C’mon, people: It’s time to use up those vacation days you’ve been saving, and visit a bold, new destination where you can eat something new, shop somewhere different, and most of all, relax—just make sure you read up on our travel advice first.
Vacay sounds fabulous in theory, but without the right travel tips, planning can be so stressful and time-consuming that it ends up ruining the vacation itself—or at least, provides a major deterrent to trying something new and exciting.
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To help make your trip ridiculously easy, we put together 27 tips that will help you plan, pack, and, best of all, enjoy your trip—with way less stress. Impress your friends with your trip-planning skills, and use these killer packing tips to make sure all your fabulous outfits and makeup arrive intact.
1. Use an “Incognito Window” when searching for flights and hotels. Some companies will boost the prices just because you’ve been searching the web for prices.
2. If you’re looking to buy a flight ticket, purchase on a Thursday. It used to be Tuesdays, but that’s no longer true, according to travel analysts. The most expensive day to book? Sundays.
3. Want to travel cheap? Opt for a trip during shoulder season or low season, whenever possible. Sure, the weather might not always be ideal, but you’ll end up going to some of the hottest global spots for a lot less—and that’s usually when the locals are there, so you can skip the annoying tourist hordes. Specifically, fall shoulder season is a great time to get deals on flights and hotels.
4. Whenever you’re searching for flights/hotels online, google the words “promo,” “discount,” “coupon,” or “corporate code” with the destination’s name. You never know what little deals might be lurking out there!
5. International sites such as Momondo or Booking.com offer hotel and travel deals that are often much cheaper than North American sites. Check those out before setting anything in stone.
6. Always check the reviews when booking hotels. They’re your BFFs when funds are limited but options are not.
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1. Always check your chosen airline’s baggage fee policies. Most airlines allow you to check at least one bag free, but always double-check, so you don’t end up wasting $60 before you’ve even gotten to your destination.
2. Placing a dryer sheet at the bottom of your suitcase will keep your clothes smelling fresh and clean during travel.
3. Nothing is more annoying than having your phone, laptop, and/or iPad chargers tangled all over your suitcase. Organize these pesky little chargers in a spare glasses case or travel size Q-tip container.
4. Throwing all your jewelry in a baggy and going on your way will only cause frustration when you go to grab a necklace and it’s knotted with others. Use a pill container to keep them separated (and avoid tangles!).
5. Rolling your clothes instead of folding them will save tons of baggage space—which means you can pack more outfits! Yay.
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6. Put a shower cap around your shoes to make sure the dirty soles don’t end up getting surrounding clothes dirty, too.
7. Use a Tic Tac container for your bobby pins so you’ll always be able to find one easily when you’re in a pinch.
8. Always mark your bag with “fragile.” Airport staff will often load your luggage on top of the others—meaning yours will come out first at the baggage claim. Sneaky, right?
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9. For any delicate items you want to pack, wrap them in tissue paper. This will keep them from getting wrinkled or crushed.
10. Throw a couple of plastic grocery bags in your suitcase. You never know what you’ll need it for, and it can make organizing things in your bag a heck of a lot easier once you’re on your trip. (Hello, wet bathing suits!)
11. Make sure you pack the right bras for the types of shirts/dresses you might wear (i.e. strapless, sports, etc).
12. For any items that you don’t want damaging your clothes or electronics—like toothpaste, makeup or shampoo—use a Ziploc!
13. While it can be fun to pack all your favorite heels, try to be more conservative when it comes to footwear. Pack shoes that are comfortable, easy to walk in, and decorative. Nothing’s worse than spending your vacation with blisters on your heels.
14. Depending on the hotel you booked, your pillowcase may be a little sketchy. Always pack your own pillowcase and a sheet, if possible, to keep things as sanitary as possible.
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15. Pick a suitcase that’s an unusual color or pattern. This will make finding your bag a heck of a lot easier at the baggage claim.
16. After carefully wrapping all your beauty items (and packing them in plastic bags, as needed), place your beauty products in the middle of your suitcase to cushion them and avoid breakage.
17. To protect any fragile products (i.e. glass foundations, fragrances), pack them inside your sneakers since the cushion can help to protect them. If you aren’t opting for sneakers on your vacation, wrap each fragile item inside a pair of rolled socks.
18. Protect your compact powders by surrounding them with soft things like sponges or sweatshirts. And definitely don’t put them at the bottom on your bag.
19. For an extra layer of protection on any bottles filled with liquids, wrap your products in a plastic cling wrap. To be extra safe, duct tape any caps or pop-top openings.
20. We’re sure you’re familiar with the annoying popping that happens to your ears while on an airplane. Guess what? That can happen to your beauty products, too. Make sure to get all the excess air of any packages before packing them to minimize the risk of exploding beauty products on the plane.
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21. Make your own travel-size products to take with you by investing in small containers. You can even ask for samples at a beauty store like Sephora or Ulta and once used, you’ll have some empty containers for traveling! Or you can even purchase travel-size products at Sephora. Everything is TSA-approved.
22. If you forget your USB wall plug, some TV sets have a USB that you can use to charge your devices.
23. Forget your charger completely? Always check with the hotel front desk—some previous guests accidentally leave their chargers, and the front desk usually has a box of them. Or, just opt for a suitcase that comes equipped with one, like this one from Away.
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24. Ugh, turbulence can really be annoying. To minimize it, pick a seat near the wings of the plane.
25. Fun fact: To use Google Maps offline, type “OK Maps” in the destination search bar, and the visible area will save if you need to access the map later during your trip.
26. Get the WiFi password for many hotels, restaurants, cafés, and more by using the WiFi Map app. It’s crowdsourced by people who use the app, and you’ll find WiFi Hotspots, passwords and comments.
27. Instead of spending a fortune on a fancy dinner, opt to eat out for lunch—it’s less expensive and usually just as filling.
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A version of this article was originally published in July 2014.