Before you head off on your next adventure, be sure to check out our list of travel tips below, carefully compiled from our 20 years of gallivanting around the world.
How to Pack Your Carry-On
1. This first tip might seem obvious BUT make sure you pack ALL the items you will want access to during your flight in your carry-on (headphones, magazines and neck-pillows and snacks!) Nothing is worse than remembering that you packed your new book in your checked bag and now you have nothing to read for your three hour flight. Also when it comes to books…look into getting an e-reader or kindle. They are much easier to travel with because they are light-weight and you can put multiple books on them.
2. Don’t forget to pack gum! (Chewing gum while riding on the airplane helps your ears from popping!) Another tip is to yawn or swallow often as this allows air pressure to equalize within your ear and on the outside. If your ears begin to bother you, it can also help to pinch you nose, shut your mouth and blow very carefully. This can sort of “pop” your ears so that they don’t have that annoying clogged feeling. Decongestants taken before a flight can also help downplay any ear pain or congestion that flying in high altitudes may cause. Also consider packing ear drops to help alleviate your ears from the harm that high altitudes can bring
3. Purchase bottled waters, sports drinks and sodas AFTER you have passed through security. It’s no fun if you have just bought your beverage and then are forced to throw it away the moment you hit the security line. To save money at the airport you could also just toss an EMPTY water bottle in your bag. Once you’re finished with security you can fill it up at the water fountain and then board the plane with your nice cold (and free) water bottle.
4. Pack the necessities you require inside of your carry-on in the event your luggage is delayed…or even worse…lost. Think of all the items you might need to last you a solid day without your checked bag. Think about small toiletries that you would want after you arrive in your destination and any outfit you would want to have right away.
5. Make sure to pack at least one outfit in case your luggage does go missing…throw in at least one pair of socks, undies, top and pants in the carry-on and maybe a pair of comfy shoes. Also throw in some pjs and any other essential items.
6. Don’t forget to pack your medications inside of you carry-on. Pack the obvious medication you may need on the plane but also consider putting all your meds in the bag you keep with you. Medication is not an easy thing to replace once you are at your destination so it’s probably safest to keep it with you while flying.
7. Throw a jacket in the carry-on because airports and planes have a tendency to be a bit chilly! Plus you can use it as a blanket or roll it up as a pillow to take a snooze during your flight
8. It’s best to roll, NOT fold clothes. This saves space and keeps items from wrinkling! Trying to squeeze a high number of items in your carry-on is difficult. Make it easier on yourself by rolling all your clothes instead of folding them. Another tip too keep your collar straight without getting squished and wrinkly in your luggage…simply place a belt around the inside of the collar. It’s a win-win because now you have a perfect collar and your belt is packed.
9. Keep all important paperwork in your carry-on for easy access! (passport, ID, boarding pass, itineraries) It might even be smart to invest in a pouch to keep all documents safe and secure. Before you leave for your trip it’s a smart idea to make photocopies of all your documents and passport also. You can even leave copies with a trusted friend as well.
10. You can purchase most toiletries at your destination so don’t stress about packing them all. Toiletries can often be heavy and take up too much space. Plus, if you’re trying to pack them inside of your carry-on bag then they will have to follow TSA guidelines…You are allowed one quart-sized bag of travel-sized containers of liquids, aerosols, gels, creams and pastes inside of your carry-on. Each item can be up to 3.4 ounces or 100 milliliters.
11. Don’t forget an eye mask and travel neck pillow! If your flight is during the day when the sun is still out, it might be a little too bright to nap. Also think about investing in a travel size neck pillow to help make your naps more comfortable. Eye masks and travel neck pillows can often be purchased at the airport in case you forget to grab one before your trip!
General Packing Tips
12. This may seem simple and goes without saying, BUT make a list of all the items you want to pack. Get a piece of notebook paper and start listing anything and everything. Think about the specific places you will visit. Do you need a nice classy outfit for a tea house, will you need to throw in the swim suit in case you take a day trip to the beach? Plan ahead and it will make your life so much easier in the long run!
13. Don’t forget phone chargers, laptop chargers, portable batteries and make sure you bring the charger for the portable battery! Pack chargers with ease by using rubber bands and twist ties to secure long tangled cords. Another tip is to recycle empty toilet paper rolls by wrapping cords around them
14. Tag your luggage (and carry-on) with both your home and email address! Add your phone number as well and maybe the phone number of a trusted individual back home as well. You can purchase nice luggage tags at most stores or can use the paper ones available at the airport.
