This week has been fun. Not only for myself, but for Jon and Layne as well. Whenever Jon and Layne have a far away wedding (This week is Montana), I like to take my work with me and either visit home (Pennsylvania) or other short stops to see old friends within the states. This week I went to Tennessee to a friends wedding, Virginia to see some family, and I'm back in PA chilling with my parents and siblings. Anyhow, In all the free time en route I was thinking about how travel is such a large majority of my lifestyle and even my identity (Any airport is basically my living room.). I've been driving all over the states (at least once a month) since I was a newborn with my parents (their jobs call for tons travel time as well), flying several times a year since I was about seven, going overseas when I was fourteen, and I estimate over 500 hours of traveling in the past year. That's a lot of flights, car rides, bus journeys, train stops, bike excursions, hitchhiking, and even climbing/backpacking. I thought it would be fun to write a few tips and tricks I have learned in this part of my life. From packing, to flights, to bags, to anything else! Here we go!
1. No matter where you go, overpacking is the WORST. (Trust me, I've paid so many overweight fees, and thrown away so many clothes because I overpacked and could not take item X with me after being at the destination and had all these souvenirs I wanted over whatever else.)
ROLL. I swear by rolling my clothes. I can fit three months of clothes, sleeping bag, books, shoes (even boots), and toiletries in a 65 liter bag because of rolling.
When you start packing your bag, big or small, only put in the items you absolutely cannot live without. If you have a lot of room left, leave a large chunk for gifts and souvenirs (about 1/3 of the bag) and if you still have room, add items you don't necessarily need, but items you want. (i.e. every sundress in my closet.)
Mix and match. Whether it be vacation, a business trip, or a random adventure, choose, say, 3 shirts, and 3 bottoms, and two pairs of shoes, and suddenly you have 9 different outfits taking up the space of a grocery bag.
Containers. I am so guilty of wanting to be overly organized and fit everything in a container. For toiletries or jewelry, (if you can) choose mini bags or those 99 cent bottles or anything that is flexible and doesn't take up blank space/volume. Like that box that contains q-tips, or half empty shampoo bottle.
Lastly, try to opt for a carry-on over a check in bag. Saves money and you don't have to spend a second at the baggage claim. (If you're driving, more leg room folks.)
2. Spares. The idea of traveling and moving your items to another place is all focused on minimalism, however I love to have extra of things just in case. Being a photographer, I have a whole carry on of just gear. But even without the gear, I still like to have that extra phone charger, that extra toothbrush, and that extra scanned copy of my passport.
Bring the extras only to the point of being secure and prepared. DO bring that extra phone charger, DO scan your passport/license and itinerary, and DO bring that extra toothbrush. however distribute the extras to a different bag so you are slightly prepared if one bag gets lost, you are good with your other bag.
3. Booking. Booking flights (if you're driving you're swell) is stressful sometimes but here are some hacks.
Tuesdays and Saturdays tend to be the cheapest days to fly in and out. Check it out.
Booking earlier seems to always be cheaper than waiting last minute.
Every Wednesday night airlines add new flights, routes, and times to their pages and if you catch them fresh off the press, you'll see some cheaper flights you might want.
If you keep checking flights nonstop and notice prices just keep rising, clear your history (cache) and cookies. The internet tracks what flights you're looking at and slowly rises the price the more you look.
Try looking at flights directly from the airline. I love scanning through Kayak and Expedia, however booking straight from delta or US Airways can scratch off a few bucks and even a great deal of cash.
4. Somewhere to stay. Hotels are great, however they're all pretty cookie cutter and can be annoying to deal with prices that just sometimes don't make sense.
Look for hostels, forgotten family, long lost friends, friends of friends, or even couch surfing or my new favorite airbnb.com.
Not you're thing? Check the benefits of different chains of hotels. If you stay faithful to one name of hotel for a certain amount of nights, they'll give you a night or two free. YES.
5. Time. Being late, missing a flight, or feeling rushed isn't exactly fun.
All you drivers- stop with the 15 billion (ok maybe not this much.) stops and bathroom breaks. Pack snacks, control yourself on the liquids, and maybe opt for the back roads or travel at the not so fun times to avoid traffic.
Either flying or driving, or backpacking, give yourself some give time. Always give yourself a thirty minute cushion. In an ideal world, everything runs smooth. But things happen and go wrong. Whether it be thirty minutes or two hours, prepare yourself for life's curveballs.
Flyers, I know you're hungry and that donut looks so good but find your gate first before you think about grabbing a snack. The line may be short but you can get caught up in the slow service and its not cool waiting for an overpriced stale donut that is taking fifteen minutes.
Early >>>> On time. Always choose to be early. always.
6. The bag. We have all our things but where to put them and what to put them in.
Bite the bullet and try to invest in durable luggage. Jansport backpacks and old duffles are great, however having a hardbodied cruiser or a great hiking backpack is going to give you a mind that is at ease and keep all of your stuff safe, together, and pleasantly easy to drag around. (nothing worse than having a suitcase explode, rip and tear open, give you back pain, or break your things.)
Look for maneuverable wheeled bags and ones that carry a great reputation. Buying used is great and cheaper, especially if its a bargain of a durable bag.
There are so many random things I want to add but this all I will write for now. Traveling is somewhat an art and its all about finding the balance of being prepared yet efficient without looking like the freshman who wears his university lanyard everywhere all the time for the whole first year and spends too much money on books he will never need. I hope these tips helped! Thank you and have a lovely tuesday!