over the past few years of traveling, i’ve made a lot of mistakes. i’ve had the time of my life and created long lasting memories, but not without some hiccups along the way. planning a trip, especially an international one or to a new city can be so stressful, with a capital S…just kidding that was weird. we all know i don’t do capital letters. ;)
somewhere between being at the wrong airport at the wrong time, tracking down lost luggage on my wedding day, and paying hundreds of dollars for things that could have so easily been avoided, i started compiling a note listing all of the little things that i should do differently for the next trip. things that i wish i had known before booking the trip, picking the hotel, saying yes to the short layover, etc. these tips are nothing special and nothing new, but somehow if i follow them, i can get the trip down to a minimum on the unforeseen hiccups and random meltdowns in the middle of baggage claim (not even joking. an airport employee ran some tissues over to me because i was gone…so far gone) and nobody wants that so, here are my quick tips for a better trip. let me know if these help you at all and if you have more please tweet me or something, i am always adding to it, usually in times of distress.
— no liquids at all
airport security is about ninety times easier if you just leave all your liquids at home. you’ll be fine without your perfume for a week if it means breezing through international security and keeping your belongings from being rummaged through by the angry foreign women. trust me.
— pack less clothes
no matter how many times i tell myself “i brought more than i need”, i still keep doing it! seriously, we all have our favorite clothing items regardless of how much we pack, so pack light on the clothes. worse case scenario, you have to do laundry along the way. but it’s a lot easier managing less items in the suitcase so you don’t end up paying $70 for a stranger to ship your clothes back to you that you accidentally left in sydney, australia. :) still waiting on those!
— one small book
i often think i will want to read multiple books on the plane, the train, the beach, the hotel…i never do. because of this i ended up playing tetris trying to fit multiple books into my backpack each day. do yourself a favor and just bring one small book. if anything you can pick up a new read when abroad, or better yet, a kindle would work just as well!
— bring a smaller camera
this is more of a personal one, but i am always lugging around my huge Canon 5D Mark IV + lenses and accessories and not only is it such a bulky item to travel with, but the weight just crushes me. that said, getting a smaller camera for travel would not be a bad idea for us all!
— pack a plentiful variety of snacks
no matter how many snacks i bring, it’s still never enough! when traveling, you get hungry at such random times, so it’s always a good idea to have healthy, energizing, wholesome snacks with you to help get you through. my favorite is macro bars, they are the best. some other suggestions would be apples, dates, nuts, you get the picture! i typically get bulk items from the local market & put in reusable containers. that way i have containers for the trip and can refill for the journey home.
— always have a reusable water bottle
cannot stress this one enough. single use plastic is gross and traveling is one of those times where convenience can start to slip in and feel so good. however, having a reusable water bottle means you can skip the plastic and stay hydrated for free!
— stay hydrated at any expense
this. this is so important. zach and i have been on so many trips where we just get back to our hotel room at night, with no water, and deal with it until the morning. let me tell you that this is not only awful in the present moment, but has terrible lasting effects too! keep your body healthy and be sure to always have some water with you or a way to easily refill.
— book flights mid day or evening
this sometimes can’t be avoided depending on where you are going, but if it can, do it! starting out a trip by waking up at 4am to go to the airport is just not great. that is all. even if it’s a few extra dollars, it is worth!
— book lodging in the heart of the city
zach and i have been burned by this more times than we can count. we always book a hotel or airbnb that’s a little farther outside the city because it’s “cheaper”, but in reality it is just very inconvenient having to travel back and forth every day, plus we spend a fortune in transportation doing just that. so this tip is a must follow. book in the city where you can easily walk to sights, shops, and restaurants without having to hop on a bus or train or uber every day.
— make transportation easy
sometimes taking the train is the cheaper option, but sometimes taking an uber can avoid hoisting your suitcases up flights of stairs & taking up too much room on the subway/metro/tube etc. give yourself some grace and take the $20 uber.
