As we head into summer here in the US, many of us will be planning trips near and far. We all know sometimes that traveling can be frustrating, however, to help make your travels more memorable for the right reasons, I have a few tips for you from those diehard travel warriors, the Sportswriters, who chase teams from city to city, game to game. Here are some of their best tips.
1. Avoid check bags even on long road trips.
Learn to layer so you can pack tight. Here are a few smart suitcases packing tips so your clothes arrive looking good:
- Check the weather at your destination.
- Try Google Flights to search for the best flights.
- Sometimes we think this one is a given but not all the time, so call ahead to where you’ll be staying and ask whether a hairdryer and toiletries are provided. (If you’ll need toiletries, buy travel sizes.)
- Make a packing list. It seems obvious, but how often have you forgotten something important?
- Try to limit shoes—one or two comfortable pairs for walking and a dressier pair.
- Consider packing synthetic clothes, which are apt to wrinkle less than those made of natural fibers. Coordinate colors (preferably dirt-deflecting dark tones).
- Pack a plastic bag for dirty or wet clothes.
- Pack a small flashlight or headlamp for power outages or nighttime reading.
- Wear your bulkiest item—an all-purpose jacket or sweater—in transit.
- Put hanging outfits in dry-cleaner bags. Rolling up other items, inserting them in zip-top plastic bags, and squeezing the air out can save space and reduce wrinkles.
- Put heavy items—toiletries, say—at what will be the bottom of the bag when it’s standing.
- Place shoes around the edge of a suitcase or use them to fill gaps between other items; socks can nest inside shoes.
- Charge electronic devices before you leave, and take the chargers you’ll need, with adapters that will work where you’re going.
Need a new suitcase for the big trip, check out these videos on choosing a good one that won’t let you down.
Here’s a shortlist of recommended suitcases from a leading consumer’s magazine.
- Eagle Creek Tarmac 22 Inch Carry-On Luggage
- Briggs & Riley Transcend-Softside Expandable Large Checked Spinner Luggage, Rainforest, 29-Inch
- TUMI – Alpha 3 Continental Expandable 4 Wheeled Carry-on Luggage – 22 Inch Rolling Suitcase for Men and Women – Black
2. TSA PreCheck (TSA Pre✓®) is more important than ever to avoid flights so sign up.
All active members of the US Armed Forces, including those serving in the Reserves and National Guard can benefit from TSA Pre✓® expedited screening at select airports when flying on participating airlines. Cadets and midshipmen of the US Military Academy, Naval Academy, Coast Guard Academy and Air Force Academy are also eligible to receive TSA Pre✓® screening benefits. Use your Department of Defense identification number when making flight reservations. Accompanying family members ages 12 and under can be processed through expedited screening as well.
US Armed Forces members do not need to be in uniform and may use TSA Pre✓® while on personal or official travel.
Enter the 10-digit DoD ID number located on the back of the common access card as your known traveler number when making flight reservations or when updating your Defense Travel System profile for official travel. If the number is not on your CAC, you may obtain it by logging on to milConnect. You will find your ID number under the “My Profile” tab. To ensure future airline reservations automatically include your DoD ID number, save it in your DTS profile. You may also save your DoD ID number in any frequent flyer program profiles of the participating airlines.
3. Airline and hotel elite status is the absolute best convenience. Try your best to get it.
4. When flying, choose window seats for sleeping; aisle for legroom and easier bathroom access.
5. Be the nice person pleading for help when things go wrong rather than the angry screamer demanding the impossible.
You always get better treatment. I’m sure you’ll never need these, but in case you know someone that may need some help being nicer, check out these two resources:
6. Keep checking hotel rates even after you make reservations far in advance. They can drop and you can rebook to save money.
Have a safe and enjoyable trip wherever the trains, planes, or automobile takes you.