Whether driving or flying, learn how to save money, decrease stress, and maximize your time away with these 35 must-know hacks for traveling! Don’t miss these incredible travel packing tips, travel hacks for kids, travel outfit ideas, and the apps you didn’t know you needed.
Watch this podcast episode below or download to listen later
Hacks For Traveling
1. Individual snack bags in large zip locks.
When we travel as a family I create a car/plane pack for each kid in a large gallon ziplock bag which includes snacks. These are the only snacks they get and they can space them out over the course of the trip. Snack ideas include protein bars, snack bars, carrots, apples, bananas, trail mix, nuts, snack bag size pretzels, chips, crackers or treats, and squeezable pouches.
2. Hang car organizers to reduce clutter for kids’ entertainment.
Hanging carseat organizers can obviously hold the snack bags as well, but these are perfect for tablets, car games, water bottles, workbooks, coloring books, reading books etc. I shared the things I typically put in my kid’s car organizers when we travel HERE.
3. Invest in magnetic travel games.
These tiny games are foldable and magnetic. This pack includes Checkers, Chess, Chinese checkers, Tic Tac Toe, Backgammon, Snakes & Ladders, Solitaire, NineMen’s Morris, Auto Racing, Ludo, Space Venure and Racing.
4. Collapsible bags for expandable storage and organization.
These collapsible mesh bags are one of my favorite inventions of all time. We have had this large one for years, and they also have this compact size. We use ours in the car and most often for the beach and the pool.
5. Individual trash bags for less mess.
Give each child their own grocery bag for trash. Loop them to a car seat or even hang them from the car organizer.
6. Battery-powered sound machine.
There is a good reason this battery powered sound machine has almost 46,000 reviews on Amazon. We use these while on vacation, but we also use it in the car on the battery mode to help our kids sleep better in the car. My kids’ favorite setting is the “storm” sound.
7. Solo cups in cup holders to contain snacks.
In order to avoid goldfish all over your car floor, keep snacks in solo cups and put in the cup holders so the kids can reach in as opposed to precariously holding a small bag that was inevitably ripped the wrong way when opened.
8. Lanyard to attach refillable water bottles to car seats.
This may seem strange to some, but my kids ALWAYS lose their water bottles. It drives me nuts. Although the hanging car organizers often have a pocket for small water bottles, another trick is to use a lanyard to loop around a car seat, seat belt loop, or even the car seat in front of you and then clip it to the water bottle handle. We have tried a million different water bottles, and these are still our number one favorite for kids.
9. Baby wipes for easy clean-up.
Keep a pack of baby wipes in your car or airplane carry-on.
10. Roll your clothes.
When I lived in Peru for a summer traveling the Andes mountains we were told to roll all of our clothes in order to maximize the small bags we were allowed to bring. I have been doing this ever since. It also is more effective at minimizing wrinkles.
11. Travel size Iron In A Bottle.
Speaking of wrinkles. This is one of my favorite products of all time. I haven’t ironed in 5 years. Tom & Sheri’s Plant-Based Wrinkle Release Spray, Static Guard, No-Heat Steamer for Clothes is surprisingly effective. I wrote a whole blog post showcasing before and after pics of all the things I use this for. I keep a travel size in my toiletries bag.
12. Use packing cubes.
If you have traveled anywhere in the last decade then surely packing cubes are not new to you. That being said, I only just invested in a set this past year (this one), and I have to agree they are quite useful not just for maximizing space but also for organizing a suitcase or larger bag.
13. Bring a portable charger for all of your devices.
Eliminate the hassle of trying to share a plug to recharge your device, not to mention the hassle of finding said plug, with this portable charger.
14. Use a travel bag that includes a portable charger.
Or invest in a travel bag that actually has a portable charger sewn into the bag. You just charge your bag before you leave! I got one for Christmas last year and have already used it several times. I cannot recommend these bags enough.
15. Download Google translate.
Flying to a different country or traveling somewhere that you may need translation services? The Google Translate app allows you to take photos of text in a different language or takes audio and translates it. Even better? After you download it then go to setting and choose “offline translation” so that you use it without wifi!
16. Download Google maps.
While we’re talking Google, how about the ability to download Google maps and then use the app in airplane mode. Save your instructions so that you can use them whether you are connected to wifi or not.
17. Download the Uber app.
Uber has been a lifesaver for me when I travel. Instead of having to beg for a ride from friends or a conference member I just met, I find a driver using the app. It is very user-friendly, and I have gotten a lot of useful tips from drivers on the best restaurants and places to visit as well!
18. Skip check-in by rolling your clothes, using packing cubes, wearing your largest shoes, and using a carry-on and personal bag alone.
