10 Travel Tips and Tricks You Need to Know
I have been lucky enough to travel more than the average person and as a result I have picked up some travel tips and tricks along the way. Here are ten of my best - everything from my secret to getting pretty photos even on gloomy winter days to my favorite travel accessory that can be used as a dozen different things!
TAKE A PHOTO OF YOUR PASSPORT
Once upon a time I went to Santa Barbara for the weekend with some girlfriends on a road trip. At some point along the way my friend Amy, our driver, realized that she had forgotten her entire wallet at home. This meant she not only had no money but she also had no identification. That night we went to dinner and while we waited we decided to grab some drinks at the bar. The bartender asked each of us for ID, which Amy of course did not have on her, but luckily it was ok. Why? Because I had a photo of her passport from some trip we had been on where we exchanged passport photos in case we lost them or they were stolen. Even more ironically, I had switched bags at the hotel and ended up leaving my ID behind also so I texted my mom to send me a photo of my passport (which I had previously sent to her as well).
Long story short, take a photo of your passport. Find somewhere safe to store it either on your phone or in a protected place online. Send it to a family member and/or a close friend. Although it’s not technically the same thing as having your physical passport and will only get you so far, it’s certainly better than nothing in literally every possible situation where you might find yourself without yours.
GET UP EARLY
Getting up early has many benefits but my two favorite are photography related; the lighting is best at morning golden hour (in my opinion, at least) and it’s also the easiest time to get photos without a million tourists in them. Here’s another case study for ya: I was in Paris a few years ago for New Years which is a very common time to be in Paris. It also happened to be extremely cold and often dark, gloomy, and rainy. However, if you look at my pictures from winter in Paris you’ll notice that for the most part the city looks empty and the lighting looks golden and pretty. That is because I got up each morning with the sun and took most of my photos during golden hour.
Also when traveling you usually want to see as much as possible and waking up early enables you to do that. Many people have a hard time waking up early but I find if you and a friend (your significant other, your travel buddy, some random person you met at your hostel) commit to getting up early together it makes it a lot easier as you won’t want to let that person down. I’ve never regretted waking up early and I bet you won’t either!
PACK A REUSABLE WATER BOTTLE
Plastic water bottles are horrible for the environment but that’s just one of many reasons why I suggest carrying a reusable water bottle. Buying a new bottle of water each time you need to hydrate is expensive. Either you are going to waste money or - worse - you are not going to want to spend the money so you will instead become dehydrated. Many airports now have a water bottle fill up station so when you bring you own reusable bottle you can fill up for FREE! Many European cities have fountains you can drink from, too, so it’s handy to have a bottle to fill when you stumble upon one. Hydration is extremely important so do yourself a favor and get a cute one like this that you will want to use and I bet you end up drinking more water as a result, too!
CARRY A BLACK PASHMINA SCARF
I can’t even tell you how many times this tip has saved me. A pashmina shawl is a shawl made out of a fine type of cashmere wool (pashmina). It folds up to take up almost no space so you are able to easily throw it in any bag and it weighs basically nothing. However, because of the material it is capable of keeping you surprisingly warm in situations where you have mistakenly underestimated the weather. You can wear it as a scarf, wrap it around your body like a shawl, use it as a blanket on cold planes or trains, etc. - it serves so many purposes. I recommend a black one because (1) black goes with everything and (2) if it gets dirty along the way it will be way less noticeable.
Pro tip: if you’re only bringing a small cross body bag with room for your wallet, tie it to the strap!
SAVE YOUR FREE BEAUTY SAMPLES FOR YOUR TRAVELS
Pretty much anytime you buy beauty product, whether it be from Sephora, Nordstrom, or elsewhere, you also get some free beauty product samples. These can range from single use sizing to numerous weeks. Instead of going home and testing them out right away, throw them in your travel toiletry bag. This way you don’t have to buy an overpriced travel sized version of your usual product or waste time transferring the full size to travel containers. Depending on where you’re shopping you might even be able to choose your own samples which is even better because then you can select things you know you love!
GET A BATTERY PACK PHONE CASE
In today’s day and age everyone is on their phone all day everyday. Unfortunately your phone often can’t keep up, so at some point during the day you will likely find yourself needing a recharge. I used to carry an external battery with me but when a friend recommend this Apple battery phone case to me I decided to give it a try and it really is SO much better! It is a bit heavy, yes, but it keeps my phone charged all day (and more) without having to deal with cords or outlets or any other annoying things. Plus it's a case so it also protects your phone!
The best thing about this one specifically is that the lightning connector passes through the case so when you plug it in to charge at the end of the day it charges both the phone and the battery case. This means you do not have to take the case off to charge the two separately like you do with many other battery cases. Since it is made by Apple, as is the iPhone, you are able to see on your phone the exact charge of both your phone and your case so that you know how much is left in each. When I’m on press trips shooting pics, editing them, shooting video, uploading to my Instagram story, etc. literally all day long nonstop this keeps my phone alive and for that I am thankful ;)
OTHER SIMILAR OPTIONS
STAY AT A HOSTEL
There is a very common misconception that hostels are gross, dirty, unsafe, and more, all of which is unfortunately very false. Sure, some hostels are dirty, some might be unsafe, but if you do your research you can find some great options that are just as nice as hotel. So why a hostel over a hotel? You can often get a much better deal at a hostel, they are usually much more social, and in general everyone staying there is traveling (not working) so you are like-minded. One of my favorite parts of traveling is meeting new people and hostels often have bars full of travelers looking to make friends. And guess what? You can get a private room! With your own bathroom! Just as nice as a hotel. Give it a shot sometime.
DON'T BOOK hotel BREAKFAST
Hotels often let you book a package which includes breakfast for a fraction of what you’d pay if you went to breakfast a la cart at the hotel. While there are differing opinions on this around the web, I recommend skipping the breakfast option all together. Often hotel food is nothing to write home about and you are missing out on the ability to get moving earlier. Go find a local cafe for a more unique, local experience. Chances are even with the “breakfast package discount” you will find something cheaper on your own. It will certainly be more memorable, at least.
USE PACKING CUBES
I used to think that packing cubes were nonsense and that they’d take up too much space but boy was I wrong. These are a total lifesaver when it comes to keeping organized! Looking for a top? Grab the cube of tops. Looking for a dress? Grab the cube of dresses. They allow you to find what you need without disrupting the rest of your items and are truly such a wonderful (and cheap!) investment. Try it - trust me!
KEEP YOUR TOILETRIES IN A READY TO GO STATE!
This might sound silly but I can’t even tell you how much time (and headache) this saves me when packing for a trip. I use this toiletry bag in size large (very highly recommend!) and keep it fully stocked with everything I need for every trip at all times. Any time I am on a trip and I realize I forgot something, I make sure to add it to the bag so that overtime it’s gotten better and better and now I rarely ever am without something I need. It’s so easy to just grab and throw in my bag without any thought or worries of forgetting something important.
And pretty much anytime I travel to visit a friend and they see my toiletry bag they ask who makes it and go buy the same one themselves immediately! So if you are in the market for a good travel toiletry bag, definitely check out that one :) It is the only one I have found that I really love - and it's cheap!
If you have a travel tip or trick that I missed above, please let me know in the comments below! I am always looking for new ones :)