If you are like me – you live to travel! I travel for work a few times a year and my family and I try to travel as much as possible. Even if it’s a short road trip, we will take it. I also worked in the hotel industry for ten years, so I’d consider myself a travel expert or at least a wanna be one.
As I pack for our next trip, a ten-day west coast adventure with the whole family, I’m sharing all my top travel hacks with you for a smooth vacation.
Here’s some of my prep for travel tips:
My first tip is to make a list. I’m a list person as it helps me remember everything we need. If I don’t make a list, I’m bound to forget something. Write everything on this list even if it’s a no-brainer like a toothbrush. This is my lifesaver especially when the whole family is coming because kids need so much stuff!
Next, take out a bunch of outfits and lay them on your bed. Try on things you want to take. I always advise to try stuff on because nothing is worse than taking an outfit for a trip and when you get there it doesn’t fit anymore or is damaged and you can’t wear it. Once you try everything on, limit one outfit per day you’re gone and then bring one extra. I do this for the kids as well. This step saves me from over-packing.
Be honest with yourself. As a female who loves her shoes, I take out all my shoes I want to take and pair them with different outfits. I hate overpacking so I try to be honest with myself. Like, AM I REALLY GOING TO WEAR SIX pairs of shoes? Ask yourself this question and then put most of them back.
Pre-buy. If you’re traveling with kids, head to the grocery and get a lot of snacks. If we go on a road trip we take a cooler with sandwiches and tons of snacks so we don’t have to make stops and eat fast food a long the way. When we fly, we grab bars and little snack packs before we leave because airport snacks are up-charged like crazy.
Let everyone carry their own stuff. I give the boys each a backpack and they can take their iPads, headphones, a few snacks each and one toy/stuffed animal. If it doesn’t fit in the bag, it doesn’t come. Giving them their own bags saves me from carrying around all their stuff. We started doing this at age 3 and they love the independence of having their own bag.
Now onto must-have travel accessories:
TRAVEL CUBES. Why oh why did I not buy these earlier? Cubes keep everything organized and you can fit a ton more. I like having the extra space in case we come back with souvenirs, too. Here are the ones I use. I like them because they come with a laundry bag to separate the stinky clothes from your regular clothes.
Don’t forget about the jewelry! Another travel accessory that is a must is a jewelry case. I used to use the little bags jewelry came in and my earrings and necklaces would get tangled up. I love this travel case as it works for bigger earrings and separates all the items for easy viewing.
Roll em up! When packing your suitcase or kid’s suitcase, roll all the clothes for more space in the travel cubes. But wait… there’s more. Take the shirt and shorts (or whatever the whole outfit is) and lie one on top of the other and roll them together! Brilliant, right? This way my kid grabs a roll and his outfit is ready. I love these verses them rummaging through their suitcase trying to pick bottoms and a top to wear. When you roll them together it takes the guesswork out of choosing an outfit and keeps the suitcase organized.
Pack an empty water bottle. Once you get to your gate you can go fill it up and save money on those expensive water bottles in the airport.
Take your health routine with you! I have a shake every morning with some supplements and this is not something I can leave behind when I travel. I take my travel blender with me everywhere! It’s powerful, light weight and easy to charge. This is the one I use.
Skip the ironing! I love my travel steamer. I also despise ironing, so this steamer is a win-win! It’s quick and works well. It’s also lightweight and hardly takes up any space. Nothing worse than pulling out all your clothes once you get there and they look like they’ve been balled up in a hamper. This steamer is a quick fix and allows you more time to enjoy your trip instead of hanging out in the room ironing all your items.
Travel Hangers. Once you steam all your stuff you’ll need to hang it up. There are never enough hangers in a hotel room closet, especially if you are traveling with others. These hangers are compact and fold up so they take up little space and I use them on every trip we take!
A Travel Booster Seat – God Bless the makers of this thing. I hate traveling with car seats or boosters. The ones you rent at car rental places are usually filled with a million germs and beat up. Once my son was old enough for a booster we bought this travel booster seat – and it’s been a lifesaver. It’s so compact and works just fine. Moms, this is a must.
If you want to look cute AND be comfortable while flying, this jumper is the best! I wear it on all my flights with a light sweater. Easy to get off and on for restroom breaks too!
Now onto hotel / flight tips:
Book A Hotel Last Minute. Normally I wouldn’t give this advice, but if you’re a risk taker you can use the app, HotelTonight and get huge deals on rooms that aren’t sold yet! You have to book the day before or day of usually, but it’s worth the savings. We use this app on our road trips once we decide where to stop for the night.
Book flights on Tuesdays. A lot of airlines post their new rates on Tuesdays along with deals. Try to book your flights then. Also, if you book a flight on SWA on points, then later find it for a better deal you can cancel your previous flight, get all your points back, then book the cheaper flight.
Want a hotel upgrade? Kindness (and a tip!) gets you very far in hotels and so does a $20. Offer the front desk agent a tip when you hand them your card while asking for an upgrade and you’ll more than likely get a nicer room, access to the club lounge, free breakfast, etc.
Google Maps Hack. Y’all. I was today years old when I found out you can download Google Maps to use offline when your phone doesn’t have an Internet connection. Mind blown, right? All you have to do is go to the area you want to save on your map, then type the words “ok map” into the search bar and press download. You’re welcome.