Summer has finally come, which means it’s time to take a much-deserved vacation from our busy lives. Whether you have a break from school or some vacation days saved up, summer is the most popular time for travel.
So many people, however, find travel stressful. I used to as well! It can be exhausting getting to new places and packing. Many vacationers don’t know where to start or get overwhelmed with all the nitty-gritty details of planning. Vacations are about stress-free living and should not be full of worry.
As a full-on travel bug and lover of organization, over the years I have come up with my top travel tips to make every vacation easy breezy. Here are my top 10 travel tips for your travels this summer.
1. Check-In online.
Check in online if you can! Bonus points for downloading your boarding pass onto your phone. This will save so much time at the airport. If you are checking a bag, you can check them outside at the curb. Avoiding the long lines and going straight to security is worth tipping the airport concierge.
2. Pack a change of clothes in your carry-on.
Pack a change of clothes and pajamas in your carry-on bag just in case (God forbid) something happens to your luggage. This will eliminate the immediate stress of losing your belongings. You, also, never know when you could have a spill or after a long flight just really need to be in your sweats.
Any medications you take, your toiletries, and important/expensive belongings like cameras, laptops and designer items should also be packed in your carry-on.
3. Bring snacks and an empty water bottle on the plane.
Hangriness can ruin a travel experience. Make sure to bring some snacks on the plane that are easy to access, and will give you that boost of energy when you feel your blood sugar crash coming on. I also recommend bringing some bars to stash in purses for food emergencies throughput your trip. It eliminates planning everything around being hungry.
An empty glass or metal water bottle makes travel easier because you can fill it up at the airport and your hotel. It also saves you a pretty penny and the environment. No one has time for $10 water bottles. You can even bring a thermos and have flight attendants put in hot water if you want to make your own tea, coffee or matcha.
4. Invest in a good suitcase.
Having a nice suitcase that is light and has a good set of wheels makes all the in-between travel easy peasy. Whether you are traveling by plane, train or automobile you will be all set to load and unload easily.
My hard and fast rule for traveling is “never take what you cannot carry on your own”. You want to be mobile and it eliminates the travel stress of figuring out who can help. To add another layer of help, I only buy bright colored or unique suitcases which helps me know which is mine and makes them harder to lose or be taken by accident.
5. Put on luggage tags.
Whether you have matching leather luggage tags for all of your suitcases or just use the paper ones they have at check-in, make sure to have an accurate email address and phone number. They may look silly or seem frivolous, but if your luggage does get misplaced or taken this can be the factor between you losing it forever or getting it back.
6. Book your flight six weeks ahead of time.
This travel hack is not well known, but it will help you get the best deals on flights, which leaves more money to use for things like tour guides and that hotel upgrade.
Another hack is to use a private browser because airlines will track what you are searching for and then the prices for those flights the next time you log on. If you fly a lot, and definitely if you make the same trip for work or family quite often, make an account with that airlines to get points and sign up for email alerts on sales.
7. Make an itinerary.
Having a laid-out plan for your trip, whether it is hour by hour or a broad overview of what you want to see that day eliminates the stress of planning while you enjoy your trip. When I travel I put together a google doc brainstorm of all the places I want to go while I’m there, and then do my research to see which are close to each other and can be done on the same day. This will make your days flow smoothly and it allows you to book tours, museum entries, reservations, etc ahead of time so that everything is already set up when you get there.
8. Have a scanned copy of your passport.
If you are flying internationally have a scanned copy of your passport on your phone and a printed copy in your bag in case you lose it. This makes it easier for an embassy to get you a new one if it is lost.
9. Buy data and minutes.
So many phone providers have cheap plans or “pay only if you use”. The cost is worth it. In those moments of panic where you get lost in a new place and need the maps app or need to call a cab, you will end up paying way less than roaming charges, and then you have no worries.
You can also use apps like Whatsapp, Viber and Skype to use while on WiFi, so you are only using cell service when you need to. Another key tip is to download parts of Apple maps so you can use it while offline.
10. Exchange money at your own bank.
Airports and other exchange centers tend to charge a higher fee, and most banks will exchange for free. You should order it a couple of weeks before you leave. If you run out of local currency or did not have time to make it to the bank, then use your debit card at a local atm.
Bonus: Quick Packing Hacks
I always always have a foldable handbag or purse in my carry-on that I can use for everyday outings and short trips. When you have an extra bag, you don’t have to lug your whole carry-on bag all day or empty everything out of it. I love my Longchamp for this reason. It comes with me on every single trip because I can fold it up, and then stick it in my backpack until I need to go out. My other must-have items are a neck pillow and I wear a scarf on the plane that can double as a blanket. Sleep is key.
Buy mini versions of your products or reusable travel sized bottles. Don’t get caught with liquids over the limit or get forced into buying huge bottles that you have to leave at the end of your trip.