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While we’re talking about driving, there is one modern item that has become an essential packing item: the cell phone earpiece or any other Bluetooth device that allows you to keep both hands on the wheel (and without a phone wedged between your neck and your shoulder). Local laws governing cell phone use while driving vary considerably, sometimes from one municipality to the next. Pack your hands-free device in your carry-on bag and you will not find yourself on the side of the road with a red siren whirling in your rearview mirror.

The first day of your trip is often lost to logistics and unfamiliar surroundings. First you have to haul yourself and your stuff to a resting place. Then you have to figure out exactly where you are, what attractions are nearby and how best to use your limited time. Planning ahead will help you make the most of that first confusing day.

You may want to sketch out a walk near your digs, which can help you get oriented as well as shake off travel fatigue and jet lag. Also, check out any nearby amenities — like a rooftop lounge nearby, a balcony with a choice view or a heated pool for maximum chill-out at the end of a harried travel day.

  • Check-in with your doctor and insurance carrier. Double check and make sure that you have all of the proper vaccinations and that you have renewed all essential prescriptions. Also, ask you medical insurance provider if your policy applies overseas for emergencies. If it doesn’t, and you want to add extra coverage, consider supplemental insurance.
  • Bring copies of your passport. If your passport gets stolen or lost you want to be sure that you can still get back into the country, or be able to prove your citizenship.
  • Leave a copy of your passport. For extra backup, leave a copy of your passport at home or with someone you trust. Consider making an electronic copy you can store in your email account as well.
  • Register with your embassy. If there’s a problem in the country, this will make it easier for your government to contact you and get you to safety. U.S. citizens can register

 

  • Buy tickets now for places you know you want to visit or see. By buying in advance you’ll be able to skip more lines, and find more deals targeted toward you.
  • Get guidebooks. Guidebooks usually include maps, key words or phrases, and give you enough detail on certain sites that you won’t need to purchase the pamphlet at the venue.
  • Download apps before you travel. Avoid downloading charges from your wireless carrier and get your apps before you leave.
  • Research events going on while you’re there. This will help you make sure that you’re not missing be events going on in the city. Fun things like festivals, ceremonies and natural events. Also be sure to research as a few national dishes to try. You don’t want to leave the country without experiencing what its known for.

The weather is the single factor most likely to affect your trip positively or negatively, and one of the things many people most take for granted. Of course it is going to be warm in Spain

during the spring — but there are always exceptions to prevailing weather patterns, especially during transitional seasons. A weather forecast can guide your packing strategy, and failure to check the weather can result in unprepared, unhappy and very soggy