Tips from a Traveler

I just got home from another trip. That makes trip number… twelve or fifteen or something this year. I have three left to go. Maybe four. I am traveling at least 1-2 times per month, every month. So, you have to imagine, I’ve learned a thing or two. I don’t have any wisdom on upgrades or anything like that. This is about prepping and packing and traveling with efficiency.

These tips vary on the type of travel I do- so I broke it out into Work Travel, Fun Travel- Cold Locale, Fun Travel- Warm Locale, International Travel, Weekend Travel/Quick Trips, then I’ll wrap it up with an article from one of my all-time favorite travelers, Anthony Bourdain.


My work trips are usually 2-4 days, always involving overnight stays. This makes it a little tricky, because you essentially need to have three outfits per day (work event, evening event, free time/workout daytime).
Here are my tips.

Luggage Tumi Alpha Garment Bag.

My Tumi Garment bag is a miracle worker for work trips.
If your garment bag has wheels, bring a shoulder bag for your laptop (if needed). If your garment bag is sans wheels, get a wheeled laptop bag. Always at least one should be on wheels to support the other.

As for carrying on, hopefully you have a company that will expense the check-in fee. If not, you have options, Southwest still offers free checked bag, and credit cards like American Express Platinum offer credits for checked bags fee, essentially making them free.

If you can carry everything on, more power to ya… I find it difficult to bring ironed items in a suitcase without it being a garment bag, and I’ve squeezed in seven full days of attire for work trips (I stayed the weekend after) in that thing. Shoes and everything.


Business Attire – most companies allow for business casual. Ladies, you can get away with wearing the same black slacks more than once. Just change up the blouse or sweater. And definitely bring a sweater and closed-toed shoes or dress boots- even if you are going to Orlando in August, the air conditioning is a bitach. Always bring sweaters to these things.

Evening Attire – Depending on the nightly activities, casual wear may be an option – again, a pair of nice jeans can be worn a few times. Just change up shirt, shoes and accessories. Perhaps there is an awards dinner. Bring one awards night outfit- don’t decide there, it just takes up space to be indecisive.

Misc Attire- Workout clothes, etc. should be evaluated. I know I always mean well and want to work out on a work trip, but I never get the chance to. If I do get a second, I try and do some yoga in my room. Nothing special required for that, other than maybe a podcast of a yoga class.

Other tips:

You usually don’t need a camera (and may not want one) so keep that at home.

I rarely use my work laptop on these trips but always feel like I need to bring it ‘just in case’. If you have email on your cell phone, leave the laptop at home. You aren’t going to have time to tinker on it, and your brain will be fried from work activity, you won’t want to. If you need it, definitely bring it. You don’t want your boss to tell you at the cocktail hour he emailed you a document you needed to edit and send back to him later that evening and not have your laptop.

Really try to interchange clothing and limit the number of shoes. You’ll save a lot of space. No need to bring shampoo, hair dryer, etc. They should always there and available to you.


Ski trip coming up? Going to the Alps for fun? Going home for the Holidays and it’s 10 degrees Farenheit? Cold weather travel is BULKY.


I bring my largest bag (32″ wheeled bag) and check it on usually, as coats take up a lot of space. It’s probably more for a family of four, but whatevs- it’s winter gear!!


Everything is just bigger in the winter. Try to use the same shoes/coats/scarves that you can over and over again. If you are skiing/snowboarding, try to cram as much as you can in your ski/snowboard bag.

Other tips:

Since you will probably be having to check a bag or two, you can now bring on two bags if need be. I would try to minimize the number of bags though, just to keep the traveling light.


Cabo San Lucas, 2010.

This is my favorite trip!! I fit 14 days worth of clothes in a 21″ carry on wheeled luggage and a backpack – warm places allow you to bring light clothing and more of it!


I usually bring either my 21′ or 22′ wheeled carry-on and a backpack that can expand to three times its size. I try to leave some room for souvenirs I may pick up along the way.


Same goes here. Double up where you can. A black skirt can be dressed up or down. One light dress for dressier occasions is nice, or buy something there. Mix and match. Shoes are flatter and lighter as well- always good to have a walking pair, a sandal, flipflops.