15. Make your luggage stand out! Buy colorful luggage that can easily be identified as it rotates around the luggage belt. Tie a large bright bow on the handle or if it has a hard case you can stick colorful duck tape on the suitcase to make it stand out. Try to avoid purchasing black luggage because EVERYONE seems to have this color which makes it hard to find. Go for bright colors or patterns that make your luggage more unique.
16. More luggage tips…purchasing luggage is a big commitment. It tends to last a while so you want to make sure your purchase has all the features you will want.
a. Consider the size of your luggage. Purchase a suitcase that you can handle independently because if you’re traveling alone you will have to maneuver it by yourself. Always check with your airline about luggage size because different airlines have different requirements and rules regarding bag size and weight. A “recommended” suitcase size is 22” x 9” x 14” for a carry-on sized luggage that will fit in the overhead compartment.
b. Think about all the special features you want your bag to have. Some bags have a “piggy-back” clip which is the looped clip on top of some luggage so that you can clip a second bag to the large suitcase. Wheels are another major feature of the suitcase. You can choose between 2 or 4 wheel bags. The perks of 2 wheels is that the bags are usually more light-weight and easier to run through airports with, however 2 wheel bags tip over easier. The benefits of a 4 wheel bag are that they stand upright without ever falling. 4 wheel bags also fit through tight spaces such as the airport aisle since you can keep them upright and drag them with all 4 wheels still on the ground instead of having to tip the bag to pull it. Consider purchasing a suitcase with an expander to make your life easier as you squeeze all your belongings into an overstuffed bag. Try to buy suitcases that are waterproof as well.
c. The material of your luggage is super important. Do you choose soft or hard-shell. Opinions tend to vary. Soft-shell is better for carry-on suitcases because you can squeeze them in the overhead bin a bit more easily than a hard cased piece of luggage. Hard-shell bags might protect your belongings better due to their protective shell.
17. Group similar products together. Pack cosmetics in one bag, shower supplies in another, hair products in a separate bag and skin-care products in their own bag as well. This help you stay organized and also saves the rest of your packed items in the event something spills.
18. Protect your breakable items by wrapping them inside of clothes. Next, separate items and disperse them throughout your suitcase so they do not bump one another and break. The safest location to place items that may shatter is near the center of your luggage because this area has the most surrounding buffer. This tip also works to protect wine or alcohol bottles. A bottle of wine fits perfectly inside a tall boot or between two pairs of sneakers.
19. Wear bulky items onto the plane. A thick sweater or heavy shoes take up a lot of space and weigh more when they are packed in your suitcase. It’s good advice to wear them while you are traveling to your destination to save on space by wearing it to avoid packing it.
20. Pack wrinkle-resistant clothing and think about possibly investing in a wrinkle spray once you get to your destination. This is a great product to have if you don’t have time/energy to iron (or if you don’t have an iron available). While you’re at it, also look into purchasing a stain stick or tide-to-go. They are great products for travel and come in handy when you accidentally spill a bit of your lunch on your white shirt.
21. Wrap up your makeup bag with clothing to help protect eyeshadow palettes from breaking with rough travels. Another makeup tip…bring items that have multiple uses such as a lipstick stick that can also be worn as blush or a face cream that can also double as lotion
22. When purchasing luggage and bags, try to look for light-weight and expandable pieces. This saves you from lugging around extra weight in an already fully packed bag. Try to find luggage with an expandable zipper so that you can fit all your souvenirs when it is time to return home.
23. Weigh your suitcase BEFORE you make your trek to the airport. Nothing is worse than maxing out the airport scale and having to pay extra baggage fees. You can purchase a specific luggage scale to weigh your bag. Another tip is to weigh yourself on the scale and then weigh yourself again while holding your luggage. Then subtract your original weight from the weight of you and your luggage together. Check with your airline to see the weight regulations. It’s typically a limit of 50 pounds for a checked bag.
24. Leave “breathing room” in your luggage so that you can bring home souvenirs without busting your bag. This is also helpful to keep in mind with packing clothing. If you plan to go shopping while on your trip then you might not have to pack as many things to wear (this gives you a great excuse to go shopping during your trip!)