Whew, that was a mouthful, but I have this strange obsession with avoiding the check-in lines. Not only is it often cheaper, but there is significantly less stress when you do not need to check in a bag at departure or wait for said bag on arrival.
19. If checking in a bag use a FRAGILE sticker.
I personally feel that this hack is probably abused and airline workers are aware of it, so I don’t know how effective this is as I have never done it (again, weird obsession with no check-in bags), but technically if a FRAGILE sticker is on a bag it will be placed on top and handled with more care.
20. Place any liquid toiletries in a ziplock bag (for flying).
I have had bottles explode too many times to count due to the pressure changes inside an airplane cabin. I have learned that either they need to stay in a self-contained zipper pocket in a toiletry bag or individual zip locks. This is the toiletry bag I use, and I love it.
21. Open a travel credit card and use the new flyer miles for your trip.
Have good credit? Open a new credit card, spend X amount in the first 3 months (depending on the specific card), and then use the bonus points to pay for your next flight. The trick here is to pay off the card right away, and then either set it aside (or shred it) and let the card close on its own (takes 10 years for many I think), or keep using it if you do a lot of traveling and would use the flyer miles. If I understand it correctly it is actually better for your credit score to leave an unused card open than to close it.
22. Inform your credit card company before traveling abroad, so they don’t lock down your account due to suspicious activity.
This is good practice whether you plan to use your credit card abroad or not.
23. Hide cash in empty lip balm tubes.
There are SO MANY tricky ways to hide money while traveling, but this one is my favorite. Buy a cheap chapstick, turn the tube the whole way up, and either place the balm in a different container to use like vaseline, or throw it out. Then twist the little plastic wand back down and wash it out. Voila. A perfectly inconspicuous place for some dough.
24. Book directly with a hotel for the cheapest rate.
Once upon a time, we had to speak to real-life humans in order to get away. Now you can press a couple of buttons and have your entire travel itinerary taken care of. Most of these websites however work with affiliate marketing and the cost is higher to account for commissions etc. The best rates will usually be found by directly working with the hotel itself! Yes, you will need to speak to another human being.
25. Put a dryer sheet in each packing cube or in your bag.
Pretty self-explanatory. Look fresh and smell fresh when you travel!
26. Keep a stain stick in your toiletries bag and a Tide To Go Pen in your purse.
The chances of spilling coffee on myself at some point during travel are extremely high. Enter my Tide To Go Pen. I also keep a Stain Stick in my toiletries bag for when my kids inevitably
27. Wear compression socks.
Avoid cankles, cramps, and clots with these compression socks. Win. Win. All around.
28. Take an empty skinny stainless steel travel tumbler and fill it with water on the other side of airport security.
I’m not sure when I started doing this, but I tend to travel in the morning which means I have hot coffee for my drive to the airport. I dump what little remains before I walk into the airport and stash it in my purse. Once I’m on the other side of security and waiting at my gate I fill it with water at a water fountain. The key here is getting a skinny tumbler that can handle hot and cold liquids. I have this one, and it was only $11!
29. Use the USB port on a hotel TV.
Forgot the USB plug adapter? Check for a USB port on the tv in your hotel room.
30. Pack high-protein snacks.
The cost of airport food is ridiculous, and you may not feel like stopping when traveling by car. Consider these high-protein, easy-to-travel with snack items.
Beef jerky. Turkey jerky. Almonds. Trail mix. Protein shake (not for flying). Protein bar.
31. Take a pic of your passport.
Take a picture of your passport in case you lose it. Delete the photo once your trip is over! (including from internet backup like Google photos) Don’t forget to report it as missing once you arrive home.
32. Create a shared Google drive for pics.
My sister-in-law has been doing this for years when we take large family trips where there may be over a dozen people taking photos. Everyone contributes their pics to the shared drive!
33. Use a facial spray to revitalize your skin.
I don’t notice my face feeling dry as much when I’m driving, but when I’m flying what is it about the cabin air that makes your skin SO DRY? I never even heard of these facial sprays for travel until a travel blogger mentioned how she carries one with her everywhere. In full transparency, I still haven’t tried one yet, but I need to!
34. Create a packing list document for recurrent trips.
I am embarrassed to admit how many years it took me to finally create a Google doc packing list for our recurrent family trips. I finally did some years ago, and now we just open the list on our phone and pack with ease.
Wear a large cardigan or scarf to double as a blanket if needed.
I have two different travel outfits when flying. If I plan on working out or running at my destination, then I wear leggings, my running shoes, a long sleeve shirt plus a cardigan.
If I am going to a 2-3 day conference where I know I am not going to work out then this is the exact dress I wear to travel plus a cardigan.
I hope you found at least one travel hack to make your life easier! But now I want to hear YOURS! What is your best traveling hack?