I’m (only) 28, but for my age, I’ve travelled quite a lot (see my completed bucket list for an idea)! As well as packing and flying internationally or domestically 4 times a year, home to my parents from boarding school. These are the things that work for me, and I’d recommend to others:
- You gotta be able to carry it all: makes sense really, but don’t rely on trolleys or porters, cause somewhere along the line, you’ll be tripped up
- Remember you ‘things’ count: three bags, or whatever (coats), then everytime you’re walking from taxi to check in to gate to plane etc, mentally recheck the count!
- Paper shopping bags: work a treat for those 5 novels you want to take! Putting them in checked luggage could put you over, having them in a disposable bag means if you do accidentally leave it anywhere, it’s not the worst thing in the world, and you’re unlikely to be challenged for taking more than one piece of carry on this way
- Wheelie suitcases: I swear by them. But then I hate having heavy things on my shoulder, so I also don’t usually use an over the shoulder handbag
- Spare underwear: seriously, I think this enough in your hand luggage. I don’t like to lug too much around
- Face washer: in a zip lock – great to wash and try ones face on a long trip. I sorely missed packing this for this trip, and it would have made a world of difference to feel ‘clean faced’ part way through.
- Paper copies of tickets/reservations: I know phones are fancy now, but with long flights smart phones can lose charge, cost a fortune to download data, or plane not work. Especially in the developing world, take the time to print and carry documents you might need. If nothing else, it helps to show taxi drivers!
- Umbrella: Place it in the front pocket of your checked suitcase. Some airlines/airports confiscate your umbrella (Marrakesh!) so checking it is best. Having it in the front pocket makes it easy to access in a sudden arrival downpour (Greece! I didn’t pack one, so I bought on for 3 Euro!)
- Swiss Army Knife: I can’t praise mine highly enough, even if it was from an ex. I stash it in the front pocket of the checked suitcase. Even locked, I can wiggle it out, and use it to cut off other tags etc
- Light scarf: no matter where you are going, these are great as a light stopping eye mask, a pillow case on the suspsicous pillow case, or to keep you warm
- More underwear: the last thing you want to run out of is underwear. It’s small – pack more than you need. Yeah, I’m not a huge handwasher on holiday either :p I like to put the dirties in the inside suitcase pocket
- Dirty clothes: I like to fold everything, but distinguish dirty stuff by pulling it inside out, and then folding it. Saves me wondering if I wore it (I will rewear stuff in cooler climates, I turn things inside out when it’s got no more wears!)
- Toiletry bag: I don’t believe in one carry all – there’s never a big brick sized space left in your bag! Many smaller bags work better – I reuse pencil cases from school and zip locks bags.
- Take reading material to leave behind: either thin your collection at home, or buy second hand books. I love library books, but not for international holidays!
- Power boards: don’t buy countless adapters, buy one, and pack your local power board to charge all your ‘things’. As an aside, I really do take less and less electronics every time. They are just too much stress to leave in a room, or always carry. A phone with a good camera is usually enough for me.
Do have a pearl of wisdom when you are travelling and packing? Please add to the discussion, I’m sure there’s some tricks I could leanr.
18 Replies to “15 travel tips of a frequent traveller”
Your "things count" is great, I do it too but never put it into words.
Packing cubes are great for organizing the contents of your suitcase. For my clothes I have found a fantastic compression packing cube that has got room for both clean and dirty clothes (see it here: http://www.flight001.com/all-products/spacepak/sp… – and no, I am not getting paid to recommend it). I also have a couple of smaller less fancy packing cubes for underwear and other smaller items.
On the out-bound leg of any trip I always bring an extra set of clothing + a set of miniature toiletries (in a ziplock bag) + a bit of laundry detergent in my hand luggage. I arrived in Hanoi and found out that my suitcase was still in Paris (the Charles de Gaulle Airport is notorious for losing people's luggage and two full days passed before my suitcase made it to Hanoi). But because I had brought clothing + mini toiletries I could still take a shower and put on a clean set of of clothing without any panicked emergency shopping upon arrival in Hanoi. A combination of my laundry detergent and the hotel laundry service could have seen me through the entire trip, had my suitcase never arrived.
On the same note I recommend not wearing winter boots on a trip to the tropics. One of my travel mates on the Vietnam trip did just this, and it made sense to begin with as it was snowing when we left Denmark. Had my suitcase debacle happened to her, she would have found herself traipsing around 33 degree Celsius Hanoi for 2 days in winter boots (or have had to buy the first pair of sandals she could squeeze her gigantic Western feet into). Fortunately, I had worn sneakers on the flight, better than winter boots but I think next time I will squeeze a pair of sandals into the hand luggage.
Finally, for reading material I use Kindle on iPhone and iPad. I read pretty fast and have been known to devour up to a novel pr day on relaxing beach/pool vacations. Carrying 14 novels on the Kindle is no problem at all – you can even bring extras in order to have something to choose from. (Obviously, in light of my Hanoi experience I keep the adaptors and chargers in my hand luggage).
I've never tried the packing cubes, but I am intrigued about them – I think it would make finding things a little easier.
