In some respects, I’m amazed at how staggeringly little I’ve grown as a traveler: I still roam cities with nary a clue as to what I’m doing, I’m still motivated largely by my quest to stuff as many baked goods into my mouth as possible, I still weep a little when forced to read a map. But I’d be lying if I said I didn’t learn anything. I have picked up a few tips and tricks that I’ve gleaned from my many copious mistakes. Here are the best of of them – my my top travel tips and lessons learned from the last few years.
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?“
This is one of our favorite ways to cut down on travel product overload: Stock up on tiny product samples. The best sample-sized products are the ones that come in flat little packets; you can easily fit legions of these into a quart-sized zip-top bag. How do you score them? A number of beauty and skin-care companies sweeten their sales with freebies: Sephora, Aveda, and Smashbox, for example, throw in tiny travel-sized products with orders. Or you can sign up for a beauty-product sampling service, such as Birchbox or Glossybox, which ships packs of sample-sized products to members who pay a subscription fee.
As a productivity trainer, I travel quite frequently. Sometimes, there can be quite a bit of downtime. It could be long delays between flights or canceled flights requiring you to rebook on a later flight. This often causes travelers a great deal of stress. But, don’t fear downtime. If your flight gets delayed, you might default to checking your email or doing other work. However, it may be more productive to use this unexpected time to meditate or just let your mind wander. This kind of mental break boosts your productivity and creativity.
Travel can be hard on leather shoes, purses, belts, and jackets, so if you find yours looking worse for the wear while you're on the road, turn to your hotel bathroom for a quick fix. Liquid shampoo has an amazing superpower: a small amount, rubbed in circles with a cloth, can clean and restore the rich color of leather. It can also be a handy and quick way to protect leather shoes from winter salt stains.
This advice is twofold: Wear layers and pack in layers. First, your on-the-road wardrobe should feature plenty of layers, which will help you jetset through multiple climates in style and comfort. Second, the items in your bag should be packed in neat layers for easy screening. According to the TSA, "Pack items in layers (shoes one layer, clothes one layer, electronics one layer, etc.)" so that the security agent screening your bag can get a clear picture of what's inside. The faster the TSA agent can screen your stuff, the faster you'll get through the security line.