Packing really is an art form. With airfare as high as it is, paying for luggage or anything else on a flight is often yet another sting to the soul. The mission, then, is to determine the best way to maximize the value of your trip so that you may enjoy the experience. We’ve included a few travel staples– key tips to help you skip fees, save some cash, and master your experience, from planning to landing. Check ‘em out:
Packing & Reservations
Check your cell phone plan before you go-– wifi only? That’s okay. Get WhatsApp! Can you text for free? How much are phone calls?
Buy in person. When getting ready to buy your flight, check your prices as early in advance as you can. Check multiple sites. Then, if you’re close to an airport, go in person and ask about your flight at the two cheapest airlines you found! You’ll find that taking your purchase offline and into an airport will reap a number of discounts.
Leave time to spare in booking. Do your research on potential flights. And when you’ve settled, buy your flight as far in advance as you can. No matter which place you choose to purchase, buy your flight with as much notice as you can.
Consider the visa and vaccine requirements for your trip in advance. Right after you buy your tickets is a great time to take care of this part. Are there any Dept of State warnings for that country? Do you need any immunizations?
Plan your bags. Can you swing having a (large) backpack as your personal item? If you’re flying internationally, check your luggage size requirements (especially for Asian and European airlines), as they may be a bit smaller. Try to find a bag that just pushes the envelope. Also, consider packing (into your bag) a day pack!
Pack light. I can fit more than 10 days of clothes in a carry-on and a personal item. Part of that victory is in strategic packing– keeping with a color palate, planning my outfits and working them in layers to suit the variations of the destination’s climate. Finally, I always eek out a bit more space by wearing my bulkiest/heaviest shoes to the airport, and considering how many layers I can muster onto my airplane outfit!
Maximize your luggage real estate with Roll & Fold, but use cubes if you can. So packing cubes are the most efficient way to get every inch out of your suitcase. If you’re not interested or into that packing cube life, there are other ways to efficiently take advantage of your packing space. Roll your clothes! With the exception of formal attire, most clothes take up far less space when they’re rolled (and you skip out on unnecessary and unwanted creases).
Sit in the middle. Seriously, though we understand the struggles of elbow room in the middle, please understand that there are benefits to this seat. That is, the seat has the most room out of the three options (window, aisle, and middle), and you’ll have an easier time with your baggage and with your limbs– you can spread out!
Pack some powder detergent so that you can hand-wash things as you need. If powder detergent isn’t your thing, consider a castile soap (addressed in the next item, too!) to hand-wash your clothes along the way.
Consider multi-use products. There are soaps that can be used as shampoo as well as detergent, body and hand soap. Castile soap is a great option! Also, consider whether there are other items that can be consolidated into a single product.
Think about solid alternatives. That is, can you replace your shampoo (if you don’t use a castile soap) with a shampoo bar? Can you find a solid body lotion or perfume? If you can find these things, not only do you reduce the risk of spills in your clothes, but you can also ensure that you find the space for each of the things you wanted to take.
Stretch your products with water. Shampoo can be stretched (at a 1:3 ratio of shampoo to water) to lengthen the use of the product. Are there other concentrated products you can put together for your travel bag?
Oh, if you’re drinking on the plane? Take it with you. Seriously, you get liquid carry-ons. Why waste money on the flight on airport-priced alcohol? But please remember– the recycled air on the plane is particularly dry. Remember to hydrate, and to keep your skin hydrated!
Before You Go
Research your local options. Have you identified back-up/emergency accommodations? Do you have local numbers? Have you picked out things to do (places to eat, attractions) and have you left yourself enough room to opt out? Finally, let your family know where you’re staying and direct and indirect ways to reach you in case of emergency. Seriously, having experienced the last minute need for accommodations in country, I have to tell you that you’ll be ever-grateful for this is one.
Let your bank and emergency/credit card holders know you’re traveling. Among the worst things that can happen is that your security protocols kick in and you end up stuck away from home with no access to money.
Get the exchange rate and order local currency before you go. It’s always cheapest to get currency from a bank. Check with your bank or credit union to see how long it’ll take to change your money, and leave enough time to have this done. While you’re at it, get extra!
Confirm your reservations before you leave. Because things happen.
If this is a big trip, consider travel and travel health insurance. If the health infrastructure isn’t great, if you are going somewhere potentially dangerous, or if you are going away for a longer period of time, check your health insurance. Do you need the option of an emergency evacuation?
Stash your valuables. Seriously, put them away, both at home and among your things for your trip.
Organize transportation in advance. Research the costs to avoid being taken advantage of and ensure that you will have some sort of transportation to and from where you’re staying.
What other tips and tricks do you have for minimizing baggage and ensuring you have a smooth trip? Do you have other packing ideas?