“For those trying to pack light, it’s difficult to choose worse items than bottled liquids (and gels, and aerosols). They are heavy, bulky, prone to leakage (especially on airplanes), and a security concern. And with but a little forethought, the vast majority of them can be eliminated entirely. From shampoo/conditioner to toothpaste, from sunscreen to insect repellent, from facial cleanser, foundation, and moisturizer to mascara, bronzer, and face mask, even exfoliants and perfumes, all come in solid versions that will save you weight, space, hassle, and the environmental cost of excess packaging.”
Make the most of your layover in Iceland by booking one of Icelandair's tours, including a transfer to the Blue Lagoon between flights. See Dubai without having to pay for a visa with Emirates' stopover offer, which includes a free visa for a one-night stay. Get to the Eiffel Tower, even if you only have seven hours at Paris' Charles de Gaulle Airport, by booking the Paris Transit Tour from Aeroports de Paris.
That said, however, there are scammers out there, and it's the naive rookie travellers that provide their easiest targets. I was scammed the first time I travelled. And the second time. And the third time. There's no easy way around this – you're often dealing with pros who've been doing this their entire lives. Just roll with the punches and try not to part with too much cash. (Read: Ten classic travel scams)
"Unless you're traveling super long haul, you don't need a $50 neck pillow or $300 noise canceling headphones. Bring some foam earplugs if you want to sleep on the plane, and roll up your jacket for a pillow. Same comfort for a lot less money," says Hester, a writer at Our Next Life early retirement blog, and veteran of "100+ flights a year and 80+ hotel nights."
From a health perspective filters can remove Giardia and Cryptosporidium from untreated or contaminated water and other bugs which can cause nasty gastrointestinal diseases. And then there's the plastic – you can reduce the amount of plastic (between 8 and 12 million tons a year!) that ends up in the ocean. Finally, my filter water bottle saves me on average US$425 a year on buying bottled water. Now, why wouldn’t you want that?
I used to be disastrous with my tech, but now that I have cases for everything, I’m doing much better. It’s worth getting a shell for your laptop, a keyboard cover for accidental spills, a sturdy case for your Kindle, and a waterproof case for your phone. Replacing tech is expensive and spending a day trying to figure out which island you need to fly to in the Philippines in order to get your laptop repaired is frustrating.
If you’re suffering from food poisoning, it’s best to let it run its course rather than clogging yourself up with Imodium, but there are some situations where it just isn’t possible to do so. I’m talking flights, long bus journeys, booked tours, and anything that requires you to leave the bathroom. A large supply of Imodium is something I always have in my backpack for these emergencies.
Even if you don't normally use lip balm, it can still be an important item to pack. Breathing dry airplane air, being out in the sun, eating salty foods in transit—travel inevitably leads to mild dehydration and chapped lips. And there's something off-putting and vaguely predatory about constantly licking your lips. Lip balm can also be used to tame frizzy hair ends, soothe dry cuticles, protect skin from windburn, and even unstick a stubborn zipper.
The Bundle Approach: This ingenious method of packing, which we learned from Judith Guilford, co-founder of the Easy Going travel store and author of The Packing Book, has now become our favorite. It’s a bit difficult to explain without a demonstration, but we’ll do our best. You need luggage that opens up and lies flat to do this. You will also need a flat, soft, pouch-like rectangular “core” with dimensions that are at least 1/2 to 3/4 the size of your luggage compartment. This can be a pouch filled with underwear or something similar.
Rushing around like this prevents us from being present as everything begins to blur together, and the travel experience becomes less connected and more superficial. It's good to have an idea of what you want to do in a place, or a destination in mind, but then allow yourself to be open to going off-plan, to getting lost along the way and discovering something completely different.
We love this TSA-friendly recipe for stone-fruit oatmeal squares. Filled with natural fruit flavors but not overly sweet, they can serve as a quick afternoon snack or ready-to-go breakfast treat for an early-morning flight. Even better, they can be baked and frozen in advance so you won't have to scramble to prep right before you depart. Just take one or two out of the freezer as you head to the airport and allow them to thaw on your way. The recipe is also quite versatile. You can use any stone fruits, such as nectarines, peaches, or plums, making the squares especially ideal in summer (though pretty much any fruit, including apples and berries, can be substituted as the seasons change).
Tissue Paper: For delicate items, one of our favorite packing tips is to use tissue paper. Lay the item face down and place tissue paper on top. Fold it up with the tissue paper inside. Use additional layers of paper as you fold the garment so it is completely wrapped in and around paper. This is easy enough the first time you pack, but becomes a pain if you have to keep repacking. We only use this approach for evening clothes that we don’t want to crush.