Before you finish packing

Packing up for your next trip?   Here’s a short list of things that can save you some headaches (or money) during your family travels.

  • Cooking while traveling?  Keep your food tasty without needless purchases by bringing your own dried herbs and spices.  One suggestion: fill a 7-day pill box with your top 7 herbs and spices.  And maybe grab one of those salt-and-pepper cardboard shaker sets from the grocery store before heading out.  If you’ll be doing LOTS of cooking, you could also use old Tic Tac containers for all those added flavors!
  • Taking a lot of electronic devices that require charging?  Don’t skimp on chargers and adapters—otherwise you’ll end up needing to time things just right so that you’re never leaving the house with a drained device (or fighting over chargers).  I bought a 12-pack of simple plug adapters for France that worked out GREAT.  You might even want to bring a compact power strip, since outlets can be few and far between in older homes and buildings.
  • Pack some bags in your bags.  Plastic bags, whether garbage bags or Ziploc bags, can come in so handy while traveling.  Wet bathing suits, dirty clothes, snacks for the kids—it’s just easier to have these than to try to find something that works once you get there.  One other great use for a big black garbage bag is if you’re checking a carseat or booster—turns out many U.S. airlines now charge a fee for the clear plastic bags they offer to protect your carseat.  Don’t let that extra charge happen to you!
  • Have a digital copy of your important documents.  Hopefully nothing will happen to your passports or credit cards while you’re traveling, but there’s always a risk.  Scan or photograph these items (I do fronts and backs of credit cards) so that you’ll have a record if you need to get replacements.  I always email a copy to my sister when I send along a copy of the itinerary, and I save a copy that I can take with me, too.  It never hurts to take a photocopy of your passports with you, too—just in case you don’t have digital/online access when you need it.  If you buy extended-day transit or park passes, you may want to snap a photo of those, too.
Metro Passes

I snapped this shot of our Metro passes after a scare (i.e. thought we’d lost one).

  • Where are your bags headed?  Before checking your luggage, double check for tags on the outside of each bag.  We bring a strip of address labels that we can stick on the airline luggage tags quickly and easily.  But take it a step further—include a half-sheet of paper inside the top of each suitcase that shows your itinerary (flight numbers, dates and times) or at least your next destination.  If your bag needs to find you once you’re traveling, your destination address will be a lot more useful than your home address.
  • Don’t forget the TSA 3-oz rule for carry-on liquids.  If you’re heading on a short trip with carry-on bags only, this can be a challenge.  But even on longer trips, you may want some liquids with you in the cabin.  You can buy 3-oz reusable bottles, or you can use old hotel shampoo bottles.  Just make sure those lids are tightly screwed on—and you might want to put it in a Ziploc bag to be double-safe.


What other tips do you have?  Share what works well for you in the comments below.

1 reply
  1. Kristy
    Kristy says:

    The ziplock bag one is great, I always wish I had some of those about half way through the trip. I’d also add a portable charger for your electronics, you charge it up ahead of time then can plug your phone/iPod/whatever into it without any electricity. My husband has a manly-looking black one, about the size of a wallet, that holds 4 charges that he got for his hike to Macchu Pichu, and I have a cute little sparkly one the size of a lipstick that holds one charge, but that’s enough if we get stuck somewhere.


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