At least every six months I'll empty my laptop bag and suitcase and remove items that I don't regularly use. There are tons of travel and technology gadgets that seem like good ideas, and it can be tempting to pack backup clothing, batteries, and a half-dozen pairs of shoes, but at some point you're going to be dragging, lifting, and hauling those items while they contribute nothing to your trip. In all but rare cases, items from clothing to chargers are available nearly anywhere in the world, so six pounds of backup gear is probably not worth hauling for a year on the off chance you will need it and can't find a local replacement.
Everyone aspires to pack light. Some travelers are successful, others can’t help but bring everything and the kitchen sink. Here on our blog, packing light tips are the most popular posts. Even veteran light packers like Jeremy and I are always open to new ideas. Packing light is a process, not a goal. We can always get better. So we asked our favorite travel writers, speakers, designers, and CEOs, “What’s your best, non-obvious tip for packing light?“
But I’ve learned a ton from my experiences, too. To celebrate seven years since I stumbled my way out of the U.K. and began a life of full-time travel, I’ve compiled an enormous list of my biggest and best travel tips. These are all things that I wish someone had told me before I started traveling, so I hope you’ll find them useful, inspiring, educational, and entertaining.

When it comes to travel and entertainment, my recommendation is that you bring your own. Your laptop is a media center, and with the addition of a small external drive and some light speakers (or great headphones) you can carry with you a huge collection of music, movies, and TV shows. So settle in, brew a cup of coffee or hot chocolate and fire up the latest episode of 30 Rock! This way, you also avoid hotel room pay-per-view movie charges.
Another fun way to explore California is to travel by train—a great way to enjoy the scenery instead of focusing on the road ahead. Amtrak’s legendary Coast Starlight and Pacific Surfliner trains follow ultra-scenic routes up and down the coast. The Capitol Corridor provides an easy east-west route across Northern California, while the San Joaquin slices through the broad and sunny Central Valley with connections to Yosemite National Park and other destinations. Along the way, there are options to link to Amtrak Thruway buses, which serve more than 90 destinations statewide. (Plus, you can disembark and rent a car at major stops to do additional exploring.) Depending on the route, you may be able to book a space in a special sleeping car, with access to an exclusive parlor car.
“When there are problems with the flight, most people start out annoyed or even hostile. If I tell the agents what a great job they’re doing and how I admire their patience, they'll often go to extraordinary lengths for me,” says motivational speaker Barry Maher. “I once had a gate agent spend 45 minutes to get me rebooked on another airline. Then she called the gate, grabbed one of my carry-ons and ran with me to security. When I got to the gate, the agent bumped me into first class.”
While the external stresses of travel are often outside your control, how you manage them is completely within your control. If you let an unplanned delay throw you into a state of panic or rage, travel can become unbearable. When faced with anything from unending delays to slow-moving crowds, pay attention to your stress levels and take a deep breath, listen to music, or otherwise maintain your calm, and you'll find travel much more bearable regardless of what's thrown your way. This is especially important in unfamiliar environments. I've been threatened with deportation, found myself in Beijing back-alleys and completely lost, extorted, and dropped off at the wrong location with no way to communicate with my driver, but a deep breath and a smile ultimately allowed for recovery.

What great tips! I’ve been traveling for years and there is a learning curve for sure. I had a sharp learning curve when the kids arrived because boy are traveling things different when you take the littles! One tip that never changes no matter the group or your changing situation is your #25 “Tell your traveling partner how much you appreciate them. That is SO true. Being appreciative of your family makes all things better – good times, bad times and everything in between.
What happens if you arrive in a city, go to grab your email confirmation for your accommodation, and your phone and laptop are out of battery? I always make sure I have a hard copy of my guesthouse name and their address, as well as directions if I won’t be taking a taxi. Once I arrive, I’ll grab one of the hotel’s business cards, so I’ll always know where I’m staying, and can show it to locals to ask for help with finding my way back.
Airports now have shower rooms, so it is much more convenient to refresh at the airport instead of wearing a suit throughout the flight. You’ll look fresher and more prepared for the meeting too. This is even easier when you’re flying on a private jet. You can refresh in-flight and simply hop onto the car that picks you up ready for the challenges to come. It is the ultimate way of flying indeed.
For campers, hikers, kayakers and other adventure-bound travellers, packing for travel means more than tossing a toothbrush and change of clothing in a bag. To be prepared for rough terrain, unpredictable weather and small living quarters, you need to plan ahead. A light backpack with an internal frame is a good option for carrying essentials without weighing yourself down. Dual-purpose clothing that's both windproof and water-resistant can help you stay warm and dry, while taking up minimal storage space. Bandages, water bottles, flashlights, insect repellent, sunscreen, and a GPS may take up some luggage real estate, but you'll be happy you have them when and if you need them.
Have a few overflow items that just don't seem like they'll fit? Try closing and zipping your suitcase completely (even if you have to sit on it to make it work). Then reopen your bag and try adding the items in any available spot (think corners, spaces between larger items, etc.). Often, once you've compressed the bag by zipping it shut, you'll find just a bit more room once you open it again.
"I have a small zippered pouch that I always put in my carry-on bag — in it I stash all the things that I want to keep with me on a flight (headphones, earplugs, EmergenC, phone, wallet, etc.) so that when I board I can just pull that pouch out, toss it into my seat, and then place my carry-on in the overhead bin, quickly and efficiently." — Nathan Lump, Editor in Chief
If travelling for a long time, take your own device that can pick up wifi, like a smartphone or tablet. We didn’t do this because we didn’t want to bring an expensive item backpacking, but it turned out to be incredibly expensive to use the internet, or impossible to find any. Yet there is free wifi in places all around the world, and you quickly realise how often you need to tap in to things like bank accounts or travel bookings. More: 10 ways to cut your smartphone roaming costs

