5 Travel Tips that Work
Things to get Done Before Travel
Sign up for TSA Pre-Check (TSA,gov)
Verify that you have the Right ID - License, Passport, Other (DHS.gov)
Download the "My TSA" App. There is a Search Feature called "Can I bring my..."
Begin grouping travel items
Sort travel items
Packing is Seldom Fun but it Remains a Necessary Part of Travel
Packing for a trip is seldom fun even if we are looking forward to the trip itself. Putting it off only leads to stress, extra expense and disappointment. You can ask my husband what last minute packing can do to someone that is always organized, has purchased every travel gadget and gizmo on the store shelves and has been looking forward to her trip for the past year. Heck - what am I saying, he sees the same last minute terror in my eyes when we travel one state away to visit the kids for a day and a half.
Honestly however, I am getting better with every trip. I guarantee that eventually you too will tire of lugging around that extra 20-30 pounds of unused travel items. Then like me, just to get out from under the bulk and the weight, you will justify spendping $50 or more to send selected items home via a delivery service in order to survive the balance of your stay.
The stress, expense and disappointment can be eliminated. Over time I have put into practice some tips and tricks of packing for a trip that works well and that can be adjusted to fit most any trip.
I will concentrate here on those domestic trips that last for a few days to a week.
Getting started, regardless of the task is the hardest part - so let's just get going and see how we do by travel day.
First Task - Make a Packing list
Permanent lists are easy to make and save on a cell phone, a tablet or even on a piece of paper. I prefer the techie way because of the ease of editing - but it is your choice. Why a list you ask? My answer comes from personal experience, I see no reason to duplicate stress every time I decide to travel.
Travel necessities seldom change but it is amazing how many items get left behind because we forget them. Sure, we can buy many things once we get to our destination but that takes time, costs more than need be and what if it is unavailable. Just make your list already!
Alright, let's start listing items we think we need: (Start out in general categories)
- A travel bag or two (luggage, backpack, tote)
- Boarding Pass
- Under Garments
- Sleep Garments
- Daily Outer Garments
- Exercise Garments
- Jewelry (watch, earrings, rings, bracelets)
- Personal Hygiene Items (toothbrush, toothpaste, floss, deodorant, brush, comb, heating iron)
- Medications (prescription, over-the-counter)
- Glasses (perscription, readers, sunglasses)
- Electronics and Accessories (Cell Phone, tablet, laptop)
- Toys, Games, Magazines
- Cash, Credit Cards (RFID Protection)
Editing your lists and adding specifics is important after each trip. Sometimes I add items and then sometimes I delete items. Guess the first items eliminated - yes you got it - all of those items shipped home from my previous trip!
Ready to Travel
Second Task - Make a To Do List
In addition to you travel items list you may wish to include a to-do list as well. Include deadlines, ticket confirmation numbers, bills coming due, shopping needs, credit card "out of town" notifications as well as contact information for each, medication refills etcetera.
Shop for the items appearing on your list as shop for items such as travel toothpaste, a new toothbrush or new toothbrush head for your electronic toothbrush and some form of floss. I always buy myself a new cheap battery powered toothbrush and bristle cover for each trip. Replace or add makeup, Replace or add a pair off reading glasses. A good protective pair of sunglasses is a must.
This would be a great time to apply online for a "Pre-Check" (Known Travel Number) from the TSA. It is a wonderful thing to keep your shoes on and to not have to unpack your electronics while passing through the security lines at the airport. This requires some monetary outlay and some time but it is worth it!
It is a personal choice of how you store passwords - all I say is have access to the passwords you may need while traveling. There are Apps that keep your passwords secure
Download apps such as those that provide your airline information. As a side note - there are apps that by adding flight numbers, provide flight information that is interesting for those left at home.
Third Task - Add Items to your Bag - No Need to be too Specificwhen Sorting - Yet
I use plastic food storage bags to gather similar travel items together. I either place the items inside or a note that lists the needed item(s). These could be items you are still using, items without a final decision or items that need to be purchased.
As you add items you plan to take, you will see your travel vessel filling up. This will give you a visual perspective of how much room everything takes. Once spill over begins add a bag to hold it - this will save time in the end and will make it less likely that you forget something important. My final edit involves quite a bit of swapping one item for another. I may even to switch out my chosen bag in the end.
