May 1 2009 by Sam Lowe
When traveling alone I pack a night light, one of those little plug-ins with a small bulb. It's one of the tips I've picked up over the years to reduce those minor stressful situations encountered on the road.
Shortly after finding a room, I check the bathroom. If it has a night light, mine stays in the suitcase. If it doesn't, mine goes to work. The reason: Because of my senior status, there'll be at least one nocturnal call of nature and I'll need a light to guide me.
Simply leaving the regular bathroom light on then closing the door has two downsides:
First, it uses much more energy than a night light. Second, the blast of light that emerges when the door is opened is so glaring that it's difficult to go back to sleep.
A few more little things that can make your trip more enjoyable, regardless of the destination:
Familiarize yourself with local laws and customs that may differ from your normal surroundings. Most of them are reasonable, but some could imperil your trip if not followed.
Send for brochures before you go. They're not always objective since their primary purpose is to entice you, but they provide good general information about the more interesting sights and sites.
This should be a given, but when planning a trip to a foreign land, make sure your passport is up to date. Some countries will not let you enter or issue you a visa if your passport is due to expire in less than six months.
If planning to go overseas, get an international drivers license. They're available at automobile agencies and accepted in most foreign countries.
Take only those credit cards you plan to use on your trip. Leave the others at home, along with expensive jewelry and excessive apparel.
Check your insurance policies to see if you're covered in case of medical emergency, theft or accident.
Pack all your medicines in their original containers and put them in your carry-on bag to avoid loss or damage.
When on a long plane flight, get up and walk around to protect yourself from deep-vein thrombosis that occurs when blood clots form in the veins (usually the legs) and block blood flow. I speak of this from experience. I slept for an entire flight to Italy and paid the consequences. There are few things more frustrating than dropping your trousers in front of a doctor who doesn't speak English, and then trying to explain the pain in your legs.