Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Tips for Small Trips

I feel like that person that's always going... that travels here and there and can't catch her breath. But, it's also the best feeling in the world to be able to constantly have plans ahead. I still haven't traveled outside of the United States, but I have been to many places within the US, and I can't wait to travel to them all someday hopefully (and of course overseas, as well!). Whether it's a camping, business, plane, or road trip, we often hop in the car and head somewhere, and I've learned some tips that have helped us be able to lead our busy lives and get everything together quickly before it's time to go!

1. Keep all of your necessary travel supplies in one place.

This is simple. Whether it's for a camping trip or luggage you'll need to pack necessary items, keep it all together. That way, when it's time to get ready, you're not having to go back and look around for all of the items you need to get organized. You're already halfway there!

Yellowstone National Park, May 2014
2. Keep a running "to-pack" list on a computer or notepad.

I keep mine in Microsoft Word on the computer, so I can print it off before each trip! It has every item I usually need, including: toothbrush, straightener, hair dryer, ____ shirts, _____ pants (with checkboxes indicating business, casual, etc.). Feel free to use mine (just email me and I'll send it to you) or make your own! I just go through a day or two before we leave and either cross out the things that don't apply on Microsoft Word or with a pen, and then it only takes around 15-20 minutes to go through the list and pack everything together. Voila! :) FYI: Always pack a jacket. You can never predict the weather. :)

3. Ziplock bags are a must!

Keep jewelry, medicine, shampoo, anything that spills in separate ziplock bags. That will keep things from getting tangled together (jewelry can be a pain to untangle and can ruin your nice items!) and keep things from spilling over onto your nice clothes. Learned that the hard way...

4. Roll your clothes.

If you have nice clothes but don't have an option to keep them in a hanging bag, roll them up. This was a life-saver for me when traveling to a wedding across the country. I had three or four nice dresses that I knew I wouldn't have time to iron, so I rolled them and placed at the bottom of the suitcase. They looked like they had just been dry-cleaned. Plus, it saves room!

Chicago, IL, October 2012 - The first trip my husband and I ever took together!
5. Set aside an hour the week before to plan your trip.

Whether you're flying, driving, or whatever, things come crashing down when you're trying to rush. Spend an hour a few days before and print off directions, plane tickets, accommodation emails, etc. It will make life so much easier for those to be printed out and placed in a folder. Make sure to put it by your purse or luggage, and you're set! Checking the weather and having an idea of the forecast will also help you save time in packing. But as I said before, just remember that raincoat/jacket. ;)

Oregon Coast, March 2014
6. Pack food and drinks!

Unless you're flying (then it can't be helped), but packing a few snacks and drinks ahead of time will cut down on both costs and travel time. That way you won't have to stop unless you need gas or bathroom breaks, and you're not paying ridiculous prices for fast food! And everyone gets tired of constantly eating fast food on trips, right?

7. Ask the locals.

If you're in a new place, the people that know the  area best and the best things to do are the locals. In LV with my best friend, we wanted to see the strip, of course, but it was the suggestion of the locals to hit up Fremont Street and try to eat downtown. Best. suggestions. ever. They'll be your best guide, and you may meet some really nice people along the way!

Las Vegas, NV, two weeks ago with my best friend for our girls trip!
8. Bring dryer sheets.

I didn't include this on my travel list, but this is something I learned from the past couple of trips. Static cling is bound to happen when everything is piled together, and dryer sheets will save you. Plus, if your hair has some static electricity bound up from all the traveling, it'll help there, too. :)

9. Keep it to a minimum.

Flying, driving, hopping from cab to cab, try to keep it to two bags. It'll save your life. :)

Alyeska Resort, AK, July 2013- Favorite trip ever!
10. Free wifi does exist.

Rather than paying the ridiculous costs for wifi at the hotel you're staying at (since not all hotels offer free wifi), go to a McDonalds or Starbucks and use theirs. Data adds up quick while traveling, trust me. :)

11. Always pack tennis shoes.

And wear them if you're going to be walking far distances. Your feet will thank you.

Lake Superior, WI, October 2012 - More from the first trip with my husband!
12. Pack a water bottle.

Water costs a ton, and if you're walking a lot, you're bound to get thirsty. A reusable water bottle will save you money and save you from dying of thirst. Ask my best friend who payed $4 for an 8 oz bottle of water in Vegas. We learned to refill our water bottles fast. :)

13. Call the credit card company to alert them you are traveling.

There's nothing that sucks worse than having no money to spend because your credit card company denied your card because it didn't recognize the place you were at. Make sure to alert them, and they'll keep you safe and allow you to keep using it, even 3000+ miles from home. On second thought, make sure to bring cash, too. :) You never know when you'll need it.

Seattle, WA, August, 2013
14. Try new things.

You'll regret eating at all the chain restaurants or only going to places you've heard of before. There's so much more out there, so try it all. Use your resources, ask the locals, and be spontaneous. It may look like a dump of a restaurant but have the best philly cheesesteak sandwhich you've ever had. You'll never know until you try.

15. If flying, never check a toothbrush, toothpaste, deodorant, or prescription medications.

My husband works at an airport, and I can't tell you the number of things that could go wrong with receiving your checked bag. Not even just having it be misplaced. It could literally be stuck on the airplane because of a door that's jammed. (Trust me, it's happened to us.) Thankfully, I had my medications with me, but a fellow passenger wasn't as lucky and had to wait quite a while for his wife to receive her VITAL medications. Plus, having your toothbrush and deodorant handy will help you not feel so gross after all those miles.

Boston, MA, Summer 2005 with my dad and brother. Back again in 2008-2009 (over New Years!) for a conference! :)
16. Pack socks in shoes.

Such a simple concept, but it helps. Seriously. It'll help your shoes to not break (ever have a heel break because they were just tossed in your suitcase?) and retain their structure, and it'll save space.

17. Pack only things in checked bags that you won't mind TSA rifling through.

If there's something that means a lot to you, keep it with you. It stinks that airports are starting to charge for carry-on bags, but sometimes, it's worth it. I've been the recipient of many "random checks" (haven't we all?!), and things get broken very often. Trust me, they won't replace it, so it's better to be safe than sorry and have it with you. Especially those priceless souvenirs that you won't be able to replace until the next time you visit!

Destin, FL, December 2004 - I was maid-of-honor in my cousin's beach wedding. Can't believe it's been almost ten years!
18. Have reading material or try finding a new book at the airport.

There's bound to be delays, so even if you can sleep on the plane, it's not safe to sleep in an airport when you're holding on to your valuable items, so make sure you bring something to keep you occupied. It's the best time to read those books you haven't had time for, or to find something good at the airport newsstand. That last option just may cost a little more.

19. Don't keep anything in your car.

Whether it's a rental or your own, it's bound to get stolen. The last thing you want is to have to worry about it, so make sure you keep it in a safe place. Most hotels have safe boxes that you can lock valuables in. It's worth it to keep your stuff protected!

20. Pack a travel first-aid kit and keep it with you.

Especially ibprophen and Tums. You don't know how much it will come in handy! If you have a headache, sore muscles, or heartburn from a place you ate, it'll make you feel much better fast, and then you won't spend so much of your time trying to feel better in a hotel. Or spend so much money to buy these items. Band-aids are worth it, too. :)

Buffalo River, AR, September 2013
Hope these help you in future adventures! We have many more places we want to go, but we both have traveled quite a bit, and these are some tips that I use before going anywhere. It's saved a lot of heartache and hassle for myself and my family, and I hope it does you, too!

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