Are you traveling any time soon? Do you have a list of travel essentials that absolutely must go on board the plane with you? At the time of writing this I have a friends stranded in an international airport with none of the things I recommend on hand. I swear – I tell my friends these things all the time and they never listen, but my readers are often messaging me saying “Thank God you told us to pack this item!

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Before I get into the list I want to stress to you the importance of buying travel insurance on international trips. Of course there is the medical benefit should something major go wrong, and I always have a policy that will pay for a nurse to fly back with me should something really bad happen. But I do think the little things an insurance policy covers are crucial too. Should you find yourself stranded overnight in an airport terminal your policy should cover putting you in a hotel, or getting you another flight home.

If your suitcase goes missing your insurance policy should cover you for replacement clothing while you are away. If you miss your connecting flight you will want coverage too.
I always use Allianz Travel Insurance. There is a link at the bottom of this post, and also some travel insurance information for you here:
Check out the Top Ten reasons why people buy Travel Insurance and see if it is right for you.

7 Things You Need To Pack In Your

Carry On Bag

1. An External Phone Charger

I am a firm believer that you should never get on a plane without a fully charged phone and a fully charged phone charger. We have all heard horror stories of passengers being forced o sit on the tarmac for hours, flights being rerouted and stuck somewhere, flights being delayed or cancelled. There are so many things that can happen (and frequently do) that leave you in a situation where you really do need to use your phone.

Although most airport terminals have places where you can plug in to charge up, I have never seen one with enough power points for everyone to plug in.

I recommend getting a charger that lets you fully charge your phone from dead, at least two times. I have one that is too heavy, but I got my son this one this summer. It is lightweight and relatively small but has 10,000 mAh
Jooswin Portable Qi Wireless Charger 10000mAh Power Bank For Any Smartphone ,Tablet PC JW-WCP111 (Black)

If you are an Apple user make sure you pack the Android charging cable too. Apple cables won’t plug into most chargers to charge them up. You can charger your Apple phones and iPads on them, but need the Android cable that comes with them too.

RELATED POST: ESSENTIAL TIPS FOR HIGH SCHOOL EUROPE TRIPS

2. An International Power Adapter

international travel adaptor with fittings for every country. A must when traveling internationally

If you are traveling internationally you will need a travel adapter for any electronics you will be plugging in. From curling irons to hairdryers to laptops to phones there are always things you need to plug in! An internationally configured adapter is essential. Different countries have different wall fittings, so your plug from home won’t fit. They also have different voltage – the USA has 110 volts but most other places have up to 220 volts. This means you will blow your electronics the first time you plug them in if you don’t have an adapter.

I have used this one from the Container Store for several years. It has fittings for every country I travel to, and also has a USB charging port to charge phones with.

3. Noise Cancelling Headphones

Noise cancelling headphones are essential for air travel. Block out everything from screaming babies to loud talkers with these Bose headphones

Even if you don’t have screaming babies or loud talkers to contend with, the buzz and hum of airplane engines seldom turns into white noise. Typically it is the noise that keeps you awake for the entire flight.

If you are sitting on or behind the wing (economy class) you cannot get away from the noise of the engines. Even in first/business you sometimes hear it. Noise cancelling headphones block out all the noises that will drive you crazy during the flight.

I always get Bose headphones because I like their sound quality. Or, should I say, I’ve had Bose headphones for years. (they last a really long time!) They always offer Bose headphones in First/Business class, so there must be benefits to them over others.
Bose QuietComfort 35 (Series I) Wireless Headphones, Noise Cancelling – Silver

RELATED POST: SHOULD YOU BUY TRAVEL INSURANCE?

4. Portable WiFi

portable wifi hotspot for international travel

Although there is public WiFi available when you travel it is seldom secure. When you sign on to free WiFi hackers have easy access to all the info including passwords, that you have on your device. A portable WiFi unit not only keeps your data safe but also keeps you connected all the time.

I had been paying $10 per day to have international service with Verizon, but this past summer I rented a portable WiFi unit from Espresso WiFi in Italy. It was fantastic! The service was much better than Verizon too.

Airport WiFi is notoriously expensive, unsecure (and hopeless) and is to be avoided. Having your own little WiFi device is a brilliant option.