25. Pack a pair of mini scissors or nail clippers in your checked bag to use to cut tags, strings on clothes or even open small packages. Make sure it is in the checked bag because security will make you throw them away if you accidently put them in your carry-on luggage
How to Pack Clothes
26. Check the weather before you pack! What if Mother Nature decides to bring a dose of rain and wind and you are totally unprepared. It is best to plan ahead so that you can toss an umbrella in your bag just in case
27. To fit the most clothing possible, vacuum bags come in handy! Space bags will compress your clothes and allow you to pack much more. You can purchase space bags at most stores but if you want to save money then there is actually a DIY hack to create your own space bag. There are a few methods to do this…
a. Dip & Zip Method à Put items into a regular plastic sealable bag. Next step is to dip it into water because this will force the air out and then when you seal the bag there will be less air inside
b. Vaccuum Method à Use a Ziploc bag and zip it up but leave it open a bit. Next place the first Ziploc into a bigger one and place your vacuum hose inside and turn the vacuum on. The vacuum will suck up the air from both bags. Ziploc shut the smaller bag as the vacuum is on! Now you have a homemade space bag.
28. Pack clothing that can be worn in layers. Tank tops are great base clothing to wear under sweaters and jackets. Look into quick-dry fabrics that you can hand-wash and allow to dry overnight. This helps you pack less because these items are so easy to wash. Many types of athletic clothing come with ‘wicking’ characteristics which help them dry quickly
29. Throw some laundry sheets throughout your luggage to keep your clothes smelling fresh. Just set a couple throughout your suitcase as you pack.
30. Stuff socks inside shoes to fill empty space or put objects that may break or become squished inside shoes to protect them
31. Plan how often you will wear certain items. If it is only going to be worn once or you aren’t even sure…then don’t pack it at all. It will take up your limited space and be a complete waste if it is never even used. If you don’t wear it regularly at home – don’t pack it. If you have never worn it before, then how do you know if it’s comfortable? Plus why would you wear something while on your trip that you wouldn’t want to wear normally? It seems like common sense but you would be surprised the number of people that don’t follow this rule.
32. Pack the clothes you will need first on top so that you can find them easier and not destroy the clothing you spent such careful time folding and rolling. If it is a 7 day trip, pack the clothes you plan to wear on your return home in the bottom of your suitcase and then work backwards. This saves you time when you’re rummaging through your clothing and keeps your outfits more organized.
33. Pajamas. Pick clothing that you can sleep in but could also be worn out in public. Select t-shirts and comfy shorts in case the weather takes a warmer turn and you could use one of the pieces you packed for PJs for a more versatile purpose. Also follow the same rules for sweat shirts or long sleeves. Maybe think about packing loose tops that can be worn in public as well.
34. Make sure you pack the necessities! Jeans, versatile tops and comfortable shoes. Nothing is worse than getting to your destination and feeling like you have nothing to wear or no basics to create an outfit with. A pro tip is to lay out each days outfits. Start with the first day of your vacation and make sure you have each clothing item needed and continue for each day you are away. This will also help you from packing too much because you have visuals of what you are actually taking with you
35. Pack all the clothes you want to bring and then take half out because you are most likely over-packing. This sounds like very annoying advice, but if you bring plain clothes most of them can be worn multiple times and in different ways…which brings me to my next point…
36. Bring only or try to only bring neutral colored clothes since they will be easier to mix and match (white, black, grey, navy, etc.). A neutral wardrobe is very posh and sleek. This method gives you the most outfit combinations possible. A black top and black jacket can be worn together easily but once you start getting all kinds of crazy colors, outfit combinations can become much more difficult. This tip will help you take less time to get ready as most your clothes can be worn together
37. Rule of 3 for shoes…one pair of sneakers, loafers/sandals and one pair dress shoes. Pack shoes in bags to keep them separated from your clothes (This trick helps to keep your clothes clean!) or you can also use a shower cap to keep shoes away from clothes. It keeps the pairs together and organized.
38. Comfort is key. If you plan to walk a lot make sure to pack shoes that will help (and not hurt) your journey
Throw in a plastic bag or reusable grocery bag. This can be used to put your dirty clothes in during your trip. When you return home you won’t have the clean and dirty clothes mixed up. (Helps save laundry once you come back home!)
39. Pack key accessories to spice up outfits such as scarves and statement necklaces. Jewelry can be used to dress up more plain outfits. Scarves are amazing additions to any wardrobe and look
40. If you plan to do a few loads of laundry save yourself the trouble of buying detergent and instead pack a couple laundry pods. They’re super small and then you don’t have to hunt for detergent at your destination. Throw them in a Ziploc bag and you should be good to go! Another tip…use the dryer sheets that you shoved throughout your suitcase to help it smell fresh.
41. If rain is expected during your travels, line your suitcase with plastic (or a dry bag) so if your suitcase gets wet your clothing will remain dry. Using plastic bags might be the best bet because then you can always use them for dirty laundry, hauling items or anything that you may need to wrap up.
