If looming baggage costs and stronger airport security measures have you in a tizzy, you're not alone. Things we once took for granted when flying, such as complimentary beverages and checked luggage, are fading fast. Most U.S. airlines charge at least $25 to check a bag, and some even charge for carry-ons exceeding backpack-size—but there's no need to panic. Learning how to pack efficiently is the key to lightening your load (but not your wallet). Here, our travel experts share their tips to streamline your packing for a stress-free vacation.
The best way to fit more into your bag is to have a suitcase that grows with your packing needs. Expandable suitcases double as two bags in one, often starting out carry-on size but expanding to a larger bag when needed. We love the Briggs & Riley Baseline Domestic Carry-On Expandable Upright, which grows by 25 percent with the pull of a lever. If you're packing for a big trip (or need extra souvenir space on a return flight), simply expand the suitcase.
The idea behind private jet card membership programs is simple. The service provider can get an airplane ready in a few hours. In return, you pay a discounted fee – due to the private jet card – and can save a lot of time. The best private jet card program also includes additional services, including a concierge to handle all of your travel arrangements for you.
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.
Similar to the chauffeur service, I have often seen spa services offered at business class lounges. We experienced this for the first time during a lengthy layover in Abu Dhabi. I figured I had the time to make the most of a business class flight, so why not. After grabbing a snack and checking email, I booked a free mini foot massage. It was only 15 minutes, but it was well worth it. My feet ended up being a bit oily from the massage, but no worries. I was able to remedy that quickly.
Packing is pivotal. Forget an essential item and you're left disappointed and scrambling to find the nearest store in your destination. Pack too much and you end up disorganized, burdened with heavy bags, and hemorrhaging money to pay for pricey airline baggage fees. So we thought it best to revisit the most basic—and most useful—packing rules. Here are 10 fundamental packing strategies that every traveler should learn.
The secret to looking great once you disembark has as much to do with the type of clothing you pack as with how much shut-eye you get on the plane. Your best bet? Choose wrinkle-resistant fabrics that dry quickly, such as washable silk, nylon and micro-fibers. Cotton is generally less forgiving, as it wrinkles easily and takes longer to dry—especially denim. However, if you love cotton, Brooks Brothers has stylish lightweight cotton blouses specially designed to withstand wrinkling.
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.
When I decided to see if it was possible to visit the Maldives on a budget, information was so sparse that I couldn’t even find a photo of the islands I’d decided to visit. Well, that trip was one of my highlights of the past seven years and I’m so glad I went, despite not being able to find any information online. And the advantage to that lack of information was getting to be the only tourist on an entire island — I had the whole beach to myself!
When possible, even on business trips, I try to avoid hotels and stay with a member of one of my homestay networks. I find the genuine contact and family atmosphere a welcome change from conference hotels. Yes, there's some transportation logistics, but generally, I find it worth the schlep across town to make new friends and get my batteries recharged.
I love getting to explore a new place during a layover, and will almost always extend my travel day so that I can spend three or four days in a new city. Some of my layover highlights from the past five years include 48 hours exploring the Golden Circle in Iceland, spending a few days getting lost in Muscat, and when I spent 24 hours in Abu Dhabi just so I could take photos of the Sheikh Zayed Mosque.
“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.”
Get out of your comfort zone and make an effort to meet local people. This is easier said than done, especially if you're traveling with friends or a partner, but it will dramatically affect your travel experience. So many of us go to the all-inclusive resorts or backpacker hostels and never get a real taste for local culture, food, or traditions, and then come home and talk about what the "country" is like. Stretch your comfort zone, push your social boundaries, and travel deeper.
"Bring a mesh or collapsible laundry bag with you. When you're traveling to your destination, you can lay it over all your clothes to keep things in place. During your trip it helps keep your clothes off the hotel room floor and on the way home, it helps separate dirty clothes from clean — easy to grab and do your wash after a trip, too!" — Lindsey Campbell, Senior Audience Engagement Editor
On average, travelers save about 30 to 40 percent when booking a vacation rental versus a comparable hotel. So in most cases you're already ahead of the game when you sit down to haggle over price. That's right, haggle. Property owners may not advertise that prices are negotiable, but often they are; and if not price, then at least the length-of-stay requirement may be flexible. A property may say it requires a week's stay, or a Sunday arrival, or any number of other rules. What this really means is the owner would prefer it. It can't hurt to ask, politely, if there's room for negotiation.
We've compiled a list of reputable companies with rental outlets statewide. Check charges in advance; there are lots of options including insurance coverage and extras, so be sure you get what you need and know what you’re paying for before you drive away. Companies may also offer a pre-pay fuel plan with discounted prices, worth considering if you know you’ll likely use up at least 1 tank of gas.
If you are told there are no rooms available, in your most friendly tone, remind the hotel manager that you are a business traveler and that the hotel is one of your company’s preferred vendors (if true). If that doesn’t do the trick, report the incident to your travel manager immediately so they know where you’ll be spending the night and can take up the matter with the hotel as well.