Other tips:

Even though it may be more expensive, I buy sun screen and other ‘larger’ fluids on site so that I can carry on my bag. A hat is great to have, but hard to pack, Find one that can crush easily. I bring one of those bags that folds into a tiny square to use as a beach towel or a shopping bag. Also serves as an additional bag should I need to check my luggage.


Panama Canal, Panama, 2005

A lot of my international travel IS to warm locales, so go ahead and refer to that section above, however, I will add a few more things here:

Other tips:

Make copies of all passports, credit cards, etc. and leave a copy with someone at home or at home.

Call credit card co’s in advance and let them know you are traveling.

Keep it simple with customs people, they are very well-trained and want customs to be as smooth as you want it to be.

Don’t stand out and be ‘an American tourist’ it’s way too obvious and causes unnecessary attention. Just use common sense at all times.

Definitely research your location before you go- especially if you’ve never been there!

Use the lockbox in your hotel for extra cash you may have received in advance.


Pike Place Market, Seattle, 2012

This is my most common trip- the weekender. Quick jaunt to _______ !


I love using the rolled duffel for this trip + a matching carry-on. Cute, chic and just the right size.


I also try to double up- wear the biggest items on me when I travel, and mix and match as I go. If it’s a wedding, I’ll bring a separate outfit as well. I try to keep the shoes to 1-3 pairs if at all possible.

Other tips:

I assume I will be carrying everything on, so I make sure I have the liquids, laptop and everything able to fit into my carry-on and personal item.


Security lines: Keep laptop and fluids handy. Easier to pull out that way. Place Driver’s License back into your wallet- you won’t misplace it that way. ticket should also go in a place you won’t lose it- my favorites are my wallet, a specific pocket in my purse, my back jeans pocket (folded inside), and the bookmark of my book. Also wear shoes without laces. Don’t wear jewelry, scarves or belts. Don’t wear layers- i.e. if you are wearing a tank top, they will make you strip off your shirt if they see a tank under there.

When putting items on the belt, place (in order): shoes, laptop, liquids, laptop bag, luggage. Wheel luggage along until the last minute, no sense pushing that thing down the belt. Electric toothbrushes or anything odd may cause them to pull your bag. I don’t bring mine anymore.

Cords: I have what seems like 8,000 cords. For iphone, blackberry whatever. I put all my cords into a ziplock bag to keep them together and contained.

Liquids: You can bring liquids in a sandwich bag- but not all bags are equal. Don’t go cheap here, get the max-sized approved Ziplock or equivalent bag, you can get a couple more containers in there than going with a cheaper version.

Themed retreat: I go on yoga retreats, and I find packing is similar to work packing, just sub out the work clothes for yoga clothes. Same if it is a hiking-focused trip, etc.

Packing list: I always forget to pack something, so I start my packing list a day in advance (or more) for weekend trips, and a week in advance (or more) for long trips. For international, I start creating a list from the time I book the ticket. I use an app called TripList on the app store to keep track and store lists. I check off the items as I pack.

TripList App

And now, some tips from Tony B- tips of which I completely agree.



Seasoned traveler and punk rock celeb chef Anthony Bourdain  (host of the Travel Channel’s No Reservations) presents his top five travel tips to avoid travel nightmares and make the most out of your time on the road.

Eat like a local.  Wherever you are, eat what the locals are good at or famous for, and eat where those locals like to eat it. Do not rely on your concierge for dining tips. He’s in the business of making tourists happy. You want the places that make locals happy. Seek out places crowded with locals. Avoid places where others of your kind are present.

Show appreciation.  People everywhere like it when you are appreciative of their food. I cannot stress enough how important your initial reactions to offerings of local specialties are to any possible relationships you might make abroad. Smile and try to look happy, even if you don’t like it. If you do like it, let them know through word or gesture of appreciation.

Visit local markets.  Get up early and check out the central food market. It’s a fast way into a culture, where you’ll see the basics of the cuisine.  You’ll often find local prepared foods at stands or stalls serving markets’ workers.

Travel prepared.  Be prepared to be stuck in an airport for indeterminate periods of time.  Load your mobile device with as many games, songs, apps, and e-books as possible to keep busy during long waits. Also, make sure to pack a battery charger to power up.

Get comfortable.  Remember to bring something scrunchy and long-sleeved, like a sweatshirt. You might need it as a pillow.

Happy Travels!


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