the definitive TRAVEL TIP guide

No matter how far or how long or how often you travel we all have tricks of the trade. We have little travel hacks that we do to make traveling a teensy bit easier. We've tried to put together the most comprehensive travel tip list that you will find anywhere. Some you may already do, some you might think are ridiculous and then you might find a few that create an "aha!" moment that will make your next trip just a bit more organized.

PLAN

GENERAL
  • Get Global Entry or TSA Pre✓® ... now.
  • Make sure you have at least six months of validity on your passport at the time of travel if you are traveling internationally. If not, renew now.
  • Write yourself a note on things you don't want to forget to do before you leave so you are not left wondering what you forgot on your day of departure.
  • Save your dry cleaner bags for wrinkle free packing.
  • Use Microsoft's OneNote to keep all your notes on your trip.
  • Once you select a hotel contact the concierge for help planning.
  • Buy a nice passport case to protect your passport.
  • Check your credit card companies for free travel perks like rental car insurance.

RESEARCH

  • Buy travel guides for a general overview of your destination. We prefer Frommers as a starting point.
  • Look at online travel guides. Try Travel & Leisure or Conde' Nast Traveler online sites for recent articles on your destination.
  • Read TripAdvisor reviews carefully.
  • Use Bing Maps or similar to get a feel for the area and your hotel location.

BOOKING
  • If you are paying in advance for a large portion of your trip, purchase travel insurance. Try Squaremouth for quotes from various agencies.
  • The average advance purchase time for domestic trips is 32 days. The ideal advance purchase time for domestic trips is 57 days.
  • The average advance purchase time for international trips is 39 days. The ideal advance purchase time for international trips is 171 days.
  • If you want to use frequent flyer miles, try to book 330 days in advance. Most airlines open up frequent flyer seats on that day.
  • Pay attention to airline code shares so you can maximize your frequent flyer point accumulation.
  • Word has it that if an online site knows you are looking repeatedly at a hotel or flight the prices will go up. To be safe, before you book clear your browser, history, and cache.
  • Read cancellation policies carefully.
  • Attempt to get the entire row on your flight by booking an aisle and window for you and your partner. If someone ends up in the middle, just offer to switch so you can sit by your partner. Otherwise, you might just get the row to yourselves.
  • Pay close attention to travel times when booking. Don't only look for the lowest price. The lowest price can sometimes add ten hours or more onto your travel time. Find a balance between price and convenience.
  • Double check to make sure two one-way fares aren't less than a round-trip fare.
  • Don't forget that you have a 24-hour free cancellation window on your flight booking.
  • Sometimes airlines offer free stopovers so take the opportunity for a quick visit of a new city.

FASHION AND BEAUTY
  • Pick out a travel "uniform" that will work for all your travel days. That way you'll never have to decide what to wear on travel days. Eileen Fisher offers smart travel options.
  • Collect beauty samples and keep them for future travel. They are easy to pack and you'll feel more exotic trying something new. Or keep a beauty essentials pack on hand.
  • Make the following beauty appointments leading up to your trip:
    • Waxing
    • Mani/Pedi
    • Haircut and Color
    • Schedule a blow out the day of travel so you can minimize shampooing while traveling.

LUGGAGE

  • Buy or borrow expandable luggage.
  • Put a colorful luggage wrap or ID tag on your suitcase, especially if your bag is black to easily identify which one is yours.

SECURITY
  • Make photocopies and snap a photo on your phone of the following in case of loss or theft: passport, driver's license, credit card backs for phone numbers, insurance cards.
  • Hide a photocopy of your passport inside the lining of your luggage so it will always be there.
  • Alert your credit card company of your travel plans so they don't flag your card for suspicious activity.
  • Check the State Department website for international travel alerts and warnings.
  • When traveling internationally, advise the State Department of your travel plans. If there's an emergency or disaster, they will know where you are. This is called the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP).

TECH
  • Buy Boingo or Gogo WIFI in advance, depending on which airline you are flying. Advance WIFI plans are much less expensive than in-flight purchases.
  • Sign up for your airline's mobile app for up-to-date information on your flight and luggage status.
  • Always use mobile check-in on your app. But no matter what, always check-in in advance (24 hours). This will help you avoid getting bumped.
  • Download all your maps offline before you go so you are not dependent on high priced data or finding WIFI access for directions, especially when traveling overseas.
  • Make sure your international power adaptors has a surge protector or you might blow out your electronics, hair dryer or flat iron this way. I've lost two flat irons on two separate trips to Rome this way.
  • Download movies and books before you depart.
  • Sign up for a Virtual Private Network (VPN) for secure, all the time WIFI access. Try NordVPN. Remember that in-flight and hotel WIFI is not secure.