GlocalMe G3 4G LTE Mobile Hotspot,

5. A Big Scarf

I have traveled with a giant pashmina for the past 20 years. It is starting to look a little worn now but it has been the best investment ever. It is lightweight, doesn’t take up any room and is really warm. Planes can be really cold and you never know how clean or dirty airplane blankets really are. A few years ago my son opened his plastic wrapped airline blanket and it was full of moth holes! It also smelled really bad. I prefer to have my own pashmina with me.

It also doubles up as a pillow on the plane and a really chic, warm wrap when I don’t want to carry around a jacket or coat.

RELATED POST: HOW TO PREVENT BED BUGS WHEN YOU TRAVEL

6. A Change Of Clothes

I actually pack 3 days worth of clothes into my carry on when flying internationally. If the airline should lose your suitcase you need to be able to change into something clean. They normally have your bag back to you in 3 days, but if they don’t you can at least mix and match and wash pieces each day. If 3 changes feels excessive just pack one. It never hurts to be prepared!

7. Healthy Snacks

You never know when or where you will be stuck without something to eat, or something healthy to eat. If your flight gets grounded for hours, makes an emergency stop somewhere, gets cancelled or you are in any situation without food you will be glad to have some protein bars or other healthy snacks to tide you over.

Although I have never had a food emergency, I nearly did. I flew home from Rome on an Alitalia flight a year ago and didn’t have breakfast ahead of time because they normally feed you so much on international flights. On this flight there were no snacks, we waited hours for food and when it came it was like a child’s meal, approximately the size of a Lunchables. I was starving! The man sitting next to me was nearly in tears. He was really hungry and there weren’t even any extra meals on board. He and I shared the protein bars in my carry on bag, which were a lifesaver. But I still arrived in Los Angeles after a 10 hour flight with a banging headache…

BONUS CONTENT

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Are you traveling to Rome anytime soon? Do you want to see some fascinating sites, full of ancient history, but far from the tourist crowds? Guess what? Rome is full of amazing places that the tour buses don’t go to. Places you can wander around at leisure, experience ancient Rome without the crowds, and that are right in the heart of the city. Today I want to introduce you to one of these treasures.

Why You Need To Visit The Baths Of Diocletian In Rome

Personally, I find Diocletian fascinating.

Just between you and me I knew exactly nothing about him until I started googling his namesake public baths and pool. Partway down my never ending list of things to do in Rome was an entry for Diocletian’s Baths and I had decided to read up on Diocletian and then visit them on the next trip to the Eternal City.

It seems as though every emperor I research has something quirky or interesting going on…

About Diocletian

Anyway, old Diocletian was a Dalmatian military guy who rose to power towards the end of the Crisis of the Third Century. Said crisis was caused by invasions, civil war, economic depression and the plague. The reign of Diocletian stabilized the empire and ended the crisis.

Diocletian was emperor of Rome from 284 - 305 A.D. Although he never set foot in Rome, his co-emperor Maximian dedicated the massive Baths of Diocletian to him. These were the biggest public baths and pools in the Roman Empire

Diocletian, Emperor of Rome

Diocletian became Emperor in 284. He understood that the empire had become too huge and too far reaching to be successfully governed by just one person, so in 286 he made Maximian his co-emperor. He ran the Eastern Empire himself and had Max take care of the west. It is thought that Diocletian never set foot in Rome.

The empire had had a revolving door of emperors, some only lasting weeks or months, others just a few years. In order to ensure smooth succession for themselves and for future emperors, they created a system whereby two competent, experienced administrators would be in place as “junior emperors”, learning how to run the empire so that when the time came the transition would be seamless. (Greed and power hunger meant this would be short lived, even though it was a brilliant idea)

He reformed and restructured the government, essentially keeping it intact for the next 150 years. It had been on the verge of collapse during his youth. Diocletian was an important emperor.

A Life With Vegetables

All went well until 305 when in poor health Diocletian decided to become the first emperor to abdicate. He moved back to the Dalmatian Coast and retired to a palace in a Croatian town now known as Split, living out the rest of his life growing vegetables. Years after his abdication when his system of co-emperors and junior emperors collapsed and the empire returned to chaos, Rome asked him to come back, be emperor again and fix everything, but he was happy with his tomatoes and cabbages (or whatever vegetables he was growing) and chose to stay in Croatia.

