Each post in this series will be different and focus on different aspects of traveling…today, I’m answering some of your most pressing (and frequent) questions.
Here we are in 3 big cities…London, LA and Boston.
2. What should I wear when going through security? What should my kids wear?
Layers, little jewelry and easy on shoes.
Those are the three big things whether you’re a kid or a grownup. I dress in layers because you just never know what the temperature on the plane will be. Sometimes, it’s cold and sometimes, it’s stuffy and hot.
And you know how much I adore jewelry…well, that being said, when traveling, I keep it to a minimum because I don’t want to keep removing lots of bangles and big earrings every time I go through security. I wear my wedding rings, a watch and studs. Keep it simple.
As for shoes, I always pick shoes that come off and on without me using my hands. Children 12 years and younger, do not have to remove their shoes when going through security, but if your kids are older, I would recommend the same shoe strategy.
3. What are my carry-on essentials for a long flight?
This was me right before boarding a flight over the summer. I have my crossbody bag, a book and magazines. Not pictured is my big tote with my i-Pad, headphones, big scarf, neck pillow, camera, phone, phone chargers, and wallet (inside crossbody). I also keep toiletries in my bag…we’ll get to that in a minute.
I bring a big tote on board the flight that carries all of my essentials but I love a crossbody for securely carrying my wallet and passport and then for once I arrive at my destination. I also love that once on board the flight, I can tuck my crossbody into my tote. I always have at least one book and 4 magazines for long flights in my carry-on and then I pack another book and 4 more magazines in my suitcase for me to read on my return flight home (no sense lugging that in my carry-on!).
I receive this question a lot! Many of you have never flown and are nervous about your first flight. My tips would be to bring several things to occupy you…a good book, magazines, a i-Pad or something where you can watch a movie or listen to music (with headphones!), a snack and then purchase a drink to carry on board with you (you can’t bring liquids in from outside of the airport).
Arrive to the airport early…there is nothing worse than rushing to board a flight. I always try and get to the airport 2 hours in advance. This will give you plenty of time to check your bags, get through security and find your gate without rushing around.
Always remember that thousands of planes fly millions of people every single day. You’re going to be just fine. Get on board, get cozy, read your book, maybe nap a bit and focus on your destination. The destination is always the best part :).
5. Can stuff get stolen from my checked baggage?
Unfortunately, yes. I’ve only had one thing stolen from my luggage and it was years ago…it was a Chi flat iron. Some airport person had really nice and straight hair courtesy of my Chi.
TSA does have some approved locks for luggage but let’s all be real…where there’s a will, there is a way. If someone really wants your valuables, they’ll take them. That being said, try to carry on as many valuables as you can (cameras, phones and such) and then discreetly pack the rest. I find the insides of shoes and boots a great place to put stuff in my checked luggage. It stays out of the way, it stays protected from breakage and it’s not in plain sight for just anyone to see.
6. When do I start packing for trips?
I start making my lists for trips at least two weeks out. I write out a list of everything I’ll need to pack and then make a second list of everything I’ll need to purchase before I leave. Throughout those two weeks, I try and grab as many of those items as possible and then keep them grouped together in one spot.
I don’t start packing until the day before I leave. I find that I pack more efficiently and forget less when it’s the day before. If I pack too far in advance, then inevitably, I will go back into my luggage to retrieve something I need and I may or may not remember to put it back for my trip. As long as I have everything on my lists, then I know my luggage will be packed properly and quickly the day before.
7. What are my carry-on essentials for long flights?
If I’m on a flight that’s longer than 6 hours, I go into full sleep mode. Like…the kind of rest you get at home. (And FYI…the longest single flight I’ve ever been on was from LA to China…16 straight hours…with my two kids…and we survived.)
In order to get into full sleep mode, this is what I carry on with me…
After our “meal” is served and the lights are dimmed (which happens on long flights), I go into the lavatory and brush my teeth, take off all of my makeup, apply lotion to my face and hands, add lots of lip balm and then return to my seat. Then I put on my fuzzy socks, neck pillow, eye mask and go to sleep. Long flights usually start “waking up” about an hour before landing…the lights come back on, flight attendants come around with more drinks or a snack and everyone starts to stir. I put on some eyeliner and lipstick in my seat and call it a day until we land and I’m at my destination.
As for my kids…we started teaching them as babies that this is when they sleep too. We turn off their TVs, brush their teeth, cover them up with blankets and tell them that it’s time to sleep. And eventually…they always do. You just have to eliminate the distractions (if their TV is on, they won’t sleep). We also tell them when the flight starts that at some point after our meal, it will be bed time. Set that expectation early.
8. How far in advance do you start saving for a trip?
This depends on where you’re going, how much you’re spending and how much you can save each month.
For our family, we plan our trips at least two years in advance. We know where we’re going this year and next year. Because we’ve been doing this for 10 years, we know how to gauge the trip and the cost and then how to financially prepare for it. I would start thinking long term…if you want to go to France but don’t have any money, then I would first find out about how much it will cost you (do some research). Then, divide that by the amount each month you are able to set aside and then count how many months that will take you. It might take you three years…and that’s fine! In three years, you’ll be so happy to have your trip paid for!
Vacations Unpacked is just beginning! I have so many other questions to answer! Stay tuned for more in this series…things like…
1. Traveling with kids
2. How much should you save?
3. Why should you use a travel agent?
4. Best beach destinations
5. Best European destinations
6. Navigating Disney World
And so much more!
Yummy and so simple!
And the winner of my Stella & Dot Giveaway is…
Erica A. Ladwig!
Please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org to claim your prize!
Right now, they’re having some great sales…