Travel tips for the experienced + the inexperienced traveler

February 2, 2014

suitcasesWhether you’re someone who keeps a suitcase packed at all times or someone who travels infrequently, there are some tried and true ways to make your trip easier.  And if anyone should know, it’s me. I’ve traveled millions of miles in my time. Just ask my frequent flyer programs.  So here are some of my best travel tips.

1.  Hand-carry a change of clothes and extra under wear in the luggage you bring on board, just in case your checked bags take an unexpected detour.  I learned this the hard way, when Alitalia lost my bags for three days and I had nothing at all to change into.  Oh, and always carry on your medication or anything you simply must have. Like a straightening iron, for example. Just saying.

  1. If you’re traveling with someone else, split up your belongings and put half in the other person’s suitcase.  That’s right, entire outfits and underwear.  If one bag gets lost, you’ll each still have a few days of clothing. We do this for every trip.
  2. If weight limits are an issue, bring disposable clothing and lingerie. Hang on to things that are on their last wear, wear them on the trip and discard them while away. No need to bring them home. More room for souvenirs! Same with old comfy shoes–I left a pair of old tennis shoes in India after wearing them for almost three weeks.
  3. If you don’t already pack clothes you can layer and a single color palette to mix and match, it’s still a good idea. On my last trip, I packed black and turquoise or teal. Much easier.
  4. I used to carry at least five pounds of books. Now, I simply bring my e-reader. Enough said.

  5. If you’re traveling to a country that might not easily accommodate any dietary restrictions, bring vitamins and some food along. Little packets of peanut butter crackers are easy to carry, or bring a small jar and package of crackers. Small six-packs of applesauce. Protein bars. Rice cakes.  Trail mix. This is advice I should have taken more seriously before India.

  6. Load a travel medicine kit with all the over-the-counter remedies you might not easily find in a foreign country. I usually take the original box apart to save space, snip off the name and directions and tape the blister packs to that fragment.  It’s not as bulky to care and I still have dosage info with me.

  7. Start taking probiotics a few weeks before the trip and continue during the trip. If you don’t already take them.

  8. Our doctor gave us antibiotic prescriptions to fill before the trip and carry with us.  We did use one Rx.

  9. I have a portable navigation device that I bring on trips within the U.S. during which I’ll be driving.  It’s a lot easier than the nav on my phone, so I do pack it. And use it.


p>Finally, a bonus tip:  Make a packing list.  This is so important as we age and already have brains full of minutia.  If I don’t do this, I forget something. Usually PJs or a toothbrush, but sometimes something as important as lingerie. Yeah.  Remember that post I did on my train of thought having left the station? I may be packing, but it’s already on the trip.

Happy trails!

18 comments on “Travel tips for the experienced + the inexperienced traveler
  1. These are such great tips…every single one of them! One thing we do need to remember to do more often is #2 though!

  2. Ryder Ziebarth says:

    One tip: I wear black exercise tights/ pants on the plane. Gap Body carries an inexpensive and good wearing pair. I buy the straight leg version, and they act as compression on my legs for long flights. I wear a comfortable thong, and loose and long sweater (covering any figure flaws!)I wrap a pashmina around my neck, scarf style. I can be an accessory, a cover up, a shawl for temple visits, an extra layer over iffy blankets on a hotel bed and a warm layer as I sleep on the plane. In my carry on, I pack extra white and black tee shirts. In a pinch, like lost luggage – I can rinse the pants/tights and change the shirts for days, adding a scarf form my travel.
    Also: I’d pack the liquids (applesauce) in Ziplock baggies-stuff can explode. In the medicine pouch I’d add a little tube of Neosporin- the fastest skin healer I know-and blister bandaids. I also add that my Doctor had me take stool softeners, which I took each night ( it is not a laxative!) to be sure I “went” every day, and a swig of liquid Peto-Bismol ( and yes, a probiotic) each morning to protect my stomach. (It has worked so far!) Ryder

  3. Haralee says:

    A great list. I especially like that you say “make a list”, and tip #1.

  4. Doreen McGettigan says:

    This is a great list Carol.
    In all of my years of traveling I recently had my luggage lost for the first time. It was 4 days before I got it back. Luckily I had my medication with me. I did not have any clothes or underwear.
    I would say if at all possible do not check a bag.
    On most flights at the gate they ask for volunteers to check their bags because of lack of overhead space. A skycap friend told me this is the safest way to check a bag, last on, first off and there is no charge.

  5. Kymberly says:

    In all my travels I had not thought of Tip #2. Good one! I had my luggage delayed for a week when I worked on a cruise ship. The airline had to fly my suitcases to the Spitsbergen Islands, which was the cruise ship’s first port of call. The onboard dancers loaned me fancy clothes so I could eat dinner, which was with the passengers. Travel tip – put phone charger with your carry on as well. Make copies of your passport and put those copies some place other than where the passports are. Also leave a copy with someone back home.

  6. GREAT tips! I also roll my clothes to save space & avoid wrinkles OR use those vacuum bags – you can get a lot in a small bag! 🙂

  7. Diane says:

    Fantastic ideas! I’m saving this article . . .

  8. I usually take only 3 pairs of shoes- one for dry, one for wet, and a pair for evening. I craft all my clothing choices around them, and I travel in one of them, so I’m only packing 2 pairs.

    • admin says:

      I try really hard to get along with 2 pair and in a dry climate, I can. But we’re off to NYC this weekend & i have to bring my Uggs, and workout sneakers and a cocktail party pair. Not to mention my huge fake fur coat that makes me look like a bear. I guess I”m bringing it on the plane.

  9. Viviann says:

    I always try to travel with those disposable wet towelettes. They come in handy when toilet paper is scarce.

  10. Nice tips!! #2 is a great one. We usually try to travel with only carry on luggage, but whenever it isn’t possible (traveling with a small child, needing clothing for multiple climates, etc.) we each pack 2-3 full sets clothing for the other person.

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