Packing Tips for Families
42. SNACKS! Most importantly pack snacks in the carry-on for hungry munchkins that will be asking for food the moment you board the plane. Bring easy snacks like fruit snacks, granola bars and crackers to keep the kiddos happy. Keep in mind however to bring the least messy snacks as possible! Put food in plastic baggies or bring individual packed snacks instead of bringing a huge box. Here’s a great list of snacks for the airplane with two guiding criteria…not too messy & can last for a longtime without refrigeration. Also avoid peanut and nut related foods because you never know who may be allergic on your flight.
Best healthy kid snacks for the plane…
c. String cheese
f. Baby carrots
g. Mini muffins
h. Rice cakes or rice crackers
i. Puffs (perfect for babies)
43. Pack toys, games and books to entertain the little ones while on the plane. Opt for games that do not make noise so that you don’t drive your neighbors on the flight completely insane. Beware…don’t bring too many games for the kids because each extra item boosts the risk of losing something.
44. Make a packing list for each child to ensure nothing is forgotten (don’t forget the beloved stuffed teddy bear). This will relieve stress as you run out the door. Just take a glance through the list to be reassured nothing is forgotten. The list will also come in handy when you are leaving to come back home. As you repack all your things you can glance at the list to confirm you are not leaving anything behind in your hotel room.
45. Bring a mini first-aid kit because you can’t predict when one of the kids will fall and need a Band-Aid. When you need something fast this will make your life much easier. Also, throw the hand wipes in the carry-on. The kiddos might get messy with their snacks and this will ensure you won’t be waiting in a long airplane restroom line
46. To help your baby’s ears from popping while flying, you can give him a pacifier, bottle of milk or even try breastfeeding. Similar to chewing gum for an adult, the moving of the babies mouth on a pacifier or bottle will help alleviate any ear pressure that flying normally causes.
47. If you’re extra cautious, some families bring ID necklaces for each child. A business card with phone numbers and maybe a note with the hotel address can be placed in the ID necklace. Parents can have peace of mind in the event the kids wander off.
48. Bring extra batteries for the kids electronics so you don’t have to worry about buying any once you’re on your trip or just in case none are available depending upon your destination
49. Have each child carry their own small backpack that they can carry their toys, games and waterbottle in. This will help (literally) take a bit of weight off your shoulders and also limits the number of toys the kids try to bring because now they understand that they will be the ones to carry them!
50. Packing for a family an involve a high number of items so use pro tips to cut down on space. Look into purchasing packing cubes that will maximize the room in your luggage. Stuff sacks are perfect to remove the air from clothing and compress them down
51. Here’s a few more mix match tips for kids while flying…
a. Consider using a backpack as your carry-on luggage because your hands might be too busy taking care of the baby to mess with a carry-on bag too
b. Check flight regulations and rules for flying with babies and children. Not all babies are free to fly and some airlines even charge up to 75% the cost of a normal airline ticket for a baby
c. Check in as early as possible. The last thing you want is the entire family to be split up on the plane.
d. Keep the kids happy by having them wear comfy clothes. Dress them in layers in case the plane is a bit chilly or in some cases to warm
Creative Packing Tips
52. Did you know you can make your own homemade dry toothpaste pods and then you won’t have to pack an entire tube of toothpaste…You can make your own toothpaste capsules by skirting out small dollops of non-gel toothpaste (the pea-sized amount you would put on your tooth brush). Squirt the dollops on a sheet of aluminum foil and sprinkle it with baking soda. Just wait a few days and now you have small toothpaste capsules and don’t have to bring your entire tube. To use the toothpaste dollops just place them in your mouth and then brush. Great space saver tip!
53. Pack Q-tips in empty pill bottles to keep them clean and save on space. If you’re really feeling festive, you can even decorate the bottle! Pinterest has tons of cute DIY projects for travel you can check out. They can be fun to make and have a functional use as well. It’s a win-win. Plus DIY projects are often low cost, so Pinterest might help you save some money too!
54. To keep bottles from spilling, place a piece of plastic wrap on each bottle over the top and then screw the lid over it. The plastic helps seals the lid around the bottle for spill-free travels.
55. Razors are a necessity but you don’t want to accidentally cut yourself rummaging through your bag. Place a binder clip over the blades of the razor to protect yourself and keep the razor from scraping anything else in your bag. Then on your trip you’ll have the binder clips as well which might come in handy.
