30 Terrific Travel Tips

(picture credit: blog.ted.com)

Often it’s the small things that can turn a good journey into a great one. During the last giveaway, I asked those who entered to post their favorite travel tips and they generously shared ones covering topics from health to packing to souvenirs.

Below are 30 great ways to make your next travel adventure even better. I’ve added a few of my own as well: 


  • If you love travel planning, great, but if not, travel with someone who does and then say “thank you.”

Staying Healthy:

  • Stay hydrated on long flights or train journeys by drinking lots of water and/or juice (tomato juice is a refreshing choice) and skipping caffeinated and alcoholic beverages (which can be dehydrating).
  • Swab Vaseline inside of your nose during a flight to avoid catching a cold from others
  • Wipe down everything around your seat you may touch with antibacterial wipes, and carry antibacterial gel for your hands after using the bathroom.
  • Don’t use the airplane-provided blanket or pillow; bring your own shawl for a coverup, and your own neck pillow. The airplane blanket or pillow can be placed in your seat for additional lumbar support.


  • Pack as lightly as you can, and travel with as little luggage as possible. Once you’ve put in everything you want to take, try to remove at least a third or more of it because that’s probably what isn’t needed and won’t get used.
  • Choose lightweight clothes that can be layered easily.
  • Choose quick-drying clothes if you won’t be staying where there are a washer and dryer.
  • Only pack a few small-size toiletries. Once at your destination assess what’s on hand and purchase more there if necessary.
  • Pack a clean, damp, inexpensive washcloth in a plastic bag into your purse or personal carry-on item. Upon arrival wash your face, hands, and neck – very soothing after a long flight!
  • The most important clothing item you take along is a comfortable pair of shoes.
  • Sturdy canvas shopping totes make great, lightweight personal carry-on bags. They’re easy to carry, fit under the seat in front during a flight, and can hold lots of items along with a purse. Plus, you have a reusable shopping bag when you arrive.


  • Your own photos make the best souvenirs. Take lots of pictures!
  • Purchase interesting postcards at your destination, then back home display in a basket where you can easily pull them out and remember your trip.
  • Purchase small but useful gifts and souvenirs: tea towels, earrings, kitchen utensils, coffee mugs, t-shirts, holiday ornaments, linens, scarves, lipsticks or other small cosmetics are lightweight and pack easily.
  • Small, packaged food items make great souvenirs and help you recreate the tastes of where you’ve been. Avoid larger jars or cans as they have to go inside checked luggage and can boost the weight.
  • Give children a set amount of spending money upfront to buy their own souvenirs or snacks with the understanding that a) they can’t ask you to buy them something, and b) when the money is gone, it’s gone. Children learn very quickly to think carefully about spending when they control their own money.


  • Carry along a cooler when you travel in a car or by train (from small to full-size, depending on the space available), or a small one with you on a plane to keep snacks, meals, or drinks cool and fresh.
  • Choose low-cost portable food (i.e. sandwiches or wraps) and add fruit or fresh vegetable for light, healthy meals – the variety is endless.
  • Save your loyalty program points to use at airport food purveyors for free or discounted meals so you don’t have to pay airport prices. 
  • Always try the chocolate wherever you go!

On the Road:

  • Pay careful attention to arrival times and make lodging arrangements accordingly. If your arrival time is early in the morning, you might not be able to check into your hotel until later in the afternoon and have to wander around with your luggage for several hours (not good if you’re exhausted). If you can’t book an afternoon arrival time, you can reserve lodging beginning the night before, and ask that your roomor  be held for you.
  • During your travel day, count your baggage and “toteables” after every stop or activity (i.e. stopping for coffee, using the restroom) to make sure nothing has been left behind.
  • Always bring along something to do in downtime, whether that’s reading, a game, knitting or crocheting. If you have to wait or have a long layover, it will make the time pass more quickly.
  • Have a plan, but be flexible. Stay calm, work with the unexpected if you have to, and accept you can’t control everything.
  • However, always have a Travel Plan B in case of an emergency, and an emergency fund to cover the unexpected.

On the ground:

  • For long-term travel, think about carrying small utensils and other practical items you can’t do without, things like a vegetable peeler or washcloths. A wireless charger is a good addition as well.
  • Don’t schedule every moment – give yourself room to be spontaneous.
  • It’s OK to have a bucket list of things to see and do on your journey but give yourself time to wander down a sidestreet or turn down an alleyway you keep passing or go into a shop that looks interesting. Try that unknown dish or food. Your curiosity will thank you.
  • Travel with a sense of wonder.

Any travel experience will be as good as you make it, and adding a few new tricks along with having a positive attitude can and will improve any journey.


20 thoughts on “30 Terrific Travel Tips

  1. Many hotels have a locked closet where they will happily store your luggage until check-In time. Call ahead and ask!
    Also if you travel by car and end up buying a cooler, you can check it as your second free piece of baggage ( if the airline allows that ). We put our shoes or dirty clothes in and duct tape it shut. Since we live in Alaska, the coolers get reused for visitors taking fish South with them.
    Thanks for the compilation of great tips.


