5 Travel Tips from a Professional Organizer

It’s only been forever and a day since I blogged about anything, but the thing that’s been on my mind most recently is TRAVEL!!!



I’ve always loved to travel, whether it’s a 3 hour road trip or an overseas vacation. Thankfully, I married a man who shares in my wanderlust aspirations. We are great travel buddies, and I think planning trips together has actually been a great marriage refining tool. Travel is not only a great way to unplug and spend quality time together, but it also requires sacrifice (saving for travel), communication (what do you want to do? where do you want to eat? why didn’t you weigh the 53 lb suitcase before we left the house?), and patience (flight delays, cancellations, lines).

Not like I’m a frequent jetsetter or anything, but I’ve traveled enough to pick up a few tips along the way.

  1. Weigh Your Heavy Luggage

I don’t know why it took me so long to buy a luggage scale, but it was the first thing I ordered on Amazon after an embarrassing incident at the airport with my husband’s co-worker. David had warned me at the house that my suitcase was going to be too heavy, but I was confident (a.k.a. cocky) it was definitely under the weight limit. Sure enough, it was overweight, and I had to do the Re-pack Of Shame at the check-in counter. (And remember to PACK your luggage scale for your return flight!)


2. Wet Wipes

Not only am I an organizer, but I am also a bit of a germaphobe as well. Last year, David and I went to Las Vegas with some friends, and almost immediately after we sat down in our seats, my friend pulled out a packet of wet wipes and offered one to me. (Um, yes, thank you, Sam!) Angel chorus!!! We proceeded to wipe down all the surfaces (tray table, arm rest, seat buckle, etc.) How had I never thought of this before? So simple, yet goes a long way to ease my mind about the cleanliness of the seat I have to sit in for the next several hours. And I can’t tell you how many times I’ve folded out a tray table only to find something mysteriously sticky or brown or just plain EWW gross!

3. Pack for the Worst Case Scenario

For our honeymoon, David and I spent a week in St. Thomas. When we got to baggage claim to retrieve our bags, guess what? No luggage. And there would be no luggage for the next. Three. Days. Well, surely, you packed a carry on bag, Stephanie. Yes, yes, I did. And guess what was in that carry on bag? Shoes. Shoes and a flat-iron. So I’d be able to walk around naked in my espadrilles with really nice hair, which hey, could still make for a really rockin’ honeymoon. Needless to say, we pack a little differently now. Always always always we pack at least one carry on bag with our essentials. You know, like clothing.

Honeymoon in St. Thomas (2007)

4. What’s in my ‘Personal Item’ Bag?

Glad you asked! It varies depending on the destination, but there are a few items that consistently make it into my personal bag. First of all, I pretty much always use a backpack as my personal item to go under the seat in front of me. I don’t understand how all these chic women are able to use their cute designer handbags as their personal item. (How does it fit under the seat? How do items not come spilling out? Do you really want your cute bag on the floor of an airplane?) Having my hands free as much as possible is a perk, and remember: I pack for the worst case scenario, so I need as much space as possible in my personal item.

Cord Bag- headphones, headphone splitter, portable battery charger (bought this after an INSANE line at the Denver airport that had me running to catch my plane and left me with ZERO time to sit somewhere leisurely and charge my phone), phone charger, selfie stick, car charger (some rental cars will have USB ports where you can charge your phone, buuuuut some don’t)


Misc. Bag- Wet Wipes, Earplugs, Sleep Mask, Hand Lotion (because my hands start to resemble dried fruit anytime I fly), Tide To Go Pen, Peppermints, Chapstick, Bandaids, Hair Tie, Pen


Snacks- You don’t want to see me when I’m hangry, and finding decent airport food can be unpredictable. Our favorite travel snack these days is Skinny Pop Popcorn. It’s tasty, it’s lightweight, and I can pronounce all of the ingredients.

Travel Documents- boarding passes (Yes, I’m old school and still like to print my boarding passes. You laugh, but I’ve totally seen people have their phones die right when they are supposed to show their boarding pass to the flight attendant), hotel/rental car confirmations, etc.




Toiletry Bag

5. Plan an Itinerary and Research Restaurants and Activities!

I am such a travel research nerd. I love, love, love planning out itineraries for our trips. I will plot out each day and list the activities and restaurants we want to include. I’ll even go so far as to map out each location, so we have an idea of how much time to allot for driving  as well as the activity.

On our most recent trip to Maui, we decided to watch the sunrise from Haleakala the first morning after we arrived. A couple weeks before the trip, David was looking at the national park website for Haleakala just to make sure we were remembering everything we’d need. A new alert was on the website, saying that due to the increasing popularity of viewing the sunrise at Haleakala, each vehicle must now purchase a TICKET to reserve a parking space at the summit. This new ticketing procedure would go into effect the very morning we were planning to go. Hallelujah we saw it in time! Others were not so lucky, and we saw many cars being turned away (at 4 in the AM) because they hadn’t purchased tickets in advance.


I asked a few of my clients for some of their favorite travel tips, and here’s what they had to say:

“The thing I always remember to pack when I travel is my iPad. The reason is because it has my Bible on it and the latest novel by Jen Turano.” -Pam

“The thing I always remember to bring when traveling is my tech supplies. I make sure that everything I own is mostly USB and capable of multiple voltages that way I don’t have to have a voltage transformer. I also include a battery backup that I can use if I’m not around a plug.” -Chris

“I always use packing cubes (I love the site E Cubes) for everything—clothes, shoes, accessories, snacks, etc. My whole bag is full of neat little cubes and everything is organized all the time. Then when I get to the places I go, I simply lift out the cubes, and place them in dressers or on shelves and I am ‘unpacked’ while still staying organized.”    -Rachel

“The  two things I always remember to pack are my passport and plane socks! I have totally arrived at the airport without my passport and let me tell you—that’s a crappy way to start a trip. The socks (usually obnoxious, fuzzy and multicolored) so I can wear slip on shoes through security and keep my toes toasty en route!” -Natalie

“When we travel, we must always get our dogs booked at our favorite kennel. And I hop online to put a hold on our mail. And before leaving the house I turn the air down or off in the house and try to leave at least a clean kitchen sink, as a gift to myself when we return.” -Kimberly

“The one thing I keep while I’m traveling internationally is a zipper little clutch type bag that I keep my euros, loose euro change, cell phone charger, adapter for euro electricity and anything else that I may need.  Makes my packing easier as I can just grab that bag and go.” -Phillip

“I always travel with an assortment of bills for tipping!” -Catherine

What are some of YOUR favorite travel tips? Let me know!
Happy travels, everyone 🙂

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