When it's time for your vacation, planning and packing for a trip can be a little overwhelming, as well as figuring out how to take care of your home while you're gone. A vacation is meant to eliminate stress, not cause it! Here are our favorite tips for stress-free travel (or at least, less stressful travel!).
When packing a suitcase for a trip, put at least one outfit in the suitcase of your spouse or travel buddy. If your suitcase gets lost, you’ll have at least a few clothes to tide you over until it’s found. But don't forget to pack a change of clothes (or at least clean socks and underwear) in your carry-on baggage, in case everyone's suitcase gets lost! If you're traveling with kids, make sure you have clean outfits for each of them in your carry-on as well (because you never know what will happen!). As for what clothes to pack, exactly, consider bringing clothes that are in the same color family, and pants that can go with a lot of different shirts. You can more easily mix and match them, so you’ll have to pack less. This trick will also come in handy when you spill something on yourself—if your blue shirt gets soiled, you still have another one with you. For awesome packing tips for everything from a romantic island getaway to a camping trip with the kids, check out this great guide from Frommer's!
Know TSA Rules and Airline Rules
If you're traveling by air, familiarize yourself with all the TSA regulations and the TSA list of prohibited items so you don't spend unecessary time in the security line. Follow the 3-1-1 rule, which means your carry on luggage can only have a total 3.4 ounces of liquid, aerosol, or gel, in as many bottles or containers that will fit in one 1-quart Ziploc bag. If you have larger quantities of medication, breast milk, baby formula, or food that you wish to carry on the plane with you, you may declare them at the security screening checkpoint. Most airlines will charge an additional fee for checked luggage that weighs more than 40 pounds, so weigh each suitcase before you leave for the airport. The easiest way to do this is to stand on your bathroom scale, note your weight, then pick up the suitcase and see how much it increases!
Don't Forget the Snacks!
Snacks are vital for traveling with kids, and can be really useful for grownups as well (I know I get crabby when I'm hungry, and traveling while crabby is not something I'd recommend). Look for food in individual packages, such as small bags of nuts, granola bars, raisins, protein bars, and Halloween-sized candy. You can always create your own little packages by stashing veggies, fruit, pretzels, etc. in small Ziploc bags. Wash and chop all fruits and vegetables in advance, and avoid items that are sticky or involve peels or pits.
If you're traveling internationally, pack a spare passport photo and write down your passport number and the date it was issued. If you lose your passport while abroad, you’ll have all the materials you need to get a new one. Bring your photo and passport info to a nearby US embassy: It’ll take much less time to process your request if you come prepared.
If you are going on a long vacation and don't have someone checking on your plants, here's an easy trick to make sure they stay watered: Poke a small hole in the side of a plastic soda or water bottle, fill it with water, then place it spout-side-down into the soil next to your plant. The hole on the side allows airflow and a slow, steady drip of water near your plant's roots.
Make Your Own Burglar Repellant
If you’re concerned about your house being broken into while you’re away, don’t stop at automatic light switches. Ask your neighbor to park his or her car in your driveway, so it will appear as though someone’s at home.
Save While You're Away
Many newspapers and magazines will allow you to suspend your home delivery or subscription for a short period of time. If you’re going on a long vacation, make sure to call them up and stop service while you’re away. You can also often do this for online movie rental and other services. You won’t miss them while you’re gone, and then you’ll get an extra week or two when your subscription would normally be up.
If your vacation budget is tight this year, make sure to read our article on ways to save money on airfare, car rental, lodging, and gas. Do you have any great tips for saving money or your sanity while traveling? Share them with us in the comments section below!