Some items can be included early on such as under ware, socks, scarves, extra pair of reading glasses, new toothbrush and pen and paper.
If you have duplicates include charging cables for all electronics you plan to carry. It is optional to include more than one of each cable due to multiple electronic devices needing to be charged all at the same time.
I have a small surge protector that I always travel with that provides both ordinary electrical ports and USB ports. Be prepared for unexpected outlet locations - could be under/behind furniture, on lamp bases or in the bathroom. Another handy dandy charging device I carry is one with multiple USB ports. Instead of charging one device at a time - one USB port on my surge protector becomes power for four USB ports. I believe it cost about $10 at a big box store.
if you love gadgety items like I do there will be plenty of them that you think you cannot live without - but these items may not make the final cut. That's OK because there will be another trip in the future. If you pack light enough you will not need a bag scale.
If your wallet is RFID protected you will not need an extra pouch for your identifying documents. It is extremely important to have RFID protection for your "chip" credit cards, bank cards, driver's license and passport so if you need both - have a pouch large enough to fit your wallet inside. You may ask WHY? Well, the guy or gal near you may have remembered to pack their RFID scanner in order to electronically steal your Identity.
Forth Task - Review and Tighten Up Your Travel Item Sort
With a week or so before your travel date you need to review both your packing list and your to-do list. This is the time to ramp up your dedication to this project and to start adding items to your bag that you think you want to pack.
Make decisions concerning your overall wardrobe and accessories that you plan to take. Do you need a new white blouse/shirt or a blacker pair of pants? Is there a need for formal wear? Are you prepared for the forecasted weather at your destination?
Do you need to replace buttons or have rips repaired? Dry cleaners will often take care of small repairs after cleaning your clothes or as a separate service.
With the multiple airline regulations there are some things that should not be packed - especially in carry on bags. Always check your airlines website for current information before packing questionable items - a few of these items may include fingernail clippers, aerosol cans and razors.
Add a small flashlight to your list. You never know when you may need it. Long lay-overs give you time to get a bit of work done or provide projects for the kids. Unpacking your bag to find a cable or video is unnecessary if you can see what and where things are inside your bag. I use mine to check the bed at the hotel for you know what - bedbugs.
While traveling and at your destination I suggest that your bag(s) only be set on hard surfaces whenever possible. I always dedicate the hotel room desk and the bathroom counters my staging spots for my bag and everything in it. This protects my belongings and reduces the chance of forgetting anything when checking out of the room.
Fifth Task - Is that Bag the Right One for this Trip? Pack
You may not have the option to choose between travel bags/luggage, but if you do this is an important decision to make. Unfortunately, I have purchased several travel bags that have failed to solve the problems I perceived that they would. Hopefully I can steer you in the right decision through my trials.
Most of my personal experience is with carry-on bags so most of my suggestions pertain to that subject. Checked baggage have a few less restrictions but still require following the rules of the airlines as well as the TSA. Again, check your airline's website for information. You will not always have the opportunity to make arrangements for your disallowed belongings, so your only choices is to throw the item in the trash or to miss your flight - often neither choice is acceptable.
Last year one of the conventions I attended did not allow attendees to bring any wheeled bags into the venue. That was a real shock to my system and I did not pack well for the trip. Both of my carry on bags was too full and too heavy and truly ruined the experience compared to previous years. I over estimated my need some technology items as well as personal need items. I did however learn some very good lessons for the future.
If traveling to an event you may encounter the same restrictions I did. Terrorism is a huge concern for event planners so their decisions are made with everyone's safety in mind. It is the attendee's responsibility to know about and to follow the rules - convenient or not. Anyone with special needs or possible exemptions such as the media/photographers need to make requests prior to arrival at the venue.
TSA Security could be Less Stressful with Pre-Check Status
Enjoy your Travels!
The goal of all this preparation is to ensure that you enjoy your trip as much as possible. You've made your lists, you've done the shopping, you've done the sorting, you've made your choices, you've packed each item that made the final cut. All of this and without too much stress.
When you return home review your lists and edit where necessary. Half the work will already be done for your next trip!