Downy Wrinkle Releaser. This stuff is a must have! Especially since I can’t have my favorite item ever, “My Little Steamer” with me. Due to the fire hazard, steamers and irons are not allowed on cruise ships. Just spray and tug and the wrinkles go away. This is a definite pack on a cruise.
Poo-Pourri. Okay let’s be honest here. If you have ever been on a cruise the bathroom is not the largest. And well you want your roommate to love you …. Yes, it’s worth bringing along, enough said.
An old hotel room key. This one I learned on my last cruise. Just like the rest of the world the cruise lines are very environmentally friendly. When you go back into your room to turn on the lights, and the air conditioning you must put your room key into a slot that is usually behind the door. If you like the room cooled down, you will need to have an old room key in the slot while you are gone.
Nightlight. I commented in a previous article that I ALWAYS travel with a nightlight, and this is especially true when cruising. It doesn’t matter if it’s a balcony or inside cabin, I like a nightlight in the bathroom.
Electrical Power Strip. In today’s day and age where we all live and die by the smartphone, plus charging digital camera batteries for when we are in port and want to take pictures, it’s a good idea to have a power strip in the room. They never seem to have enough outlets. Plus, ladies, we have our hair dryers, straighteners it’s nice to have somewhere to plug all of that in.
Magnetic Door Sign. I have to admit that when I heard people doing this I thought that they were nuts. Or that they were doing this for their kids on a Disney Cruise. Confession time here, I’m a midship cabin kind of gal, and let me tell you I can easily get lost. This past cruise Mark and I were on a family floor. Now, we were lost the first couple of days and when you are going along the ship with all these doors looking the same it can become a bit overwhelming, then on the second day we realized something, three doors down the family had a Spongebob Magnetic Door Sign. We knew we were almost back to our cabin every time! We no longer laughed at people who did that. Everyday we knew were Bobby was because he left a note on it with dry erase marker. Ingineous!!! Thank you Sponge Bob for being a beacon of light!
A lanyard with a clear vinyl pocket for your seacard. When on the ship your sea card is your room key and your lifeline. You can do your purchasing on the ship, get your drinks, upgrade your meals if you want all with that card. Basically you need it wherever you go. When I first started cruising, many years ago I tried taking it along in a little purse. Yeah, try taking that all around. Even when I was first married Mark would give me his key - yeah that plan didn’t work. Everyone says get a lanyard, so I did on the ship. Guess what, everyone get’s one on the ship, and if for some reason you take it off they all look the same. Yeah that doesn’t work for me either. Plus I like some bling, and I like to be different from everyone else. I just went on Ebay and purchased one with a vinyl pocket for a few dollars that is more me, and off I go. Plus I’m hands free! Mark prefers a retractable badge holder, pull reel. I’m thinking of trying that one of these times.
I do LOVE my cruises. However there are a few things that I MUST do before every cruise. Of course purchasing a brand new perfect pair of flip flops is number 1 however if you know me that goes without saying. So here’s the top four and a half things that I MUST do to make sure that I have a great cruise.
Clean and prepare my travel wallet. Now this is the cleaning, I ONLY bring the credit card or cards that I will be using on this trip in my travel wallet along with medical\insurance information. I then call the credit card companies of the cards in this wallet to let them know of the dates that I will be out of the country traveling. I also let them which countries that I will be in so that if I charge from a port they will be aware when a charge comes in. This is for MY own protection, and so that my credit card account doesn’t become locked out.
Small Bills. I drive down to the bank and get my small bills. I like to travel with a lot of $1 and $5’s when traveling. They are good for tipping and for purchasing small souvenirs while in various ports.
Prepare my Cell Phone. I contact my cellular phone company to make sure that I have the proper plan for my vacation. Normally I do not have an international plan, so I call the company directly and purchase an add on plan for my time away. Each phone company is different so you will want to check with your cellular phone company to see what is best for you. If you love your cellular data, remember that also costs extra when you are in port, and that is an additional fee. When you are on the ship itself, Wi-Fi can be purchased from the cruise line for a fee. If I were to purchase it, I usually do it by the time I get on the ship, and I MAKE sure that I turn data roaming off. That’s one surprise I do not want when I get home.
