Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Travel hacks

Inaugurally linking up with both The Climbing Tree and with Malinda to share some travel-related thoughts.

My Brown Paper Packages

Awhile back, I was swapping travel hacks with a friend. I decided to put together a list of some of my favorites.
  • If traveling with someone else, cross-pack a few essentials in each others' bags. That way, if one bag gets lost, you'll still have some items available to you.
  • Pack old underwear, socks, and any other clothing/footwear that is on its last legs. Wear them for the last time on vacation, then dispose of them before coming home. You can do the same thing with toiletries that are nearly used up.
  • Pack shelf-stable snacks such as trail mix, sports bars, peanut butter, and crackers. Bring along oatmeal packets and tea bags, then just add hot water. Runners and other athletes out there - bring powdered Gatorade or Nuun.
  • Pack lots of mix and match clothing items that can be dressed up or down. For example, black pants or jeans and nude-colored flats can go with pretty much anything.
  • Workout clothing can double as sleepwear.
  • Stuff small items like socks and underwear into your shoes before putting into your bag.
  • Roll clothes instead of folding them. It saves a lot of space and wrinkles will be minimized. 
  • Pack as many wrinkle-free items as possible. Who wants to deal with ironing while on the road?
  • Drawstring backpacks are so compact and they are great if you need to free up some space in your suitcase. They're also great for walking around.
  • Put some dryer sheets in your suitcase to keep things smelling fresher. Bring a little bag or plastic container of powdered laundry detergent - you never know when it might come in handy.
  • Bring a scarf. It's so compact, yet it can be used as a wrap, an accessory, a blanket, a sarong, etc.
  • Have two sets of all of your toiletries, one for home and one for traveling. Keep a prepacked bag of your second set of toiletries to just toss into your suitcase. Refill travel-size toiletry containers instead of buying new ones.
  • Bring a reusable and preferably foldable water bottle and refill it at water fountains as you go.
  • Email a scanned copy of your travel documents to yourself.
  • Get a portable cell phone charger. Check to see if you can mix and match any of your USB cables (e.g., my Kindle, Garmin, and MP3 player all use the same type of USB charger).
  • Bring a preloaded Kindle instead of a bunch of books.
  • Exercise bands and workout DVDs take up very little packing space, but can provide a lot of fitness options.
  • When traveling abroad, notify your bank and credit card companies in advance.
  • Shop at local grocery stores or markets. It's a great way to interact with the locals, find local products and souvenirs, and avoid tourist mark-ups.
Drinking as the locals do while in Seoul
  • Carry a small notebook and writing utensils. You never know when you might need to jot some thoughts or notes down. When filling out customs forms, pens always seem to be in short supply, too.
  • Study the local map and familiarize yourself with the public transit system/map in advance.
  • Talk to the locals and read reviews! Skip the concierge-types and be wary of tour guides, as they are sometimes commissioned on their suggestions.
  • Maximize your smartphone! It can serve as your calculator, translator, map, weather tool, games, Skype, camera, alarm clock, book, transit reference, the list goes on and on.
  • Use that smartphone camera to photograph your parking spot, key intersections, suitcase, hotel/car damages, etc.
What other travel hacks do you suggest? Please share!


  1. These are great hacks! I'll have to think of mine- I'm heading out to Seattle tomorrow!

    1. Thanks Katie! Please do share your travel hacks - travel is a lifelong learning exercise!!! Have a fantastic trip to Seattle and I can't wait to hear your recap!

  2. Great ideas! I love traveling with my iPad, because I load it with books, movies, and it functions as a laptop too!

    1. Thanks Wendy! The iPad is an AMAZING tool. It can do pretty much anything! How did we live without iPads and smartphones just a few years ago!?!?!?

  3. Great hacks! I love the throwaway trick. I always do it to free up space for purchases, which are Starbucks mugs...

    1. Thanks Marcia! Ah yes - it is essential to be able to free up space for souvenirs and purchases!!! Sometimes I bring an extra duffle bag purely with the intention of filling it up. =D

  4. Some great tips here. Though I must admit that I like to take my best underwear on holidays with me.

    1. Thanks Malinda! And yes - there are certainly plenty of good reasons to take the best underwear with you while traveling! It does help to feel more pulled together, so to speak. =)

    2. Ha ha - exactly! Thanks for joining in #wednesdaywanderlust

    3. Thanks for hosting Wednesday Wanderlust! I am excited to link up on a regular basis going forward!!!

  5. Awesome tips, Emily!! I have resisted the clothes rolling trick. I have no idea why! I may try it next weekend in Colombia. I love love love foreign grocery stores. Love.

    1. Thanks Erica! I am so excited for your trip to Colombia - I can't wait to hear your recap and see all your pictures!!! If you do try the rolling trick, please let me know what you think!!!

  6. These are great tips! Much remember for my next one.

    1. Thanks Zenaida! Please share any travel hacks that you have, as well!