RELATED POST: 10 THINGS YOU ABSOLUTELY MUST DO IN ROME

The Baths

Emperors left their mark on the empire by building structures designed to last the test of time. The third century was to a degree a building wasteland, so it was time for something huge to be built.

Maximian was co-emperor of Rome. Diocletian ruled the Eastern empire and Maximian ruled the western empire. Maximian commissioned the Baths of Diocletian, named for an emperor who never set foot in Rome

Maximian, co-emperor of Rome

And so the Baths of Diocletian, the largest of all the imperial baths in the Roman world, was commissioned. They were actually commissioned by co-emperor Maximian in 298 and completed in 306, by which time neither were still emperor. Maximian named them the Baths of Diocletian. Diocletian himself never saw them, as he didn’t go to Rome.

The Baths of Diocletian are not just huge, they are gargantuan. They take up 130,000 meters (or 32 acres) between the Viminal and Quirinal Hills. They were designed to be public baths/pools for the people living in the Viminal, Quirinal and Esquiline quarters of the city.

Supposedly large enough to accommodate 3000 people at any time, the complex was made up of a cool water pool (frigidarium), and medium temperature pool (tepidarium) and a hot pool (caldarium) as well as a 4000 square meter outdoor pool. There was an open air gym (palaestra) on either side of the pools, as well as libraries and beautiful walkways.

Today the ruins of the baths are still enormous. As you walk through the ruins the size and scope of the project is quite overwhelming. You can almost hear the patter of Roman sandals ambling through the common areas nearly 2 millennia ago. How incredible it must have been for the people of Rome to stroll these giant walkways on their way to the pools, how sensational the beauty must have been!

For two centuries water was supplied to the pools via the Aqua Marcia aqueduct, until the siege of Rome in 537 when Ostrogothic king Vitiges had the water supply cut off.

If the shell of the building and the pools were all there was to see I would recommend you add this stop to your Rome itinerary, but there is more.

RELATED POST: PIAZZA NAVONA – 14 FACTS YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT ROME’S LOVELIEST PIAZZA

The Statues

Statue at the Baths of Diocletian in Rome. Statues here date from the 1st century B.C. to the 4th century A.D.

Throughout the complex, everywhere you turn there are statues.

Statue at the Baths of Diocletian in Rome. Statues here date from the 1st century B.C. to the 4th century A.D.

Spectacular, awe inspiring statues of Gods and Kings, beasts and beauties. Statues and artifacts that will take your breath away.

Statue of a water nymph from a 2nd century fountain. Found at the Baths of Diocletian in Rome

Water nymph from a fountain, dating back to the 2nd century

Sometimes I think they just dig up so many treasures in Rome that there is no place to put them. The Baths of Diocletian are as good a place as any to line up endless treasures from antiquity!

Walking through the cloisters looking at them all lined up throughout the inner courtyard was just incredible.

Cloisters at the Baths of Diocletian in Rome

Statues line the cloisters of this inner courtyard at the Baths of Diocletian

Some date back to the 1st century B.C. Plenty are dated to the 1st century A.D.

Bust of Nero from the 1st century A.D, at the Baths of Diocletian in Rome

From Nero’s head to a bust of beautiful Antonia Minor, mother of Emperor Claudius, dated to around 18 A.D, that stands taller than me.

Bust of Antonia Minor, mother of Emperor Claudius, dated to 18 A.D. This statue is at the Baths of Diocletian in Rome

Statue of Antonia Minor, mother of Emperor Claudius, 18 A.D.

Sarcophagi from 160 A.D, water nymphs from 2nd century fountains – there is just so much here to look at!

the details on this 4th century sarcophagus are amazing. 1700 years later the eyes and noses and facial expressions are all still there. You can see it at the Baths of Diocletian in Rome

I actually spent a small amount of time exploring the pools and an enormous amount of time walking around and around all the areas with statues.

Statue at the Baths of Diocletian in Rome. Statues here date from the 1st century B.C. to the 4th century A.D.

And here is what is even more fascinating: once again I had the whole place almost entirely to myself.

Statues lining the cloisters at the Baths of Diocletian in Rome

My first trip to the Baths of Diocletian was in June of 2018. That day Rome was packed to bursting point and stifling hot. I had initially been going to tackle some items on my list that were close to the Colosseum but the crush of tourist humans in the area forced me to head back out of there as fast as I could.

