Travel Tips

Planning for Travel

Create an online spreadsheet that you can access on your phone. Don’t forget to plan times for meals and travel. You can insert addresses and price information. Move each section around as needed until you find the schedule that will make the best use of your time. This will be easier to visualize than just adding items to your calendar, especially during the initial stage of planning a trip.

If you are going home to visit friends and family, you can create a similar sheet to share with people you go home to visit so they can see where to pencil themselves in. This way, you don’t have to constantly exchange messages on when you are or aren’t already booked.

Click on this link for a template to copy:

Packing Like a Pro

You can make one list of everything that might need to be packed for all types of trips. A spreadsheet is best for this, as it allows you to highlight the boxes under each column to show if the item needs to be packed for that type of trip.

This also includes a list for planning out what you will want to wear each day to avoid over-packing:

Keeping an online spreadsheet packing list will make it so that you can look up where different things are packed so that you don’t have to unpack every suitcase in order to find one item. You can also keep a printed packing list inside a plastic sleeve in your suitcase all the time so that you can visualize what needs to go into it. Cut apart each section of the list and do the same, so that your toiletries list gets kept inside your toiletries bag, and so on.

Remember to separately list items that aren’t going to be on your packing list, such as empty reusable food and drink bottles that were full when you set out on your trip, and souvenirs.

Here is a checklist to get you going with your own personal packing list:

packedrepackedClothes:packedrepackedToiletries:packedrepackedPurse/Tote Bag:packedrepackedHealth:repackedRepacking:
bags with clothes by daytoothbrushpassport & copyfirst-aid ointmentReusable water bottles
hiking clothestoothpastetravel documentsbandagesFood containers
gym clothesdental flosscell phonefeminine hygiene productions & medicationSouvenirs
sweaterssoaplaptop/tableheadache medication
dress clothesdeodorantcameramotion sickness medication
brasshampooemergency contacts on paperindigestion medication
underwearconditionerelectronic chargerspain reliever
t-shirtshair brushhealth informationcough drops
dress shirtshair styling toolsplug adapterprescriptions
jeansface soaptissuesvitamins
cargo pantslotionlip balminsect repellent
shortssunscreenreading materialinsect bite remover
swimsuitcontact lenses & solutionheadphonesthermometer
swim cover-upshaving suppliestravel blanketsore muscle wrap
coatmakeuptravel pillowcold medicine
hatsmakeup removereye maskcontacts & saline solution
glovesnail clippersear plugsCovid tests
scarvesnail filedisinfecting wipeselastic bandage wrap
pop-up laundry baskettweezerssnacks
snow bootslaundry detergent stripschange of clothes
hiking sneakersstain remover stickrefillable water bottle
flip-flopsmouthwashhand sanitizer
indoor slippersgum
dress shoescash
beltsface masks
tiesnotepad & pen

Keep a first night bag packed separately (or utilize your outside suitcase pocket) with everything you will need after arriving tired (and possibly late at night) so that the rest of your unpacking can wait until the next day. This should include your phone charger, night clothes (and any other bed accessories such as slippers and mask), before-bed medicine, snack, and your next day’s clothes.

Buy miniature zipper laundry bags (the kind sold for washing delicates). Attach a plastic ID holder with a safety pin. Inside each holder, insert an index card with the day of the week written on it. Pack each day’s clothes separately. You can easily find the clothes you want to wear in the morning and return them when they are dirty. This beats using a large laundry bag for all your dirty clothes, as they never seem to fit in a suitcase as well as when they were folded clean, (no, your dirt doesn’t take up that much space, it’s just an inconvenient way to re-pack and makes the end of a trip feel like even more of a downer).

And, of course, if you’re handy with a needle and feel the need to go all out, you can also embroider them.

Here are some printable tags to use:

If you’re going to have access to laundry where you’re staying, bring a small pop-up laundry basket and a couple detergent strips.

Frustrated by necklaces getting all tangled when you pack? Follow these steps:

  1. Lie the necklace across a paper towel, letting the ends hang off.
  2. Roll the paper towel 2-3 times, then fold the ends of the necklace back inside and roll it the rest of the way.
  3. Fold the paper towel in half and secure with a piece of tape or a twist tie.

