How do travel writers travel?
Bee travel stuff, we’re pretty used to packing up and hitting the road, taking to the skies and exploring new cities and activities. Our team of experts has collected some of our proven travel hacks to help you on your way to a more efficient, worry-free vacation.
How to stop overpacking?
I’ve been guilty of trying to pack for every imaginable occasion, even if it’s an event that will probably never happen. Snowstorm in the Maldives? I’m sorted. Last-minute black-tie dinner in the Cook Islands? I just packed the thing. Togs and cover? Check. Winter jacket? Check. It has resulted in a lot of extra baggage costs and way too much travel stress.
My top 3 tips to curb this ridiculous behavior?
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1) Try a packing app
I like Pack Point. Simply enter your gender, destination, travel date, length of stay and type of trip – business or leisure. Then fill in the friendly activities you are likely to do. The app checks the weather forecast and creates a customizable list of what to pack. It’s fast, efficient and you never have to worry about forgetting anything.
2) Get some packing cubes
It sounds crazy, but don’t knock them until you’ve tried them. It allows you to organize and compress your items. I use one for socks, underwear, nightwear, tights and togs, another for shoes, the last largest size for jeans, dresses and tops. It saves so much space and really appeals to my Type A brain to have everything in its place.
3) Be realistic
If you haven’t worn that dress in a year, you probably won’t wear it on vacation. If you’re not a runner, it’s unlikely you’ll suddenly become one — leave the running shoes at home. Finally, stop stressing about forgetting something, as long as you have your wallet you can buy what you need at your destination. – Trumpi Biradar, travel editor
When I lived in Dubai I made the 16 hour flight between there and Auckland several times.
I’m not a good flyer. I get nervous. I get bloated. I get pimples (airplane acne, it’s a thing). But during those many long journeys, I’ve come up with a few tricks to improve the otherwise uncomfortable experience.
The first is around seat selection. It’s a rare flight where you have a whole row to yourself, but as a solo traveler you can at least increase your chances of not having to sit next to someone by selecting a row where someone already has a window or aisle seat has booked. For example, I prefer the aisle seat, so I’d look at the seat map and find a row where the window seat was already taken, leaving the middle seat. Everyone hates the middle seat so unless it’s a full flight it should be left free.
Having the right outfit also makes all the difference – it took me a few painful flights to realize that jeans should stay in the suitcase. It’s all about the fabrics. An odor-resistant, moisture-wicking merino T-shirt is a must, as are linen pants with an elasticated waist. A cashmere cardigan or top is perfect for temperature fluctuations during the flight.
Finally, noise canceling headphones. I went without them for years thinking the free planes were fine but when I finally gave in they were a game changer. – Siobhan Downes, senior travel reporter
Corral the cables
My number one packing tip – organize your tech gear. There’s nothing more frustrating than rummaging through different compartments of your luggage trying to find the USB charger for your earbud cover, pulling out the Kindle cord that has a different port and your phone charger about to split open at the base. because it bent at the last minute while stuffed into a stuffed bag.
Place all your cords, cables, batteries and chargers in one dedicated packing cell or bag, preferably one with a clear sleeve so you can see what’s inside. Use some serpentine ties or old bread bag labels to separate each cord so they don’t get tangled. And it may sound obvious, but if you’re taking a power bank with you on a trip, make sure the battery is fully charged before you leave home. – Juliette Sivertsen, director of travel news
Do-it-yourself wellness retreat
If I had Elizabeth Gilbert’s bank balance I’d follow her lead and eat, pray, and (ideally) love my path to wellness for a year, but failing that, I’ve adopted a do-it-yourself approach that left me in in any case on the right path.
My first ever retreat was a somewhat woo-woo affair where we had to sing in Sanskrit while throwing spices into a big bonfire and imagining our inner demons going up in smoke, but it was life-changing cathartic. And despite being a night owl with an unhealthy attachment to chocolate and wine, I began to enjoy the calming routine of practicing yoga and meditation before dawn before sitting down to a plant-based breakfast, embracing gentle exercises, and chatting with other retreat-goers. about what was wrong with ourselves and our lives.
Subsequent retreats, including a women-only weekend in Piha and five nights at the luxuriously reforming Aro Hā in Glenorchy, also left me in a better space to cope with my current problems. The problem: Wellness retreats don’t come cheap.
Over the past few years I’ve started putting together my own ‘retreats’. I book a quiet place in nature on Airbnb, ideally in a location with at least one well-reviewed healthy cafe or restaurant, and divide the food from their offerings by listening to podcasts about health and wellness during long walks and online yoga sessions. Convince a few friends to come with you and you can also run your own DIY therapy sessions. – Lorna Thornber, travel reporter
Order the best food for the kids
You might think that traveling with children is a nightmare full of excess baggage and yelling. It is, but flying away with youngsters also brings a whole host of benefits.
Hungry? Children always are. Take your own pride or the youngest available family member on holiday and you’ll never be starving again with the endless supply of snacks on hand.
While childless foodies might be embarrassed to order two meals for themselves at a restaurant, the little ones at the exclusive mom and dad club have a legitimate excuse to try that second pizza or satisfy their craving for chicken nuggets.
While in Queenstown, head to Amisfield for some of the best kids’ menu items in the country. The 16-course dinner degustation is definitely something to write home about, but I’d be really happy with a bowl of their rich and creamy mac and cheese for kids and a glass of their adult’s pinot noir.
The tried and true rule is that kids never eat when they should, so after a few forced bites, the party is yours. – Stephen Heard, Travel Publications Coordinator
Have a pen handy
I know this comes at the cost of the obvious bleeding, but the power of having a pen on an international flight cannot be underestimated.
It may sound strange, just like the idea of traveling abroad, but I’ve spent an inordinate amount of time looking for pens on airplanes or watching someone be passed around like a sacrificial box in the church that somehow always getting further and further away.
It’s pretty much the first thing I put in my carry-on now, but even then it seems to do a disappearing act when I need it most in-flight – found three days later after it leaked into a bag I was forgotten.
So just take it out of your bag before you sit down and put it in the seat pocket in front of you next to the headphones, phones and magazines you’ll need for the flight. When it comes time to fill out those pre-landing forms, you can get smug knowing that several eyeballs will be surreptitiously looking in your direction.
Those who say ‘wait until you land’ have never had the pressure of seeing several planeloads of passengers queuing in front of you while you scribble your passport details. – Alan Granville, travel reporter
Choose the right travel insurance
I’m going to save you hundreds of dollars. I need to address you with something catchy, because I’m going to talk about insurance – an essential, but boring part of travel.
Many of us rent cars on vacation. We pick up our vehicle and get a line like this: “You have a $4,000 deductible, but can bring it down to zero for $30 a day.”
The sales pitch is meant to scare you: a big number followed by a small number that takes away all your risk. The problem is, if you rent a car for a week, $30 a day quickly turns into $210. That cheap rental car is not so cheap now.
However, there is a travel hack that gets around this. Instead of paying the car rental company extra, buy domestic travel insurance (for example, a one-week policy with 1Cover will cost me $41), and one of the benefits is a deductible cover for rental cars. You are covered for a fraction of the price and also have the bonus of insurance for your belongings and delays.
Even better, if you rent a few cars a year, buy a domestic multi-trip policy for a few hundred dollars, you’ll end up saving thousands. One caveat: Read the fine print on your travel insurance policy to make sure a specific policy covers you. It’s a chore, but your wallet will thank you. – Brook Sabin, travel reporter