1. Space Bags Travel Set. These travel bags are LIFE CHANGING and our #1 tip!! We first used them several years ago when we backpacked in Europe for 5 wks. They allow you to get the vacuum packed effect with your clothes just by rolling and sealing. And, they help to keep your bag totally organized as each category has it's own bag. At first I didn't get on board with them and Danny had to convince me. But, I'm telling you, they will save you TIME and FRUSTRATION as you try to dig for socks and eventually see all your folded clothes become a giant mess. And, they're much greener than using regular zip locs as they're long-lasting. You can use them over and over. We got our first set nearly 4 years ago and we're still using them for every trip we go on. Also, they add another layer of protection against bugs, inclement weather, or shampoo leakage.
2. Get a Full Row. Danny came up with this one. For two travelers, book an aisle and a window seat on the same row, leaving the middle seat empty. There's a good chance other travelers will avoid booking that middle seat, leaving you with a full row. Of course, if the flight is full and someone has to book the middle seat, they'll be delighted to switch with you and get an aisle or window seat.
3. Buy Souvenirs or Unique Clothing at Second Hand Shops. I got this genius idea from Brittany Jepsen of House That Lars Built. She referred me to this huge list of second hand shops in Iceland. Since we're downsizing, I didn't do much shopping. But here's a few gems I found at Salvation Army in Bergen, Norway. Oh man. I had to leave them all behind as we don't have a home right now.
4. Hard Case Suitcases. I recently switched to a hard case suitcase and I'm so glad I did. I loove mine from Tumi (the Vapor style), which I found on E-bay. Hard cases protect bags from moisture and mold (handy for the tropics, especially), they are wipable and cleanable, and most of all, it seems they are less of a magnet for bed bugs or dust mites. eww.
5. Muji Travel Pillows. We have these travel pillows and have been very happy with them (I love that you can get a custom fit due to the strap.) They are life savers on overnight trains and planes. I especially love that the cover is removable and washable.
6. Take Your Own Snacks. Before every trip, I fill a carry-on with snacks. Comes in handy for me, especially since I don't eat dairy or gluten. Also, it's much healthier and cheaper than trying to find snacks on the road or at airports or train stations.
7. 4-Wheeled Suitcases! It's a dream to just be able to glide a suitcase through the airport. I'll never go back.
8. Eye Masks + Ear Plugs + No Eye Contacts. On flights and long train or bus rides, I sleep soooo much better without contacts in. Also, eye masks and ear plugs make such a huge difference. Some trains or flights will provide them, but it's nice to have them handy.
9. Groom a Ton Before Traveling. Ha. Painting nails or shaving are not things I really like to do in most hotel bathrooms (especially the teeny tiny bathrooms in Europe.) So in the best case scenario, I will groom like it's my wedding before the trip. (Here I am in a teeny bathroom with my toiletries all laid out to dry after one of them leaked.)
10. Carry your own water bottle. I am trying to avoid plastic, when at all possible. And I'm also done with buying water unless it can't be avoided. Here in Europe, Danny and I have carried our own water bottle which we fill up each day at a faucet.
11. Grocery Stores & Farmer's Markets. We LOVE going to foreign grocery stores & markets. It's usually the best way to find foods for cheap picnics or snacks.
12. Stay in Small Inns, Hostels, or Airbnb. Travel expenses go through the roof if we stay in fancy hotels. It's nice to splurge every once in a while, but for the most part, we look for recommendations and stay in the cheapest places we can find.