A recent article on About Travel, a student travel website, brings up the issue of what items you should leave behind when traveling. We think the advice could apply to anyone, although the advice for hostels may indeed be more of a student/cheap traveler thing. (We’ll leave the youth hostels to our younger compatriots!)
A lot of the advice boils down to the simple recommendation that you act like you do at home instead of gearing up and buying a lot of specialty items. For instance, the author said she paid $100 for a silk sleeping bag liner that she had never used.
And don’t buy dedicated travel clothes. Just wear what you normally wear instead of buying special clothes. People do tend to over pack in general. You can’t really pack for every possible situation unless you want to deal with a massive suitcase. Just plan in advance, and figure out how to do laundry while you’re on your trip.
You can also assume that wherever you’re going, they have stores and you can purchase something if you have an emergency.
Another thing to think about: Do you need to take a laptop on a non-business trip? Especially if you have a tablet or even a smartphone. You can give up that luxury of the bigger screen for efficiency. You’d be surprised at what you can accomplish with a smartphone, and a pen and notebook.
The advice in the article and from TravelPro boils down to keeping common sense in mind when packing. Be realistic about what you will really need while you’re traveling and try to think back to other trips where certain items have sat in your luggage for the entire time. Leave that stuff behind.
What are some travel items you’ve learned to live without? Visit our Facebook page and leave a comment, or just leave one below. Let us hear some of your travel secrets.
- 10 essential non-tech items for the road (roadwarriorvoices.com)
Some folks love to travel with pillows and bedding, usually when traveling by car. There’s just something about having your own pillow with you when you’re sleeping in strange beds halfway across the country.
Once you’re talking about getting on a plane, however, all bets are off, unless you are truly dedicated to traveling with your own bedding and have extra money to burn on baggage.
Truth is, a pillow or a blanket can be a great addition to a car trip. Your own bedding is often very comforting, and if you’re going to see someone with limited bedding, it can also help your host.
We just read about someone who takes his own inflatable mattress and pillows on vacation, because they can blow them up in hotels for their kids. This saves money, because they can decrease the number of rooms they need, and young kids can pretend they’re camping out in the hotel room, which makes the trip more fun for them.
This plan is reasonable for a car trip, but if you wanted to take it on a plane, it might be an overwhelming burden. Those things are heavy!
My wife and I used to rent cabins with her family and the mattresses were not exactly the height of luxury; a blow up mattress was a great step up in comfort. Plus, bringing along an inflatable mattress was convenient because you can easily set these mattresses aside when you’re not sleeping. That can save you some room and make things seem less cramped.
Do you travel with your own bedding? Do you have a favorite pillow or blanket you won’t leave at home? Leave us a comment here or on our Facebook page.
- Roamwild Surround travel pillow review (the-gadgeteer.com)
- For a Good Night’s Sleep, Think More About Your Pillow (wsj.com)
If you travel more than once every few years, even once a year, you’ll want to get luggage you can return to again and again. If you’re a frequent traveler, visiting the airport or train station more than four times a year, you need luggage that’s going to be with you for the long haul.
So how do you choose the luggage that’s going to give you what you need? The first step is to assess the kind of traveling you’re going to do the most frequently.
Choose luggage based on the size and durability based on your total usage, not just your next trip. Disposable luggage can end up being more expensive than a single piece of high-quality luggage due to the fact that you might have to continually replace it.
You should also check out the warranty information of the piece you’re considering. That will give you an idea of whether the company stands behind their work, and how much protection you have if your bag starts shredding after just a couple months.
It’s also not a bad idea to stay with a well-known brand when buying your luggage. Luggage takes a beating, as travel is never easy, especially if you check your bags at the airport. Look at the value of your chosen bag, not just the price. Don’t compare the cheapest, flimsiest piece of luggage from one line to the best-in-show piece from another line. It’s like comparing apples to sports cars.Assess the various features the luggage has. Check that the moving parts are high quality and durable. Look at the handles, wheels, and zippers, to see if they look durable or flimsy. Also check out the interior of the suitcase and make sure it looks like it will serve your needs as you travel. A good luggage manufacturer will have tested these things already, to determine whether they meet their high standards.
