Many of us look forward to travelling every year. Whether it’s for leisure or business, every trip starts well before heading to the airport. From choosing your luggage to packing to exploring your destination, there are many steps to a fantastic holiday and a few essentials that can help enhance your experience along the way. We’ll cover the different stages in this buying guide to help you prepare for your trip.
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Packing for your trip
Whether you are travelling near or far, packing and organizing your luggage is the first step to a smooth holiday. On top of making a list of the clothing, toiletries, and other essentials you would like to bring with you, choosing the right suitcase and using packing accessories can enhance your travel experience by making it easier for you to stay organized during your trip.
There are three sizes of suitcases: carry-on, midsize, and large, and two main types of luggage: hardshell and soft-sided. While the type of luggage you choose is a matter of personal preference, generally speaking, the length of your trip and your mode of transportation will determine the size of luggage you will bring.
Carry-on vs checked bag
If you’re travelling by plane, you need to know the difference between a carry-on and a checked bag. A carry-on is a bag you can bring with you on the plane and stow in the overhead compartment. A checked bag, on the other end, is transported in the cargo section of the plane, which means that you don’t have access to it until you arrive at your destination. You can always bring a carry-on onboard with you but you may have to pay a fee to check one or more bags.
The sizes of carry-on and checked luggage is limited by airlines, so make sure to look at your airline’s bag restrictions to find out what is the maximum size bag allowed. For example, Air Canada allows carry-ons measuring up to 55 x 40 x 23 cm (including handles and wheels). Maximum dimensions might slightly vary depending on the airline. Read our luggage buying guide to learn more about luggage options and find the right type for you.
An efficient way to pack your suitcase is to compartmentalize the contents of your bag between packing cubes. Packing cubes can make the difference between a tidy suitcase, where everything you need is at your fingertips, and a messy suitcase, where you can’t find your toothpaste. Available in different sizes, packing cubes usually also come with a laundry pouch so you can separate your dirty clothes during your trip.
Travel cases and toiletry bags are also helpful to organize your electronics and personal care products so you always have what you need handy. For makeup, look at cosmetic bags. They’re usually lined so you can easily wipe off any makeup marks.
Luggage and travel accessories
If you’re travelling by air, most airlines have weight restrictions for both checked baggage and carry-ons. Avoid paying overweight fees by weighing your luggage at home with a luggage scale. Luggage scales wrap around your suitcase’s handle to make weighing your baggage a breeze so you can make any adjustments needed before heading to the airport.
Finally, to make travelling to your destination as comfortable as possible, pack a neck pillow. Neck pillows snuggly fit around your neck so you can comfortably relax and sleep in an upright position. Look for an inflatable design so you can use it in the car or on the plane when you need it, and conveniently deflate it when you’re done so it doesn’t take precious space in your luggage during the rest of your trip.
Tech essentials to stay connected
Travelling doesn’t mean you have to go off the grid. Keep in touch with family and friends at home or look up must-dos in the area you’re visiting with these tech travel essentials.
Unlocked cell phone
An unlocked cell phone allows you to use your device with a local sim card at your destination. That means that you can text your family and use the internet to look up directions or the best restaurant in town without having to pay roaming fees for every megabyte you use. While you don’t need one if you travel domestically, an unlocked cell phone is a must-have for international travel.
Consider bringing a tablet with you, too. A tablet will not only give you the option to unwind after a long day of exploring by watching a movie, but it will also allow you to edit your photos and videos, stay in touch with loved ones, and take notes about your trip so you can share your experiences in detail once back home. Complement your tablet with a keyboard for maximum flexibility.
Travel power adapter
There are many types of outlet plugs around the world. If you travel internationally, you might have to use a travel adapter to be able to operate or charge your electrical devices abroad. There are both country-specific and universal adapters. Pick one or the other depending on how many countries you’re planning on visiting during your trip. Note that there is no international standard voltage either. Fortunately, most devices nowadays are dual-voltage but if one of your devices is not, you’ll also need to bring a power converter.
Even if you have the right adapter, it’s not always easy to find an outlet to power up your devices when you need to. A power bank will give you the flexibility to recharge your devices wherever you are—whether that’s at the airport or on a trail. Look for a power bank with at least two output ports to be able to charge multiple devices simultaneously.
Visiting your destination
Once everything is prepared and your luggage is packed, all that is left to do is to enjoy your holiday! Here are a few items that will help you make the most of your trip while creating memories to cherish for years to come.
While you can technically take photos and videos with your phone, a traditional camera will capture higher quality images and footage—which will make for better prints. A mirrorless camera or DSLR will also give you the option to swap lenses for more creative freedom. If you’re planning to go hiking or snorkeling, consider also bringing an action camera that is waterproof so you can always get the perfect shot—no matter the conditions. Read more about how to take great photos on vacation on the blog.