PACKING


GENERAL

  • Work off a packing list, always!
  • Talk to your travel partners and see what accessories you can share (power cords, shaving cream, sunscreen, flat irons, etc.).
  • Travel with carry-on only whenever possible.
  • Pack your clothes on hangers to make packing and unpacking a breeze.
  • Add a scented dryer sheet to your luggage to keep your clothes smelling fresh.
  • Store power cords in an old sunglass case or use small clear bags or buy a Flanabag.

AVOID WRINKLES
  • Pack each clothing item inside a dry cleaner bag to keep your clothes from wrinkling. Or simply put the dry cleaner bags between each clothing layer.
  • Roll scarves around empty paper towel holders.
  • Lighten your load. The more crammed your suitcase is, the more wrinkled your clothes will be.
  • Put your heaviest items (i.e. toiletry bag) at the bottom of your bag when standing so your heavy items won't apply pressure and crush your clothing.
  • Use the proper size luggage for your trip. If you don't have the right size, borrow one.

FIT MORE
  • Roll your clothes.
  • Pack them inside a zippered bag.
  • Fill your boots and shoes with clothing and accessories.
  • Pack pantyliners to extend the life of your underwear so you can take less (or plan on washing by hand in a hotel sink).
  • If you're traveling with a golf bag or ski bag, stuff it with miscellaneous clothing items or shoes. You're paying for oversized luggage so why not take advantage of it?
  • Fill your padded bras with underwear (helps keep your bra foam from crinkling, too).

JEWELRY
  • Put a straw on your necklace chains to keep them from tangling.
  • Place small jewelry items in a pill container.
  • Use a jewelry organizer if you are taking a lot of jewelry.
  • Never pack your jewelry or other valuables in checked luggage.

TOILETRIES
  • Put a binder clip over your razor to avoid cutting yourself when you reach into your bag.
  • Put plastic cling wrap over your liquids and lotions and then put the cap on to avoid leaks.
  • Use a contact lens case if you want to take along small amounts of lotions or liquid makeup.
  • Buy an all-in-one (blush/brightener/lipstick) to minimize your makeup bag.
  • Store liquids and lotions in a zippered bag to prevent altitude explosions.
  • Put a cotton pad in your powdered makeup container to avoid breakage.
  • Keep all medications in their original packaging so TSA and immigration knows what they are. This is also helpful if you need medical care while traveling.

WARDROBE

  • Pick a color scheme for the trip. Then pick versatile pieces in that color scheme that can be mixed and matched.
  • Opt for lightweight clothes as much as possible.
  • Save your bulkiest clothes and shoes for your travel day.
  • Lay your clothes out on your bed first to look for mix and match options. Pull out items that create a need for an extra pair of shoes.
  • Put small items in clear zippered bags so they will be easy to find.
  • If traveling with a partner, consider mixing your contents so that if one bag gets lost, you will both have some clothes and toiletries.
  • Put a "FRAGILE" sticker on the outside of your luggage to encourage baggage handlers to take better care of your luggage.
  • Put your shoes in shoe bags or slip them inside a shower cap to protect your clothes.

CARRY-ON

  • Remember these dimensions dimensions: 21"x14"x9". This size is guaranteed to fit in any domestic overhead bin.
  • Note that most international airlines won't let you use overhead bins like you can domestically. More often that not you will have to check what we call carry-on luggage.
  • Having a hard time fitting your running shoes into your carry-on? Tie them on your luggage until you get through security then buy a magazine or bottle of water and ask for a plastic bag. Usually the gate agent won't recognize this is an additional carry-on.
  • Put your heaviest items at the bottom of your roller bag to keep it balanced.
  • Wear a scarf that can double as a blanket on the plane.
  • Always pack the following in your carry-on:
    • Medications
    • Jewelry and other valuables
    • Portable phone charger so you won't be left without a phone during lengthy delays or a MightyPurse purse that charges your phone.
    • Healthy snacks so you are not at the mercy of the airline for sustenance

airport

GENERAL
  • Take a photo of your parking location.
  • Flight disruptions? Don't stand in line, call.
  • Use a cross-body bag when going through the airport for quick and easy access to your documents.
  • Keep your ID and documents in one easy access location.
  • Don't buy liquids until you go through security. (Or better yet, take an empty water bottle from home with you and fill it after you go through security.)
  • Buy food at the airport to carry on the plane. Most airports have better food options that airlines.
  • Hit the loo right before you get onboard.
  • Pick the checkpoint farthest to the left.
  • If your checkpoint is crowded, move to the next until you find one that doesn't have a crowd.
  • If you have TSA Pre✓®, you can move through security much quicker with special lines that don't require you to take your shoes off or pull out your electronics.
  • If you don't have TSA Pre✓®, make sure you wear shoes that are easy to get on and off, socks so you don't have to walk barefoot on a dirty floor and keep your electronics in an easy access spot.

