plane on runway

For the last few years, I’ve tried to travel to new countries in addition to my favourite spots. Every trip is a new adventure with different challenges and experiences. However, the process of travelling itself is something that is pretty consistent and over time, there are a few hacks that have really come in handy for me. Some you may already know, some you may not, but collectively these have proven to help make my travels so much smoother.

Know what to pack in your plastic bag

I remember in Spain one security officer wanted me to be able to close my plastic bag – he was itching to take away something from me. At that moment, I emptied and repacked everything as if it was a Tetris game and eventually held the closed bag up, much to his annoyance. The point is, those bags can be limiting, so assess what you actually need during your flight and what can be checked in. You’ll find you don’t need as many items as you think. When I fly long haul, I pack the following:

  • Antibacterial wipes
  • Face cream
  • Hand sanitiser
  • Travel-sized perfume
  • Mini toothpaste
  • Face mask

That’s it. You may think applying a face mask mid-flight is a myth and only done by celebrities, but the air is so drying in a plane. I’ll take the odd stares as long as it means my skin is gleaming when I touch down.

Travel with a reusable cup and bottle

Too many times I’ve seen people being told they can’t take their water past security and far too many single-use plastic bottles are discarded.

I take both a reusable cup and bottle for both hot and cold beverages. Most coffee shops have water dispensers so I fill up there and as a rule of thumb, I’ve stopped accepting hot beverages on the plane after hearing about questionable water sanitation. Taking these with you will also help reduce your waste even when on holiday. I also limit myself to one drink on the plane and guzzle water throughout – gotta keep that skin hydrated!

Pack essentials in your hand luggage

This may not even be a hack for most, but last year’s trip to Malaysia involved three flights and the thought of my luggage getting lost made me reassess my carry on and what I packed.

As I was going for a wedding, the occasion clothes were a must as well as some sleepwear and an extra change of clothes. I packed very basic makeup, medication and miscellaneous items like my portable charger and neck pillow.

Normally I travel with one or two airlines directly to my destination and have built trust in their service. Even though I used a well-known airline that has had rave reviews, I didn’t want to take any chances with the connections I had to make.

Take a warm, oversized scarf

Aside from using them as its intended purposes, but if you’re unsure whether the blankets on the plane are clean you don’t need to worry because you have your own. You can also use them in other ways; as a pillow, if you don’t have a neck cushion, a pillowcase, a window or privacy curtain and even in place of bubble wrap if you’re transporting fragile items.

Garment bags for the organised

Why have I never used these before?! I used to think I was a pretty good packer but garment bags have taken my luggage organisation to another level. Muji does some great mesh garment cases in different sizes, which made my visit to Malaysia so much easier when it came to packing from the beach and not having to worry about sand going everywhere in my suitcase.

E-Everything

How many of us have had that little flutter of panic when we think we’ve lost our passport and boarding pass, but in reality, it’s in our bag, which we checked 5 minutes before. I get that stomach sinking feeling a handful of times before I’ve even departed! When I travel now, I like to keep an electronic version of everything; a photo of my passport, a screenshot of my travel details, and the address of where I’m staying. You just never know if you’ll need to refer to this kind of information so having quick access is helpful. Speaking of phones…

Download Maps

You never know what the Wi-Fi situation is going to be when you touch down at your destination. If you’ve got your SIM card sorted, great. However, if you have to wait until you get to your accommodation, it helps to know where you’re going. Download an offline map of the location to help you get a sense of the area you’re staying in. If you’re using public transport, download a train map – how’d you think I learnt to travel around NYC so efficiently?

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