56. Hot curling irons and straighteners can be stored in oven mitts! This saves you from burning yourself or melting anything in your luggage that may come in contact with a hot hair tool. You’ll feel much more at ease shoving your curler in a heat-proof mitt as you sprint out the door because you don’t have to worry about the other items in your bag
57. Place hairpins in an empty tic-tac container. They fit perfectly! You can decorate the container too to make it extra cute and personalized. It’s a great way to recycle and be environmentally healthy. An added bonus is that you’re using an item you already have so it’s free to do!
How to Pack Jewelry
58. Leave the pricey pieces at home. This may seem like a downer, but if your luggage is lost at least you won’t be losing your expensive jewelry too
59. A straw can be placed over a necklace to keep it from getting tangled. Super easy hack and this saves tons of time that you would have spent untangling your jewelry.
60. Place earrings in a pill organizer container to keep them in their pairs. This helps you to not lose them and to assure they don’t pierce anything else in your bag.
61. Plastic baggies are another easy hack to pack jewelry in and keep items separated. Plus plastic baggies can be used for all sorts of things so they are a nice item to have around while traveling.
62. Invest in a jewelry roll-up bag. There are individual compartments for organization and specific holes that earrings can be threaded through to keep them secure
Packing Tips for International Trips
63. If you are going to a different country, make sure you do not require an adaptor to use the outlets. For example, many European Nations use different outlets than the U.S. and Britain has a different one entirely. You can purchase multi-national adaptors that will work with multiple countries so make sure you pay attention when it comes time to make this purchase.
64. Currency. Get small denominations in the currency of the country you are traveling to in case you can’t find an ATM right away. You may need to tip the taxi driver that drives you from the airport to your hotel
65. Call credit and debit card companies and tell them your travel plans (locations and dates) or else they may lock down your cards when they see they are being used across the world
66. Find credit cards without foreign transaction fees or else you will get charged extra each and every time you swipe your card abroad. These extra fees will add up quick! Debit cards. The same rule applies. Each time you use an ATM to get out money your bank at home AND the ATM might be charging you extra. Look into debit cards that have fee-free ATMS abroad in your destination country
67. Make copies of IDS, passports and itineraries and give to family or friends at home
68. Money belt. This sounds extreme to some but money belts keep your money safe from pick-pocketers that you may unfortunately encounter
69. Pack a pair of flip flops to protect your feet from shower floors in hostels that may (or may not) be so clean. Flip flops are also nice to have for hitting the beach or lounging around
70. Do your research. Look up what types of clothing and outfits the locals wear. Read recommendations of past travelers to learn the dos and don’ts and best prepare what items you will actually want and need!
71. International SIM card. Depending on how long you are abroad, it is smart to look into international phone plans to save on roaming charges (plus you can expect Wi-Fi to be available everywhere)
Smart and Savvy Tips
72. Separate your valuables and distribute your “wealth” throughout your luggage. This is a precautionary measure if a piece of luggage is lost or stolen. It might be smart to pack your jewelry bag in your carry-on to protect your precious jewels
73. Pack products with dual purposes. Coconut oil can be used as a moisturizer, hair mask and lip balm. Dry shampoo is great not only to give your hair extra volume and a method to skip a hair wash, but the product can even double as deodorant (fun fact). Makeup remover wipes had dual uses as well. They can be used obviously to remove makeup but also to clean your hands as hand wipes or toilet paper in very desperate times.
74. You can use empty containers to put other products in. Or if you want to really conceal something, such as money or any other valuable, you can hide it in an old empty lotion bottle and no one would ever guess something valuable is inside. You can also use an empty chap stick container to hide money.
75. Bring copies of prescriptions for glasses, contacts and medications in case these items are lost
76. Plan out dining, sightseeing, shopping, and all the places you want to go to before arriving to your destination. This will alleviate stress and help you cross every item off your bucket list!
77. Don’t forget to bring a small to medium sized travel bag to use on a daily basis. Make sure it zips up and is secure (you don’t want to be pick-pocketed). Cross-bodies are great!
Jill Miller is the founder of Your RV Lifestyle. Trading corporate America for the open road, Jill, along with her partner Jose, began their RV journey, making an unconventional start by wintering in New Jersey. A natural adventurer, she was motivated by a desire to explore the USA and beyond, embracing the varied landscapes, communities, and cultures across the country.
For Jill, the allure of RV living was not about material accumulation, but rather the pursuit of an adventurous, fulfilling lifestyle. A lover of golf, bicycling, hiking, and line dancing, she has carried her passions across the country, engaging with them in diverse settings. Jill’s commitment to the RV lifestyle came after years of careful research, numerous consultations with RV owners, and personal trials, including living in a rental RV.