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What to pack for a vacation?

Depending on where you are going and the duration of your trip, the amount of things you'll pack will be different. Assuming that you are going to a foreign country for a week, this is a general list of items to bring with you.
  1. Passport
  2. Smartphone with a local sim card and a charger
  3. Copy of your plane/train/bus ticket
  4. Photocopies of passport and credit cards - this is for when your actual passport or credit cards get stolen
  5. US Cash - you can exchange US currency for local currency in almost every country in the world.
  6. Debit and credit cards
  7. First-aid kit
  8. Toothbrush
  9. Soap
  10. Towel
  11. Tissue paper
  12. Clothing
  13. Swimsuit
  14. Notepad and writing utensils
  15. Small sewing kit
  16. Daypack
  17. Flashlight
  18. Slippers/sandals
  19. Water bottle
  20. Snacks
  21. Electrical adapter
When visiting a hot country, you should also bring:
  1. Sunblock
  2. Hat
  3. Sunglasses
  4. Insect repellent
When visiting old places or locations in high altitude, you should also bring:
  1. Warm clothing
  2. Rain jacket or waterproof poncho
  3. Aspirin or high altitude medication

To book directly with an airline or through a travel agency?

Why would you want to book directly with the airline?
  1. The fare is sometimes cheaper.
  2. It may be your only choice, as some travel agency may not book budget airlines, due to lack of commission or high risk of airline bankruptcy.
Why would you want to book with a travel agency?
  1. As most people have found out during a snow storm, a hurricane or coronavirus, you cannot reach the airline as a regular consumer. You will be either place on hold for a long time, or in some cases, the wait time is so long, that you don't even have an option to wait on the line. During the height of the coronavirus pandemic, the average wait time to reach certain airlines was three hours. If you had booked through a travel agency, your travel agent would be calling on your behalf and try to get your flight changed or your money back.
  2. You would have to waste time to do all the research to find out which airline to book with. With airlines charging high baggage fees with basic economy or light fares, it makes the research even more challenging. You may wind up paying way more for the flight just because of seat or baggage fee.

What's new traveling in the COVID era?

You would need to bring a mask. All airlines now require passengers to wear masks.

Different countries are constantly changing their entry requirements. In general, travelers would need to have a negative COVID test 72 hours before boarding from authorized labs. The tests are not cheap. Most tests cost around USD $200-300 per person. There is no such thing as a cheap family vacation even if the flights are cheap because you'd have to take a COVID test before flying to your destination and another COVID test coming back. If you test positive, you can't board the flight. Upon arrival, some countries have airport COVID testing and may require you to pay for staying at a government authorized hotel for quarantine for three to seven days. You may be fined if you choose not to stay at a government approved property. Some countries may have exemptions for fully vaccinated travelers, but you would have to bring proof of vaccination.

Most water fountains in the airports are no longer operational due to COVID. You still can't bring liquid through security. So, you would need to bring buy drinks at the airport if you get thirsty.

A lot of resorts now require a negative COVID test for check-in. If you don't have one, you are not going to be staying at the resort.