My Top Ten Travel Tips

I travel a lot. For work. For fun. With kids. Internationally. it’s one of my favorite things!

A while back , someone asked me for a list of travel tips. I thought on it for a while, and have come up with my top ten travel tips (plus a little bonus one) to share.

1. Have separate toiletry items.

If you are a frequent traveler, this is an absolute must! I have two of everything I need. Tooth brush, tooth paste, face wash, moisturizer, leave in conditioner, hair brush, chapstick, soap, shampoo…. This allows me to essentially always be packed. I have a zipper pouch that holds all of my travel toiletry items and when I leave for a trip, I just throw it in. When I get home, I just put it back in the cabinet. I don’t worry about whether I remembered to pack my tooth brush after I used it the morning I was leaving. It saves me a ton of time and brain capacity to just know if I grab my pouch, I’ve got everything I need.

2. Clean the house as best you can before you leave.

This one can be tough sometimes when you’re scrambling to get out the door, but I hate coming home to a messy house. It makes me insane. So I always try to at least do major things like make beds, pick up toys off the floor, and wash dishes before I leave town. It just makes my return feel less chaotic.

3. Before you leave, identify an easy meal for your first night home.

Nothing makes me fly mad more than having traveled all day, rolling into the driveway exhausted and hearing the question: “So what are you making for dinner?” Makes me want to clock someone with a frying pan. So, I’ve taken to trying to have a meal figured out for my first night home before I leave. I try to have something easy like a freezer meal or a frozen pizza or sandwiches. Again, it’s just something I can do before I leave to make my return better.

4. Have a sleep routine.

Sleeping well in a hotel can be hard. One thing I have found useful is having a sleep routine at home that I can take on the road. That way there is at least something similar to home to tell my body to give it up for the night. It doesn’t have to be complicated. I take my Calm magnesium powder with me, have a travel size of my favorite sleep aromatherapy lotion from Bath and Body Works, and try to take time to write in my journal. They’re simple things, but they help me to wind down wherever I am.

5. Stock up on blank notebooks.

Here’s a tip for those of you traveling with little ones. Get yourself some blank notebooks. Better get, hoard the free ones you get at trade shows or as gifts or marketing materials. My kids get a new notebook to take on every trip. They pack it in their carry on backpack along with an extra change of clothes (I’m always prepared if someone pukes or spills their drink…) and some markers. Sometimes they draw what we see on the trip like a journal. Other times, they draw their favorite animals or draw stories they make up. The key here is it isn’t messy, it’s quiet, and it doesn’t have a million pieces.

6. Have rules set before you leave.

Here’s another traveling with kids tip for you. Have some basic rules set before you ever leave. Yours may be different than mine, but think about things that are important and non-negotiable. For example, I don’t carry kids in an airport. Period. I tell them that before we leave the house. If you want to fly on a plane, you walk in the airport. So when someone’s feet get tired and they start begging for a ride, I remind them of the rule and that usually is the end of it since they were prepped well before hand.

7. Rent your car seats with the rental car.

Some people disagree here, but I’m a big proponent of renting car seats when you get there and not lugging those bad boys through the airport. You want to know who looks the most exhausted and angry at the airport? The dude lugging a car seat or two. It’s with the extra money for me to just get the car seats with the car when we arrive.

8. Pack lots of snacks. Then double that amount.

Snacks are the key to keeping my kids from melting down whether we are on a road trip or a plane. Take far more snacks than you need, because you may need to burn a few of those bad boys to survive the last 15 minutes of a flight or something. And if I’m honest, I hate being hangry too, so this really applies to me as well. I got stuck once after an emergency landing with no food while we waited hours for another plane. I vowed to never crawl on a plane without some of snack in my carry on again.

9. Always take a jacket on the plane.

I don’t care if it’s 115 degrees outside, I will be cold on a plane. It never fails. So even if I’m in shorts and a t-shirt, I will carry on a jacket or sweater because I just know I will be cold and miserable shortly after take off.

10. Use the same vendors to take advantage or points.

If you’re not a loyalty member or whatever at your favorite hotel chain, rental car location, and airline, you’re leaving money on the table. I always have points to get a free flight here or hotel stay there. I keep a note in my phone with all my loyalty numbers for all the different hotel chains so I am never without it. I also rack up tons of points on my Southwest Airlines credit card, which is a great option to get free flights if you just pay it off every month.

Bonus: Take the free hotel soaps and donate them to your local homeless shelter or resource center.

This is something I do every time I travel without fail. I collect the little travel soaps, shampoos, lotions, mouth wash, whatever they give you, and bring them home to donate. Our local homeless resource center loves to get the big bag I bring in about three times a year. Think about how good a nice shower with good soap and some fresh smelling lotion would feel if you had been stuck outside in the hot sun or freezing rain. It’s a simple little thing that can make a big difference to our neighbors without homes. In addition to the travel soaps and the like, I also take Keriug pods, tea bags, and empty plastic or paper cups. All of these are appreciated by my local resource center.

So there you have it. Also always remember something my kids have taught me…look at everything in life an adventure. Happy travels!

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