Travelling 101: Tips & Tricks To Get Your Holiday Off To The Best Start

Hi loves! Holiday season is fast approaching, and I know lots of people that are going on holiday soon! Matt and I leave TOMORROW, and we’ve been talking a lot over the past few weeks about the preparation and planning to make sure we’re feeling organised. This is definitely more my input than Matt’s – I hate not having a plan together, and I try to do anything that will make our lives easier. Planning trips is one of my most favourite things to do from the second we book our flights, and I feel like there’s a ton of things that you should do in the build up/during your travels to make things run a little more smoothly. This post is packed with handy tips and tricks that we’ve learned over the years, I hope you find them useful for your next holiday!

So, your travel insurance is all arranged, your countdown is fast approaching 0 and all you can talk about is your upcoming holiday. What should you be doing in the build up to, or during, travelling?!

Use a backpack for your carry on. Seriously, no matter how cute your new beach bag might look, you’re going to wish you took a backpack, especially if you’re an over packer like me. Matt and I both take backpacks, and they’re so easy. Backpacks can fit so many things (Mary Poppins who?!), there’s lots of compartments to organise your things, the weight is distributed evenly on your back so it’s easier to carry and you get to keep it under the seat in front of you, which is way easier than putting it in the overhead bins. Have I sold you on taking a backpack? Yes? Good. Thank you for coming to my TED talk.

Pack a crossbody bag inside your carry on with all of your essentials. It just makes sense; this is where you can keep all the things you’ll want to have to hand before, during or after your flight. I always keep Matt and I’s passports and my card holder in here! I use my crossbody bag throughout the holiday during the evenings, and it’s just big enough to fit what I actually need. I always need to make sure there’s a little room in there for my boyfriend’s sunglasses, wallet, and whatever else he decides to throw in, lol! There will be a post up all about my carry on essentials this coming Wednesday, but until then, you can check out what I took last year here.

Check in for your flight online. It saves waiting in so many lines at the airport, you can allocate your own seats and you feel a little bit smug just having to drop off your checked luggage! Matt and I checked in two weeks before the date of our flight and it made us even more excited, it actually made it feel real then. When it comes to booking our seats, we always try to allocate them on/around the wing because you don’t feel any turbulence as much here!

Always take cash in all of the currencies of the countries you’re travelling from/through/to, as well as your debit card. In the airport in England we’ll just use our debit cards, but we’ll make sure to have cash just in case too. If you’re planning on purchasing things on the plane you’ll need the currency of the country you’re going from/to, but sometimes you can be caught out on exchange rates making things a little more costly. Also be sure to keep your cash for your destination safely zipped away deep inside your carry on!

Print out all of your information so you have hard copies: boarding passes, hotel information, transfer details, travel insurance documents. I’m a planner, what can I say? Even though we have all of this information on our phones, I’m a little paranoid we might run out of battery (even though I’m obviously taking a battery pack) or our phones may not connect to the new service provider properly. Having hard copies is just good practice, I think!

Download the app for your airline, the airports you’re travelling from/through/to and your holiday provider. You can get flight information, including which terminal/gate you’re flying from sometimes before it’s announced in the airport. We use the countdown on our TUI app from the moment we book our holiday – we’ve been counting down for over 130 days and now we’re literally one day away today. What the heck! You can get all of your transfer and hotel information in your holiday providers app, as well as weather, transport and excursions details.

Take a fully charged external battery pack and the appropriate charging cables. Matt and I will each have our phones, Fitbit’s and toothbrushes to charge, and we’re also taking one of our Echo Dot’s so we can play music when we’re getting ready in the evenings. The likelihood of sitting in an airport next to an outlet is very low, and not all planes are equipped with USB ports, although come on people, it’s 2019! I always carry a battery pack, it charges our phones like five times! I know Matt will use this before me as I always have my low power mode on and the battery on my phone just seems to last longer!