Shore Excursions. I always make sure that I have all of my shore excursions in order before I leave home. I actually have these planned as as soon as I can. Being a travel agent I research everything I can about the port and make sure that I’ve made the best choice for what kind of day that we want to have in that port. When I travel to a new port sometimes I want to explore the island and see everything it has to offer. If I’ve already been there, or if there is something it could be famous for, I might just want to do that. For instance, when we went to Jamaica for the first time I really lucked out, after doing my research, I was able to find Konoko Falls which was a quieter water falls with mineral pools to walk up, so we didn’t have the big crowds. Our excursion included some sightseeing and we had a wonderful day, tried some great Jamaican cuisine, and we were back on ship ahead of time. I have found that it’s always best to work with your travel professional ahead of time to get your excursions ready to make the most out of your time at port.
The other day a friend of mine asked me what are some of the craziest things I bring with me on vacation? I thought that was a different question, however I came up with a few things…….
Night light - Not just for the kids. Yes, I like to sleep in the dark, however who are we fooling here, I need to use the bathroom in the middle of the night. Or you wake up with a headache and want to go get some pain killers. And when I don’t bring one each and every time I’m GUARANTEED to go bump in the night into a piece of furniture or that lovely footstool\bench. So yes, I bring a dollar store nightlight. I personally prefer the low key blue led light one. I have one that I keep in my suitcase and I always test it out before I leave just incase I need a new one.
Hangers - I LOVE my slim hangers and I don’t bring a bunch since most of my clothing can be reused\recycled. However I do bring about 5 slim lined hangers. My other tip, I love the non slip hangers. Again, I don’t bring a closet full, just a few. Especially when traveling with my husband they never seem to give you enough hangers for the two of you to share. I’m not going to argue, I just bring my non slip slim line hangers and life is happy.
MyCharge - Yes, I love my MyCharge. I’ve talked about it on my Facebook page, and it goes with me everywhere, so why not vacation? It’s a portable charger for my cell phone, tablet and anything else that can be charged via USB. What’s so great about it? Instead of needing a USB cable to charge it, it has an outlet plug that flips out and it goes right into an outlet and QUICKLY charges back up.
Ziploc Bags, I do bring these handy dandy little things with me everywhere. Here’s my tip - GALLON size are the best? And why? I’m a mom, the kids ALWAYS want to swim before we leave somewhere. The suits never dry before we leave, just put a suit in there and all is good. Plus if you don’t have shoe bags gallon size usually can handle shoes that can let’s say have a distinctive aroma. Plus if you have a bottle leaker you can just put it in it’s own bag. Again, I don’t bring a whole box, however a few of these in the suitcase can save wonders.
An old fashion watch. I know we all have cell phones these days with the time on it. However, I still love my watch and here’s why. In the sun I can never easily read my cell phone, I have to go to the shade. Not with my watch. So, yes I always have some type of watch with me.
I have to admit, I’m a pack rat. When I’m going on vacation I want to take everything plus the kitchen sink with me. The airlines, how dare they tell me I have to keep my luggage at 40 pounds. Are you kidding me? Well, over the years when traveling on vacation on cruises and going to the Caribbean I’ve found a few packing tips that have helped me, and a couple that even helped my husband go on a “Luggage Diet”, Caribbean Style.
All diets have a splurge item. I have two in my Luggage Diet, Caribbean Style. First, no matter where I am I most likely will end up at a beach or by a pool so I will need to have a couple swim suits. Second, my flip flops, yes they are one of my true loves of life, and a girl needs her shoes. I always an extra pair with me. I also bring a pair of nicer shoes for night time and of course my jewelry. I plan for casual nights as well as formal nights. I try to bring some pieces that can carry over or be “recycled”. Now for the skinny of it all.
A few pairs of good shorts. I like my bermudas, again since I always end up at a beach they get recycled on a vacation. Three pairs will more than last me a good week.
Two skirts. One black maxi and one neutral colored knee length skirt can take a girl through a whole week of dinners. Even a formal night if need be. Again recycling is the key. Let me explain. Low key nights dress down your skirt with a casual skirt and some jewelry to match. For a formal night wear your black maxi with a nicer shirt. Something usually with a shimmer to it, and some jewelry to “bling” it up a bit.
As for shirts, I bring lightweight t shirts for the day. And for night time I bring my lightweight shirts and shimmer shirt for my formal night.