If you travel frequently keep your toiletries packed all the time. Buy an extra hairbrush, bath sponge, etc. to keep packed year-round.

If you are flying, get a compact toiletry bag with refillable containers for shampoo, conditioner, body soap, and face soap.

If you are driving (and especially if you are staying in a house instead of a hotel), consider using a shower caddy instead. You can keep thin, but not travel-size products inside for the whole family. Just grab it from the trunk when you arrive at your destination and bring it straight inside to the bathroom.

Buy a small sorting box to keep your medicine so that you don’t have to pack several different containers. Label each compartment with the dosage. Just remember to empty this when returning home, rather than keeping it set up for future travel (unless you’ll be traveling again very soon), so that you won’t lose track of expiration dates.

And don’t forget your good, old-fashioned days-of-the-week kits for vitamins. If you’re traveling more than a week, pack a second one so you can stay on track.

Pack a bottle of wrinkle spray. Just spray onto clothes, pull them down, and let the wrinkles fade away. You can also buy a mini steamer or iron, which come in sizes smaller than your hand.

One way to avoid wrinkles as you pack delicate clothes is to wrap them around a paper towel roll before placing into a mesh bag.

Keep a paper trail of everything. In today’s electronic world, it’s easy to use your phone for everything. But phones lose reception, charge, get lost, or even stolen. It doesn’t hurt to have a backup on paper for travel tickets, hotel confirmations, event tickets, and museum reservations.

Want to keep all these things super-organized? Buy a soft-cover miniature photo album and put folded printouts inside. This will be light to carry in a purse or backpack, while keeping everything easily accessible. Bonus: it won’t look like anything worth stealing!

Traveling With Children

Consider getting a foldable travel booster seat for children who have outgrown their car seat. Often, parents traveling with booster-sized children will simply chance it with a regular seat belt. But with a portable booster that can easily fit into a child’s backpack, keeping safety first no longer means having to lug around a large and heavy seat.

Get some travel wheels for your child’s car seat. These foldable attachments are compact enough to fit into the outside zipper of a suitcase. Simply hook your child’s car seat onto it (they will have the ride of their life being dragged around the airport like a piece of luggage), then have them ride on the plane with their car seat in the plane seat. No more trudging through the airport carrying a heavy seat in one hand while dragging a crying toddler with the other.

When siblings need some space but are inches away from each other for hours on end, give them a bit of “alone time” by placing a large cardboard box between their seats. Bonus: it serves as a place to color!

Restroom trips with children are already tricky. Highway rest stops warrant an extra level of caution. Are your children too big to go in the same stall as you but still young enough that they shouldn’t be out by themselves? Train them to go into their stall first and stay in until they hear your voice saying they can come out.

Do the automatic flushers in public restrooms scare your toddler out of being able to do their business? Bring a sticky note to place over it so that it won’t flush just when they’re getting inspired.

Want some screen-free time? Print these car games and attach to a clipboard to help kids stay engaged.

See the link below for a complete list of items to keep in your car for road trips with children.

Prepping Your Home for Travel

Before leaving on a trip, here is a to-do list:

  • Put your mail on hold with the post office
  • Let your upcoming purchases remain in your cart, just in case they arrive more quickly than you expect
  • If you get Netflix DVDs, hold onto your last envelope until you return (or mail it from your destination right before returning)
  • Alert your neighbors and ask them to keep an eye out
  • Make sure your alarm system and smoke/carbon monoxide detectors have new batteries

Get a timer for lights that can go on and off at various times, not just the same time each night.

If traveling in winter, leave your thermostat set at a moderate temperature so pipes won’t freeze. And leave doors below sinks open so warm air can reach the pipes.

Keep a Holiday Tradition Box

Do you often spend certain holidays traveling to visit family (or warmer weather)? To make sure you don’t lose the magic of the season, create a special box that can be easily packed up (or put down as decoration in the middle of the room for the years when you don’t travel) that includes all the special items you want to have ready to go. This may include stockings, books, movies, games and keepsakes.

