Travel Tricks from a Pro

They say 2022 is the year for “Revenge Travel.”

With all the delays and cancellations in flights, lost luggage and shortages of everything, including staffing for the airlines, traveling in these times seems more like an exercise in masochism, than any kind of revenge. However, after having recently traveled across the United States from Florida to Hawaii with only one, carry-on suitcase (and a personal item), I feel qualified to offer some Travel Tips you might find useful on your trips.

At the Grand Wailea in Maui 18 years after our honeymoon there!

In 1980, I attended training to be a Flight Attendant for Air Florida (now defunct). The training was for six weeks and took place by the airport. Although we had to learn about many things, including medical training, the theory of aerodynamics and countless airport codes, one of the lessons I remember to this day was about how to pack a suitcase.

  • Pack shoes around the edge and work inward & fill shoes with items. I usually put underwear, sports bras and socks in my shoes, but they also provide a good buffer if you’re packing something breakable.
  • Roll your clothes. This works great with jeans, but also t-shirts and dresses that don’t wrinkle and allows you to get a lot more clothes into your suitcase.

These next tips aren’t from my Flight Attendant Training, but just good tips I’ve learned over the years.

  • Pick a color theme (2 or 3 colors). This will make it easier to mix and match and change up outfits for your trip.
  • Pack beige sandals. Sandals are needed for most trips (if even just to walk to the pool in), and if you pack beige ones, they are a neutral that will go with everything.

Ok, I have a short story on the beige sandals.

I bought new ones- Clark’s Cloudsteppers– at DSW for my vacation. They weren’t the cutest sandals, but they are comfortable and have arch support. Imagine my dismay to see an elderly woman on our tour wearing a loud floral dress and my same sandals (different color) to our group’s Luau in Maui. When I commented we had the same shoes, she said:

I know and you should see the ones I got my mother- they are really cute. They have sequins and everything.

Dindee, elderly Luau-goer.

After being properly humiliated by this turn of events, I had a couple Mai Tais to deaden the pain at the Luau.

Also on your packing list…

  • A long-sleeve button down shirt can double as a bathing suit cover-up. If you’re running out of space in your suitcase.
  • If you pack a hard covered purse, you can put breakables inside.
  • Pack a light, nylon backpack or flat bag to use for the Pool, Beach or Hiking.
  • Bring a Sac purse for travel. I brought three different purses on this trip, but this was my go-to. It packs like a dream and fits a lot of items.
  • Bring a refillable water bottle. My daughter-in-law got me a stainless steel HydroFlask for Mother’s Day, but if you’re running out of space or want to lighten your load, consider a plastic, refillable water container. We got two free ones in Maui.
  • Bring a reusable Laundry Bag. What’s up with all the plastic laundry bags in the hotels? I bring my own, reusable cloth bag to stash my dirties in. They’re inexpensive and available at places like Marshalls, Home Goods or online; this makes it so much easier when you return from your trip to just throw dirty clothes into the laundry. I’m not, however, above using the plastic ones for wet swimsuits or packing breakable items
  • A Rain Poncho. Although I brought an umbrella on this trip, I think the edge in rain protection goes to the poncho, as its lighter and less bulky to pack. Also, you can sometimes get wet with an umbrella, if the rain’s blowing sideways. I prefer clear ones to the ugly orange ones.

Two things I seem to always forget are a hairbrush and sunglasses, so now I just keep cheap versions in the side pocket of my suitcase. Also, don’t forget the chargers! Phone, camera, Apple watch, Kindle, headphones, laptop, all need chargers and don’t forget to grab them from your hotel room. These are one of the most forgotten items. Also, I always try to pack big and small Ziploc bags. They are light, take up little space and can prove to be invaluable.

Don’t leave home without them.

As far as traveling clothes go, I love to wear yoga pants (super comfortable) and a long sleeve workout shirt, with a light jacket on top. You never know what the temperature will be on the plane (one leg of our trip was FREEZING) and, even if you could find a blanket on the airplane (good luck!), you probably don’t want to use it.

Other traveling essentials:

  • Shoes that are easy to take off. For TSA. I’ve traveled in cowboy boots before- big mistake.
  • Noise-cancelling earphones. To drown out that crunching seat mate or crying baby, these are a life-saver!
  • Snacks. Snacks are essential, since you don’t want to be at the mercy of the airline’s selection of food (and by the way airlines, a can of Pringles is NOT a meal!) While United gave us a meal AND a snack on the way to Honolulu, American Airlines served a bag of pretzels and a drink for a five-hour flight. Even if you plan on eating at the airport in between flights, sometimes you may not have time, depending on flight delays, so be like a Girl Scout and come prepared.

The best things to pack as snacks are items that- like you- travel well. Fruit is a good choice, especially apples, but dried fruit is also an option. Olives and nuts are portable and nutritious and, if I know my flight won’t be serving food, I supplement them with veggies, hummus and cheese and crackers for a tasty charcuterie plate en route.

Dining Out.

My last piece of advice while traveling regards dining out. I like to book some dinners/lunches for trips (all our breakfasts were included on our tour), but also leave some meals open for experimentation and whimsy. Obviously, Open Table and Resy are easy ways to make reservations, but often, there are no times available and they tend to be inflexible. Your next call should be directly to the restaurant to try and sweet- talk someone into getting you a table. If they can’t give you the reservation, they may tell you what time to try and come to walk in.

If that fails, and you have an American Express card, call the concierge service to try and get you in. This is how we got reservations at Mama’s Fish House, a restaurant in Maui that books up months in advance. Since we told them it was our anniversary (a few weeks late), this helped get us in on a busy Friday night. We didn’t score one of the coveted tables by the water, but we did get a cute table in the Lounge. Success with this method depends on American Express’s relationship with the restaurant in question.

At last resort, try just walking in to your desired restaurant. They may have a table open due a last-minute to cancellation, or the wait may be short.

Pro Tip: Many restaurants keep the bar open for walk-ins. We learned this trick from our friends Brooks and Sharon, who actually prefer to sit at the bar when dining out. We did this a couple times on this trip and had a very pleasant experience. The food is usually the same and you have the undivided (well, maybe) attention of the bartender/server.

Like Mikey said, try it, you might like it!

On way to Mama’s Fish House.

Oh somewhere over the rainbow Blue birds fly And the dreams that you dreamed of. Dreams really do come true, ooh-ooh.

Iz, aka Israel Kamakawinwo’oele

Up Next: Hawaiian Food

Published by gleeguilford

Born and raised in Miami, the daughter of a pilot and stay-at-home Mom, I love food in all forms. My great grandfather opened the first Italian restaurant in Miami in the 20's, The Boathouse on the Miami river. I love exploring my heritage and linking food and recipes to personal stories. I've been published in Chicken Soup for the Soul: Food and Love and wrote restaurant reviews and news as the Miami Dining Examiner for three years. I love exploring Miami's latest hot spots, hole in the walls and institutions. I'm always looking for innovative ways to use the plethora of tropical fruits and vegetables South Florida offers, especially from my own garden.

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