For my husband, he pretty much follows my same diet however, for his night time attire he brings along 2 pairs of khakis and 2 polos. I will pack him a sport coat and a shirt and tie for a formal night. As he puts it, he’s on vacation why should he be formal?
There is one thing that does go into the bag to help with those stubborn wrinkles and it’s one of my favorite items, Downy Wrinkle Releaser. It can be used on a cruise ship or in a hotel room. Just spray, give a quick little tug and those wrinkles are gone.
I do bring along a carry on when I fly or cruise. In that I do have a few items as well. Most importantly my travel documents, my prescription and OTC medications and a 3 ounce bottle of suntan lotion. I always bring the first days clothing, just in case your checked luggage gets delayed. I make sure I include a swim suit for the beach or pool. Because let’s face it once you get to that warm sun or on that cruise ship that’s one of the first things you want to do is get into a swimsuit and chill. I also have my cover up, hat, and my treasured flip flops. So I can get out there and enjoy that flip flop lifestyle!
Six years ago this September Mark and I took the kids to Disney World. The boys were little, and I wanted to go to the after hours Halloween festivities. We were staying at Disney’s Port Orleans Riverside, and we decided to have a character breakfast, and then hit the pool. Yes the pools there are AHH-mazing!! Anyways, I brought everyone a bottle of water down to the pool and after drinking that I saw a cute umbrella drink, and it was one of my favorites, a Pina Colada. I had to have it, and Mark was a sweetheart and purchased it for me. All is picture perfect.
The day goes on, we went back to the room changed, and decided to go back to Magic Kingdom for the rest of the day and then see the fireworks. I bring a bottle of water for everyone. Being the mom, and caregiver I make sure that everyone (but me of course) has water. Now we are on the meal plan, so we get a free snack, which includes popcorn, ice cream, or a bottle of water. None of us are hungry yet, and we go straight to the Big Thunder Mountain Railroad ride. And there are no lines, what’s our luck?? We ride it two times in a row. The second time, I’m dizzy and not feeling too good. I thought, “Wow, I must be getting older….”. I’m usually the leader of the pack anywhere we go, so I’m leading the family around, aimlessly. Mark is getting frustrated, the boys are like, “Mom, we want to go on rides!” Mark realizes there’s something wrong, he MAKES me sit down, and says let’s get something to eat and drink, I didn’t want to, I wasn’t hungry and I didn’t want to “waste a snack on a bottle of water”. After an hour or so of this, he found out that there is a Disney First Aid Center, and for anyone who needs to know in the Magic Kingdom it’s next to the Crystal Palace. I went into the center, what we lovingly, yet jokingly call the “Disney Hospital”. Where I was brought into an area that is similar to a walk in clinic, laid me in a bed and gave me power aid to try to rehydrate me, while they told Mark this happens all the time. I then told Mark to take the boys back out and enjoy the rest of the late afternoon and evening, I wanted to make sure that they saw the fireworks. Which is another article all in itself! After a couple of hours in the Disney Hospital, I somehow mustered up enough energy to get back to my room where I basically passed out for hours. I remember getting on the Disney shuttle bus by myself, however I do not remember getting off of the Disney bus and getting to my room. I also do not remember helping my husband get the kids into the room, however he tells me that I did. Now, was I drunk, no. Was I totally dehydrated, yes.
The next day was like having the worst hangover ever. I had a headache that I can’t explain and I am a migraine sufferer. I was nauseous all day long. At least I finally got an appetite back. Thank goodness the Disney First Aid nurses told my husband, who was in the right stage of mind, what to expect.
Moral of the story, and what I make sure that both I do and my family does, stay HYDRATED. Now I still have my beloved Pina Coladas, however I have a lot of water. Anything with caffeine and alcohol do not count towards your water, they dehydrate you.
After what happened to me, I know what to look for now. I know that if I’m out and about and totally lose my appetite, start to get a headache, confusion and or dizziness, I’ve pushed it WAY too far and I need more water.
And as always if you are not feeling well, make sure you see a health care professional. As my mother always told me, they are here to help. I’m so glad that Mark made me go to a First Aid center.
Tina Moczynski is a member of the GTN network. And loves to travel with both her husband and her three boys.