The key to a smooth takeoff is always planning ahead. But don’t worry, these tips are super simple to implement and most make use of items you probably already own! I love a cool tool as much as the next person, but I try not to get swept up in the wave of ‘shiny thing syndrome’. For “fancier” tools, I’ve included links to show where you can find them. *(read our affiliate link policy here)*
The most important thing is to be proactive. These tips and tools allow you to avoid hiccups along the way–some minor, and some possibly major. Take a look and see if any of them speak to your travel needs.
1. Plane ticket buying hack.
If you’re purchasing your tickets without an agent, plan ahead in order to book at the best time. Here’s an infographic that shows when is the right time to book airline tickets. Feel free to right click and save a copy of this to your desktop for future reference!
2. Enable private browsing in your travel search.
When booking flights and hotels online, enable private browsing. Travel sites often track your visits and will raise the price simply because you’ve visited before. There are plenty of other reasons you would want to protect your personal information. This Forbes article explains it in more detail, as well as how to search privately from different browsers.
3. Buy the travel insurance. . .
No matter how prepared you may be, things can still happen. Lost luggage, missed flights, stolen property, medical emergencies, etc. In a perfect world, none of these things would happen, and unfortunately, you need a backup plan when they do. Your travel agent should advise you on the right policy for you, but if you’re purchasing on your own, World Nomads is a great company to try. And they’re one of the only companies you can purchase with even after you’ve left for your trip! Their policies will cover your needs, their rates are very reasonable, and getting a quote is fast and easy.
Click here to get your free quote!
4. Scan and keep a digital copy of your travel documents with you.
It’s always a good idea to keep a digital copy of your documents in case anything gets lost or stolen. But how can you be sure your information is safe? The TripIt app makes it easy to securely store important travel info like copies of your passport and vouchers. But that’s not all it does. TripIt can organize your itinerary in one easy-to-access place, on any handheld device.
There’s a free and a paid version of the app, so you’ll need to check them both out to see what’s best for you. And every Dream & Co. travel client receives access to their full-featured, beautifully organized digital itinerary–free of charge!
5. Use a packing checklist.
We can’t emphasize enough how important it is to start with a good, thorough packing list. No matter how savvy you think you are at the last minute, 9x out of 10 you’re going to arrive without something you need. Generic packing lists can be purchased or downloaded for free, and they range from the very simple to very thorough. Just this small extra step can ease the stress of your travel preparations!
6. Adopt a travel uniform.
Gillian Morris is the founder and CEO of Hitlist, an app that alerts you when there are cheap flights to places you want to go. It’s not surprising that she travels constantly, so she’s a pro at packing light.
She suggests adopting a travel “uniform” of sorts. Some basic wardrobe staples that can be worn multiple times (in multiple ways). Lightweight fabrics, black knit leggings, and an oversized scarf for example. Not only will you have options, you won’t have any problems with your luggage exceeding the airline’s weight limit.
7. Choose hardworking clothes.
Look for clothing that has more than one use. Consider packing things like sarongs and large scarves that could double as blankets, towels, or wraps. TheTravelHack mentions, “It can be harder to pack light in colder climates. I love UNIQLO’s range of Ultra Light Down coats because they pack up into a tiny bag (similar to a cag in a bag) but they’re really, really warm!” Basic colors, rather than busy prints, can be mixed and matched over and over.
8. Use the ‘2-3 Tops for every 1 Bottom’ rule.
Most of us pack a lot more than we actually end up using. So unless you’re already used to packing light, you can likely remove 1/2 – 1/3 of what you normally bring. A good rule of thumb is to pack 2-3 tops for every 1 bottom. Author Nicole Akhtarzard from the blog Who What Wear writes, “Tops take up less space, and people are generally more comfortable repeating bottoms than tops.”
9. Invest in packing cubes and/or packing folders.
Hands down, one of the best space saving investments you can make is in compression packing cubes and packing folders. These little beauties are a game changer. Not only do they create more space in your luggage, they help you stay organized AND arrive with your clothing less wrinkled. Here’s the Eagle Creek Pack-It Cube Set we recommend. Click the image for purchasing information.
10. Roll your clothing vs. folding.
If packing cubes or folders aren’t in your budget, another space-saving tip is to roll your clothing vs. folding it. But simply rolling your clothing isn’t the only technique. Try this packing hack instead!
