Other smart garments include vests with elaborate hidden storage systems, scarves with savvy pockets, and ExOfficio's insect-repellant button-downs (perfect for a trip that takes you from indoors to out). Convertible bags will also extend your wardrobe and lighten your carry-on load; this option from Tumi converts from a flight-friendly backpack to a tote bag for everyday use.
At many hotels, check-in and checkout times are far from set in stone. Loyalty members often get the option of early check-in or late checkout, and sometimes hotels offer the option with certain packages or room types. And if you've got a late flight or just need a home base for a few more hours, it never hurts to call the front desk and ask. Often, the hotel will be happy to oblige.
Furthermore, if you're in a higher-risk situation—if, say, your medical insurance doesn't cover you abroad or you're heading to the Caribbean during hurricane season—travel insurance might be a smart purchase. Otherwise, maybe you're better off pocketing the extra hundred dollars or so and taking your chances on the road. To learn more, read Travel Insurance 101: What to Know Before You Buy.
What happens if you don't follow the Transportation Security Administration's (TSA) 3-1-1 rule for carry-on luggage? Attempt to bring a large bottle of shampoo or a full-size gel deodorant through the security line and the TSA will likely confiscate your stuff, holding you up in line in the process. So get familiar with the agency's rules: All liquids brought onto planes must be in 3.4-ounce bottles or smaller and inside a single, clear, quart-size zip-top bag.
Recently, for example, a nursing mother was told by a TSA agent that she couldn't bring a breast pump with empty milk bottles on board the plane. (Legally, she could.) In 2007, the TSA lifted its ban on regular lighters, but many screeners still confiscate them. (Legally, they can't.) The moral of the story: Familiarize yourself with the TSA's rules and regulations, because you can't necessarily expect your security screener to be well informed.
I pack lots of scarves. They use practically zero room in a suitcase and are so versatile. They allow me to create multiple outfits from the same top and bottom by providing different colors and textures, and they also can serve as protection against the cold or sun. I have used a scarf as a picnic blanket and as something soft (or protective) to sit on. Also, I pick up scarves wherever I go so it turns into a travel moment, too! Misadventures with Andi
This may sound corny, but in an age where travel is stressful and everyone is grumpy, you'll find you go a lot farther if you lead with a smile. I've gotten free First Class upgrades, room upgrades, even free products and services just because I was polite, courteous and cheery. Sometimes, I have to fake it -- after all, business travel is HARD, but you'll find it's easier on you and on others if you lead with kindness.
One of my top travel hacks is to create an Excel/spreadsheet that I share with my other travel companions to ensure that we thought about the major details of the trip. A lot of people get really overwhelmed when trip planning as there are so many details to think about. However, if you like to do independent travel, a spreadsheet can be really helpful for figuring out the logistics of your trip ahead. This way, you can just show up at your destination with no stress.
It also helps to know which items are, according to the TSA, considered liquids or gels and thereby subject to the 3-1-1 rule. This isn't as simple as it sounds. Foods such as peanut butter, pudding, mashed potatoes, and icing are classified as gels. Mascara, lip gloss, and aerosol items are also classified as liquids or gels. But keep in mind that liquid prescription medication is exempt. (Read more on that on The TSA Blog.) See a more complete list of liquids and gels that are not permitted in carry-on luggage in quantities greater than 3.4 ounces here.