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9 (And Counting) Quick Travel Tips

A while back, I asked my Travels with Kev’s Facebook Page followers: what are your favorite travel tips (including products and whatnot)? And from those answers came this article. Over the years, it has been updated and still has a lot of value.

The podcast episode that covers these travel tips

1) Get a travel buddy!

One of the first responses I got back was from Robin, my mom. Her favorite travel tip is to get a travel buddy, especially one that knows what he is doing.

Mom and me
My mother, with one of her travel buddies, ME! We are aboard the Capitol Limited.

Travel buddies are helpful, especially for those travelers with travel anxiety. They can also help those who need a little reassurance that they can travel.

Sometimes travel buddies are there to help make travel more fun.

Sometimes travel buddies can be remote.

Someone who can text or call you to help you

Travel buddies do not to alive!

Travel buddies can come in different forms, not just humans.

Many travelers I know have fun with a faux support animal, such as Betty, a podcaster who brings Herman, a plastic turtle with suction cups on its feet. A buddy of mine has a stuffed shark, but I think you can get a non-sea creature.

I used to carry a stuffed Target dog with me (past employer) and would take photos of him at different places I visited. He appeared in the pictures I took, which helped me share my journey with my team and guest at my old store. Since I no longer work there, I stopped traveling with him.

Sometimes it is nice to have someone or something to talk to or hold as you travel, even if they are not real.

2) Use A Kindel or e-reader

This suggestion comes from Paula, my sister; yes, I have a lot of family support with this endeavor!

A travel podcaster I follow also talked about bringing a Kindle e-reader instead of an iPad when he travels.

At first, I thought it was excessive to bring both, especially coming from a minimal traveler like him, but Travis had a good point. A Kindle e-reader has less glare than other tablets and eliminates many distractions like push notifications, the tempting Facebook button, and the Travels with Kev Webpage.

Compared to books, e-readers take up less space and weigh less. If you are an avid reader, this could be a great way to entertain yourself during the downtimes.

Paula also mentioned bringing an old fashion book; I often do that or the latest issue of Trains Magazine. One book is not too much space, but if you pack several, they do.

3) Bring A Tablet

A suggestion from Kev, a blogger, and traveler; okay, this one is mine.

I used to think iPads and tablets were overrated and a waste of money. I am now on my third one.

iPads and tablets are excellent tools for travelers. A tablet can replace a computer for many applications if you need to send emails or work as you travel. I use mine to store movies and documents like Amtrak Route Guides.

I also use mine to store and play movies and tv shows while I travel—more about that in this article about entertainment on Amtrak.

4) Grab Your Passport!

SolĂ©, my brother-in-law’s aunt, an extended family supporter woot-woot, brings us the next suggestion!

Passpoert
Always keep your passport in a safe place.

She said her favorite travel tip is always to bring her passport; this means she is ready to travel the world!

Even domestically, it’s good to bring your passport with you when you travel. Having another form of ID never hurts, just if something happens with your other ID, like expiring, getting lost, or stolen.

You do not need a passport if you are flying domestically. After May 3, 2023, you either need a state-issued REAL ID or passport to fly domestically or out of the country.

ID/Passport Tips

Maintain your passport. Ensure that it and all of your other IDs will not expire during your trip.

Don’t keep all your identification in one location. In other words, do have your wallet and passport in the same area if you can avoid it.

You can apply before you book your first trip!

If you want to travel internationally, you can start with your passport. You do not need to have a trip coming up to get one.

In most cases, a passport costs around $180, and the process takes 8- 11 weeks.

5) Ship Instead of Carrying

Ship your luggage

This tip came from Greg, a non-relative but my barber (Slade’s Barbershop). He brought up sending excess luggage home via USPS, FEDX, or UPS.

Too much luggage
Does anyone need this much luggage?

Mailing extra luggage is a  great idea that can save you time and money.

With the prices of checked bags, sending your luggage home can be cheaper at times. Budget airlines always charge for check or carry-ons, and some legacy’s charge $30 plus for checked baggage. So it could be worth checking out.

Plus, sending your luggage can save time by eliminating waiting time at the airport and standing in line waiting to check your bags in.

Slight twist to this point

For a few trips, I sent my dirty clothing home to lighten my bag and make room for souvenirs. It is fun to get packages, but it isn’t as exciting to get a box of your dirty clothing.

Send you basics instead of packing!

To save money, instead of buying those tiny travel-size products, send them or buy them when you get to where you are going.

Several companies offer free shipping, so why not take advantage of that service. Or, if you are staying with someone, you could order products ahead of time and see if they could pick your products up for you if they are already going to that store.

