A few weeks back, I did an Organized Bag Review of the Ethnotek Wayu Backpack (check it out here!)–a bag great for traveling. And as you can probably guess, I’ve got the travel bug. Therefore, with the holiday season fast approaching and the vacations that many of us have planned, I wanted to take some time to share with you my top travel tips! Traveling is fun, but it can be stressful. You can eliminate about 90% of the stress if you plan ahead, get creative, and know what you need and what you don’t need.
Planning Your Trip:
1. Know how to find the best airfare. Certain airlines, such as EasyJet, Ryanair, or Wiz Air have absurdly low fares as it is. Those airlines only fly in Europe, but there are some fairly inexpensive airlines in the US as well. Depending on the day, the weekend, or the season, airfares can skyrocket overnight. Be sure to simply scan the websites in advance, checking what weekends seem cheapest, and snatching up the flight when you see a good one. Generally, airfare tends to be cheaper on Thursdays rather than Fridays, if you can fly out a day or two early for a weekend trip. There are articles online that also explain when the best prices are–usually it’s earlier in the week, because companies lower their prices after the weekend.
2. Check the US travel advisories. In light of recent events, if you’re a US citizen going somewhere can be potentially dangerous. They constantly update their travel warnings and security alerts for US travelers. It’s helpful when you’re not sure about the safety of a country. Visit the State Travel Guide here..
3. Make photocopies of your passports and other important documentation. Just in case.
Now for the fun stuff…What to bring!
1. Always underpack. You say to yourself that you will wear that purple sparkly sequined top. But the truth is, you probably won’t. If it’s not a basic item, something that can be used for multiple purposes, don’t bring it. Only bring items that have multiple uses, meaning things that can be worn both day and night and in conservative or relaxed places. For example, I bring clothes with basic coloring. That way you can use that same black strappy tank top on a hot day in some ruins or a hot club in the nighttime. Be sure it will see the light of day more than once.
2. Bring only three kinds of shoes: Tennis shoes for walking, comfortable boots for colder days or tougher treks, and flats or loafers for nighttime meals, going out, and/or quick errands. Usually you can get away with wearing one of these three in any situation; anything else (such as heels) is just additional baggage.
3. This brings me to my third point: Fly smart. Always wear your heaviest clothing when you fly. Wear your boots and your heaviest jacket. Yes, the boots will be a pain during security. And the jacket may make you unbearably warm. But, by wearing them you are giving yourself more space in your suitcase and reducing the amount of weight in your checked bag. It’s like magic!
4. In your carryon, bring a makeup bag filled with your various life essentials so that they are super easy to find on the plane and in their airport. That way you’re not bending over filing through your backpack looking for your headphones while the airplane goes through massive turbulence. Here’s what I like to put in mine: hand sanitizer, granola bars, benadryl, headphones, phone charger, and ear plugs. No more digging through your bag!
5. Get yourself a super cute and useful pouch for your passport, boarding passes, and any other tickets or electronic visas. That way all your important documents are in one place and you can easily grab it as you go through customs or at your gate. Mine is from Fossil and I absolutely adore it:
6. If you have an iPad or tablet, get a cute little Bluetooth keyboard. This way you don’t have to bring your bulky laptop along and can still get work done. Mine is from Logitech and it’s fantastic.
7. If you like to wear makeup, be sure to pack something to touch it up as you travel. I keep a little pressed powder in my purse, along with some chapstick and a mirror to be sure that I’m not looking too disheveled whilst flying 😉
8. Always pack scarves! Yes, they’re cute, but they are also extremely functional and multipurpose. I usually bring scarves of different weights and colors so that I’ve got something for every situation. Scarves are really handy in more conservative countries because you can easily slip one over your shoulders or over your head or even around your knees to cover up. They’re also great for bundling up on the plane. You can either wrap it around your shoulders, use it as a blanket, or roll it up and use it like a neck pillow. If there gets to be too much sun, take one of your lighter scarves and drape it over you to protect from the rays. Tired of that same black shirt you’ve worn two days in a row? Throw on a scarf and bam, you’ve got a brand new outfit. I’m a big fan of scarves. I think they are literally the most useful thing on this planet.
9. Have a jewelry organizer. As a jewelry fanatic, this is essential. Get a little pouch/box/thing to carry your jewelry in. Mine’s from Fossil and is made to carry jewelry. It has a little drawstring bag for small stuff built in and a big area to throw all your earrings and necklaces in. Yours doesn’t have to be specifically for jewelry, but it’s nice to have something like this to carry all of your stuff in. Obviously don’t travel with your nicest jewels, but for the stuff that you use everyday, this is a great way to carry it all.
10. If you wear contacts, bring your glasses. This tip I learned from my mother, a fellow contact-wearer. Even if you’re like me and you never wear your glasses, bring them anyway. If something happens to your eye or you loose a contact or you get an infection or you have to trek outside to the bathroom in the middle of the night, it’s so important that you have your glasses. I almost never wear mine, ever, but I never leave home without them just in case. On that note, always bring spare contacts for the same reasons.
11. Invest in a world adaptor. Yes, these things can be a bit pricey. If I recall, mine was about $50. But they save you from needing to buy adaptors for every country that you go to! If you travel a lot like me, you’ll find this to be a lifesaver.
12. Bring your positivity. Seriously, I can’t stress this enough. Traveling never goes quite as planned. Things happen. The hotel you booked suddenly ran out of rooms. You miss the last train. The promised tourist attraction is closed. Some things just don’t go right, and that’s all part of the adventure. The most important thing you can bring with you when you travel is, I swear, a positive attitude and flexibility. These two will get you through any situation and will allow you to reflect on the mishaps with a smile and a good story.
And here’s me being positive…….