On the map Diocletian’s Baths didn’t look far so I decided to walk, which wasn’t an entirely brilliant idea on a day so hot and humid. A taxi would have only cost a few euros and buses run right up to the Piazza della Repubblica which abuts parts of the walls.

The entry is beautiful, with trees and a huge fountain, a lovely place to escape the heat, or if not visiting during the middle of summer just a lovely place to sit and enjoy the scenery.

The cost of entry was around 10 euros and was worth every penny. There were other people visiting that afternoon – I wasn’t the only one, but I might as well have been. Everywhere I walked I had a clear, uninterrupted view. I could look at the statues from every angle, I could see it all unimpeded.

Inner courtyard at the Baths of Diocletian in Rome

Statues line the walls under these cloistered porticos. It was a busy day in Rome, but there was no one here

I think my favorite part was walking round and round the cloistered internal courtyard, cool and shaded from the heat of the day. A few artists were scattered around sketching, but when I look at all the photos and videos I took, I can’t even see them.

This, to me, is part of the incredible magic of Rome. There is so much to see and do, most of which is far from the tourist crush.

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What else is there?

Diocletian was said to be the most ardent persecutor of Christians. He killed more of them than any other emperor. I have read that the Baths of Diocletian were built by 10,000 Christians. Whether that number is true or not, suffice to say it was a rough time to be a Christian.

This wasn’t based on theology so much as it was based on continuity, obedience and legitimacy. Emperors presented themselves as semi-divine, almost Gods. The concept of aligning yourself with the “one true God” was a direct challenge to that legitimacy. The current system had worked so well and Romans had successfully worshipped their Gods for 1000 years. Why change?

In the end the Christians got the last laugh. Pope Pius IV commissioned Michelangelo to build a church on the site to commemorate the Christians who died building the baths. Santa Maria degli Angeli e dei Martiri was built using the frigidarium and tepidarium structures, and a small cloister was built using part of the natation (outdoor pool). St Mary of the Angels and Martyrs is a must see while in the area.

A second church is also there, San Bernardo alle Terme (St Bernard of the Baths). This one was built in 1598 and is quite remarkable in its own right. Similar to the shape of the Pantheon this church is cylindrical, has a dome and an oculus. There are statues of 8 saints in wall niches, by Camillo Mariani dating to around 1600.

You could spend a fabulous afternoon exploring the Baths and the 2 churches. As with so much of Rome you are away from the crowds while still in the heart of the city.

 

How to get there:

Take a bus from any direction to the Piazza della Repubblica.

From the Colosseum/Forum area it is an easy walk up the Via Nazionale.

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Bonus Content

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I have a PDF that I send to my Glam Italia Tour travelers to help narrow down what we will do on their tour. I talk about it in my book and now I am making it available to you too! If you would like a printable PDF you can get it here: Send me the PDF!


 

What Information Should You Put On Your Luggage Tag?

Do you have your own luggage tags or do you just use the paper ones the airlines provide? Have you ever thought about the specifics of what information goes on your luggage tag? What is too much information and what is too little?

Regardless of how or where you are traveling it is essential to have luggage tags on your suitcase. Should you and your suitcase become separated there has to be a clear and easy way to get you reunited.

Why You Need Luggage Tags

So many suitcases look the same or very similar, making it very easy for tired travelers to make mistakes and leave with the wrong bag. The easiest way to make sure no one walks off with your suitcase is to put something very distinctive on your bag, such as a sticker on a hard-sided case or a bright handle grip or strap on a soft sided case. You also need a covered luggage tag.

When you travel by plane you know there is a chance your suitcase won’t arrive with you. Surprisingly it doesn’t actually happen that often and 97% of bags are returned to their owners within 2 days.

Airlines provide paper luggage tags and they also attach their own barcoded tags to ensure your bag gets on your plane. But. Things happen. Paper can rip off, leaving your bag tagless. Earlier this year I sat on a plane and watched 2 suitcases marooned on the tarmac in the pouring rain. I imagine the baggage guys rescued them before we took off, but heaven only knows what state the paper tags were in by the time the bags were rescued?

I had a traveler on one of my tours whose suitcase arrived in Rome 8 days after she did. She was on an eleven day tour, so having no suitcase was quite drastic.

While she flew from JFK in New York to Rome, her bag did its own little tour, first stop Boston, then La Guardia New York, then Amsterdam, then all over the place before heading back to JFK, and then coming back to Europe and ending up in Rome on day 8.

