Plenty of people travel all over the world. For some, it's a matter of leisure or visiting family. For others, it's a matter of business. No matter what travel method you prefer or how often you travel, there are ways to make your trip easier.
I've taken a look at fifteen things you can do to increase the comfort and efficiency of your next trip. These tips help lower stress and keep you organized, and they also make it easier to track your finances as well.
1. Invest in an Organizational Suitcase with Compartments
Most suitcases are designed with at least one zippered interior pocket in addition to the roomier main compartment. But depending on what you're packing, a more intensive level of organization might be needed.
Some suitcases come with specific organizational systems. They function by designating different interior pockets for different functions, allowing you to use them like a briefcase. This is a great option for businessmen and other professionals on the go.
But you don't actually need to invest in an all-new luggage set. There are luggage organizers that help you to sort your luggage for easy packing and retrieval. Some resemble locker or desk organizers, with different segmented compartments. But that's just one piece of the puzzle.
Other organizational tools that can help with packing include:
Vacuum sealing bags are an essential way of saving space. They press your garments flat and give you more room in the suitcase.
Organized toiletry bags allow you to keep your toothbrushes, toothpaste, soap, hairbrush, and other accessories in their individual places. That way, you don't accidentally get strands of hair caught in your toothbrush bristles. Yuck!
An underwear organizer makes it a lot easier to access your underwear, especially if you have delicates that need careful packing. Some organizers have separate pockets for bras and panties. A laundry bag is also essential since it allows you to separate dirty clothes from clean.
Portable hanging shelves are ideal if you're planning to stay somewhere for a while. You don't want to live out of your suitcase for an entire week. Hanging shelves can be collapsed and stored in the suitcase, then hung in the closet of your hotel room or AirBnB.
You can keep your folded clothes organized on the shelf without needing to hang things up with coat hangers.
2. Use a Digital Luggage Scale to Weigh Your Bags Before Going to the Airport
Airlines have strict regulations regarding luggage. In most cases, if your suitcase weighs more than 50 pounds, you'll have to pay a steep fee to check the bag. To save time and avoid stress at the check-in counter, you can use a digital luggage scale beforehand.
Some luggage scales can live in your home. But there are also portable options, which are great for travelers who tend to pick up objects at their destinations. You want to make sure that your return trip will be as easy as your initial flight.
When investing in a luggage scale, you'll want to make sure that it meets these points:
And of course, if you bring a luggage scale with you on a flight, you should make sure that it's compliant with TSA regulations.
3. Get a High-Quality Sleeping Mask, Travel Pillow, and Blanket
Long flights and train rides can take a toll on you both physically and mentally. One of the biggest issues is trying to sleep. Sleeping on a small, upright seat is rarely easy. So it's good to invest in gear that can help make it easier.
If you intend to sleep on a flight or train ride, don't drink caffeine beforehand. Caffeine tends to stay in your system and interrupt sleep for hours. You might also benefit from trying a sleep aid like melatonin or dramamine, though you shouldn't take any supplements without double-checking with your doctor if you have health conditions.
Sleeping in a cramped, unfamiliar space is all about the comfort. Planes and trains are full of sensory stimuli that can be uncomfortable. There are flight attendants, passengers beside you, people roving up and down the aisles, announcements, crying children, and the sound of the engine itself.
So your best bet is to make the space as comfortable as possible.
Even on a nighttime flight, there tend to be lights around. There are low lights to help people see, reading lights that other passengers may use, and phone and laptop lights. A sleeping mask blocks all of that out.
A comfortable pillow is vital if you want to comfortably lay your head down and avoid neck pain. Many seats don't have good neck support, especially in the upright position. Blankets keep you warm and offer much-needed comfort and familiarity.
If sounds bother you, you might also want to use noise-cancelling headphones or earbuds to play music or podcasts. That helps block out the ambient sensory stimuli surrounding you.
4. Reorganize Your Wallet to Make the Contents Accessible for Travel
There are travel wallets built specifically to make traveling easier. But even if you don't invest in one, there are ways to organize your regular wallet for the easiest use. If you travel frequently for business or leisure, you'll probably find that a travel wallet is a worthy investment.
Some unique features you might find in modern travel wallets include:
When you're traveling, you want to make sure that your important information is easily accessible through your wallet.
That means that your ID should be easy to grab. Ideally, you'll have a place to hold any printed travel tickets. Some wallets have the right dimensions to hold your passport as well.
Your credit cards should be securely stored but easy to access. Ideally, they'll be in zippered pockets where wandering hands can't find them. The same is true of your cash.
Some wallets have an outer pocket where you can hold your phone. That's an ideal way of keeping all of your travel information together, especially if you have your tickets and itinerary information on your phone rather than printed on paper.
Be aware of what you'll need to show ticketing agents for ID and trip information, and make sure that your wallet keeps that information handy.
