I’d like to share some travel packing tips that I’ve learned over the years as a longtime traveler, and more recently as a single mom on the move. My 6-year-old has 22 flights under her belt and will add another 5 this summer. That amounts to a lot of schlepping – especially when you consider that for several of those years I was carrying her as well! Here are some tips to save yourself some grief during trips.
Travel Packing Tips
Always have a look online to make sure you have the most current information on the size and weight restrictions of luggage on your airline. There is nothing worse than being that person at the front of the line who is frantically tearing their bags apart, trying to redistribute 5 lbs.
We have to take packing a little more seriously now that just about every airline charges a fee per bag, some even charge for carry on bags. I pack thoughtfully, and not just to save money on baggage, but because it is more efficient.
I don’t own a lot of clothing, so it’s easy to pull a travel capsule wardrobe out of my closet. I take a small plastic bottle of laundry soap so that I can do emergency wash in hotel sinks. This will save you from having to send out clothes to be washed, or look for a laundry facility.
I also use a tip from celebrity mom Jessica Alba, and never go anywhere without a scarf because it is the best stain camouflage available. If you spill a drink on yourself in some turbulence during the flight, just mop up the spill and then when it is dry, strategically cover it with a scarf. Offspring carries one too!
Convenient Carry On
Diaper bags are great carry on totes for travelling because of all the pockets, whether you are travelling with a child or not. They make very chic baby bags these days. I have recently swapped out my trusty diaper bag for a Stella & Dot Overnighter. It is the perfect size to fit under the seat and I’ve never been hassledI always pack basic toiletries and a change of clothes in my carry on in case my luggage is lost or delayed.
My favorite trick now that my daughter is old enough to be responsible for a bag is to fill her rolling Dora carry-on with our heaviest stuff, like books, magazines, my camera. Seriously, she will never have to lift it, the weight helps keep it balanced on its wheels, and it keeps my shoulder bag from being too heavy.
Identification and Valuables
Use your phone to photograph of all your identification, travel info, credit cards and banking info, including important phone numbers. Email it to yourself in case you lose your phone. This way, if your wallet or bag is stolen you can access all this information quickly. I email it to my parents too so that someone else I trust has all my info.
Don’t just label the outside of your bag, print out your contact information and itinerary, and place a copy just inside each bag so it is visible immediately upon opening. This way if the bag is lost and the tag and baggage label has come off, the airline can quickly determine who the bag belongs to.
Don’t carry all your credit cards and cash in one place, that makes it too easy to lose everything. Split the important stuff between different pockets and your wallet so you will be sure to be left with something if you get robbed.
I like to save the heavier clear zippered bags that linens come in for packing. Having toiletries in a clear bag saves having to dump the bag to find an elusive hair elastic. I also use them for shoes, underwear and socks to keep them from getting all mixed up in the clothes. They work the same way expensive zippered luggage cubes work, but even better because you can see exactly what is inside.
If you have a lot of them, you can even put together outfits in advance so you don’t have to rethink your wardrobe when you are trying to live out of a bag, simply pull out the bag containing the outfit you want. This is especially handy for kids clothes, and they can have fun putting together outfits before the trip.
I buy small refillable bottles for shampoos so I don’t have to carry any large bottles. Always pack a few empty ziplocks and a couple of small kitchen garbage bags to put clothes or shoes into as they become dirty.