Prepping for Hong Kong

I recently returned from vacationing in Hong Kong and am ready to swoon about what a fantastic time I had:

The architecture!

The cultural sites!

The food!

The shopping!

And of course, the people! All truly amazing. Though, if you’d told me three or four months ago that you were going to Hong Kong I would’ve merely feigned polite enthusiasm. Due solely to my own naivety, Hong Kong was not even on my radar as a top vacation destination until the invitation to travel with a friend (and her parents who were born and raised in Hong Kong!) presented itself. The more I read up and heard firsthand from friends who’d visited, I realized this was truly an opportunity of a lifetime.

Before I go into the highlights of my trip, first things first: preparation and packing. I’m a bit of a Type-A planner and enjoy making lists and checking things off. A little peek at my list of to-dos for international travel:

  • Double-check your passport’s expiration date. Some countries require a passport that doesn’t expire within 6 months of your stay. (Hong Kong is one of them.)
  • Check if any Visas are required for your stay. (Not necessary for my 9-day stay.)
  • To avoid any unnecessary freezing of funds, call your ATM and credit companies ahead of time to alert them that you will be using your cards abroad. They will ask you to confirm your destination(s) and approximate travel dates.
  • Make at least one copy of your important travel documents, atm, and credit cards (front and back). You’ll want these with you but store them separately from the originals
  • Jot down a list of items you plan on taking that require electricity. For example, my list included: hair straightener (hair dryer was available at the hotel), digital camera charger, iPhone/pod charger, and my friend was bringing her laptop, so I also looked into that, too. Armed with my list, I visited my local Sterns Travel Shop, but you can use any travel store. The sales rep was very knowledgeable and helpful; she showed me exactly what I needed – and what I did not. Turns out I only needed a plug and was told sternly to leave the hair straightener at home. Apparently in Hong Kong they get too hot even with a transformer and can burn your hair. They’ve also been known to short-circuit entire hotels!
  • If you plan on phoning home or making calls during your trip you’ve got several options. In Hong Kong carriers provide open access and you can use your phone purchased in the US quite easily – as long as you’re okay with the roaming charges. Depending on how  much calling you plan on, a calling card or changing out your phone’s sim card for a local one might serve your pocketbook better. Our group had both the local sim cards and some brought their phones but left them on Airplane Mode to block any unnecessary data downloads and incoming calls. I actually found it quite liberating to be phone- and internet-free while roaming Hong Kong.
  • Immunizations – turns out Hong Kong didn’t require any, but with the large crowds of people, H1N1 isn’t a bad idea.
  • Prescriptions – from my experience, pharmacies will fill prescriptions that expire while abroad ahead of time.
  • If you’re like me and like to take a lot of photos and videos, bring an extra memory card and battery for your camera (and carry them around with you!) – or a USB cord to upload your photos directly to your laptop.
  • In preparation for my 14+ hour flights there and back I brought a really comfy eye mask, ear plugs, and Advil PM.
  • Packing for 8 days of touring:

-I visited my local Container Store and picked up these: 1 hanging multipocket cosmetic bag

and several leak-proof travel-size bottles and jars. (They work really well.)

  • I took quite a few items (old running shoes, older socks, tees, etc.) with the intention of tossing them at the end of the trip to create room for my new purchases. I realize it’s a bit wasteful so depending on your vacation destination, if you can find someone who can use them, great!

That’s it for me. Have you got any travel tips to share?

P.S. Check back later for some highlights from my Hong Kong trip!

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