5. Keep Your Toiletry Bag in Your Carry-On
There are a ton of reasons to keep your toiletry bag in your carry-on. If you're flying or traveling by train, you'll need to make sure that your toiletries comply with travel regulations.
If you're road tripping with multiple suitcases, put your toiletry bag in the smallest one. That way, you won't have to unload every piece of luggage when you're staying in a motel for one night. You can keep your pajamas, clothes for the next day, and toiletries in one bag.
Having toiletries on hand while traveling means:
Toiletry bags are made to hold your personal hygiene essentials. They help you stay clean and healthy while traveling - and the people with you will thank you!
Some basics to include in your toiletry bag are:
6. Use a Backpack as Your Carry-On Instead of a Tote or Suitcase
Backpacks aren't just for students and hikers. They're also extremely good organizational tools for those who travel a lot.
A few of the benefits of backpacks as a carry-on include:
Backpacks are also great even when you've gotten out of the airport. They let you keep more stuff on-hand than a purse or tote while offering the same hands-free advantages.
One thing to note is that you'll want a backpack that's actually comfortable. You'll also want one that can hold all of your things. Maybe you're a businessman who needs a backpack that functions like a portable office, or maybe you need lots of roomy interior space to hold tons of clothes. Different people have different needs!
Try looking for a backpack with adjustable straps. Some even have chest straps that help further disperse the load. This is especially important if you're prone to shoulder and back pain. A well-balanced backpack shouldn't strain your back or cut into your shoulders.
Make sure that the design complies with all flight or train regulations as well. The majority will, but you don't want to have your backpack turned away at the security line because you didn't double-check.
7. Get a Stainless Steel, Temperature-Sealing Travel Mug
Most people in the US like to have a morning cup of coffee. Coffee shops and cafes are some of the most widespread businesses in the nation! And even if you're not a fan of coffee, you might enjoy tea or juice to get you going in the mornings.
When you travel a lot, a high-quality travel mug can be a lifesaver. Maybe you drive a lot for work, or you tend to prefer road trips to flights. With a good travel mug, you can fill up on motel coffee and have a hot beverage for the rest of the day.
Stainless steel mugs are some of the best ways to preserve temperature. The metal has temperature-sealing properties that other materials don't. It's also highly durable and doesn't transfer taste.
One thing to keep in mind is that not all stainless steel travel mugs will be compliant with all travel regulations, though, even if they're empty.
Other popular materials to create travel mugs include:
A drawback of plastic is that most plastic bottles shouldn't be used for hot beverages, as heat can melt them and release toxic chemicals. Also, they sometimes transfer taste.
Glass and ceramic have a slight taste transfer issue, but it doesn't tend to be as pronounced as with plastic. Unfortunately, these materials are also extremely fragile. They're better in your at-home cupboard than in your suitcase. You'd need to pack them with a ton of careful padding, which makes them hard to access during the trip itself.
8. Invest in a Booster Seat and Other Safety Gear When Driving with Kids
If you're driving with kids in the car, it's vital that you have the best safety measures equipped. Your vehicle's safety rating only goes so far. You also need to make sure that your children are safe and secure.
This goes double if you're driving long distances. Family road trips are fun and allow you to make lasting memories. But vehicle accidents can put a permanent stain on the memory, especially if they happen on high-speed highways.
Scientists have done a great deal of research on the right car seats for children. A booster seat is an ideal step between a car seat and non-assisted seating. Many kids begin sitting in the car before they're tall enough to safely do so.
A quick guideline for car seats includes:
A booster seat should actually be used until your child reaches 4'9" in height. Most kids reach this height somewhere between the ages of eight and twelve. If they're on the shorter side, though, continued use of a booster seat is nothing to be ashamed of. It's a matter of safety.
9. Use Travel Sites to Do Price Comparisons When Planning Trips
Gone are the days when you needed a travel agent to help you research your travel plans. Though travel agents still exist, they're not as necessary to simple bookings as they once were.
There are a variety of competing travel sites that let you compare prices of travel from different companies.
Some travel comparisons that you can make include:
Travel sites will often partner with hotels and airlines as well. This allows them to offer you discounted prices that you wouldn't find through the hotel or airline sites themselves. Some sites also have "anonymous" booking features that give you a reduced price as long as you don't know what company you're booking with.
One note is that it's best to use travel sites to book in advance. Booking a same-night hotel can be frustrating because the hotel managers will often sell the room in person without realizing it's been sold through the travel app.
If you do book a same-night flight or hotel room through a third party site, you should always call ahead of time to make sure that the hotel has received your information. That helps reduce the chances of being turned away at the door.
10. Use Vacation Booking Apps to Get Customized Travel Alerts
Many travel sites also double as vacation booking apps. Mobile apps are convenient since they let you access your information through your phone rather than your laptop. When you're in line at the airport security line or checking information in a cafe, having your phone nearby is a lot easier than hauling out your computer.
