The key to solving your next travel crisis may be in your carry-on.
We all hope for smooth trips, especially when we’re leading groups of travelers. But no matter how well you plan or how good your travel partners are, little hiccups and emergencies are still bound to happen from time to time. Fortunately, you can prepare for them by keeping a few necessities in your bag.
You already know the importance of having your ID, medications and other essentials on hand when you travel. By adding a few items to your carry-on and keeping them there from one trip to the next, you can be the hero who comes to your customers’ rescue when they face a travel issue or emergency. Here are a handful of things to bring whenever you take a group out on an adventure.
In an era when we all depend on our smartphones for communication, information and entertainment, running out of battery power can cause a panic. Most people use their phones more on the road than at home — taking photos, using navigation apps, etc. — so their phones are likely to run low on power faster than normal. To help solve this problem, keep a handful of charging cables for Apple and Android devices on hand that you can share with people throughout the day. And if you really want to be prepared, carry a fully charged power block as well.
From time to time, you or someone in your group might want to buy a travel souvenir that is too big or unwieldy to take home in a suitcase. It’s good to be prepared to ship it using your organization’s FedEx or UPS account. Before your next trip, put two or three pre-printed, pre-paid shipping labels in your bag. Then, when the need arises, use those labels to ship souvenirs home. Ask the shopkeeper to box the item, then drop the box at your hotel’s front desk and schedule a pick-up with your carrier. You can settle up on shipping charges later if need be.
If someone has a minor injury on your trip—like a skinned knee or a small cut—you’ll want to have supplies on hand to help patch them up. Ideally your motorcoach or hotel will have a first- aid kit, but you should also have some simple first-aid supplies in your own bag like bandages, gauze, alcohol swabs and burn cream. It can also be helpful to have over-the-counter pain relievers and antacids in case someone in your group needs them. If you’ll be outdoors a lot, bring extra sunscreen and bug spray.
Electronic devices make it possible to store reams of data on a phone or computer. But if your device’s battery dies or you are in a situation where you need to access info quickly, it can be helpful to have hard copies on hand. Before you leave on a trip, print copies of the most critical information to carry with you. This can include itineraries, trip rosters (complete with emergency contacts), rooming lists, travel partners’ contact information and more. Having hard copies of this information will make it easier to find and use when you’re flustered or in a hurry.
Most travelers use plastic to pay for the majority of their travel expenses these days, and you probably do as well. If you and your wallet ever get separated though, that reliance on credit cards could bite you. To guard against this, keep a separate stash of cash — and maybe an emergency-only credit card — in your travel bag. A few hundred dollars will probably do the trick, giving you, or a group member you are helping, enough currency to cover expenses for a couple days until a replacement card arrives.