Life Hack: Travel Like a Pro

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How not to pack!

On a recent NPR Life Kit podcast the hosts distilled the travel advice of professionals for packing and planning a trip down to seven rules. Some of the advice may seem a bit extreme if you are going from say, New Jersey to Orlando for a Disney vacation. Even so,  if you are traveling with a family of four and everyone brings two bags, watch out! You never need as much stuff as you think. A more realistic approach will free you up to enjoy your travel more.

There is a some entertaining stuff including the pro, Doug, who takes a MacGyver approach to packing. His packing essentials include a scarf that can be used as a sunscreen, hairband, hat, napkin, towel, blanket, pillow, dust mask, and more.  Listen to hear the number of ways you can use dental floss! The point is give preference to things that serve multiple purposes.

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You never know how far you are going to have to walk with your luggage, so travel lighter than you think you can. Can you launder along the way? Bring only things that can be worn multiple times. And leave room for that special merino t-shirt.

I learned to travel for three weeks on an international educational trip to four countries with one carry on bag. By the end of the trip I had some clothes I was happy to leave behind in Cuba, but it allowed our large group flexibility and speed we’d never had without luggage restrictions. Once I had accomplished this, there was little point in over-packing ever again. I sometimes overdo it when I take local trips in my car. So thank the airlines for their extra charges, as it incentivize you to watch YouTube videos on rolling your clothes or using packing cubes. and leaving that extra bag behind.

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My battle tested AWAY carry-on size bag works great now that I’ve stopped using the battery. After having the airlines inconsistently apply rules about whether I can take the battery on the plane or check it, it is just easier to leave it at home. 

Plus in most places you can pick up supplies along the way, also providing opportunities to explore markets and find new products. I have discovered better throat lozenges, tampons, honey, man-size tissue, and many other products by shopping local. One trip with my friend Cameon (before 9/11), we arrived at the gate with a carryon and HUGE shopping bags full of Donegal sweaters and Waterford crystal. We were ridiculously overloaded and we smiled our way on board. We couldn’t get away with this today.

People who travel with me know that I commonly underestimate how long it will take to travel distances. I’m never able to do as much as I hope. The pros advise to focus on one main event each day and then fill in as you have time. I prefer to travel alone or in small groups so there is time to stop for another flat white. Everyone appreciates a little breathing space in the itinerary.

What have you learned along the way? What tips in the podcast do you want to try?

 

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