As Christmas quickly approaches, I prepare to embrace my new favourite tradition: running away to far off lands. For my entire childhood, Christmas was a time to hunker down at home with friends and family and hibernate over holidays. Now as an adult, I have grown accustomed to being airport bound, and I must admit, I really like it. This year, Gideon (my hubs) and I are off to visit friends and family in Uganda. It has been two years since I have been in the UG (that’s how the cool kids say it) and since Gideon has been home to see his family, so needless to say we are both greatly anticipating the adventure. Since Gideon arrived in Canada, he and I have gone on several road trips, and little Canadian adventures, but this will be the first time we are going on a big trip together! Yay!
One of my favourite things about traveling is, believe it or not, PACKING! I am a giant dweeb and I love organization… some would say I am a bit overboard, but I like to think of myself as prepared. Everyone laughs at me until they are traveling with me and find themselves in desperate need of a zap strap… then who’s laughing?
In the first of its kind, here’s a (by no means exhaustive) list of all my favourite travel go-to’s and ways I like to pack to make life easier for myself.
- AWAY Suitcase: I have been coveting these suitcases for quite a while now. The most appealing feature of this particular suitcase? The carry-on has a USB port to charge your phone! They come in so many colours, are super spacious, and are just all together adorable. (I also travel with a power bank to ensure I’m always charged up and ready to go).
- Bounce Dryer Sheets: I hate when my clothing smells stale from travelling (particularly my checked luggage, but I use this trick for both). I put Bounce dryer sheets in between articles of clothing, at the bottom of my suitcase, or inside shoes, to keep everything smelling clean and fresh upon arrival.
- Zap Straps: I put these in my bag every time I travel, and every time I think to myself, “Why am I packing these? I don’t need them!” And then every time I travel I use at least two. Super handy for locking up bags left behind in the hotel, repairing broken straps on bags etc.
- Colourful Duct Tape/ Electrical Tape/Ribbons: It’s always nice if you can easily spot your luggage. Wrapping colourful tape around your (checked) bags is an easy way to do this. For the same reasons as the Zap Straps, I also throw tape into my bag because I often end up needing it for whatever reason (the fact that it’s colourful is just a delightful bonus). When packing the extra tape and zap straps, I usually pack it in my checked luggage so I don’t have to explain to the security officers that I’m a dash obsessive compulsive, and not a terrorist.
- Ziplock Bags: This is both a space saver, and falls under the category of “I like when things smell good.” I have heard there are fancy vacuum seal packing bags you can buy, but using Ziplock bags has been pretty successful for me. Basically, roll-up your articles of clothing, put them into a large Ziplock bag, press out the air and seal. I also like doing this because I can organize my clothing into categories (undergarments, t-shirts, pants, etc.)… because I am a giant nerd.
- TD Classic Travel: The travel points rack up fast, and there are no real dramatic exclusions.
- Glad Press N’ Seal: THIS! Thanks to Glad Press N’ Seal I have never had a toiletry product explode or leak in my bag (and this is coming from a woman who frequently travels overseas with an extraordinarily large number of Bath and Body Works products). Wrap Glad Press N’ Seal around the lids of your shower gels, shampoos, toothpastes, etc. and then pack in either a toiletries bag, or a Ziplock bag. Badabing, badaboom: You’re set! It can also be used to keep jewellery from getting tangled; flatten necklaces, bracelets, etc. in between two pieces of Press n’ Seal, and then press and seal 🙂
- Kitchen Bags: I tuck a few kitchen bags in my carry-on luggage “just in case,” (I always use them). Whether I have a pit stop at a pool and need something to pack wet swimsuits in, or I am somewhere with no garbage bin, I’m never disappointed with adding these to my luggage (plus, they take up almost zero space).
- Luggage Tags: I got these particular tags from my Fab Fit Fun box, and I love them. Handy and adorable, not much else necessary to say on that one.
- Apps: It’s never a bad idea to have all your apps updated before you head on a big trip. Also take some time to research great apps for the area you’re travelling. Food delivery, and transportation are my most downloaded for travel. This years trip to Uganda I am looking forward to trying out the “Safe Boda” app. I also love this new ability to download Netflix shows before travelling and watch them off line. Glory!
- Trader Joe’s Head to Toe Balm: I freaking love this stuff. You can use it, very literally, from head to toe. Dry lips? Hands? Fly away hairs? Use this stuff! It has a very mild smell, it is not greasy at all, and it travels really well.
- Travel Adapter: This is for obvious reasons: you want to charge something in a foreign land? Bring an adapter.
- Sage’s Peppermint Halo: Have you noticed that I like nice smelling things? Peppermint Halo both smells nice, and is really helpful if you find yourself not feeling too hot on a flight. Head aches, muscle pains, and even sore throats; put a little of Saje’s Peppermint Halo roll-on on the effected area and it will bring you some ease.
- S’well Bottle: A water bottle with a cause. This pretty little reusable water bottle is my absolute favourite! It keeps my water cold for hours, it doesn’t leave the water tasting metalic-y or plastic-y (like other water bottles), and it’s pretty indestructible. They can be a bit pricey but I bought mine at UNIKA with my consignment funds. Plus: S’well donates partial funds towards Unicef!
- Beats Headphones: I love bluetooth headphones. Super handy for travel because it keeps me from getting tangled… because I am like a clumsy supporting character in a romantic comedy. I also think my rose gold Beats headphones are pretty. I got mine for FREE as a promotion when I purchased my computer, so make sure to check out random deals Apple puts out.
- Smart Phone: “Hey Ashley, really revolutionary stuff here. Pack your phone, good call!” Okay, obviously you’re going to bring your phone, but there are a few smart things you can do with your phone before you travel.
- Take pictures of your luggage in case it gets lost (this has happened to me, and this was super helpful)
- Take pictures of the inside of your luggage (when you lose your luggage you need to account for what’s in them… this makes it easy)
- Take a picture of important documents
- Saje Lavender Sleep Mask: I am not usually a sleep mask person, but before my last trip to Uganda I bought a sleep mask from Saje and fell in love. The lavender scent is so relaxing, and it’s super soft and cozy. It surely contributes to my ability to sleep on a plane.
- Snacks (Lara Bar): Tasty, healthy, and easy to pack.
- Blanket Scarf: Warm, cute, doubles as a blanket
- Neutrogena Face Wipes: I tend to feel super greasy and gross after a long flight. These face wipes help me clean up nicely.
- Aloe Socks: Cozy, soft on the footsies, and keeps ya warm. I also got a new pair in my Winter Fab Fit Fun box!
- FATCO Natural Deodorant: Okay, one last Fab Fit Fun find. Smells and feels gentle, and helps to freshen you up after (or during) a long flight.
- Downy Spray: I LOVE this stuff. Spray it on wrinkled clothes, or use to freshen up clothing.
Other quick tips:
- Plan ahead: Before you pack, plan ahead! Make a list, or use an app like “Packr” to help get organized
- Don’t forget to have a black or blue pen in your purse (customs forms). Apparently customs officers don’t appreciate the use of sparkly gel pens
- Drink lots of water (even if it means lots of pee breaks)… and on that note
- Use those potty breaks to take a little wander around the airplane and stretch… no swollen ankles for me thanks!
- Wash your hands a little more than usual
- Other things I love to have on hand: a good book, eye drops, chapstick, and hand sanitizer
As “extra” as all of this may seem (like how high school I am? Calling myself extra?), being planned and organized helps me relax for my flights, and feel confident when I travel abroad.
Let me know if you have enjoyed these little tips, and please feel free to share any of your travel trips with me.
Merry Christmas and happy traveling in the New Year