But there's an exception to this rule: If you're packing something really valuable, you may want to consider purchasing excess valuation (EV) from your airline. It's not insurance per se, but it increases the airline's liability limit. You'll likely have to ask your airline for it directly; carriers don't often advertise EV, and many travelers have never even heard of it. You can sometimes buy baggage insurance from car-rental companies and travel agencies as well. 

But what about work trips? Suddenly, the inconveniences of travel are mixed with the potential awkwardness of spending 24/7 with your co-workers. Like it or not, though, you’re bound to have conferences, client trips, or company meetings on the calendar at some point. So before you pack your bags, here are a few tips on making it tolerable and even—dare we say it—fun.
Throughout the year festivals are held in almost every small Icelandic town and village, that thematically reflect the historical and environmental soil from which they sprang; from Siglufjörður’s Danish Days in the West to Dalvik’s Great Fish Day in the North, each town occupies its own calendar space, attracting large numbers of visitors who join the townspeople in celebrations of local music, food, dance, and drink.

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.

Most prepaid credit cards come with some surprising hidden fees, such as inactivity fees, reloading charges, monthly fees, activation fees, and so on. John Ulzheimer, CEO of SmartCredit.com, told CNNMoney, "Consumers need to realize that any insinuation that a prepaid card is less expensive than a debit card is false, and any claim that it will help you rebuild credit is just a lie."

They know about everything going on in town. They can point you to free activities, special events happening during your stay, and everything in between. They even offer discounts on attractions and transportation. It is their job to help you experience the destination better. It’s amazing how many travelers skip this when they are visiting somewhere but, as a savvy traveler, you know to use this resource! This is probably one of the most underused travel tips in the world. Use the tourism board! Save money!
5. Keep your belongings safe. Avoid carrying too many luggage pieces and invest in a small sturdy lock for your luggage. Try to choose one that doesn’t stand out, so it doesn’t appear as if you have something really valuable inside. If you have a hand-carry with you, never leave it unattended. Buy wallets that have RFID protection to avoid identity theft.

This saves both time and money, as all you need to do is let them know how many people are traveling and what type of accommodation is required—if you don’t like their suggestions, you can look elsewhere but if you do, they book your transport or/and hotel for you and everything is done in a matter of minutes. A B2B agency’s buying power and volume of bookings enable them to negotiate discounts that are unobtainable by an individual traveler or even a group. Through their services, small businesses have access to much lower room rates than can be found on a hotel website or a booking platform for leisure travelers. Using the services of a travel agency also saves time and effort that is better spent on preparing for the upcoming meeting / event rather than browsing for budget hotels.
Bugs always seem to be on vacation, which explains why so many people return from their travels covered in bites. Spare yourself a trip to the pharmacy and treat an itchy bug bite with a basic bar of soap from your hotel room. Simply wet the bar a bit, rub it on the bite, and let it dry. Some people recommend rubbing the dry bar directly onto the bite, so experiment to see which method offers more itch relief. Take it with you and you'll have the perfect travel-bite remedy, since as a solid, your trusty miniature bar of soap isn't subject to the TSA regulations that itch-relief gels and creams must follow.

One of the greatest aggravations when flying for work is getting to the airport late; well, when not checking bags, you can usually skip the lines at the counter and head straight to getting probed and prodded at security (after checking in online). Brought your company notebook and worried about it getting tossed about by the luggage handlers? You avoid that anxiety when you handle it yourself for the entire trip. Additionally, you have eyes on your bag for the whole trip, so you can rest (and fly) assured knowing that your bag won’t get misplaced en route.

If travelling for a long time, take your own device that can pick up wifi, like a smartphone or tablet. We didn’t do this because we didn’t want to bring an expensive item backpacking, but it turned out to be incredibly expensive to use the internet, or impossible to find any. Yet there is free wifi in places all around the world, and you quickly realise how often you need to tap in to things like bank accounts or travel bookings. More: 10 ways to cut your smartphone roaming costs
Get ready to roll. With its mild climate, outstanding highway system, and nonstop-gorgeous scenery, California stands out as the perfect place for a road trip. And renting a car is about as easy as it gets. Whether your trip itinerary is a statewide tour of California’s greatest hits, a all-in-the-family visit to iconic theme parks, or an off-the-beaten-track adventure, there’s a vehicle to match your mood and style—snazzy convertibles, family-friendly vans, rugged models that can handle all types of conditions (even snow), even campers and Rvs, all in excellent shape and with good road assistance and optional insurance policies.   

