplacing them, along with that pen you let your plane buddy borrow.
12. BRING INSTANT OATMEAL.
Does anybody else start to feel sick after all the snacking and airplane food? Bring a packet of instant oatmeal. When the drink services come around ask for hot water. Oatmeal settles your stomach and will keep you full longer than those overpriced chips.
13. TO THE LEFT, TO THE LEFT…
Before you get to the end of “eenie meenie minie moe”, take into consideration that studies show people are inclined to go right when choosing a line. Choose the left line.
14. HAND OVER YOUR PASSPORT OPENED TO THE IDENTIFICATION PAGE.
Just a simple and courteous way to speed things up.
15. BE GENEROUS.
Save a buck or two for the memories, but give the rest away to the homeless, your host, or a friend in the country. Bless the people for blessing you with their country.
To sponsor my next trip to New York click on either of the links below!
Your money will be used for a four-week intensive TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of other Languages) course. For the past four months, I have been teaching English as a second language in a local church here in San Jose, Costa Rica. I now have the opportunity to get further training and certification on how to properly do this through a missions organizations called Youth With A Mission. In total, the school costs $1,000 and $500 for room and board. Please, prayerfully consider becoming a part of this vision!
- Select: Special Gift for a Person OR Recurring Giving Person/Project
- Enter my donation ID number AT9339
Enter my email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Thank you for joining me in this journey.
Photo Credit: Gloria Ann Hankins @glohank
Thank you, Gloria, not only for your photos but for all the love you pour into each and every one making it a beautiful work of art. And most of all, thank you for your friendship.
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Love you guys.