Pack in a Rush: 5 Things NOT to Forget on a Last Minute Trip

With less than 24-hour notice, I went from finals to laundry, airplane tickets, packing and boarded a plane en route to Italy.

Life changes in an instant. On Monday, if someone told me I’d be in Rome, Italy eating Italian prosciutto and drinking cappuccinos by Friday, I would’ve laughed. But on Tuesday flying to Rome (to be with family living here) became a possibility. On Wednesday, it was definite. By Wednesday night, I had my laundry done, my bags packed, my loose ends at work tied up and my tickets booked. Thursday morning I flew out. By Friday, half jet-lagged, half energized, sure enough I’m here eating prosciutto and drinking cappuccinos. The point is, with reasonably priced last minute airfare and email accessible via smartphones, impromptu trips aren’t impossible to pull off. Half the battle is getting out the door and packing right when you’re in a rush. Here are a five things you shouldn’t forget (no matter how soon you’re  leaving) and why.

1. Extra contact lenses and glasses

I dropped my contact lens down the sink this morning, and unfortunately, I didn’t bring a backup pair. I have no idea how obtaining extra lenses in Italy works, but either I’ll find out tomorrow, or stick out wearing glasses for the next week. Always toss an extra set into your suitcase because being able to see is vital. Especially when you’re in such a visually historic city, like Rome.

2. Your passport

If you’re packing in a rush, it’s easy to overlook the obvious things. Right before I flew out the door, I stopped instinctively, because I felt like I missed something major. My passport. I wouldn’t have gotten past the gate at JFK without it, but flying from Syracuse to New York, New York would have been a huge waste if I didn’t continue on to Italy. Check and double check you have all important travel documents with you.

3. Prescriptions (and non prescription) medication

If you have any pre-existing medical problems you should get a letter from your  doctor describing the condition and any prescription medications, including the generic name of prescribed drugs, now. In the event that you have to leave last minute this will make filling prescriptions abroad much easier. Keep it on file and keep it handy for last minute trips. Call your doctor or pharmacist and ask them what you can do to fill prescriptions abroad, and check here with the state department for more information. Many health insurance companies will pay customary and reasonable hospital costs abroad. Don’t forget your health insurance cards and non prescription medication either–this includes mild allergy pills, vitamins and headache pain killers–all vital for travel.

4. Cell phone charger

There’s nothing worse than having a dead cell phone and a million calls to make. Especially if you’re leaving last minute, chances are you’ll be talking/emailing with work and family so the last thing you need is a dead cell phone. You can buy international adapter cell phone chargers in most big airports for $20-30 but don’t count on it in the smaller airports.

5. A digital camera

Travel, for whatever reason, should be fun. Sure it may not be the spring break you’ve saved up for, but bring your camera just in case. You never know what cool things you’ll be doing, or who you’ll meet. Don’t forget the charger either.

**Side tip: Think ahead to what climates you’ll be visiting. I went from snowy New York to balmy Italy. Later I’ll fly through Amsterdam to Minnesota. All of these drastically different climates call for different wardrobes: I wore winter boots on the flight, packed a heavy down jacket, lots of layers and a polar fleece. My layers can be paired for warmth or stripped for lightweight coverage. I also brought a few heavy, medium and lightweight sweaters for the Italian breeze and winter Minnesota chill.

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