Weigh your bag before you leave to avoid delays or extra charges when you arrive at the airport. During family holidays when I was younger, we’d fly to Florida with three suitcases, and return with eight. Seriously. The deals were just that good! Now, Matt and I take a suitcase each, but there’s wiggle room between the two of us if one of our bags were overweight. It’s pretty easy to stay underweight when you’re travelling to a tropical location as your clothes weigh less, but sometimes toiletries really increase the weight. You can buy luggage scales for super cheap on Amazon, and they’re reliable! Just make sure to pack them so you can check all your new souvenirs aren’t weighing you down before your return flight too.

Carry a re-usable water bottle – just don’t fill it up until you’re through security! My Chilly’s bottle is LIFE. I’ll be using this during our holiday too, and we’re for sure going to be grateful for it during our super long transfer from the airport to our hotel so we don’t need to buy bottles of water. Last year when we got to Kos, we made it to the bus in record time (our suitcases were literally the first two off the conveyor belt) and were so smug waiting for everyone to board. However, we didn’t think about the fact it was still 27 degrees at 11pm(!!) and we had to wait over an hour to get water! NOT smart(water). Get it? I’m here all night.

Wear (or pack in your carry on) a comfy sweater or jacket. And fluffy socks, if you’re like me and are always freezing. Seriously, planes are SO COLD and no matter what lovely warm climate you might be heading to, you’ll wish you had at least a jacket with you for your journey. In Europe, it often feels a little cooler in the evenings (even when it’s technically still 25+ degrees, lol) and there is also air con in most restaurants and bars, so it’ll come in super handy during your trip too!

Take lots of reading material in your carry on bag. Keeping yourself entertained on a flight is SO important. Matt and I talk so much, but we also like to unwind with our book or magazines and just switch off. We’re in vacay mode the second we set foot in the airport, and it’s the best feeling to get lost in a new book!

Allow enough time to browse duty free leisurely. If you take shopping as seriously as me (lol) you don’t want to be rushing when there could be amazing deals to be found! Ever since I was younger I’ve loved browsing duty free, and since I was around 11 my mum and dad made a big deal of me being allowed a fancy perfume each time we travelled. They’re so good to me! My love of buying perfume at the airport never stopped, and I still do almost every time. This year I’m hoping to pick up a bottle of Miss Dior Blooming Bouquet! Matt is also hoping to get a new aftershave, I love that we’re now making our own traditions together.

Pack your liquids in a see-through bag. You will seriously regret not following the rules if you have to step to the side and try to squeeze your liquids into a teeny little airport-provided bag. That you have to pay for. You’ll also be super embarrassed, or I would be anyway! You can pick up clear, travel approved bags almost anywhere nowadays for really inexpensive prices, although I have this one from Space NK that I love. I’ll also be sharing what I pack in here in Wednesday’s post!

Take the essentials to keep you feeling (and smelling) clean/fresh in case of a delay, or a super stuffy airport/airplane. Planes might always be cold, but they can be pretty stuffy too! Deodorant, bio-degradable wipes, lip balm, your favourite rollerball perfume, a face spray. These are the things that if you don’t take, you’ll wish you did! It’s better to be safe than sorry, and the travel sized versions of these products are so small you won’t even notice the space they take up!

Buy food in the airport for the plane, and to cover you for your transfer at your destination. I’m not a big fan of airplane food, and to be honest I don’t think many people are! I’d much prefer to grab something I like from before we jump on the plane, and any delays getting to your hotel could leave you hangry. Matt and I always pack sweets and protein bars , and we’ll grab our favourite crisps, maybe a sandwich and plenty of water in the airport. And of course, Diet Coke!

Pack travel adaptors in your carry on. You don’t want to be rummaging around your suitcase for adaptors when you get to your hotel, especially after a long travelling day. Also, we take an extension cord with us (in our checked luggage) which means you can charge up to six items with only one adaptor!

Wear comfortable clothing and shoes that are easy to take off/put back on at security. It’s just common sense; it makes the lines move quicker, and it gives you more shopping/drinking time in the airport, which is the best part of being there! I’m wearing my Birkenstocks to travel in because they’re just so flipping comfy, and not at all a hassle to slide off through security. My travel outfit is still being decided, but I’m pretty sure I’m going for a Levi’s t-shirt, black leggings and an oversized denim jacket I can throw on if when I get a little chilly!

