Before you just blindly take my advice, let me tell you why I am qualified to share these tips. :-) Before the age of two, I had been on over 30 flights, and I grew up with a family that constantly travelled so I was trained young, as they say. I also lived overseas in my childhood and was able to travel all over Europe at a young age. Being in sales in my professional career, I travel frequently. I travel even more for personal fun, getting antsy when I'm in the same city for too long. I've been to almost every state and over 40 countries. At any point in time I have over 8 trips planned. Needless to say, I have made or seen ALL kinds of travel faux pas happen and I want to help you avoid as many as possible!
Here are my top 12 tips for fun, easy, and organized travel
1. TSA Pre-Check For The Win: It might seem like a hassle to go all the way to the airport and do an interview but the actual interview takes less than 5 minutes and it is SO WORTH IT! It has personally saved me from missing over 5 flights due to long security lines at the airport. Not only does it save time, but you also don’t have to deal with taking out liquids and computers or taking off jackets and shoes. You just put your bags on the conveyor belt and walk right through - so easy!
2. The BEST Carry-On Luggage: When looking for a carry-on wheeled suitcase, there are three things that are most important:
- It must have the ability to expand (you can always check it if it doesn’t fit in the overhead when expanded, but it is important to have extra room in case you do some shopping or bring back more than you came with).
- It must have four wheels! Even if you aren’t always pulling it around, standing the suitcase up on all fours is a much easier option for navigating airports and cities.
- It must have an outside pocket/zipper that fits my laptop. The laptop is one of the heavier items carried on a trip and also one of the most used: when you go through security it must come out, when sitting at the gate it often comes out to do a little extra work, and when getting on the plane and stowing your bag it also often comes out so you can work or watch a movie on the plane. Easy access is key and the outside pocket makes it easy.
3. Travel Credit Cards: My personal favorite is the Chase Sapphire Preferred. Even if you only use them to book flights, you are earning points that you can use on future flights, car rentals, hotels and Amazon purchases. You have to book flights with a card anyways so why not use one that gets you points for the future?
4. No Cash Back: Do not get cash back from credit cards! Trust me: you are not getting the full value by doing so. It is so much more advantageous to get the miles/points as you will get more money in the long run. I have booked countless flights with points that I would not have been able to afford with the cash back I would have gotten.
5. Travel Chains: If at all possible, pick a hotel and airline chain, or two, and stick with them. Personally, I fly United and Southwest, I rent through Hertz and stay at Hyatt hotels. By consolidating your chains you are consolidating your points instead of spreading them over multiple chains. These chains also happen to be the chains that my Chase Sapphire Preferred credit card links points to, so I can easily rack up points and use them with my chains. You will also gain status at these chains and with status comes free perks. They like to reward their frequent travelers with upgrades, priority boarding, lounge access and less wait time. While these can seem insignificant they can be really beneficial.
6. Reward Points: If you travel for work, make sure your frequent flier number and hotel and car rewards numbers are on your account and that you are receiving points for your trip. This is the easiest way to get points as your company usually covers the cost of travel for business trips. You can then combine these with your personal points accumulations for free trips faster!
7. Find a Buddy Who's Always DTT (Down To Travel): Traveling with people can be really hard especially for extended periods of time. Find the person you travel best with, who has similar ideas on what to do when in new places (Explore as much as possible? Relax? Hit the tourist spots or the off the beaten path gems?), how much money should be spent on trips (Nicest restaurants? Eat cheap and local? Make your own food?), how you will get there (plane, train, road trip?), and where you will stay (Friends? Hostels? Air BnB? Hotel? Campsite?). Once you have that go-to travel person, it is easier to travel! If you find a cheap flight or you want to go somewhere, you don’t have to go through the effort of asking all your friends and family if they will go, but rather can go straight to this person, see if they are free and book the trip.
8. Extra Chargers!!: There is nothing worse than getting somewhere and realizing you forgot a charger and your battery is dying. Get an extra phone charger or computer charger and keep it in the suitcase you use the most. I can’t tell you how easy it is to forget your charger at home especially if it is plugged in to the side of the wall by your bed as mine is. It is just as easy to forget in the hotel room or the place you are staying. This way you are always covered.
9. Water: Drink lots of water. The easiest way to fight jet lag is to drink tons of H2O!! On international flights, I always ask for two glasses of water every time a drink is served to remind myself to drink. It is easy to forget but it really helps you feel better after a long flight.
10. Cosmetics Bag: Have a bag of cosmetics with travel size everything (lotion, dry shampoo, face wash, hair spray) on hand and packed at all times. It makes it easier to just grab the bag pre-packed and put it in your suitcase, then try to pack the morning-of while getting ready which usually leads to items forgotten! If you have a stockpile of travel sized items on hand and use one on the trip, you can replace it in the bag when you get back thus making sure the bag is always stocked.
11. Toilet Seat Covers... It's Not What You Think!: You know how your face is usually a little shiny after a flight? If you don’t have rice paper face blotters, don’t worry, just head to the nearest airport bathroom. The toilet seat covers located in every stall are also made of rice paper! Just take one and use it to blot the oil off your face so you can eliminate the shine and reapply makeup to a fresh face. Works like a charm!
12. Last but certainly not least... The CDC Website: If you are traveling internationally, always be sure to check the CDC website for recommended or necessary vaccinations needed to enter certain countries. Some countries require proof of vaccinations to be allowed into a county, others are just recommended, but better to be safe than sorry.
That’s all the tips for now.
Happy travels! What are YOUR top travel tips for our Grit Fam?