Travelling means that you will spend your days walking around and exploring different places. Make sure to place your camera in a camera bag when you’re not using it to safely transport it. A tripod or monopod can also be useful to photograph yourself and the people you’re travelling with. That way, you can set up your shot and take great photos of yourself at any location. If you don’t want to keep running back and forth to the camera to make sure that the photo looks good, a camera remote will give you more control by allowing you to remotely trigger the shutter and take the perfect photo when you’re ready.
Bring a memory card with enough capacity to take all the photos and videos your heart desires. You don’t want to have to delete photos halfway through your trip because you’re running out of memory space! If you’re planning to take a lot of videos or are travelling to a remote area and won’t be able to charge your camera every day, consider also packing an extra camera battery.
Stay hydrated on the go with a water bottle or travel tumbler. Insulated stainless steel bottles can keep your drinks warm or cool for longer, so you can enjoy your morning coffee on the road, or have a cold sip of water on a hot summer afternoon. Look for a leakproof design to avoid any spillage. There are also self-cleaning models available that allow you to enjoy clean water throughout the day, without having to wash the bottle.
Last but not least, you’ll need a backpack to carry your essentials around. Pick a lightweight day pack with enough capacity to fit your belongings and different compartments so you can easily organize your items. Padded straps will make it more comfortable to carry around, while outside pockets will give you easy access to your backpack’s contents. Some backpacks also feature anti-theft locks so you can safely wander the streets of your destination.
Exploring the outdoors
A holiday is a great opportunity to reconnect with nature. If you’re hitting the trails this summer or are looking forward to sunbathing at the beach, consider bringing the following items along on your adventure to make the most of your time with Mother Nature.
Start your nature escape on the right foot with a GPS. The last thing you want on holiday is to get lost. A GPS will take you right to your destination—whether that’s a trailhead or a remote lake. No need to stop for asking directions. Some GPS also feature driver alerts that notify you of animal crossings or speed changes for safer driving.
GPS watch or fitness tracker
Whether you’re hiking, biking, or kayaking, you can record your activities during your holiday with a GPS watch or fitness tracker. A GPS watch or fitness tracker will allow you to keep track of your heart rate, calories burnt, and steps taken during the day. With a GPS watch, you’ll also be able to view the map of your activities, so you can trace back your route.
Getting out in nature is also an opportunity to do wildlife watching. Take a closer look at your surroundings with a pair of binoculars and enjoy a detailed view of your subject. Look for a waterproof and fogproof pair so you can use them in all weather conditions. Did you know that you can also use binoculars for stargazing? Point them at the sky and you might get a different perspective on some constellations and nebulae!
Talking about perspective, immortalize your outdoor adventures from a new vantage point with a drone. Fly it around to capture beautiful landscapes and footage of your holiday. Drones are usually equipped with a built-in gimbal for stunning, smooth videos. Learn what you need to know before flying a drone in Canada in our buying guide.
A summer holiday is the perfect time to pick up a new water sport. A paddle board or kayak can expand your entertainment opportunities to the water. There are both hard and inflatable paddle boards and kayaks. Inflatable models are more lightweight and portable, which makes them a great option for travelling. Whichever model you go for, don’t forget to pack a life jacket for enhanced safety.
At the end of the day, set up camp where you want with a tent and sleeping gear. From backpacking tents to pop-up tents and rooftop tents, there are many types to choose from to meet your needs. Complete your camping setup with camping furniture and a camping kitchen for a blissful evening under the stars.
Keeping your home safe
Protecting your home while you’re away is key to a peaceful travel experience. Keep your home safe and secure with these smart home additions.
Security cameras not only act as a deterrent for burglars, but they also allow you to remotely see in real-time what’s happening at home for peace of mind. Common features include night vision, built-in sirens, and 2-way audio so you can both see and hear what’s going on at all times. Some models also come with an integrated spotlight for enhanced protection.
You might have asked a family member or friend to periodically check on your home while you’re away. Smart locks eliminate the need for spare keys. Instead, you can lock and unlock your door from anywhere. Smart locks also give you the option to create different passcodes for different people so each visitor has their own “key”.
A simple way to keep your home safe when travelling is to give the impression that you’re at home. How? By turning the lights on. Smart lights let you schedule when you want the lights to turn on and off to make it look like you’re home. To learn more ways to secure your home for an upcoming trip, read this article.
Take the next step
Getting ready for your next trip? Head to Best Buy to find the perfect travel gear for you.