Take at least one outfit, swimwear and fresh underwear in your carry on bag incase your luggage gets lost or delayed. Okay, this is maybe just for the worriers and anxious travellers like me, but I would much rather have the peace of mind knowing I’d be able to get through a day or two without my suitcase, if it were to get lost. I’m so scared of this happening!

Carry ibuprofen, paracetemol, travel sickness tablets and any other important medication in an easy-to-find spot. These are the kind of things I used to throw into my bag then have to empty the whole contents to find what I’m looking for. Matt and I sometimes suffer with a little travel sickness and I’m prone to aches and pains caused by my arthritis – there’s so much sitting around during travel days! I always keep these in the outside facing pocket of my backpack, so they’re super easy to reach.

Thank you so much for reading! I hope this was somewhat helpful to you, and maybe gave you a few ideas of things you wouldn’t normally think about. What are your best tried and tested ideas to ensure a smooth journey? Are you a super strict planner like me, or do you ‘fly by the seat of your pants’ like Matt?! Get it? Fly?

-G x

Pack With Me: Overnight Trip

Happy, happy Sunday loves!

As this post goes live, we will be on our way to enjoy a staycation at one of our favourite hotels, Hotel du Vin at Newcastle Quayside. It’s a birthday treat for Matthew as he turns 25 tomorrow, and we’re making the most of it! We’re planning on doing very little; maybe a chilled walk along the Quayside, a bubble bath, dinner, drinks, and a whole lot of relaxing with yours truly. What more could he want, eh?!

Packing is my thing and I love reading packing related blog posts or watching ‘pack with me’ videos on YouTube, some of these incredible people fit enough clothes for three weeks in a carry on suitcase! Mind = blown. I am borderline obsessed with the whole process and find it so exciting, as soon as we have a trip booked I find myself beginning to plan my outfits, search through my stash of travel sized minis and find the Insta-worthy hotspots usually reserved for the locals. As much as I enjoy that kind of packing, there’s something real nice about heading for a staycation, less than thirty minutes from home. You already know the best places to go! Driving means no luggage restrictions! Full sized beauty products! The ability to pop home if you forget your favourite shoes… Also, it means I don’t have to hide Matt’s birthday presents as I can easily sneak them in the boot.

Really, the chances of me forgetting something on a staycation trip are pretty slim, as I tend to go with the ‘if you might need it, take it’ method of packing when there’s no weight restriction. Slippers? Our favourite blanket? Ski goggles? You name it, I’ve probably packed it. I feel I’m being a tad hard on myself as I’ve definitely honed it down from previous trips, but I’m still not the most minimalistic or streamlined packer, and for a one or two night trip close to home, I’m okay with that. Also, the best thing about travelling anywhere with your boyfriend? He takes literally the essentials. (By ‘he’ I mean me, because of course I end up packing for him HAHA). I’m sure all girls have read between the lines here and know where I’m going with this… extra space for our stuff, YAY!

*I’ve linked all of the items you can still purchase to save you having to find them!*

The Beauty Bits

My favourite part of packing is always my skincare, makeup and toiletries. As I mentioned above, I do love a travel sized mini, but there is something a little bit special about being able to take your old faithfuls without having to find a mini or decant them. Although I often take full sized beauty products on staycation trips, or really anywhere we travel to by car, I tend to take less products overall, and just take the things I actually need. Sort of. I definitely minimize my skincare and makeup routine, and don’t take all of the extra ‘just incase’ bits I usually keep in my skincare stash. I’m so happy with my daily skincare routine so I’m definitely taking all my must-haves for morning and night, even though it may seem like a lot to some. I talked about my current skincare routine in this post so please check that out if you’d like to know my thoughts on the products pictured, in more detail!

