Travel Hacks

March 09, 2015

I’ve been traveling a lot the past year. Like anyone who flies frequently, I’ve come up up with my own list of gadgets and strategies to make getting places easy and efficient. Maybe they’ll help you on your next trip?

  • TSA Pre is absolutely worth it. Get it now, just to make sure you have your known traveler number in time for your next flight.
  • Earplugs. Always pack earplugs.
  • Vitamins, pain killers, and sleep aids (melatonin) are all useful, but you usually don’t need to bring an entire bottle with you. Buy a couple contact lens cases from the pharmacy. They’re perfect for carrying a small amount of pills.
  • Sign up for the rewards program whenever you stay at a hotel, fly or rent a car. Even if you don’t plan on earning an upgrade, just being a member can get you better treatment from staff.
  • Bike clothes often make the best travel clothes. I don’t mean tight, athletic gear– I’m talking about “city” biking apparel from companies like Chrome or Levi’s commuter line. These items are tough, are vented to breathe well, and have extra pockets for carrying small items. Some are made from materials like wool, which won’t start to smell even after having been worn several days in a row.
  • On some flights, if you board near the end you may have to check your carry-on when the overhead bins fill up. Make sure anything valuable or fragile can go in a smaller bag under your seat.
  • Check in as early as possible online. You might be able to snag a better seat, and if for some reason the airline didn’t add your TSA known traveler number you can call them to resolve it.
  • A small battery pack can be extremely helpful. I carry a small one with a built-in cable, and sometimes put a high capacity one in my bag as well.
  • Speaking of power, a travel surge protector (especially one with USB outlets) can be very useful. It’s not an item that’s strictly necessary, but one you’ll appreciate when you have several devices to charge and only one easily accessible power outlet.
  • Coffee drinkers should pack a few caffeine pills. There may come a time when it’s not possible to find coffee, even bad coffee. And while there’s something to be said for taking a break from caffeine, it’s not fun to show up for an event feeling like you’re still asleep.

Marc Charbonneau is a mobile software engineer in Portland, OR. Want to reply to this article? Get in touch on Twitter @mbcharbonneau.