Some apps will let you set up customized alerts. These let you know if anything in your itinerary has changed, or they might tell you about price changes for a hotel or flight you've considered.
A travel app can give you real-time alerts about changes in itinerary such as:
Some travel apps will also have information about luggage and airline regulations. You might use one to track your rental car and hotel as well, which means that the app can guide you through the entire travel experience.
Customized alerts are a way to give you some peace of mind. They let you know that everything is going as planned, so you don't have to check your phone every ten seconds. You can rest easy knowing that if you haven't received an alert, it's because you don't need one.
11. Be as Specific as Possible with Your Flight Booking or Cruise Booking Details
When you're booking a flight or cruise online, you'll be given a lot of different search parameters. To find what you're looking for, be as specific as possible. Don't worry about not being able to find anything matching your criteria. If your search doesn't return any results, you can try again with less specifics.
For flights, you can narrow down your search by using information like:
All of these details can be important, though the level of importance depends on the person. If you have three heavy bags to check, you'll want to prioritize an airline with a lenient luggage policy. If you're traveling for business, you'll want an easy flight that won't mess with your sleep schedule.
Cruises can be narrowed down by information including:
Different cruises have very different focuses. Some are built around luxury, while some are family-oriented and have activities for kids. Others are made for travelers who want to see a lot of the world from the comfort of a ship.
12. Consider Traveling by Train Instead of by Plane
Traveling by rail is common in Europe and parts of Asia, but it's not as common in the United States. There isn't a country-wide high speed rail system. This means that train trips often aren't as fast as planes, and they can seem more inconvenient than road trips if you prefer the freedom of driving yourself.
But there are a variety of noted benefits to traveling by train instead of plane:
Because train travel is also unconventional in the US, it can make for a fabulous adventure - especially if you haven't taken a long trip by rail before!
13. Book Hotels Ahead-Of-Time When You Plan a Road Trip
The availability of lodging will depend a lot on where and when you travel. But if you're going on a road trip, your life will be a lot easier if you book your hotels ahead of time.
Road tripping can be unpredictable. After all, you don't know how many pit stops you'll need to make. You also don't know if you'll get stuck in any standstill traffic jams.
This can make it overwhelming to plan your hotel stays. With the right combination of bad luck, a hotel that would normally be six hours away could take ten hours to reach. You might not check in until the middle of the night, and an early check-out can make that even more unpleasant.
But booking ahead-of-time has benefits that ultimately outweigh the potential drawbacks. Unless you're in a tourism-heavy place like New England, all area hotels are likely to fill up a few weeks in advance. That's especially true if you're traveling in the summer or passing through a rural area with few hotels.
Booking ahead sometimes lets you reap hotel benefits as well. Some hotel chains have reward programs for booking with them. After a certain number of nights or certain dollar amount spent, you can get a free night's stay.
That's hugely appealing for people who are on long trips and need to stay in motels or hotels frequently along the way.
14. Make Sure You Have Extra Time in Case of Mishaps or Delays
Time is a precious commodity when traveling. On a leisure trip, you want time to do everything you want to do without exhausting yourself. On a business trip, you want to make sure you get everything done efficiently without wasting time.
It can be tempting to book a trip as tightly as possible. But it's better to leave some wiggle room in case things go wrong.
That goes for all types of travel plans: train, plane, and road alike.
Some ways to budget extra time include:
If everything goes according to the original schedule, you'll have a little extra time to kill. But if you end up facing unexpected delays, the extra time will help make the situation as low-stress as possible.
15. Research and Draw up Your Budget Ahead of Time
No matter why you're traveling, it's important to be financially conscious. Leisure travelers should be aware of their vacation budget, while business travelers should know exactly what expenses will and won't be covered by their company.
When flying or traveling by train, you should know your minimum and maximum budget for your tickets. Make sure to factor in things like luggage fees.
When you're driving, some of the budget things to factor in include:
You'll also need to consider the cost of lodging. Maybe you'll sleep in your car, or maybe you have family to stay with when the plane lands. But your budget should include:
And you should know how much you're spending for leisure on your trip. How much can you pay for tours and sightseeing tickets? How many souvenirs can you buy? Do you have room in your suitcase to bring the souvenirs back? What kinds of free entertainment can you engage with?
Planning these things out ahead of time will make budget-conscious traveling a lot easier.
Traveling can be stressful. Whether you're going on vacation, visiting family and friends, or traveling for business, there are tons of ways to make it easier. It doesn't matter whether you're a seasoned pro or going on your first trip in years.
Planning is the biggest key. When you plan your trip thoughtfully ahead of time, you don't have to worry so much about the itinerary when the day comes.
Organization is also vital. By keeping your luggage, wallet, and travel plans organized, you won't have to deal with the panic of looking for missing information.