I also try to pack as little as possible in the category of ‘body care’ (I feel like there needs to be an actual name for this stuff?!) because A) it’s just a one night trip and I won’t be doing a full on pamper sesh and B) Hotel du Vin have Ren products in all of their rooms anyway, which is an amazing cruelty free brand that I love. Matt and I always share whichever shampoo and conditioner I pack, and we’ll use one of our own mini Molton Brown shower gels, then I need my shaving products, moisturiser and hair products to style my hair before I blow dry it. We very rarely use the mini toiletries provided in the room when we’re there as I (not so) secretly love to take them for future trips that may not provide them. That’s why they’re there, right?!

If this is your first time reading my blog you may not know that my aim for 2019 is to go fully cruelty free on my beauty products. I’m already there on my everyday skincare and makeup items, but body care is proving a little more tricky – I’m yet to find a razor that works as well as my beloved Gillette Swirl, and any other shaving gel apart from Gillette leaves my skin dry and/or irritated. I wanted so badly to love the Lush D’Fluff as it smelled glorious, but it really wasn’t right for my skin, and never gave me a close enough shave. My beloved Jo Malone Wood Sage & Sea Salt is a must-have, I use this almost every day and I love it; it reminds me of so many wonderful memories.

Skincare: Glossier Milky Oil / Boots Botanics Micellar Water / Cotton Rounds / Sukin Foaming Facial Cleanser / Pixi Glow Tonic / The Body Shop Serum-in-Oil / The Body Shop Drops Of Youth Bouncy Eye Mask / Neals’ Yard Remedies Yarrow & Comfrey Moisturiser / Glossier Balm Dot Com / Facetheory Eye Cream / Facetheory SuperGel Moisturiser

Makeup: The Ordinary High Adherence Silicone Primer / Colourpop X Zoella Eyeshadow Palette / Urban Decay Naked Petite Heat Palette / Too Faced Better Than Sex & Diamonds Mascara / It Cosmetics CC+ Cream Matte in Fair / Laura Mercier Flawless Fusion Concealer / Charlotte Tilbury Magic Eye Concealer in 2 / Laura Mercier Loose Setting Powder / Physician’s Formula Butter Bronzer / Charlotte Tilbury Cheek To Chic Blush in First Love / Colourpop Highlighter in Flexitarian / Charlotte Tilbury Lip Cheat in Pillow Talk / Charlotte Tilbury Lipstick in The Duchess / NYX Butter Gloss in Tiramisu / Minimal amount of makeup brushes & my beauty blender

Hair & Body Care: Ren Oat & Bay Shampoo (mini) / Love Beauty & Planet Magic Masque / Lush R&B Hair Moisturiser / Soap & Glory The Rushower Dry Shampoo / Tangle Teezer Brush / Straighteners / Jo Malone Wood Sage & Sea Salt / Dove Deodorant / Lush Sleepy Moisturiser / Gillette Shaving Gel (mini) / Gillette Swirl Razor / Molton Brown Shower Gel (mini) / Contact Lenses / Medication

Clothing & Accessories

I love planning my outfits in general, and I find this the easiest category to pack for, even though I do like to have some kind of option, just in case. I’ll use the same bag both day and night – my Kate Spade crossbody is my go-to – and my trusty Vans will go with any day time outfit. I tend to be pretty hard on just taking one evening outfit for an overnight stay, as I know exactly what we’ll be doing – in this case, dinner at The Botanist and drinks on Grey St – but packing for the next day is a little trickier. We know our morning consists of Matt opening his presents (I’m so excited for that!) and us going for breakfast, but then we have the whole day to explore our favourite city and spend time with family, which is what birthdays are for.

I keep it minimal with my jewellery day-to-day, and I’ll be wearing my good ol’ faithfuls. My Missoma initial G necklace and mis-matched star and moon studs, my Pandora bracelet and various rings, and the rest of my earrings are silver, purchased from various stores. I very rarely change up my earrings as I love how they look, although it’s something I really want be more adventurous with this Spring/Summer! I’m also determined to try hoop earrings and to love them, other girls look SO good wearing hoops.

