Over the past six years, I've developed into a very organized traveler. I've largely built these skills as a result of my professional choices - they have both moved me away from the rest of my family, and often require me to travel for conferences and programs located all around the country.
I wasn't always an organized traveler. I've had my share of frustrations and mishaps, but with these ten tips below, I've moved from unorganized to organized with confidence!
1. Pack one charger for every device you're traveling with.
In my opinion, there are few things worse than having both my iPhone and my iPad lose power at the same time because I didn't have enough chargers to keep them charged. Electronic chargers don't take up much space, and using a travel organizer helps me keep everything close at hand when it is needed - my travel computer mouse, laptop charger, two iPhone/iPad chargers, and an extra set of headphones (because it's almost inevitable that I misplace a set of those when I'm traveling!).
2. Have options available for in-flight entertainment.
Most airlines are now offering WiFi and entertainment options on board, but it does sometimes come at a cost! By planning ahead with reading and music options, I'm able to avoid extra costs and make sure I have plenty to keep me occupied during my flights.
To save space in my carry on, I've started using my iPad more and more for reading. I'll admit I was a late adopter to using an electronic reader. And while I'd still much rather read an actual book, having multiple e-books downloaded on my iPad means I have options to choose from that doesn't require an extra purchase in the airport.
In place of physical books, I've started sometimes traveling with PowerSheets instead so I can work on my 2016 goals. Those uninterrupted hours while up in the air are some of my favorite times to work on my PowerSheets. I can turn on music and focus on my thoughts and goals without feeling like the quiet time will be interrupted.
I also make sure to have a couple of different playlists downloaded onto my phone. I have a lot of music in my iTunes library and having it all downloaded all of the time takes up too much storage space. But because I can't access the cloud storage while my phone is in airplane mode during a flight, I make sure to have a few different playlists downloaded so I have listening options to choose from.
3. Check in as early as possible.
There are a couple of benefits to remembering to check in as early as possible for your flight. Not only does it ensure you don't forget to check in all together (which, I have done before!), it also means that if you're carrying on your luggage, you can skip the long lines at the ticket counters to check in on your travel day.
I've also noticed that when I check in at the beginning of my check in window, I'm more likely to receive TSA Pre-Check status than when I check in later. I haven't yet purchased TSA Pre-Check status because the Tallahassee airport doesn't have dedicated Pre-Check lines like other airports. But it certainly is a happy surprise to receive when I check in early!
4. Travel with a reusable water bottle.
Traveling with a reusable water bottle has helped to save money while traveling because I can refill my bottle without having to pay for it. Many airports have filtered water stations near restrooms that are specific for filling up water bottles. And others certainly have water fountains throughout, even if it they aren't specifically designed for bottles. I've also found that on planes that are less full, sometimes flight attendants will fill your bottle during the drink service! I use a 17 oz. Swell bottle because it doesn't gather condensation and make anything else in my carry on bag wet while I'm traveling.
5. Pack snacks from home instead of purchasing them in the airport.
I usually go in cycles with what snacks I like to eat when I travel. Right now I'm really enjoying trail mix. To purchase a bag of trail mix in the airport, it usually costs $7 or more. But to find a large bag at the grocery store, or make my own trail mix at home, I can have more servings that cost less per serving.
My favorite trail mix is from Trader Joe's and has almonds, cashews, pistachios, dried cherries, dried cranberries and semi-sweet chocolate pieces. It's a delicious mix of salty and sweet, and because it comes in a big bag, I can pack smaller portions in Ziploc baggies for my travel days!
6. Travel wearing layers.
I am often quite cold, including when I travel. What I've learned, however, is that the temperature on airplanes and in airports can fluctuate significantly! So when traveling, I am sure to wear layers on my top half as that's where I typically notice the temperature changes most. Having another layer like a vest or jacket is also helpful, especially in the fall and winter seasons.
If I'm traveling for work, I typically travel in a pair of black knit pants like these. They are comfortable and don't wrinkle, which means that even if I experience less than ideal travel conditions, I always arrive looking polished. On top I'll wear a lightweight shirt or sweater, depending on the season.
I also often travel with a large blanket scarf because of the versatility it provides. I like the window seat on airplanes which I've found are usually a little bit colder than middle or aisle seats. With a large scarf, I can wrap it around my shoulders or use it as a blanket to keep me from getting too cold during flight.
If I'm traveling for personal reasons, I'll take a similar approach, but often swap out the black pants for leggings like these which allow me to remain comfortable and still look polished walking between terminals.
7. Wear shoes that slip on and off for quickly moving through security.
Regarding choices in footwear, I highly advocate for wearing shoes that slip on and off easily when traveling for two reasons.
First, wearing shoes that are easy to remove means you can move quickly through security. Sometimes security lines can get rather long and crowded, so by making sure that I'm quick and efficient, I make things easier for those TSA agents working the security checkpoints and for those other travelers who need to get to their gates.
Second, on long, cross-country or international flights, wearing shoes that are easy to remove means you can be that much more comfortable up in the air. On long flights I also always travel with a pair of cozy socks in my carry on. Being able to slip my shoes off and put those socks on means my feet stay warm and covered for the hours spent flying. Once the plane touches down you slip off the socks, and slip back on your shoes and you're ready for your destination.
8. Write out your packing list before you put anything in your suitcase.
When packing for a trip, I start to check the weather three or four days before I'm supposed to leave. Once I have a good idea of what to expect from the weather, I start making out my packing list. I separate the list into tops, bottoms, one pieces (like dresses or jumpsuits), shoes, undergarments and toiletries. I typically start my list at my desk while reviewing the weather forecast, but before I start pulling the clothes I intend to pack, I spend time with my list in my closet to make sure I'm planning to pack in the most efficient way.
I also approach packing with multiple combinations in mind. I like to pack items that I can easily mix and match so that if the weather changes unexpectedly or I'm not as excited about an outfit once I get to my destination, I have options to make some changes. Choosing a color palette helps with this as well. Packing clothing in one color palette helps to limit extra things like shoes and accessories because there is more of an opportunity to mix and match.
9. Use the KonMari folding method when packing.
I've shared with you my experience with the KonMari Method and how it helped me not only take back control of my closet but increase my confidence. But this method also helps me in being able to neatly pack my suitcase!
The KonMari Method of folding helps keep your clothes relatively wrinkle-free and makes similar items a similar size for easy storing (or packing). If you haven't tried this folding method before it does take some practice, but here's a video that will help you learn the tricks!
By folding my clothes using this method, I know that I'll have a limited amount of ironing to do when I arrive to my destination, which I definitely appreciate after long travel days!
10. Be flexible and friendly.
My final tip is to remain flexible and friendly. Airlines are moving thousands of people everyday, and most days do it without a hitch. But every once in a while, you're going to experience a travel mishap. In the past six years of traveling I've had luggage lost, flights canceled and surprise weather conditions that caused lengthy delays. Remaining flexible, friendly and calm when working through these types of travel issues is going to keep you positive, and it might result in favor from the customer service representatives as well
Hopefully these ten tips help you as you plan your next trip! I'd love to know - what travel tips do you use most often?