By Tara Clampett
With consulate appointments around the corner, the time has come for everyone to start preparing for the exciting journey ahead!
One stress (especially for the ladies) is always what to pack: do you take the plain black bikini or the one with the floral print? Or maybe one bikini and one full piece? How many pairs of heels should you take? Do you really need the short and long sleeved little black dress?
Packing can be a nightmare, especially for first time travelers, however as all the returners say: pack as lightly as you can because you are going to buy a lot of clothes, shoes and accessories while you are in the USA. Plus, you do not want to pay an additional $100 - $400 for an extra suitcase when you return home.
Below are my top travel hacks that have saved me a lot of money and stress:
1) The best investment is a decent handheld luggage scale. This allows you to weigh your bags without the struggle of trying to position your case on a body weight scale. It is also much more accurate.
2) Roll all your clothes instead of folding them as this takes up less space. I also put all tops that I have rolled into Ziploc bags to save even more space and keep my suitcase organised.
3) Ensure that your hand luggage does not contain any liquids over the 100ml rule. I made this mistake my first season and had to throw a lot of toiletries away.
4) Remember to pack enough toiletries in your check-in luggage bag to get you through your first few weeks, as toiletries are expensive in the USA.
5) Always remember to take travel adaptor plugs so that you can still use your electronics in the USA.
6) Buy a neck pillow for the plane - trust me, this will save your neck and back.
7) Remember to check your luggage in to your final destination for example, Fort Lauderdale. HOWEVER, you still need to collect your luggage at the first point of entry into the USA; for example, JFK Airport.
8) Lastly, stick with the returners throughout your journey, from South Africa to the United States. It can be very stressful and confusing; however, the returners have been through it all and can offer guidance.