— pack my hat into my suitcase or don’t bring a hat
if you’re like me & like to travel with a large hat, then you know the struggles of trekking through the airport with your hat, holding it, wearing it, having to find somewhere to put it once you’re on the plane, accidentally leaving it places, the list goes on. as much as i love a good adventure hat, i think i’ve finally concluded that it’s not worth it. either find a way to pack it into your suitcase (let me know if you want a tutorial, i think i’ve finally mastered this) or just do without!
— carryon suitcase only
this is a big one! it is such a blessing to roll off the plane and out to your destination without having to wait for your bag with a billion other people. you get through everything quicker, don’t have to worry about losing your luggage, and you have a smaller bag to deal with. a win win win i will never check a bag.
— always have a sweater
airplanes are so cold! be comfy!
— show up prepared with reusable items
already touched on this a bit but, having a reusable water bottle that can be refilled, a few containers for snacks, along with some bamboo utensils makes traveling such a breeze. i always feel prepared to fight off single use plastic in any situation.
— make sure devices are always charged
trying to navigate anything without a charged phone or laptop or something…very difficult. having a portable charger is great too, just make sure that is also charged. :P
— download movies or shows pre-flight
flights can be boring, but if you download your favorite shows to binge, it goes sooo quickly.
— never book basic economy
airlines have economy and basic economy. basic economy gives you no carryon, doesn’t let you pick your seat, and doesn’t let you change anything about your flight if need be. it’s usually only $20 or $30 more to book economy, and i would definitely say it’s worth it! been burned one too many times by trying to be basic.
— book from home airport always
ok i really hope this one is just a me problem but zach and i have this tendency to book big international flights from cities where we do not live. ie. book a flight to australia from san francisco, then having to book another flight to san francisco to get there. we always think we’re saving money by flying from a bigger airport but no, it literally creates such chaos and adds many extra flights and stress and i really wish we would start booking flights from portland, where we live. i truly believe life will be more beautiful when we do so. so please learn from our mistakes and don’t fly from portland to denver to san francisco to australia or fly from portland to san fransisco to london to iceland. it’s just. never. worth it. pay $200 more dollars for the direct flight.
— stick with one air alliance
this one pretty petty but, sticking with one air alliance can help you earn a lot more travel points which can be redeemed for airline tickets or hotel stays. a lot of the time when zach and i travel it’s because we’ve accumulated points by flying the same airline repeatedly or only flying in one air alliance (one world, star alliance, etc). as a bonus, having one airline allows you to earn status and be complimentary upgraded to first class more often than not! so many little hacks to ensuring a more pleasant travel experience!
— neck pillow & eye mask for long flights
a must! i never thought these would make a difference but they DO! on my last long haul flight i put to the test my eye mask and neck pillow combined. i slept for EIGHT hours straight. have never done that on a flight ever. i shall say no more. treat yourself! i currently have a merino wool eye mask from parachute home, but i’ve been eyeing (see what i did there) this silk mask from lucia laferme and i have just a random neck pillow from amazon!
— book airbnb’s the night before
this is a new one! more often than not, zach and i will land in a new city at 7am and not be able to check in until 3pm in the afternoon, forcing us to lug our suitcases around all day, which is quite possibly one of the worst things ever. so something that we are going to try on our next trip is booking the airbnb or hotel for the night before, that way when we arrive, we can go straight there, check in, shower, nap, refresh, drop our stuff, ahh i’m getting excited just thinking about not walking around with a suitcase all day in my airport clothes. will report back to let you know how this goes and if it’s worth paying for an extra night.
— eat tons of fruits & vegetables before, during, & after
random, but necessary! it is so incredibly easy to get run down and catch a cold when traveling, from the lack of proper nutrients at the right times and from the stress of travel. i’ve found that i feel my best when i am loading up on fruits and veggies and juices and smoothies before, especially during, and after the trip. just trust me on this one! on my last trip i ate gummy bears every day and am currently still recovering, almost two weeks later.
i hope you enjoyed these random tips and travel hacks that i’ve accumulated over the past few years. enjoyable travel is such an art and it makes me so excited to continually improve at it. i hope these help you, encourage you, inspire you, or scare you into never traveling again. just kidding. if you have anymore tips, let me know! let’s keep this list growing!
until next time,