Finally, visit a specialized travel goods store, which will allow you to test the luggage extensively. The staff are very knowledgeable about travel and luggage, unlike some department stores. The travel goods stores also get feedback from frequent travelers, so they know what actually works.
If you’re not sure of what bag to get, it could be worth paying the travel goods store a visit, because they’ll understand what you need and can help you figure out which bag you should get.
How do you assess your own luggage purchases? Do you look for anything in particular, or visit a particular kind of store? Leave a comment below or post something on our Facebook page, and let us hear from you.
Do your kids drag their art supplies everywhere they go? Do you head over to Grandma’s house with backpacks overflowing with pencils, pens, markers, scissors, and different types of paper?
If so, you’re probably excited that they’re excited and that they’re doing something other than playing video games or looking at a screen. However, you may be less excited at the thought of dragging a mountain of art supplies with you on your next vacation.
Think about how much downtime your kids will actually have while on the vacation. If you’re flying to Disney World, their schedules are probably going to be jam packed. If you’re driving to Oklahoma, though, you may want to pack more extensively.
Think about how much storage space the supplies are going to take up and how much you actually have. Again, if you’re flying, space will be more limited as opposed to driving, where you and your kid may be able to spread out and bring everything but the kitchen sink.
In either case, keep in mind the fact that if you pack too much stuff, your kids are more apt to lose something. If you’re changing hotels or locations, things may get forgotten, so focusing on just a small amount of art supplies can be helpful. Keep an inventory of what they have so you can make sure that certain items don’t get left behind as you travel.
It’s also not a bad idea to invest in a “travel only” set of art supplies to use while in transit. And then have a few more things packed away in the luggage to use while at your destination.
When you’re on vacation, we at TravelPro always think it’s best to get the most bang for your buck as far as packing space goes. The best option may be to limit your kids to just a pad of paper and one set of pencils. Talk to your kids about nomadic art and the fact that some professional artists carry only a small notebook and a pencil to make sketches on the go.
What do you do when your budding artists want to take their entire studio with them? Do you have any go-to supplies or favorite items you have to take? Any tips for parents of new artists? Leave them in our comments or on our Facebook page.
- Watercolor car kit travels small but paints big (mockingbirdsatmidnight.com)
Are rolling suitcases the better choice for business travel? Or can a case be made for duffel bags? Is one a business-only choice, while the other is only for weekends and trips to the gym? Let’s take a look at the pros and cons of each bag.
Better yet, some even come with wheels. A big duffel bag on wheels is narrower than a medium or large suitcase and it could even be a little easier to roll around a crowded airport.
Despite the general lack of structure with a duffel bag, you might have more organizational options in terms of little pockets throughout: on the exterior, the top, the bottom, and the sides. Some duffels even offer the benefit of a divider panel to separate the bag into two main compartments.
TravelPro offers a drop bottom duffel. There’s a large upper compartment where you put the vast majority of your stuff and then down below there’s another compartment that’s not quite as large. It’s a great area to store things like shoes or oddly-shaped items. If you don’t want to use that bottom compartment, you can also zip out the interior separator and just have one big packing space.
Also, rolling suitcases often offer an expansion feature that duffels don’t always have. TravelPro does offer a duffel with expansion, but your average duffels do not. Some of our rolling suitcase models also have expansion features, if you need to pack some additional items.
Bottom line: Duffels can help give a feeling of freedom to your travel experience. A duffel is great for a totally casual trip, especially if you have a lot of shoes or a lot of power cords or odd shaped items. Duffels are great for when traveling with gifts.
If you’re doing a more formal trip, or you want to wheel your bag instead of carry it around, you’ll probably want to stick with traditional luggage, and use the rolling suitcase.
Which do you prefer? Are you a casual duffel-er or do you prefer the tradition of the suitcase? Leave us a comment and let us hear from you.
We’ve talked frequently about the things you should or shouldn’t take the next time you travel, especially on flights. But what are those things you absolutely can’t live without, the items that, if you forgot them, might ruin the entire trip.
We talked to several Travelpro employees about those little must-have items that make traveling more bearable and comfortable for them, and the things they always pack first, just to make sure they didn’t forget them.