TECH
  • Buy Boingo or Gogo in advance, if your airline uses it, for WIFI. Advance plans and subscriptions are much less expensive than purchasing it onboard your flight.
  • Download your airline's mobile app for up-to-date information on your flight and luggage status.
  • Always use mobile check-in. If you have an iPhone, save it to your Wallet so you'll always have easy access to it.

AIRplane

  • Get on the plane early to find the best overhead space.
  • Be prepared to check your roller bag at the gate as overhead space is getting increasingly crowded. Make sure you have your valuables and plane necessities in a separate bag in case you have to check your bag at the last minute.
  • Have a few antibacterial wipes with you. Use them to wipe your seatbelt buckle and tray table ... the two most germ-ridden spots not he plane.
  • Wear glasses instead of contacts to help keep your eyes hydrated.
  • Always have noise cancelling headphones with you to drown out annoying noise.
  • Wear compression socks to avoid swollen feet.
  • On overnight flights, drink chamomile tea, twice. Wrap the used tea bags in tissue and place on your eyes before you put your eye mask on. You'll be hydrated and your eyes will look fabulous!

overnight flights

  • Pack a beauty sample of a night moisturizer for the flight. Night moisturizers are extra hydrating and you'll have plenty of time to let it sink in and do it's job.
  • Buy water or fill up your water bottle before you get on the flight. Don't be at the mercy of a flight attendant to bring you water.
  • Avoid alcohol as it dehydrates you.
  • Pack a thermos with honey, lemon and a chamomile tea bag. Ask the flight attendant to fill it with hot water for a soothing nighttime sip.

HOTEL

GENERAL
  • Put your room number in your notes on your phone so you don't forget it. Or take a quick photo of it.
  • Fighting for charger space with your family? Use the hotel USB port to charge (look on the TV for a port). Or be sure to pack a power splitter.
  • Fighting over which charger is yours? Use a charger ID wrap.
  • If you get to the hotel and realize you forgot your charger, ask the hotel if they have an extra in Lost and Found.
  • Self park to avoid valet and overnight parking charges.
  • Pack a portable speaker so your hotel room will feel more like home and more lively as you're getting ready to go out for the evening.
  • Try out an app like Drizly or Saucey. They deliver wine to your hotel room. It's less expensive than ordering through room service.

CLOTHING
  • Throw the hotel bar soap into your dirty clothes at the end of your trip so they don't smell on the way home.
  • Tie your unused underwear in a knot so you know what's clean and what's not.
  • If you have to do laundry in your hotel room, do it inside a plastic shopping bag. Works better than in a sink with a dubious stopper.
  • Hang wrinkled clothing in the bathroom while you shower to help steam out the wrinkles.

BED BUG
  • To look for bed bugs, inspect the headboard, pull back the sheets, and inspect the underneath of the mattress edge cording. Look for dark spots that look like mold spots or pepper.
  • Always store your luggage off the floor of the room, to avoid bed bugs climbing into your bag.

SECURITY
  • Heavy sleeper? Put a chair somewhere near the door so if someone enters your room in the middle of the night, you'll hear them as they unexpectedly knock into the chair. (Or pack a travel alarm.)
  • Use a wire bag protector and lock it if you're uncomfortable leaving your larger valuables in your hotel room.
  • Always use the hotel room safe. Set a reminder on your phone at the time of your departure to remind yourself to clean out the safe.
  • Use your "Do Not Disturb" sign to avoid having housekeeping come into the room if you prefer security and privacy over cleanliness.
  • Don't leave the "Please Clean" sign on your door, ever. If you do so, you're advertising that you are not in the room. Thieves loves that sign.

DESTINATION

GENERAL
  • On international trips, buy a local SIM card for inexpensive phone use.
  • Keep an eye out for a convenient blow-out bar.
  • Keep your currency and credit cards in two separate locations.
  • Use your concierge. You're paying for their services anyway. Tip them well.
  • Use Google Maps offline by typing "OK Maps" in the search box then following the prompts. So cool - the visible area you search will be


QUICK LINKS

GENERAL