Being a prepared traveler has come with experience, time, and age. I’ve always been a particular packer, but in my latter years I’ve been much more thoughtful about what and how I pack. There are some trips that I want to carry-on only, some that I want to take a checked bag. Thinking through the method of packing and assembling my items gives me peace of mind when I travel, which is why I’m writing this article. This skill isn’t an overnight success, but reading how others are or get prepared for travel will help reduce your burden of knowing what to take (or not take) with you. Below are a few ways of how I’m always ready for travel, and perhaps a few of them will resonate with you.
Some of the Travel Size Items I Have Ready to Go
When setting up to pack for a trip, it’s nice to have your basic necessities in 3.4 oz or less. Even if you’re checking your bag, hauling more weight than necessary gets old really quickly. If you’re traveling in pure luxury and have someone hauling your stuff, skip this entire article. For those of us who haul our own luggage, read on. Since you're not taking full-size toothpaste, sunscreen
, and shampoo, you can have it ready to go in a little travel bag. All you have to do is grab and go. It’s how I’m always ready for travel anywhere and by any method of transportation, although a plane is definitely my preference.
My Very Well Loved Away Luggage in 2 Sizes, Properly Labeled. Don't Call me!
2. Own 2 Sizes of Luggage
An investment piece, or two, if you will. My husband and I each have a carry-on size and a medium check size piece of luggage. I bought myself the Away brand
(also $20 off with this link) and him the Travelpro brand
. They are both extremely high quality and I recommend both of them. For shorter trips I take my smaller Away, which is perfect for easily loading onto the overhead bin. I did purchase the Away with the portable charger and regret that purchase. I never use that charger, and every check point asks me to prove that it’s inside the luggage and not in its rightful home in the luggage. If I were to buy another one, I’d not include that added annoyance. Having the two sizes has served both of us well on domestic and international trips. Invest for success.
3. Download Your Entertainment
Obvious, right? Something I forget time and time again and get stuck watching whatever the airline is showing, if they show anything at all. While I primarily read on flights, I do enjoy mindlessly watching shows from Netflix as well. I don’t have any other streaming services, so I can’t speak on Hulu or whatever else is out there, but I imagine they all work similarly. One of the reasons I love my Kindle/Kindle app is because I can download as many books as I want if I have wifi and read them on the plane. I’m a book nerd, as I’ve mentioned in most other blogs I’ve written, so that’s my number one piece of entertainment while traveling and also how I’m always ready for travel.
Best Adapter/Power Source
One of my favorite travel purchases has turned into a favorite “charge everything in one spot” item at home. I’m always ready to travel abroad with this adapter
, but it helps me have multiple other items in one space as well. It’s easy to take around the house for when I’m taking photos with my ring light, or need to charge my phone, my iPad, and a rechargeable light. Anything and everything can happen with this adapter, and I’d highly recommend it for your travel prep and your everyday life.
5. Have Snack Will Travel
We love snacks in this family. Having snacks on hand makes it easy to be ready to travel wherever, whenever. I’m always buying lightly salted nuts, either pistachios or cashews, and putting them into little containers
to take with us places. Some other great items to keep on hand as snacks are peanut butter stuffed pretzels, parmesan chips, turkey jerky, and sour jelly beans. The jelly beans are a complete sugar splurge, but I’m mildly addicted to them. Trader Joe’s has the monopoly on the absolute best sour candy in my opinion. Travel snacks and snacks in general are something I never leave without when traveling. You never know when they’ll come in handy. And trust me, they will at some point when you least expect it.
6. Write Down What You’re Taking
Grab a note pad and get to scribbling. Because I plan out my trips pretty thoroughly, I am mindful of what I take and how much I take. Back to the travel size items, I don’t want to haul 10 lbs of shoes that I don’t wear. Pro tip: I only allow myself to take three pairs of shoes on a trip most of the time, and two of those are used for walking long distances. Cuteness doesn’t have to be sacrificed, thanks to the comfort shoe industry really making strides in good looking comfort shoes. No more looking like our grade school nun teachers in those…I-don’t-even-know-what-they’re-called shoes
. You know what I’m talking about though. I’m into digressing. Type out or write down what you’re taking. I organize by each day and night and see how I can mix and match items so I take as little as I can. More lbs = more hassle.
7. Keep Documents up to Date
If you’re lax on keeping your passport, drivers license, or any country visas up to date, I highly encourage you to do a sweep every six months to check out the expiration dates. I’ll tell you an anecdote. When I was visiting Brazil years ago, I got to the airport in Atlanta, booked through a third party (not Delta
directly), only to be told by the check-in person that my visa was expired. I had a complete and utter meltdown for what felt like hours, and an employee of Delta
ended up re-booking me at no extra cost. Probably to get rid of me because I was making such a scene. That was fine with me, but I learned my lesson, and it taught me how to always be ready to travel on a moment’s notice. I'm also a die-hard fan of Delta 4 Life. Be diligent with expiration dates. It’s worth the time it takes to do so.
8. Add Points of Interest to Google Maps All Year Long
I’ve mentioned this before in another blog
, and I’ll mention it again. Google Maps is the best tool when traveling. If there is some place I want to go or hear about, I simply plug it into Google maps and save it for when I get to go to said location. As an example, I was listening to my beloved Earful Tower
podcast and he mentioned the Driehaus Museum
in Chicago, so I pinned it. Chicago is a place I don’t have booked quite yet, but when I do, I don’t want to forget the places I learn about along the way. It’s a way to always be ready to travel for myself, and I know it will help you as well. Give it a go. Even try it in your hometown when you hear of something interesting. I’m a big Google Maps fan at all times.
9. Have an Extra Fold-up Bag on Hand
When I tell you this small piece of advice I learned from the Everyday Parisian
has been a game-changer, I’m not lying. I bought a Longchamp
bag that folds up into this little pouch. When you unbutton it, it unfolds and you can fit all of your dirty laundry, check it at the airport, and take all the wine you can fit in the suitcase, safe and sound. This does apply to other breakable items, like ornaments or olive oil bottles. I happen to love taking back wine with me, especially from Italy since it’s so much less expensive there. I’m sure there are other brands of bags, but Longchamp is classy and chic, and I like being those things when I travel.
10. Label Your Stuff with a Labeler
My husband bought me a labeler
as a gift for Christmas. At first I wondered what on earth would I label? Suddenly it became a little overkill. I was labeling everything. All of my travel cubes were victims of labels, my blank travel-size bottles that I filled with sunscreen or shampoo were also labeled. My suitcase was labeled with my phone number in case it got lost. For something I thought I would never use, I have gotten so much out of it. I’d encourage you, if you’re into that sort of thing, to get your own labeler. Talk about always being ready for travel. Your entire house could end up with little labels on it, I’m just warning you. Mine is on its way. Absurd, but fun. And life’s supposed to be fun!
Find the Method to Your Own Madness
However you decide on being always ready for travel is up to you. Find your method. I’ve read many other bloggers’ tips on such topics, and these are mine. Developing a particular way to get excited around prepping for trips has been a work-in-progress for years. Some people feel this looming stress around packing and prepping for trips, where I find it to be exciting and fun. It’s only because I’ve found ways to feel always ready for travel in my daily, weekly, or monthly operations. Accumulate your own methods little by little, and give yourself grace and space to see what works for you. I’m here to share about mine, and spark some of your own ideas and interests. Happy traveling, my friends. It’s a big world out there to see.