11. Use Downey Wrinkle Release to smooth things over.
We really hate arriving with our clothing a mess, but more than that, we hate ironing. Downey Wrinkle Release is a great alternative to standing over the ironing board upon arriving at your hotel. Hang your wrinkled items on hangers and lightly spritz the fabric, front and back. Allow your garments about 20 minutes or so to dry and the wrinkles to fall out. Problem solved!
12. Fold easily wrinkled garments in dry cleaning bags or tissue paper.
Some fabrics (such as linen) are more susceptible to stubborn wrinkles and may not respond well to a wrinkle release spray. In cases like this, lay the clothing flat inside a plastic dry-cleaning bag, and then fold as normal. The plastic prevents creases from setting in (and you’ll still be able to avoid the dreaded iron. It’s a win-win!).
13. Fold your panties and your bras together.
Help your bras maintain their shape and save space by stacking your bras on top of each other, folding them in half, and tucking your panties inside. This technique will prevent the cups from folding inward and help extend the life of your bras.
Kathleen Kamphausen, 20 Genius Space-Saving Hacks for Packing Your Suitcase
14. Protect your jewelry.
Small, recycled containers (such as pillboxes and organizers), leftover toilet paper rolls, and even straws are a great way to keep your jewelry organized and tangle-free. Fill in empty spaces with cotton balls to add protection, which you can use later. Of course, the best way to protect your jewelry is to never travel with anything you can’t afford to lose. Here’s a collection of some of the smartest jewelry packing ideas we found.
15. Keep toiletries together via an easy to hang lanyard.
A simple way to grab your stuff when you need it (and keep it all together), is by using small leak-proof bottles that can be clipped together on a lanyard. Most hotel rooms have hooks installed near the shower, and this keeps your counter space clutter-free. Here’s a great TSA approved set available on Amazon. Click the image for purchasing information.
16. Download your books and travel guides as digital files.
Keep all your books on one small device, because print editions are heavy and take up too much space in your luggage. Don’t own a Kindle? No problem. The Kindle app is free to use on any device and digital files are usually less expensive than printed versions.
17. Use contact lens cases for small amounts of lotion or face cream.
Why bring the whole bottle if you don’t have to? Contact lens cases are a cheap investment you can find at any drugstore. They take up a fraction of the space an entire bottle of moisturizer would, and they won’t leak. You can easily wash them out and use them over and over.
If your creams are all similar in color, you may want to label them before packing. Another idea is using color-coded cases, like the ones above, to keep track of what you’re bringing along.
18. Download a specific Google map to use offline when you don’t have service.
Did you know you can download a map of a particular area to use when you’re not connected to wifi? It’s actually pretty easy. You’ll need to download the map first while you are connected, either before you leave for your trip or at your hotel. Nowadays, most hotels offer free wifi to their guests.
Here’s a link to Google’s specific instructions, but basically you want to open Google maps and allow it to locate where you currently are. If you’re setting this up before you leave for your trip, use the search bar to type in your desired location.
Once you’ve pulled up your location, tap the hamburger menu on the left side of the search bar and select offline maps. Choose ‘custom map’ and download it to your device to use anytime.
The one caveat, offline maps only work with driving directions (not walking directions). Fingers crossed this feature will be updated soon!
19. Use a personal safety app.
This idea is great for people who travel solo or for anyone who prefers the added security of knowing someone is looking out for you. It was designed by a woman, a real estate agent, who wanted to feel safer when working open houses alone.
The PROtect security app allows you to inform selected people in your contact list when you’re entering a situation and how long you’ll be there. Your contacts can either accept or decline the alert, letting you know who is available to keep an eye out for you.
The app will send an SOS if you need help and will show your last known mapped location. Only your secret pin or thumbprint will cancel that call for help, and if your emergency is resolved, a message goes out to your contacts letting them know you’re okay.
Keeping an online travel journal is another way to let friends and family back home know you’re okay and are enjoying your trip!
20. Mark your checked bags as fragile.
Marking your baggage as fragile is an extra step you can take to protect your belongings. It’s less likely to be thrown around, it will be kept at the top of the pile, also making it one of the first bags to be released.
Of course, there are no guarantees, so it’s important to take steps to protect your property. Camera and laptop cases specific to travel provide extra padding and protection and are well worth the investment. Always insure your expensive equipment, and when possible, leave them at home where you know they’re safe.