Packing your electric toothbrush or razor? Make sure you either take the batteries out or tape the item's switch in the "off" position. Battery-powered devices can easily turn on after being jostled around in a carry-on, which can in turn draw the attention of security. Play it safe and pack your batteries separately from your battery-powered items.

What great tips! I’ve been traveling for years and there is a learning curve for sure. I had a sharp learning curve when the kids arrived because boy are traveling things different when you take the littles! One tip that never changes no matter the group or your changing situation is your #25 “Tell your traveling partner how much you appreciate them. That is SO true. Being appreciative of your family makes all things better – good times, bad times and everything in between.
Sunscreen’s a good idea for situations where you can’t otherwise avoid extended sun exposure, but it’s got its problems too. It enables you to spend unnatural amounts of time exposed to the sun, and unnatural is almost always bad. Plus it blocks your skin from absorbing all the sun’s nutrients. There’s also a debate about whether some of its chemicals are toxic or not—if not to you, at least to the environment. And…
Very informative post Lauren! I use most of these tips myself but there were a couple that I hadn’t thought of before – I especially love 89. I google image places to see what they look like too. I have also always used Skyscanner but have started looking on Momondo a lot more as there have been a lot of times when flights are cheaper on there. I also recently discovered Secret Flying which publishes error fares and great deals for flights – some of the deals on here are unbelievable!
It’s good to have a budget to stick to, but most people tend to go over. Start saving as soon as possible (like, now) and aim to bring more money than you think you’ll need. The more money you have, the more you’ll be able to treat yourself to nicer accommodation, splurge on fun tours, and not spend your entire trip worrying that you’ll run out of cash.
The tips and information here help you know the ins and outs of travel in the Golden State, with tips on best times to travel, transportation, accommodation and camping, even good-sense guides for bicycle fans. Details here can help plan your trip and tell you where to turn for more useful information and insider tips once you get here. Happy planning.
Most recently, in Laos, I gave school supplies to a library in Luang Prabang that helps children further their education. It was rewarding to see the children excitedly rummage through the items. Even a small amount of volunteering and donating can make an immense difference, and result in some of the most awesome experiences you can have while traveling!

Scan a copy of your passport, any visas, and any debit/credit cards you’re traveling with. Password protect the documents, and email a copy of them to yourself and to a family member . If everything you own gets stolen, you can access them safely from your email account, take your copies to your embassy as proof that you’re who you say you are. Plus, you’ll be able to buy flights home and pay for accommodation with your debit cards to keep travelling/go home in an emergency.
For something a little more unique, pay a visit to www.RoadsideAmerica.com. This website lists unusual landmarks and tourist attractions by state. (Headed to Omaha? Get your photo taken in front of the city’s 6-foot bronze statue of Chef Boyardee!) Convincing your co-workers to do something silly or partake in the local culture will provide some surprisingly good team bonding time (not to mention photos for the break room).
Download the Google Translate app before you leave and use the camera feature for translating menus, signs, posters, and anything else you need to read. You simply press the camera icon, aim your phone at the text, and it translates it all in real-time for you. This was so unbelievably helpful for menus in Taiwan, where I had no idea what anything was.
Sure, you should have a rough plan for your trip, but don’t book everything in advance or you’ll likely feel too restricted and end up regretting it. Book a one-way ticket and your first few nights of accommodation — you’ll figure the rest out along the way. It’s not as intimidating as it sounds. If you’re in a tourist destination there’ll always be someone who’s willing to take your money by giving you a place to stay.
when staying in a hotel, just below the peephole in the door, there is usually a sign describing protocol for emergencies. next to this sign is (usually) a card inserted with room prices, check-out times, etc. pull this card halfway out and use it to cover the peephole for privacy. this gave me peace of mind when my young daughter and I traveled alone. an alternative would be to cover the peephole with a small piece of blue painter’s tape. I also locked and bolted the door and placed the (empty) plastic trash can a few inches from the door before we went to bed. this would give us valuable seconds if someone tried to enter our room while we were asleep!

But there's an exception to this rule: If you're packing something really valuable, you may want to consider purchasing excess valuation (EV) from your airline. It's not insurance per se, but it increases the airline's liability limit. You'll likely have to ask your airline for it directly; carriers don't often advertise EV, and many travelers have never even heard of it. You can sometimes buy baggage insurance from car-rental companies and travel agencies as well.
It's tempting to walk into one of the travel shops and just go bananas. You could spend thousands in there, picking up things like special travel shirts with breathable material, compression sacks, wire mesh thingys to wrap around your backpack, money belts, karabiners, hiking shoes… But you don't need any of it. Wear clothes you're comfortable wearing. And using a money belt is like carrying around a sign saying "rob me".
“I’m a firm believer that everything you need for a trip — whether it be three days or three weeks — should be able to be packed in a carry-on. This is simple once you master the art of layering your clothes. Choose a color combination for your attire and pack only pieces that match this so that you can mix, match and layer to create different looks (instead of packing completely separate outfits).”
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