The weather is still very odd right now up North as we’re finally moving into Spring. Some days it’s warm, sunny and bright, and others it’s dark, rainy and freezing cold. This is my justification for taking two day outfit options, if you hadn’t already guessed what was coming. Also, we don’t take pyjamas as we never sleep in them, and we know from experience that Hotel du Vin robes are the bomb. I love to wear my hotel robe whilst I get ready for the evening and the following morning, so other than my two three outfits, there’s nothing else I need here! Except for a few spare pairs of pants and an extra bralette that I know I won’t wear. I can’t help it, it’s the overpacker in me. (Side note: VS thongs are the only underwear I buy, but I’m always looking for new options, and more sustainable brands would be great – if you have any tried and trusted recommendations please let me know in the comments!)

Evening: Underwear / Zara Animal Print Skirt / Black Camisole (similar) / Heeled Teal Boots / Kate Spade Crossbody
(YAY for ‘no bra’ outfits! #freethenipple)

Day: Underwear & Bra / Black Leather Jacket / Scarf / Black Old Skool Vans / Kate Spade Crossbody
Option 1 – Colourblock Jumper / Topshop Black Jamie Jeans
Option 2 – Black V Neck T-Shirt / Topshop Blue Jamie Jeans

The Bits I Actually Need (And Definitely Do Not Need But Will Take Anyway)

Like I said, I’m not perfect when it comes to packing (or anything, ha) and I knowingly pack more than I need. I always make sure to pack our phone chargers and also squeeze in snacks for the room because we love to have our home comforts for the evening. We’ve got our favourite sweets to snack on, and we’ll also have a box of our favourite donuts thanks to the amazing guys at Proven Goods Co. Matt won’t know this until we get there, and I’m so excited to surprise him! The only thing better than birthday cake is birthday donuts, right?! We always make sure to take a few bottles of water and cans of Diet Coke to stick in the fridge in the room, because we’re cheap and can’t justify paying the mini bar prices LOL. For special staycation trips like this one, we like to take a bottle of champagne, because that’s half the fun of the amazing roll top bath, right?! Also, it’s my love’s birthday, and if he wants champagne then that’s what he’ll get!

We’ll be throwing an extra coat in the car and I’ve already packed an umbrella ‘just incase’ but with good reason; in Newcastle it’s not uncommon to experience every weather possible in the space of 24 hours! Ironically, I’ll definitely be taking my sunglasses as the optimist in me will be praying for a sunny day so we can take a nice morning walk along the Quayside; it’s one of our favourite places in Newcastle and it’s just so beautiful.

We’d never take our iPads or laptops on an overnight trip like this as we absolutely will not need them, so there’s no need to worry about fitting those in to our luggage. I would normally take a book with me, but I know I’ll have no time to read so I wouldn’t bother lugging it around. (Even though this makes me a little sad as I’m obsessed with my current book, Make Or Break by Catherine Bennetto, it’s the eighth book I’ve read so far this year and I hate putting it down!) I do always throw a tote bag into our luggage no matter where we’re going as they take up no space and come in so handy for tons of reasons. I mean, how else would I take all the miniature Ren toiletries home? I have to add, Poo Pourri comes in so handy on trips, I bought it originally as a joke when Matt and I went on our first weekend away together, but it’s actually a great idea (and still funny). Also, I think it’s a brilliant ‘gag gift’ for someone who’d laugh about it! Now, if only I could get him to use it at home…

I’m SO excited to relax and spoil my favourite person in the world, he deserves it so much. I hope you liked having a peek inside my suitcase, and if you haven’t already, you can check out my previous packing-related posts here and here. They’re the kind of posts you can come back to at any point for a little extra inspiration or motivation to pack! I’ll definitely be writing an updated What’s In My Carry On post when we go on our Summer holiday to Croatia later in the year, and we have a few city breaks in the pipeline too, I’m so excited to share more travel-related content.

What are your must-have items to pack for an overnight stay? Are you way more minimalist than me? I bet you are. Also, HOW do you do it? Please leave me all the tips and tricks in the comments, it would be very much appreciated! Thank you so much for reading!

-G x