My good friend Anna posted her Top 10 Travel Tips – Packing Light Edition over on The Curiost today, which got me thinking about some of my own travel tricks. I encourage you to check out her list; she has some good ones. Consider these my bonus tracks:
Refillable Water Bottle/Pouch – In my opinion, the number one key to successful travel is good hydration. Whether you’re trekking through the airport or the Outback, drinking enough water is essential to remaining alert, adjusting to time zone changes, and warding off illness. Thankfully, many airports have started installing “hydration stations” where you can refill your own water bottle, often with filtered water. I’ve seen them in shopping centers as well, and I suspect they will soon begin to pop up at a wide array of tourism sites. Of course, depending on where you’re traveling, the average faucet will serve you just fine.
At home, my daily use water bottle is a 22 oz. lifefactory bottle, glass with silicone sleeve. This simply isn’t practical when packing light. For travel, you can’t beat a Vapur Anti-Bottle. In sizes up to a liter, this nifty bottle can be folded or rolled and tucked away in your luggage when not in use. Though, you really should be using it.
Collapsible Food Containers – Anna mentioned a crazy travel food hack in her post – travel sushi. Ha! Though, I can’t blame a woman for trying to save money and eat well on her trips. Personally, I prefer collapsible food containers that you can fill with airplane snacks before embarking and stow flat when not in use. These are also great for storing and enjoying leftovers along the way, another cost-saving bonus. We often stay in hotels with a mini-fridge or mini bar, and I don’t think twice about rearranging things to make room for a few of my own staples. Plus, most airbnb’s have a full-size fridge and a kitchen for heating things up. They’re easy-to-clean, even in an airport bathroom, but lids keep small messes contained until you can wash them.
Inflatable Travel Pillow – For me, a travel pillow is one of life’s best luxuries when traveling. We have several of the bean bag pillows that I’ve bought when desperate to get sleep on the way home from a trip. The Eagle Creek Sandman Travel Pillow is the best travel pillow ever, because it deflates and fits right into its own little pouch. I also love that I can inflate it as much or as little as I want. Sometimes, depending on where I’m seated on a plane, I might not want the full pillow. I don’t just wrap it around my neck. I sometimes lean on it up against the window, or even lean forward onto it. Being able to contort it into many different shapes and scenarios is a real bonus!
Chromecast – OK, let me preface this by saying that I don’t just travel away from my home to sit on a couch somewhere else and watch TV. However, after a long day of trekking around and/or sightseeing, it’s sometimes nice to chill out at night with a movie. RF and I most often choose VRBO or AirBnB when we travel; all have wi-fi and most have either a television or DVD with USB. Of course, that’s often true even at inexpensive hotels these days. So, rather than huddling around our laptop or tablet screen, we can kick back and let Chromecast stream a movie on the big screen. Gotta agree with RF on this one – small technology, big benefit.
When in Rome – Above all, the best way to enjoy a trip is not by hauling a bunch of stuff around, but by tapping into the local culture as much as possible. Sure, there are plenty of online reviews to point you in good directions, but I still like to go to the source. Most hoteliers are “encouraged” to promote certain spots around town, so I don’t tend to ask for their recommendations. Cabbies, on the other hand, are more likely to tell it like it is. Don’t be shy about striking up a conversation with real people living real lives. If you’re not up for flagging down random people on the street (I know, that’s advanced gregariousness) ask a shop clerk or market vendor where they go when they dine out or like to hang out on their day off. Ask about their off-the-beaten path favorites. People really do like to share their secrets. I just did!