You're a thinker to have washing detergent in your carry on – though I know my dad uses shampoo to clean our smalls when we're travelling (ok not mine anymore, but my mothers certainly!)
Interesting you say CDG always lose baggage – I've never had a problem, so I count myself lucky! I have been at the carousel in Frankfurt airport days after the Christmas snow storm 3 years ago.
The seasonal change when flying cross country is a challenge – you need heavy stuff, but only for to and from the airport in some cases!
I'm not anti kindle, but I've not bought it or installed the apps at this stage. I suppose I like the luggage gains of taking real novels! And there's something nice about having the paper in your hands too. Old school for a 28 year old!
I find hotel rooms are usually over-air conditioned so no matter where I go, I bring a warm sweater and socks for the room. I never know what to do about shoes and boots because they are so heavy, so I limit myself to wearing one pair and bringing one pair. Then I pack my clothes according to what will match the footwear! Now that I have an iPad Mini, I find it a good all-in-one for music, e-books etc. On this last trip I had one regret – I took my "point and shoot" camera and I was disappointed with most of my photos. So next time I will leave room for my big DSLR.
Good plan – I find socks do little to warm me up, but I do like to have a jumper of sorts, if nothing else, for the plane!
Shoes can be a challenge – I try to travel in the biggest pair, but otherwise, my shoes are not too bulky. I love that footwear is how you pack – I often think shoes make or break an outfit!
I went on this holiday without a camera at all! Mush less an ipad mini. I'm evidently a little technologically backward, but I'm ok with it. In some regards, less for me to worry about!
Some good ideas. Thanks Sarah. I will use the scarf and paper bag idea.
I pack light and take hardly any clothes these days. After my first packing, I always take out a few items. If I am desparate I can always buy something but I never am. I also simplify my toiletries. I use a simple sorbolene for body lotion and removing makeup and Mr Sans uses it as shaving cream. I'd rather have less to wear than lug and pull a heavy suitcase.
With so many bags and stuff when we go skiing as a family, I have all luggage and ski equipment bags labelled with the same coloured tag. Each tag is numbered so, like your things count, we have the right number of pieces.
I also use paper printouts, but then I am old-school. And I find having some paper to make notes or calculate things on the back of the printouts is always useful, eg writing a list of things to remember when you have to pack to go home.
I always take books and, like you, I leave them behind. I do have some books on my iPad but use the real thing at beaches, on planes, by pools etc
You are an inspiration in your minimalism in travelling and packing! I'm the opposite, I often add some items!! Though, even with it all, it's never too heavy (I tell myself… perhaps I'm deluded?)
The matching tags and numbering system is very smart indeed!
I only pack a carryon, so that Swiss army knife is out for me.
As for wheelie suitcases, I like the ones that are 360 swivels, although I wish they had brakes on the wheels for when I'm on the bus or subway so it doesn't slide.
My posts on this:
10 Items You Need To Pack in a Suitcase for going in between Two Temperatures
10 Items You Need To Pack in a Suitcase for going in between Two Temperatures
How to pack the basic essentials for traveling
Then of course, my travel essentials: http://www.savespendsplurge.com/2012/05/28/curren…
I knew you'd have some great posts on this. I admire you for only travelling with carry on – I'm at that point on some trips, but not on others. I'm lost without my swiss army knife, honestly. It single handedly stopped my nail nibbling habit. Thanks for all the links for my readers.
You're welcome!!I just carry a nail clipper 🙂 I definitely need one when I travel.
I travel with a backpack so definitely agree with being able to carry everything. There were some times coming home from 6 months in Greece that I had more than I could really carry and it wasn't fun!
I also have a couple of packing cubes that I use in my backpack – one for clean clothes and one for dirty. It just helps keep everything organised since you can't open it up like a suitcase.
I also always take 2 sets of headphones, after one set got chewed through in Thailand once. When you're travelling alone, bus and plane journeys can be very boring with no music or movies 🙂
I can imagine packing cubes provide a world of help in a backpack, where you don't have the same surface area of things laid out to you like in a suitcase. Interesting that you always take two pairs of headphones – I don't think I actually used the pair I took (complete with that converter thingie). I suppose I'm into my reading, and I can easily live without music! I didn't even watch anything the BF loaded up on his tablet for the week we were away. He did though.
As an inexperienced overseas traveller I am going to work off this for next year! I've been wavering on the "wheelie bags" vrs "backpack" issue for our trip next year. We've been away this weekend though and I think the wheelie bags win out.
I wish I'd read the spare underwear tip before we went…I always go minimalist but then we had heaps of rain and Mr 9 went through every item he owned this weekend. The face washer in a ziplock would also have been handy…even after 9 years of parenting I haven't got things like that sorted!
Many love backpacks, but I am not one of them! I understand that cobbled streets can be rough on a wheelie bag, but it's worth it to save my shoulders!
I think you can never have too much underwear on a trip! Nothing worse than running out imo!
These tips (and the comments) are SO helpful – thank you!!!
No problems Kim – they are very 'long haul' focused, but a lot are transferable to the upcoming summer holidays, I'm sure!