For many people, the answer is electronics. One of the essentials (no surprise) is the smartphone. A smartphone keeps you connected (with talk, text, e-mail and social media), amused (games), and even serves important functions like keeping time and getting you around (maps).
Another key item is a laptop computer. Some folks just can’t be separated from their work even for a short little trip. While it’s nice to unplug once in a while, others don’t have that luxury (or personality).
A tablet is another new favorite. For those that can’t bear to travel without books, a tablet is a much lighter version that allows you to select new titles while you’re sitting at the airport. You can carry an entire library in a single device, and watch TV or movies on it later. Some tablets can replace the need for bringing a laptop.
And many people don’t want to move an inch without a more traditional device, the hairdryer.
With all these devices jockeying for space in your luggage, make sure you not only bring their charging cords, but also that you make sure you have the correct adapter if you’re traveling overseas.
Quite a number of the Travelpro women said they don’t move an inch without their makeup case. Looking your best on vacation or business is important, as is personal comfort. Several people mentioned neck pillows. Some folks want to make sure they have something comfortable to sleep in, or they bring their favorite t-shirts with them. You can bring exercise clothing along for the ride. Whether you make it to the gym or not, the idea that you’re making your health a priority for your trip can be of great psychological benefit.
Finally, when you’re packing for your trip, make sure you have a high quality suitcase! A poor quality bag can ruin your trip or even break open and leak all your favorite items. You need something durable, light, and tough enough to handle the rigors of airline travel.
What are your must-have travel items? What do you always take with you, no matter where you’re going? Leave a comment here on the blog or on our Facebook page.
Photo credit: H is for Home (Flickr, Creative Commons)
Everyone loves a list of life hacks, so we were unable to resist a recent article on Australia’s News.com called The 15 Best Luggage Hacks Ever.
There are some great ideas on this list, and we’ve even talked about some of them in the past, but we found a few old favorites as well as a couple new ones.
Everyone should follow rule number one on this list, which is to put some sort of distinctive marker on your luggage so that you can easily pick it out from the crowd when retrieving it from the luggage carousel after your flight. Most suitcases, including ours, are black. We make several others with distinctive colors, but still, the majority of bags you see on a carousel are black. So tie a bright piece of cloth around the handle or put a sticker somewhere easy to see, as a way to distinguish your black bag from everyone else’s black bag.We especially liked tip number 14, Buy a lightweight suitcase. Most airlines charge extra if a packed bag exceeds their weight limit, so you want to start with luggage that doesn’t weigh very much to begin with.
That’s where our line of Maxlite 3 suitcases comes in handy. We designed them to be lightweight and sturdy, so they hold up well to the rigors of travel without adding a lot of weight. We also recommend that you choose your size wisely. If you only need a medium sized bag, don’t lug a large one to the airport; that only adds to your load and the overall price tag.
We did wonder a bit at some of the suggestions in tip number 15 Have a little bag full of these random but useful essentials. The list includes small sheet of bubble wrap, universal bath plug, pencil sharpener, and a calculator. Those don’t strike us as essential items. And since many of the other items listed are very sharp (mini scissors, safety pins, tweezers) make sure you don’t stow this little kit into your carry on as the TSA could possibly confiscate it (or at least the sharp pieces).
Other good tips on the list include suggestions to keep your luggage fresh by sticking a scented dryer sheet in there during down times, using compression bags to save space, and turning light colored clothes inside out so they don’t get marked up if they happen to come in contact with the bottom of your shoes.
What are some valuable luggage hacks you’ve learned over the years? Share them in the comments below or on our Facebook page.
Many new parents are often tempted to pack almost the entire bedroom when planning to travel with their kids. They want to make sure they’re prepared for every contingency, every situation.
Don’t let this happen to you.
Your kids just don’t need as much stuff as you think they do to survive a flight — you only need the key essentials. There’s often a tendency by new parents to overdo it, because they want to have everything and anything they need.Dragging an enormous diaper bag around the airport, in addition to everything else you have, is just going to exhaust you, and you’ll end up not using most of it anyway. Pack what they need: enough diapers, formula or snacks, one change of clothes, and a small blanket. Everything else you need can be checked in your regular baggage.