If you stay with people often, ask them if you can keep some basics at their place. I have left some of my basics at my sister’s in the past.

6) Snacks!

Alice’s (once again back to a family member, she is my brother-in-law’s aunt) travel tip is to bring great snacks, which is an excellent suggestion that many people forget.

Snacks are a must for trains, buses, and road trips, but you can also bring food when flying. If you are flying, check with the TSA’s regulations or buy snacks at the airport (for first-time travelers, everything costs more at airports or stations)

Alice’s favorite snack to bring is Checkmix, one of my favorites. I like to get jerky and granola bars because they do not take too much space.

7) Travel Credit Cards & Point Programs

Bobb is a non-relative (yay, but we went to high school together), brought up getting points with credit cards.

Travel-friendly Credit Cards

There are many credit cards out there, and it makes sense to have a card that works for you if it is financially wise.

Credit cards
If you need a credit card, get one to help you travel.

Chase Saphire is a favorite card for many travelers because you can use the points in several ways. There are also brand-specific cards that can help you.

Many travelers use American Express as well.

If you want to travel internationally, look for cards with no foreign transaction fees.

Most major transportation carriers such as Delta, Southwest, Amtrak, hotels, resorts, and cruise lines have credit cards that quickly earn rewards. So, if you like one carrier, it could make sense to have their branded card.

My folks did that with Amtrak and received several free trips plus other bonuses.

Some of these cards have an annual fee to help you earn points faster, so take time to research them to determine if the cost is worth it.

Joining point programs

Even if you don’t get a transportation credit card, join the point programs as early as possible to earn points from the start.

Travel tip: check with the rewards programs you are involved with to see if you can earn points when you shop online. I gained over 36k Amtrak points from doing this, and if you use a rewards credit card and shop through the rewards program, you can bank points quickly.

8) Be Organized

This suggestion comes from a former boss (that I replaced after she quit), Lizzy. Her favorite travel tip is also one of mine: packing cubes.

Packing Cube
This packing cube holds and organizes my clothing to help manage my travel backpack.

Being organized is not my strong point, but it is different when traveling.

Two hacks changed how I stayed organized when I traveled, packing cubes and a travel folder.

Travel Folder

A travel folder is just a simple pocket folder.

I have a plastic folder with ear tabs on the top that keep paper from falling out. I like this folder’s small pocket for small travel documents like tap cards for public transport and boarding passes.

Packing Cubes

I learned about packing cubes a few years ago, and they changed my travel style.

Packing cubes are cloth bags where you place your clothing or other travel accessories and zip them up. Not only do they keep you organized, but they can compress your garments a little to squeeze in an extra shirt or pair of socks.

If you are a beginning traveler, consider getting a set or two right away. They come in many brands and price points.

What to look for when you are buying “the cubes.”

  • Avoid all mesh ones because they are not as durable. You want some mesh to see what is inside and ventilation, but you want to make sure you have a durable product.
  • Small and medium cubes are more flexible than bigger ones. Having a different size will give you more flexibility.
  • You can get everyone a different color when traveling with others, so it is easier to tell everyone’s belongings apart.
  • Look for quality; a cube that does not hold up is a waste of money.

9) Take care of yourself.

Dr. Ben, a Travels with Kev Supporter and friend, reminds us to take care of ourselves.

Sometimes we open ourselves up to many things when we travel, so make sure your vaccines are current. Also, make sure you don’t overdo it. I thought I was in better shape than I was.

Boarding Southwest
Boarding my plane getting ready to head to Florida

You also need to make sure that we are drinking plenty of water, especially if we walk a lot, in warm areas, and when we fly.

You can bring a reusable water bottle with you when you fly, but it either needs to be empty or solid ice when going through the TSA. He also suggests that you stay away from alcohol and caffeinated drinks when flying, or don’t go crazy.

He also suggests packing your medications in your carry-on and making sure you pack extra if your trip goes longer than you expect. This way, if your luggage gets lost, you have your necessities.

Also, do not forget to wash your hands often and use hand sanitizer. It does not hurt to wipe down trays and armrests to ensure they are as clean as possible.

Thanks for joining in on our fun and suggestions!

If you want to join the fun, feel free to join the Facebook group! I like to ask the group questions, and maybe if you respond to your suggestions, you could be featured!

Safe Travels!

Kev

Org: 2/12/19

Kev

Kev has been traveling with Amtrak since 2012, celebrating his tenth year this year. Over those years, he has been on over 700 trains covering over 200,000 miles of rail. Kev enjoys helping others achieve their travel dreams by assisting them to get started. Kev enjoys making music as an organist.

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