A few years ago, I was hardly ever on a plane or in other cities. I was usually just busy with school and trying to get all of my credits completed in time.
After college, I started traveling more regularly. When I first started traveling more I would get stressed about preparing for a trip. I’d worry about delays, luggage, getting to places on time etc. There, of course, have been some mishaps but over time I started getting into the swing of a routine and learned a couple of tricks to stay organized and stress free.
Here are some of the things I’ve learned from recent trips:
1. Pack light (when you can).
I used to be the Queen of overpacking. I remember when I studied abroad in Italy several years back, the amount of luggage I took there and back was embarrassing. When it was time to pack up and head home, I had to have my roommates help me drag boxes of things to the post office and ship home! On top of that I still had two huge suitcases and a carry on I was taking with me on the flight. The last thing I remember was sitting outside Santa Croce in the freezing cold with snow falling down on our faces. We had about 8 suitcases between the three of us and were hardcore STRUGGLING to find a cab that would fit all of our luggage and drive us to the airport. It was so stressful, we thought we were going to miss our flights. Not to mention dragging all those bags around was just down right exhausting. I think we took a picture of all the luggage, it was that hysterical. If I find it I’ll post it so you can see what I mean :).
Now I think twice about whether I REALLLLYY need two types of curling irons, a straightener, 5 pairs of shoes, etc. For longer trips it can be hard but when I can I’ll stick to carry ons only and pack as little as possible. I have a small spinner (spinner suitcases are EVERYTHING) that I use regularly plus a backpack. If the trip is short enough, I’ll even ditch the spinner for just a backpack and a large tote bag.
Here are some pros for avoiding checked bags:
- Don’t need to worry about losing your bags
- No waiting around when you land
- Switching flights or flying standby is a whole lot easier should anything go wrong with your original flight.
For my carry on, I currently use this Calvin Klein spinner. I use Sami’s Victorinox backpack because it has soooo many amazing compartments, the only downside is I wish it came in more girly colors. Finally, for my purse/tote I use the Pietro Uptown because it’s spacious and has a zipper so I can slide it under the seat without worrying about losing anything.
2. Loyalty pays off.
Choose an airline, choose a hotel brand, and stick with them as often as possible. I learned this from my coworker when I first started working at my current company. I quickly learned that reward program perks can come in handy. Having some miles and points in the bank can be really useful come holiday time when you need to fly around to see family/friends.
Different brands have different perks so it’s important to do a little research and find one that fits your lifestyle. I fly Delta (this is not sponsored) mainly because they have a lot of flight routes. They also partner with a variety of international airlines so I never feel limited with where I can go. I don’t have first hand experience but I hear that JetBlue is a good airline to fly with if you’re a “destination” traveler and tend to fly to popular vacation cities.
It’s also a good idea to download the apps for the brands you book with most. It really does make life that much easier. I check into my flight during the ride to the airport so I can skip the check-in line and head straight for security. I can also be pretty picky with my seat – as close to the front as possible and either a window or aisle – so I’m able to check the app at all times to see if any better seats open up and automatically switch.
3. Don’t forget the snacks.
Let’s be real. Plane food is not the greatest. My go to is the cheese plate and maybe a glass of wine but sometimes it just doesn’t fill me up. Pack snacks like nuts and seeds that can keep you full for long journeys. Avoid anything with strong odors because it’s tight quarters and you want to be nice to your neighbors :). My go to snacks are pistachios or some type of trail mix, something sweet like dark chocolate or m&ms, and granola or energy bars.
4. Do your research before you go.
If you look at the photo app on my phone before I take a trip all you’ll see are screen shots after screen shots of places to visit or restaurants/cafes to try. When I get to my destination, I like to have places prepared in my mind that I want to go to so I can map out my route and modes of transportation.
It seems pretty basic but I mostly use Instagram to research. I’ll do a quick google search for bloggers that live in the city that I’m going to and then I look them up on Instagram and check the geo tags in their photos. Clicking into the people and places that are tagged in each photo helps me discover additional places I wouldn’t have discovered otherwise. When something looks interesting I screen shot it and save it to my phone. Then I look at the map and strategize when I want to visit each place and how far apart everything is.
You don’t need a minute by minute itinerary but having some places in mind and a sense of the available transportation really does help save time and energy that you can put toward exploring and having fun instead!
5. Long trips and international trips need extra prep.
If you’re going away for a while it’s not only important to make sure your plants are watered and garbage is taken out but it’s also important to make sure you call your bank and phone company if necessary! I’ve seen way too many phone bills sky rocket and even had my phone shut off while in Australia to make that mistake again! It’s important to let your bank and credit card companies know you’ll be overseas so they don’t put a hold on your account for suspicious activity.
6. Lastly, savor every moment and have fun!
It’s great to take photos and have those memories to physically look back on years from now BUT (and this is hard for me to say since I’m a photo junkie) also remember that photos don’t always do some places justice. Sometimes it’s just better to put the camera or phone away, stop worrying about getting your next social snap up, and just enjoy the scene and company around you!
P.s. if you have any helpful tips/rules you stick to when traveling I would looooove to hear about them in the comments below!!
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