1. Pack toilet paper! Keep a small roll in your day pack for those random bathrooms that are not equipped with toilet paper. Sure, you may end up carrying around toilet paper and never needing it, but is this really a chance you want to take?
2. Stock up on inexpensive souvenirs Pick up a stack of postcards, buttons, stickers or candies for those coworkers who ask "What did you get me??" as soon as you come back to work
3. Don't wear brand new clothes We're all guilty of spending too much money on new clothes before we leave. Make sure to test whether or not they will actually be comfortable or not before you leave. Wear shoes for a couple of weeks to break them in. Pre-wash clothes so that if they shrink or the dye runs, at least you can deal with it at home instead of on valuable vacation time.
4. Consider carrying a garbage bag... And empty ziplocks. A garbage bag is light and easy to pack and will save you if you get caught in a rainstorm with some luggage that is not water proof. They fit easily over a backpack. Gallon Ziplock baggies are great for wet bathing suits, dirty shoes, important paperwork, seashells, and other unexpected items.
5. Triple check that all of your liquids are safely secured Don't be like me, the girl who spent an hour this weekend washing ALL of my toiletries because I was rushing and did not fully twist my toothpaste cap before a road trip. Good news, everything smells minty-fresh! Bad news, I wasted a lot of time (and toothpaste) for something that could have been easily prevented.
6. Check out thrift stores You can learn a lot about a place by the everyday items that people have gotten rid of. You can find inexpensive vintage souvenirs, cool band t-shirts and random pop culture relics and save a TON of money by doing so. My mom just came back from Scotland with an adorable polka-dot raincoat that was brand new and about 90% less than had she bought it at a department store.
7. Send a postcard or email....to yourself Spend a couple of minutes each day documenting what you did and saw. Make sure to write down the best restaurants, stores and beaches you visited so you can recommend them to friends. Email works just fine but wouldn't it be way more fun to come home to a bunch of postcards?
8. Sharing is Caring If you are traveling with someone else, pack smarter. Yes, you probably both want to have your own phone chargers, but do you each need a laptop charger, or can you share one? If you are traveling with a friend who is the same size as you, why not coordinate your wardrobe ahead of time so you can pack half as much? This tip also applies to toothpaste (but please, bring your own toothbrush!), reading material, fashion accessories, sunscreen, etc.
9. Take a photo of your luggage In the unlikely, but frustrating event that something happens to your luggage you can show the photo to the airport staff or local police who are helping you retrieve your beloved items.
10. Plan for the worst. Of course you want every second of your trip to be perfect but something could go wrong. A fully charged phone and snack makes a world of difference while waiting for a delayed flight. Pack an external phone charger, granola bar and water bottle everywhere you go. Always know where your passport is. Make sure someone back home has a copy of your itinerary and stop overthinking it and just BUY THE TRAVEL INSURANCE!! A little preparation goes a long way.