The other big concern when traveling with small children is keeping them entertained. The very little ones don’t need much at all, maybe a toy and a rattle. Your best hope is that they fall asleep on the flight, so try to arrange your schedule to make that happen.
Toddlers generally need more to keep them occupied, so a tablet can come in handy. If you don’t currently have an iPad, Galaxy, or Kindle Fire, we recommend getting one for traveling with children. You’ll get to enjoy it as well, so it’s a win-win situation.
Load your tablet with your children’s favorite movies, and some new ones, some games and puzzles, and a few of their favorite tunes. With this setup, you could keep your toddler occupied for the entire trip.
If your child has a favorite toy or blanket they’re emotionally attached to, you absolutely must bring it along. Otherwise, the pain of separation will be loud and heart wrenching to you, your child, and everyone seated nearby.
If you’re traveling for the holidays, you’ll spend time thinking about what to pack before you head out. Sure, you need your toothbrush and clean clothes, but do you need your pillow, favorite blanket, or other items that make you feel comfortable and remind you of home?
Our opinion is “it depends.”
If you’re driving and there’s room in the car, take anything that will fit. Just make sure you don’t leave your precious items behind when you return home.
But if you’re flying, space is at a premium. You’re going to be packed into a plane with hundreds of other travelers and you may be lugging carry-ons around the airport between flights. And these days, most folks prefer to travel light to avoid paying the hefty fees associated with extra baggage. Plus, you may be carting gifts back and forth, which will already eat into any extra luggage space.
One of the great reasons for taking a vacation is to get a break from your routine, and to have new experiences. Can you really get that if you take your whole house with you?
In general, no. But if you’ll be staying somewhere for a longer period, like spending several weeks somewhere warm over the winter, you may want to cart a few extras along. Here are a few options to help you save space and energy trying to wrestle everything to and from home.
- Consider shipping things so you don’t have to carry them with you. This is especially true of light-but-bulky items like pillows.
- Pack a giant bag, check it, and pay the overage fees so you don’t have to deal with carry-ons. Sure it’s expensive, but you’re not going to get your favorite quilt into your small rollaboard.
- Buy a carbon copy of the item once you get to your destination. If this is a yearly routine, maybe your relatives will hold onto that comfy blanket. If it’s your second home, it’s easier to have extras. And if you’re just on a long vacation and don’t plan on returning, donate the item to charity before you head back home.
Do you take your comforts of home with you? How do you manage it all, or manage going without? Leave a comment on the blog or our Facebook page.
- Why You Should Pack Light and How To Do It (savoredjourneys.com)
- Travel-planning tasks that can’t wait until the last minute (usatoday.com)
Food and the holidays are like salt and pepper. They go together naturally.
If your family expects you to make a blueberry pie every Thanksgiving, you probably want to oblige. But should you bake it at home and take it with you, or make it once you get there? It’s an easy question if you live in the same city, but what if you have to travel a long distance for the holidays?If you’re traveling by car, you can make everything ahead of time and put it into a carrying case or cooler. But if you’re flying, you may not want to cart a pie through airport security. Even though TSA’s website says “we’ve seen just about everything,” they also warn that a carry-on pie may be subject to additional screening.
In other words, make the food when you get there.
The TSA has a list of items you can’t carry onto the plane, including cranberry sauce, gravy, and soup. You could carry them on as long as they measured under 3.4 ounces, but that won’t put much food on the table.
You could always check-in the food items in question, but the containers could easily break during the baggage handling process of your flight. Cans or bottles could explode from the pressure, or a glass bottle could break from rough handling from a baggage handler, or when it lands onto the baggage claim carousel from the chute.
If you cook with special ingredients or have food allergies or dietary concerns that force you to eat carefully, weigh the pros and cons of packing or carrying these items. Usually your best bet is to buy the food items when you arrive at your destination.
Of course, it’s always possible you may be heading somewhere without many options, like a small town in the Midwest. In that case, consider ordering from a specialty food store or even Amazon. Or you could just box the items up and ship them yourself. Either way, your favorite foods and ingredients will be waiting for you when you arrive at your destination.
Have you ever shipped, carried, or checked food items for the holidays? How did you do it? Would you do it again or have you found a new method? Leave a comment or let us hear from you on our Facebook page.