I am well aware that there are people out there who travel on a more regular basis than I do. And they probably have a million and five tips that blow these out of the water, but these are great ones to get you started.
If you travel infrequently, or it’s been awhile since your last trip, these might be things that haven’t crossed your mind – but I promise, they will make your life a little easier.
1. Pack Light & Do Not Check That Bag (at least not on the “going” end of the trip).
I have taken trips where I’ve packed every piece of clothing I could possibly need, and every single time I’ve ended up with half a suitcase full of stuff I never wore. Pack the essentials. Undergarments, jeans, tops, ONE dress or skirt, a couple of comfortable pairs of shoes, a swimsuit (because you really never know), a sweater – all essential. But don’t pack eight swimsuits. Or 20 tops. You will never wear them all. Oh, and make sure your clothes actually fit before you go. If you take something that is a little tight thinking you will make it work – it won’t. Don’t bring it.
I purposely only carry a suitcase that will absolutely always fit in the overhead compartment. No lost baggage = no lost time or money. There have been times that I’m at the end of the boarding list and they’ve had to take my bag and put it below – and that is fine too. Because you know they are doing it right then. It’s not going through with a million other bags that are going to a million destinations – it’s going right into your plane.
2. Save Room for a Collapsible Bag That You CAN Check On the Return.
I can’t remember where I got this idea from – it was not mine – but it’s genius. I have a bag that zips down to a decently small size, and I pack it at the very bottom of my suitcase. It takes up next to no room. But when it’s time to come home, I pull that bad boy out and load it up with clothes. I put all my super special souvenirs and things I don’t want to get lost in my main bag, and relegate anything that I don’t care if it gets lost or not into the extra bag. That way, all my precious stuff gets home with me. Honestly, so far, I haven’t ever lost the checked back either, but on the return trip it doesn’t really matter anyway. You will be home and if you’ve lost something, it can be easily replaced or patiently awaited.
3. Spring for business class.
Sometimes it’s not feasible. But if it is, do it. There is just enough extra space in business class to keep your sanity, especially if it’s on a long flight. Every flight that I’ve said, “Nah, I’m good” when asked if I want to upgrade, I have regretted it. Especially that eight hour flight from Frankfurt to Detroit that was on the tightest Lufthansa flight I’ve ever seen. The seats were inexplicable close and nearly every seat on the plane was taken. I got stuck behind a woman who had not showered recently and decided to lean her seat back for the entire flight. She was so close to me I could smell her greasy hair. I’ve got serious “personal bubble” issues and this woman was violating them. It was a nightmare.
Don’t even ask me about the time I was stuck on the very last row of the plane. Completely full flight. No extra seats. And a recliner in front of me with no where to go. For six hours. It’s a wonder I came out of that one alive.
4. Pack Snacks But Not Stinky Snacks
The fact of the matter is, airlines are not doling out the snacks like they used to. Even on long flights. So, you’d better pack your own. Nuts, bite-sized crackers, dried fruit – easy, no mess stuff. But this is a situation where you need to remember that you are going to be trapped in a big metal tube with a large number of people and none of you can get out.
Seriously, just be nice to the people around you. Don’t pack anything that smells. Or has orange powder all over it. We are all a little selfish and jerky sometimes, but there is nothing worse than being stuck next to someone who ends up with atrocious breath or orange fingers because they ate some nasty something.
5. Shower Before You Travel. Wear Deoderant. Skip the Perfume.
I cannot stress this one enough. I know that we all want to be comfortable when we are traveling. We all just want to wear yoga pants and a big comfy sweater. Absolutely fine. But shower before you show up. Please. Put on your deodorant (preferably a kind that works well). And for goodness sake, no perfume. I mean this with every fiber of my being.
I was on a flight from Dallas to Detroit – not too long, but 4+ hours. I had gotten bumped to 1st class and I was super geeked. And then an elderly lady who may or may not have showered sat in front of me. I’m not sure because she had put an entire bottle of perfume on her person. It may have been just because she liked it. Or maybe it was because she didn’t shower and she was trying to cover that up. I’m not sure. But it was so bad that I had to point my air vent things towards her to push the smell away from me. If it had been a longer flight, it would have been almost as bad as the Lufthansa incident from #2.
What are your best travel tips? I’m always on the lookout for super easy but super smart ways to make my trips more enjoyable. Give me your best!