Road Trips

For many people, road trips are some of their fondest childhood memories. They are great ways to travel cheaply with children, don’t restrict packing by comparison, and give you the freedom to travel locally once reaching your destination.

First, check out this complete checklist of everything to keep in your car (whether traveling or not):

Skip the tank top and shorts! While these items might feel just right for summer travel, car seats stick uncomfortably to bare legs and seat belts can dig in to uncovered shoulders. Try a short-sleeved shirt with a collar and cargo shorts (or even a skirt with pockets) instead. It’s also always a good idea to keep a long-sleeve lightweight shirt that opens in the front and put it on backwards to keep the sun off your arms (or just one arm, or just your forearms).

Keep food, books and toys in bins or baskets instead of bags on the floor. They will shift around less easily and their contents are less likely to get squished. If you have extra seats, buckle them right in to make them even more accessible and less likely to go flying. And when you pack those car snacks, stick a binder clip on top of each so that once opened, they can easily be re-closed while en route.

Rest stops on the side of the road can save an infinite amount of time over leaving the highway. So, pack up on snacks to avoid stopping for food more often than necessary.

Go for more frequent shorter pit stops over fewer longer ones. Getting up and stretching your legs, even if just for two minutes, can do wonders to how long the drive feels. More importantly, it can help you avoid health complications that come with long periods of sitting.

Pack a jump rope for the road and skip as a way of getting in short bursts of exercise. This can also serve as a substitute workout if vacation time means giving up gym time.

Don’t just keep perishables in your ice pack. Medicine, vitamins and any other pantry food that could go bad if overheated should go in there, too. Even a 15-minute break here and there can really heat up your car and have an effect on the food and medicine inside.

Do you and your spouse have separate cars but will share the driving on a trip? Make sure whoever isn’t that car’s normal driver remembers their extra key. This will save the hassle of passing the key back and forth. And always pack an extra key battery before a road trip in case it dies along the way.


There’s a lot of focus on how clean the air on planes is, but don’t forget, the things you touch can carry germs, too. Bring a mini pack of wet wipes and wipe down your tray, armrests and anything else you might touch while on your flight. Once you arrive at your destination it won’t hurt to shower or at least change your clothes.

Does flying make you queasy? If you have a history of getting nauseated on flights, be prepared. Make sure your nausea medication and wrist bands are easily accessible. And believe it or not, some airlines don’t bother putting sickness bags in seat pockets, so don’t count on them being available. Next time you fly, grab a couple to hold onto for future flights. Keep these in an outside pocket where you can reach them in a hurry, if needed.

When booking your flight, avoid seats in the back as this area feels turbulence the strongest. Sitting right above the wing will give you the least amount of turbulence. Flying in the morning is also a good idea, as morning flights tend to have less turbulence than flights at other times of the day.

Avoid asking for ice in your drinks as it is not always made with filtered water.

If carbonated drinks don’t always make your stomach happy, they will be worse on a plane. The high altitude changes pressure so you will feel the effect more strongly.


Want to eat take-out or room service in your hotel room but there’s no table? No problem! Just grab the ironing board out of the closet (or ask the front desk for one) and set it up in front of the bed. It doesn’t make for the fanciest meal, but you will be more comfortable.

Curtains won’t close all the way? If light pouring in from the window is keeping you awake, grab a pants hanger (or two or three) from the closet and clip the curtains closed to you can get some rest.

Forgot the plug for your phone charger but still have the cord? Look for a USB port in the back of the TV in your room. You can connect your phone to this to charge it.

Want to let your toothbrush air out without placing it down on the counter? Grab one of the paper cups the hotel leaves in your room and punch a hole through it with the bottom of your brush.

Hotel rooms often have very dry air. to help with this, dampen a washcloth and lay it over the AC at night to moisten the air. If traveling when the heat is on, hang the washcloth from a hanger and hang the hanger from a chair next to the heater, to avoid a fire hazard.

If bar soap bothers you, pack along your own miniature liquid hand soap.