* Do ALL your laundry the day before you plan to pack! There’s nothing worse than waiting for clothes in the dryer when you are rushed to pack.
* Store the name, address and phone number of your hotel in your phone to refer to if you get lost while site-seeing. Believe it or not, people have been known to forget the name of their hotel. Also, make a note of your travel itinerary numbers, flight numbers and times just in case you lose your paperwork.
* Don’t update your status on Facebook or any other social media to reflect you are ‘traveling or waiting in an airport.’ This broadcasts that your house is empty. You might think that your friends on Facebook would never break into your house; however, 70% of crimes committed are done by people you know. In addition, sometimes their friends can see your status’ even if you have not ‘friended’ them.
*Make a contact in your phone called ICE which stands for In Case of Emergency and store at least two numbers of family members who are not traveling with you. Medical personnel are trained to call people listed under ICE in your phone if you have an accident or medical emergency.
* Stuff your socks into your shoes and place underwear and bras in plastic zip lock bags. I got this idea after watching some poor woman frantically grab all her sexy bras and panties as they rode around on the luggage carousel after her suitcase burst open.
* Only pack clothes that can be worn more than once in different combinations. Pack pants that zip off to make shorts. Women: for dressy nights, pack just one little black dress that you can dress up or down with different jewelry combinations.
* Hide small jewelry and money in an empty plastic tampon container. It will be safe because who wants to look in there?! Store cell phone charger cords and other cables in empty toilet paper or paper towel tubes.
* Pack clothespins to hang wet swim suits and towels. Pack a bungee cord to be used as a clothesline in the shower if one is not provided.
* To keep your necklaces from being tangled while traveling, string them through a drinking straw and close the clasp around it.
* If traveling with toiletry bottles that push open, tape the lid shut so it will not squeeze open during pressure changes in flight. When you unpack, put the tape on the outside of the bottle to reuse. Or, better yet, use all the contents and throw the bottle away.
* Double bag your liquid toiletries in ziplock bags just in case they spill open.
* If doing laundry in the hotel, buy Purex combination washer/fabric softener strips. You just throw it in the washer with the dirty clothes-no liquids, no mess, AND it makes your suitcase smell fresh.
* Buy a small cheap ‘pop-up’ netted laundry basket to store dirty clothes in the closet in your hotel room. This will allow air to circulate and avoid smelly laundry.
* Buy a rubber door stop to push under the hotel door at night for extra security. Not even the biggest guy can shove their way into your room. Also, it keeps that pesky housekeeper from banging the security chain in the morning if you forget to put the “Do Night Disturb” sign on the door the night before.
* Take a bath pillow [the kind you blow up] to use on the plane or on a beach lounge chair. Easy to pack and priceless for preventing a sore neck.
* Don’t pack perfume! Instead soak some cotton balls in your favorite scent and stuff them into empty film canisters. The airtight canisters keep the fragrance fresh and just dab the cotton balls on your neck and wrists. In addition, if your room smells musty you can use the cotton balls as an air freshener.
* If you are traveling with other family members, pack a change of clothes in each suitcase for each person. When we traveled to Alaska, the airline lost my suitcase. I was the only person without a change of clothes.
* If traveling with small children, pack each day’s clothes, including socks and underwear, in gallon-sized ziplock bags. Use an extra-large zip lock bag to store wet swimsuits when packing to return home
* If you park your car in long-term parking, remove the vehicle registration and any other documents that list your address. Thieves break into cars at the airport and get home address information so they can help themselves to your valuables while you are gone
* Keep track of your luggage. Check out http://www.tracemeluggagetracker.com/ This system alerts you via text message or email to let you know where your luggage is at all times.
* Join the loyalty club of every airline and store your member ID numbers in your phone. If you flight is cancelled, you will be given priority seating on another plane over a passenger who is not a member of their loyalty club.
Avoid Travelers Diarrhea and stay healthy!
* Do not drink coffee or tea on the airplane.
* Never use the coffee pot in the hotel room without cleaning it yourself (and then it’s still gross.)
* If the ice bucket does not have a plastic bag, use shampoo and hot water to clean it out.
* When drinking sodas/coffee use plastic cups. If only glass cups are provided, wash them with shampoo and hot water-don’t assume they are clean.
* Put the remote control to the television in a plastic zip lock back (the one you stored your toiletries in) or wipe it down with hand sanitizer before using.
* Pack your health insurance information or take a picture of the front and back of the card and store in your phone.
*Pack a first-aid kit with over the counter pain reliever, anti-diarrhea meds, anti-acids and bandages for cuts and blisters.
* Pack pediatric electrolyte strips, available at any drugstore, to relieve traveler’s diarrhea and upset stomach due to motion illness. These strips are easy to pack and dissolve on your tongue. Although they are designed for children, adults can use them by doubling the dose.
* When staying in an All Exclusive Resort, if you are offered resort credits that may be used for massages or room upgrades, you may be charged up to 11% in sales tax. My friend was upset when her credit card was billed $138 because she cashed in $900 in resort credits to upgrade her room and attended a show.
* Eat your biggest meal at lunchtime when prices are cheaper. To avoid long lines, plan on eating dinner around 5pm. It’s your vacation, you can have a snack before bedtime if you get hungry!