    1. If a flight is arriving later in the morning, but before check-in, a locked storage closet might be the answer, but if a flight is arriving early in the morning following a red-eye flight, having your room available to put your luggage away, catch up on some sleep and being able to freshen up is worth paying for an extra day.

      I did not know that about checking a cooler. When our son and family made trips back to the U.S. they often stocked up on food items and American toys and books for the kids – they would purchase a plastic storage container, and either duct tape it closed or drill holes in the rim and secure with zip ties, and then check that as an extra bag. We’re taking extra stuff over to Japan with us this time, and will purchase a cheap piece of luggage from Goodwill to use as an extra bag, and then leave it in Japan.

      I really enjoyed the tips I received from readers, and learned a few new tricks.


  2. What a great list. I really like the one about packing your bag and then about removing 1/3 of what you originally thought you could not do without!

    On the most recent trip I did not pack shampoo or conditioner as every AirBnB I have stayed in before provided those items. Since we are not too picky it seemed like a great idea—not! Yes, our first stay in MIM had them.. but not our 7 day stay in Edinburgh. So I found a drugstore and bought 2 travel size shampoos. When the first got much lower I left it behind and used the second. And on the crossing there were courtesy shampoo and conditioner but because I did not think I would need there they stayed…

    Another tip I have learned is to ask AirBnB hosts if they have a hairdryer. I did not on this trip, until I had already purchased a light weight one, ask one host if they had a hairdryer…as their listing did not show they did. Sadly their listing was the only one that did not show a hair dryer. I only asked once on the trip, learning they did .which meant they had not updated their original listing…so in the large suitcase left for storage went the hair dryer. Bringing the newer lightweight one was one of those classic “just in case items.” I also purchased it because I just could not see me not being able to style my hair except just by leaving it wet over the 7 days we were staying there. But I love it and will relegate the older hairdryer to our guest bath.

    We have a quick family visit in 3 locales soon and once more my goal is to refine packing light!


    1. I used to always pack way too much that I didn’t use, but eventually became a carry-on only traveler, bringing only what I needed. Our travel now requires a larger suitcase, but I’ve learned to be careful with how much I carry. Brett has always been the original light packer – all those years wearing a uniform taught him how little you really need to take along. I thought I’d be sick of his clothes by now, but I’m not (nor is he).

      My trip for traveling lighter(er) is to color coordinate your wardrobe. Pick three colors and work around them (mine are indigo blue, black, and gray – they all sort of work with each other and give me lots of variety. I did buy one pair of green pants for a tiny bit of variety, but don’t wear them much).

      I think we’ve always had a hairdryer in our Airbnb’s, although I don’t use one. You found a great solution for your older hairdryer, and it sounds like the new one might be easier to pack and carry?


  3. I pack an empty water bottle. To get through security it has to be empty but most airports have water refill stations once you are through security. I refill from tap water as I travel. I use a small plastic “single use” bottle so it doesn’t matter if I lose it and it weighs nothing when empty. Small means it can also fit in a handbag. But I have water when do all that walking. And if I don’t remember to bring one, I keep the one given out on the plane. Or as a last resort, buy a bottle of water and then keep refilling it.


    1. We do too – we bought a Hydroflask last summer and carry it empty through security then fill once we’re through – we like that it keeps the water cold for longer. It occasionally happens that we do end up with a plastic water bottle, but we’ll use it until it falls apart (we do buy plastic bottles in Japan but they are fierce about recycling them there).


  4. We are taking a month-long cruise to the South Pacific and New Zealand next fall. What to pack? Clothes for the warm, wet, and humid islands, plus enough for the temperate climate of New Zealand. Oh, and of course, a few nicer outfits for some of the dinners on the ship.

    I have printed your list and stuck it in my September file for next year. Good ideas!


    1. Dealing with multi-climates and situations was what we were up against when we were first deciding what to pack. What has come to work for both of us is traveling with a limited color palette that we can mix and match, or layer, for more variety. We’ve also chosen items that are for the most part easy to care for, but we still have a couple of things have to be dry cleaned (a sweater for me and Brett’s sports coat), so we take care of that whenever we settle into once place.

      Readers really came through with some great tips – I’m adding a few to our repitoire.


  5. Great tips! We do carry-on as much as possible, and it helps me to travel with someone (DH) who doesn’t have many things in his 1-quart bag. That way, I can fill it. 🙂

    In the past, I’ve found I always have things I don’t wear, things I wear on repeat, and things I wish I’d brought along. So I’m keeping travel notes and hoping to get better at predicting it going forward. Also, we go to Canada a lot to visit kids and grands and find the NEXUS card indispensable. If we traveled overseas more, I’d invest in Global Entry. The lines at the border can be brutal.


