1. Make a List, Check It Twice
It’s that easy. Sit down, relax, and think about what exactly you’ll need on your upcoming vacay. Check your weather app for what to bring, make a note to charge the electronics, and download the latest season of Friday Night Lights. Whatever will make your trip the most enjoyable (episodes chock full of Tim Riggins) then do just that.
2. Travel-Sized Toiletries
You need all the space you can get, and the normal sized bottle of Dove shampoo and conditioner takes up space and carries too much weight. Invest in small bottles to pack toiletries and other small items OR if you’re on the last leg of that body wash, pack it, use it and leave it behind for the trip home.
3. Bag It Up
After preparing said toiletries, PUT THEM IN A PLASTIC BAG. Too many times my clothes have taken a lovely shower in my body wash or lotion. Your suitcase will smell lovely, but your clothes will be unwearable. They will also come in handy if you need to separate other clothing, like damp swimsuits. Use compression bags if you’re worried about space. Y’all remember space bags, right? I mean, who doesn’t? They were the coolest invention to hit the 21st century (with the exception of the Snuggie), captivating us at every infomercial.
4. Don’t Over Pack
I don’t know how you’re supposed to listen to me when my bags are overweight 50% of the time, but I’m getting better. Pack only the things you know you will need and actually wear. Ask yourself “Is it really worth it to lug this snorkel and these fins to the Caribbean?” Short answer: No. Neither is paying the $100 fee that American Airlines will stick you with when putting a “HEAVY” tag on your luggage. More room means more space for gifts and one-of-a-kind souvenirs.
The golden rule of travel: Pack in a carry-on so that you can leave the airport immediately upon arriving. Enjoy checking-in 24 hours before your flight without worry about checking baggage. I realize sometimes this is not feasible, and if that’s the case, Godspeed. There’s nothing worse than having to wait to get off the airplane, then wait in the Customs & Immigration line, wait on baggage claim for baggage attendants to get it together and load the belts, and then have to wait in an atrocious taxi line because you couldn’t fit your precious contents in a carry-on. See how Louis Vuitton does it. Watch and learn.
6. Leave the I-Can’t-Live-Withouts at Home
Ok, if you really can’t live without something, obviously take it. I’m really talking about the expensive things that you wouldn’t dare misplace or ruin. I left my diamond earrings that I wear every single day in Mendoza, Argentina. Turns out, it was a good excuse to go back! But if you must bring your good jewelry, at least pack it in your purse or carry-on in case the airliner misplaces it or somebody else confuses their black Samsonite with yours. I’ve been there. T’was no bueno.
7. Swap the Gadgets for Apps
Need to head to Barnes & Noble for the latest NYT Best Seller? Bring along the calculator to exchange currencies? Please. There’s an app for that. Don’t waste time and space on things you can download in this magical digital age.
8. What Not to Wear
If you’re heading cross country or overseas, you may want to think twice about those constricting pants or high heels. You’d think this would be obvious, but too many times I’ve seen women in stilettos or men in business suits chillin’ in 9B and think it could be one of two things: 1) They are helpless romantics and want to dress to impress because you never know who will be sitting in 9A or 2) It’s Lady Gaga getting deep vein thrombosis again. I’m sure Clinton and Stacey from TLC’s “What Not to Wear” would’ve had a mouthful for the pop star. Pretty sure they’d say to strike a balance between style and comfort. There exists said balance in simple flats, black stretchy pants, maxi dresses, blazers and scarves. Ahh yes, there was once a time when air travel was glamorous with gloves, hosiery and heels. Out with the old, in with the new. And be smart. Knee high boots will be a pain when going through security. Also, airplanes are notoriously frigid. Baby, it’s cold outside up at 30,000 ft. Socks are a must.
9. Charge It
You’re heading to some pretty stellar scenic location. You can’t wait to geek-out and fill up an entire memory card upon landing, maybe even take the obligatory wing shot inside the plane. You turn your camera on and it starts blinking LOW BATTERY. Epic fail. Don’t be the victim of a battery-less vacation. Charge the camera, phone, computer. And while you’re at it, download your favorite movies, music and podcasts ahead of time. Don’t forget your adapters!
10. Hey Big Spender
Ok, maybe not that big. Just don’t forget to exchange big bills for small change in order to tip in your local currency. Tipping hotel staff, taxi cabs and tour guides will make your life so much easier if/when you happen to cross paths with these people again. Everyone needs friends in high places, and when you’re friends with people in-the-know, you’ll be sky high yourself. It provides a better travel experience, I promise. And if you were shown a good time, these people deserve your money! The service industry can be a tough world. Show some love.
11. Pills & Potions
Depending on how long you’ll be traveling, you may need a refill of your meds. Think ahead. Are you going to start a new pack of birth control while you’re away? Oops. Definitely don’t want to mess with “catching up” after a party-filled vacay sans birth control. That may not look good on you in say…9 months.
With babies on board and the person behind you sneezing and coughing like they may or may not be dying, noise canceling headphones (and some vitamin C) are essential for a comfortable flight. Block out the world around you and relax in sweet silence or with your favorite artist of the day. Many come with a hefty price tag, but can you really put a price on peace, quiet and an atmosphere seemingly absent of crying babies? Short answer: No.
13. Car & Driver
Showing off how much leg room I was working with in the fancy Rolls Royce from the Peninsula Hotel Hong Kong
If you’re one of those people who is going to pack anxiety no matter how organized you become, this one is especially for you. If you’d rather organize something other than a taxi or if your final destination is a ways away from the airport, consider booking a car and driver before you land. Imagine a life where wheels touch down and all you have to do is roll your carry-on off the place and follow the nice looking fellow holding up your name on a sign to the spacious, lavender smelling car? Ahhhh.
14. Snacks and Water
There was a time when you were given a real meal with a real knife and real fork when flying. My my, how times have changed. In an attempt to stay hydrated and satisfied on flying day, try to drink as much water as you can before heading to the airport and after getting through security. I always buy a big bottle before boarding so I can sip at my leisure during long flights without being the pesky passenger who pushes the call-button. Nobody likes that girl. I try and buy healthyish snacks like my go-to KIND bar over the Pringles and ever-so-tempting Cheeze-Its. I usually persevere and feel much better because of it.
15. The Art of Packing
There exists three ways to pack a suitcase. 1) Roll method. 2) Fold method. 3) Stuff-everything-in-I-don’t-give-a-damn method. I simply do not tolerate #3, and my go-to is #2, the fold method. I like my suitcase structured, neat and tidy filled with winkle-free items and bagged accessories. If you’re more of a roll guy or gal, good for you. This method works well with unstructured bags like a duffel or carry-on tote, and great for fabrics that are unlikely to wrinkle.
I don’t know about y’all, but I’m always stuck with the chore of folding my boyfriend’s dress shirts before trips. My girl, Martha, helped me out and I wanted to share this educational wealth to all you fine people. Take 2 minutes out of your day for this extremely helpful knowledge bomb of how to fold a button-down.