One of the things that contributed to her bag being gone for so long was that she didn’t have a luggage tag on it. At no point along the way could anyone reach out to her and say they had her bag. When I asked her why she said because her suitcase looked different from everyone else’s.

Although that is a definite advantage at the baggage carousel it is no help at all when a bag goes missing. Your suitcase must have a luggage tag on it. A covered tag that secures by looping through itself instead of buckling on. Buckles break under stress.

RELATED POST: SHOULD YOU GET TRAVEL INSURANCE?

Safety first

Have you noticed yet that I keep saying you need a covered luggage tag? There is a safety reason for it.

Several years ago I was on a flight home from a makeup job in Nashville, sitting in the dreaded middle seat. The fellow sitting next to me was chatting with me during the flight and suddenly asked me if I ever went to restaurant X, which was not far from my house.

I hadn’t said anything about living in Phoenix, let alone where in Phoenix I live. When I questioned him on it he told me that he had been standing behind me at check in and had read it on my luggage tag.

I thought I was going to throw up.

I wondered if I was sitting next to a serial killer or a madman. I was stuck in the middle seat on a full flight, next to a stranger who knew too much about me. And he knew too much because I had made a careless, thoughtless mistake. Two of them actually.

(The end of that story is that he was probably just a nice enough fellow who thought he had something cool that we could chat about. So I lucked out.)

Covered Luggage Tags

Covered luggage tags keep both you and your suitcase safe. Brightly colored luggage tags help to make your suitcase easily identifiable.

 

My first mistake was not having a covered luggage tag. When you buy a luggage tag it is essential for personal safety that your information is covered up. If someone needs to find out who the suitcase belongs to they can open the tag to read it.

You seriously don’t want strangers knowing your personal information. That includes the strangers you may encounter as you maneuver your bags through the airport and also the strangers handling your bags one you have checked in.

RELATED POST: SCAMS TO WATCH OUT FOR IN EUROPE

What Information Should Be On Your Luggage Tag?

The information on your luggage tag should be printed clearly so that it is easy to read. Don’t write in script or in goofy, swirly letters. Keep it simple and legible.

Your name. Use your first initial and your surname. That’s all. Using your Christian name can make your gender easily identifiable. No one needs to know that.

Bill Smith becomes B. Smith. Barbie Smith becomes B. Smith.

Your Phone Number: Either your phone number or your work phone number. The fastest way to connect you to your suitcase should it go missing is to be able to phone you.

An Email Address: Yours or someone you can trust to stay actively on top of reuniting you with your suitcase. I just use my own because no one is going to be as proactive as me when it comes to tracking down my suitcase!

No Street Address: You don’t need to put a street address on your luggage tag. The airline can track your address easily enough because it is part of your booking information. When they see a suitcase that has a tag saying B. Smith with a phone number (555) 123-4567 and an email address of BSmith99@yahoo.com, they can connect that to B. Smith’s flight info and get all the details they need.

Don’t Notify The Burglers:

Your address on your luggage tag is everything a burgler dreams of. They can read that and know with certainty that you will not be home for the next however many days.

Business Card:

Some suitcases have a sleeve for a business card. So long as there isn’t an address on the card, or the address doesn’t lead a stalker to your door or your office door, slip your card in there. Its an easy way to reach you.

No Flag:

Having your country’s flag on your suitcase although patriotic is not necessarily a good idea. I am all about being an individual, but when you are traveling you don’t necessarily want to draw that attention to yourself.

The flags of countries that are everyone’s friend such as Canada, Australia and my country, New Zealand, are pretty harmless, but you may want to think twice about having the flag of a country that is considered hostile or problematic or the enemy of another country. Most of the time you won’t have a problem, but why take the risk?

Bonus Content

Getting ready for a big trip can be quite stressful – there are so many details and important things you need to take care of before you fly out. From having a hold put on your mail to ordering foreign currency to not leaving your passport on your bed – the list is long!

I have made a Pre-Travel Checklist PDF that you can download and print off before each trip. Broken up into 3 months before you travel, 2 months , 1 month, 1 week, 1 day and the day you leave, these checklists take the stress out of getting ready for a trip to anywhere. You check off items as you get them done and can see clearly and easily what is next on the list!

Click Here To get Your Free Pre-Travel Checklists.


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