This rip-off is especially noxious because it is based on a lie—that the fuel surcharge somehow isn't part of the regular fare. How bad it is? Recently, British Airways posted a round-trip from Boston to London with a base fare of $208, plus $230 in government/airport/security taxes and fees and a $458 "carrier imposed" (read: "fuel") surcharge. Ridiculous!
Flimsy shower cap or custom shoe cover? You decide. In every suitcase, there's a constant battle between dirty and clean items. Score a victory for fresh-smelling shirts and dirt-free trousers by keeping your shoes contained in a shower cap. Place them in, soles down, and let the shower cap's elastic band cradle the shoes so that any dirt, grease, or unidentified muck stays safely tucked away inside the plastic pouch. Depending on the type and size of your shoes, you may need more than one shower cap, but housekeeping is usually pretty generous with them.
If you're going to be traveling routinely, it's worth buying duplicates of key items and leaving them in your travel bag, versus remembering to repack them after using them at home. For me, this is things like laptop and phone chargers, toothbrushes, and basic toiletries. I rarely forget these necessities since I have a travel set that's always in my suitcase or laptop bag.
I generally don’t mind staying in hostel dorms, but if there is one among the good business travel tips I have been given, it is to avoid them whenever I am traveling for business reasons. Indeed, I do need my sleep, especially if I have had a long day and I have a packed schedule the following morning. The last thing I need is having to fight my way to sleep through someone’s snoring, and there’s always bound to be a loud snorer in a dorm. This was the case in my hostel in Tel Aviv. It was so bad that not even ear plugs helped to block the noise.
This list is incredible and so unbelievably helpful to me – I just wanted to say how happy I am to have discovered your blog and your book! I’ve been battling anxiety my whole life and am five days into my first ever solo-backpacking trip for in SE Asia. Two days ago I was feeling incredibly overwhelmed, so I googled how to deal with travel anxiety and stumbled across your work. It made me feel so much better and I’m doing my best every day to follow your example and push myself far beyond the limits of my comfort zone. Thank you for being you and for all of the inspiration you’ve given me in just a few short days – can’t wait to finish your book and catch up on the backlog of posts I’ve missed!
No, it is not a good idea. Liberals have been giving these people the idea they are special and privileged above the rest of Canadians simply because their ancestors lived here before Europeans arrived. This is creating animosity and division like we have never seen before. All Canadians should be officially simply Canadians. Leave our historic traditions and symbols alone and stop trying to tear down our statues of our first PM, John A MacDonald.
Hmmm, it really depends on which countries you’ll be visiting and how you’ll be travelling. During my first year, I stayed mostly in hostels, spent the majority of my time in Southeast Asia and Eastern Europe and was on a tight budget and spent around $11,000. Last year, I was travelling on a mid-range budget — lots of Airbnb apartments and a few splurges in luxury hotels — and spent my time in Western Europe and Australia/New Zealand and spent $20,000.
6. Try a cycling tour. An organized bike tour can be a simplified, luxurious way to see new parts of California. Dozens of companies—including Backroads, Trek Travel, Bicycle Adventures, DuVine, and many more—offer trips everywhere from Joshua Tree to wine country to the northern coast, and they often include gourmet local cuisine and overnight stays at high-end resorts.
Among the best business travel tips around, there are those that suggest how to pack. Indeed, packing for a business trip is not the same thing as packing for a holiday. There is an unspoken rule that one should dress smartly on business meetings. I always make sure to carry a pair of smart pants and a skirt, a couple of dressy tops and nice shoes that I can wear at meetings, and a dress and heels to wear at events and parties. Packing cubes help keeping things in order inside the suitcase, and minimize the risk of creasing.
Your flight attendant hustles hard to keep you safe in the sky, often receiving no thanks. These men and women could use a little love for all they do, so we asked a handful of flight attendants what it would take to make their day. Their answers varied, but almost all could agree on one surefire way to win them over: Bringing treats is the easiest way to get on your flight attendant’s good side, hands down. And you’ll be surprised at what they do for you in return.
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…
I am particular about having my toiletries organized and in one place. So, I was excited to find the "Hanging multi pocket cosmetic bag" from The Container Store. The hanging hook is the key to the product. It's great to bring to budget hotels that may not have much sink space. I can hang it on a lamp or on the door, and have my shampoo, perfume, makeup, cotton balls, etc. in one place. This is a travel essential must have!
Major airport can provide on-site assistance to and from flights, including wheelchairs; call your airline in advance for details. Some rental car companies offer specially outfitted vehicles with hand controls, wheelchair accessibility, and other assistive devices. Amtrak train service provides added services for passengers with disabilities, as well as a 15% discount on regular travel fares.
So, when it comes to packing personal items, it is best to keep it scant. Dark colored clothes are a plus because they hide stains well and can often be reworn. Shoes without laces are extremely convenient for getting through security. A Dopp kit or toiletry bag can be within your set of go-to’s to ensure you don’t show up to a meeting with rancid breath because you forgot toothpaste. Gather the essentials here and ensure that the rest is versatile.