    1. I’ve heard horror stories about the lines at the border – it was the main reason we decided to fly up to Vancouver this past January versus driving up to catch our flight to India – we were sure we’d get stuck in a long wait at the border and miss our flight.

      I would love to go back to carry-on only – my biggest worry on any trip is that one of pieces of luggage will be lost. I always pack part of my clothes in Brett’s suitcase so that if mine goes missing I won’t be left with nothing to wear (Brett travels with so few things that he can still fit all his things in his suitcase). We have thankfully not yet enountered terrible lines entering any country but I would love to have permanent TSA precheck or some such to get through those lines quicker when we’re departing. Other country’s security seems to be more efficient than it is here in the U.S. (India being the exception).

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Greetings from Kauai! Just arrived today after spending a few days on Maui. I wish I had thought to pack 1/3 less because now I am stuck with a 47 lb suitcase. My friend has the same problem so we are considering shipping some things home.

    I had never heard of swabbing Vaseline in the nose to prevent colds, but I will try that. I bring a small nasal spray bottle of saline solution to keep my sinuses moist, which also helps, especially on long flights.


    1. LOL – when I first ready “47 pounds” I was thinking kilos and couldn’t believe anyone could have a bag that heavy. But I feel your pain – my bag coming back from England was 48.5 pounds, and Brett’s was 50, way too heavy. We thought about mailing stuff back but the postage was more than the overweight fees on the airline.

      Swabbing Vaseline will also keep the inside of your nose moist on the plan, but saline solution is a good idea as well (although potentially messier, or at least it would be with me).


  7. I’ve never had a suitcase this heavy, but I’ve been buying Christmas presents. USPS has flat rate boxes so we are going to look into that. I actually packed lighter this time than I ever have because I knew I’d be Christmas shopping, but I guess I underestimated how heavy some items are. For a 12 day trip I brought 5 changes of clothes but most are quick drying material so I wash them in the sink. There is a new laundromat in Kapa’a I might try though.


    1. This sounds just like us – we went over to England with very light luggage, and came home heavy thanks to Christmas gifts! Mailing was just not an option though.

      I’ll bet there is going to be lots of new stuff for us to find when we’re there in January, and old favorites that have closed as well.


      1. Home from Kauai now. The last time I was there was in 2016 and, other than the laundromat I mentioned, everything else looked the same to me. We stayed mostly in the Kapa’a area with one trip to Poipu though.
        The traffic is worse! I don’t remember it being that bad in 2016, but at certain times of day they have the contraflow traffic pattern which was confusing at first, but I got used to it. Still, the traffic was bad if you’re driving through Kapa’a between 3-6 pm or so.

        My friend and I were able to avoid shipping anything home. We rearranged our suitcases and carried more items on and were able to stay at 47 pounds. Whew! Now I just have to get used to being in 30 degree weather again after living in 85 degree weather. I also brought home a nasty cold and sore throat, but I’m happy that at least that didn’t start until the last day so it didn’t ruin the vacation.

        I must say I really love Kauai and wish I could live there like you and Brett did. It’s just too far from my family though and too expensive, but you were very fortunate you had the chance to live there. Sometimes I think maybe I could do it for a year just to have the experience. We’ll see!


      2. The traffic on Kaua’i was awful (almost unbearable, really) before we left in 2018. When we arrived there in 2014, it used to take us 20 minutes to get from Kapaa to Lihue, but by the time we left we had to allow at least 45 minutes because of the traffic, especially if we were traveling at ‘pau hana’ time (3-6 p.m.)

        We still miss Kaua’i very much, and sometimes talk about going back again to live there. Even a year would be nice. It is expensive, and I’d never live anywhere again where I didn’t have A/C, but it’s still such an amazing place. We’re really looking forward to our visit in January!


  8. Even in December, I felt it was still quite warm (85) and I can’t imagine living there without A/C. We stayed in Maui the first 5 days of the trip and it was much cooler there (cold and rainy, actually), so we were happy to leave and go to Kauai where it was warm and sunny. It only rained once very briefly while we were in Kauai.

    I’ll be interested to read your posts when you go back to visit. I’m sure you and Brett could easily live there for a year and your expenses would even be less since your kids would not be living with you, but for me, I’d need to work somewhere and there just are no jobs for what I do, so I don’t see it happening anytime soon. Jobs in the tourism industry don’t pay well enough to afford the rent there, so I don’t know how people do it! I’ll just have to be content with visiting every couple of years.


    1. I would never live there again without A/C. We went without before because we were saving for our travels and worth it to us, but it was hard.

      A year again would be fun although we’d have to buy a car again – there’s no getting around without one. I think if we went again I’d prefer to live up on either the north shore or the south shore rather than on the east side again. I hated the driving and traffic through Kapaa.


    1. I thought the Vasoline tip was a good one too and I plan to try it. I really appreciated the tips people shared – I learned some new tricks.


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