Pink suitcase

Traveling 101: Geek Savvy Travel Tips

Whether it’s your first time to travel or your fiftieth, there is always a lesson to learn along the way on how to make it easier, faster, or just plain better for the next time. We don’t want these lessons to go to waste, so we’re sharing ours here with you. While most of these tips came about from traveling through airports to hotels and conventions, you’ll find they really do apply to almost any kind of trip.

NOTE: If you’re packing to cosplay at a convention, make sure you check out Jeannette ChinoChinako’s article “Cosplay 101: Top 10 Things Cosplayers Shouldn’t Forget to Pack for Conventions” for important things to remember when packing!

Photos by Courtney Langdon

Clothing

Clothing laid out on bed

Everyone needs clothing, so why not make yours do double-duty? Depending on the things that matter to you most, here are a few that might help you when traveling or simply getting from convention hall A to convention hall B:

  • Long-sleeved tech tops: These are good for layering and don’t take up much space in your luggage due to their thin fabric. Some may have thumbholes, kangaroo pockets, and hoodies, too.
  • Rash guard with zippered front: I know you’re thinking, “I’m inside, so what do I need sun protection for?” In this instance, not so much, but when you’re chilly they are also good for layering, packing, and quick-drying in case of spills.
  • Travel pants: Also known as hiking pants or convertible pants, they are usually quick-dry and tend to be stain resistant. Some are also breathable and have other super awesome features, such as zippered pockets (good for keeping phones, keys, and ID from falling out when you sit down), wide legs / zippered hem inserts (helps the pants legs fit over boots), and convertible legs where you can unzip the bottom half to turn your pants into shorts on a hot day.

Security

Items you need when traveling to protect your cards and phone.

There’s a lot of talk of security when traveling – as well there should be! – but it can leave you feeling overwhelmed. While it is definitely worthwhile to look into RFID protection for your cards and phone, there are some other options as well:

  • Crossbody cell phone purse: These dandy little purses are great for carrying small items, either on top of your clothing (but easier to pick-pocket) or under your clothing for additional security. Just make sure they’re easy to access!
  • Bra pouch: For the best security and lowest profile, bra pouches or undergarment pouches can be attached to your bra strap and neatly tucked away. They don’t hold as much, so keep them just for ID and cash. They can also be tricky to access.
  • Infinity scarf with zippered pocket: I love these because you can look stylish and hide away your stuff in plain sight without anyone the wiser. The obvious catch here is that they only work well when it’s cool enough to stand having a scarf around your neck.

Tech

Outlets, power strips, phone charger, and other tech items you need when traveling

Confession time here: I am more of a tech geek than anything else, and I love my tech, lol. However, tech can take up a lot of space, which means you have to be picky with what you take and make sure every piece is either vital or multi-functional. Here are some of my favorites:

  • Power strip / wall charger with USB outlets: There is no guarantee that you will find a wall outlet for charging at the airport or convention hall, or have enough wall outlets in your hotel room (especially if you’re sharing). A little gadget like this can be helpful when you’re trying to get all of your electronics charged to full battery life on only one wall outlet. I always keep one with me!
  • Extension cord: Not so helpful for airports or convention halls, an extension cord can be great for hotel rooms with awkwardly placed outlets.
  • Extra charging cord for your cell phone: Don’t think that cords can’t go out, because they sure can, and they do it at the worst times. To help with this, keep an extra tucked away in your luggage just in case. It also helps to have a braided cord, as these seem to flex better and last longer.
  • Earbuds: If you’re not completely married to your over-the-ear headphones, consider traveling with earbuds, especially bluetooth-enabled ones. They take up less space in your luggage, which helps when space is at a premium. TIP: Because they’re small and frequently black, they’re very easy to lose, so wrap a little brightly colored washi tape or hair scrunchie around the cord to make it stand out.
  • Battery power bank, aka portable charger (not pictured): I don’t go anywhere without my power bank! It’s worth investing in a good one that is slim, rechargeable, and has a lot of juice to give. I’ve used mine on everything from my cell phone and smart watch to my tablet… and I even used it on my laptop to give me just enough life to finish an article. They are 100% worth the extra space in your luggage.

Toiletries

Toiletries packaged neatly on bed

Yes, travel-sized toiletries are great, but here are some other handy things to carry with you:

  • Medication in non-liquid form: If you have anything you take, whether prescription or over the counter, that is normally a liquid, see if you can get it in pill or powder form. That way you can keep it in your carry-on without worrying about it fitting in the quart-sized bag of liquids that you are allowed in airports. I believe prescription drugs may be outside of that liquid limit, but having them in pill form means there’s also the added benefit of not having to carry yet another liquid that can spill. NOTE: Prescription drugs require a prescription, which means you should keep them in their original container with their prescription label at all times.
  • Detergent packs: These little buddies are great for washing unexpectedly stained clothes in sinks! If you’ll be traveling for a while, it can help clean some of your wardrobe for another turn, thereby reducing the amount of clothes you have to take.
  • Sewing kit and nail kit: Think of these as your mini tool boxes and take them wherever you can. You’d be amazed at what you can fix, and I don’t just mean costume malfunctions. I’ve used cuticle scissors to cut tags and stray threads, for instance.
  • Mini emergency kit: Make a list of things that you think you might need and somehow always find yourself digging through your bags and never locating. Then put those things in a little makeup bag and keep it with you. Some ideas are: hair bands, nail files, hand wipes, etc.

Misc.

Other items you may want to pack when you travel

There’s always something that falls outside the realm of “I already thought of that”, and here are a few of those:

  • A braided belt: A belt with no holes (or has holes all the way around the belt) can do extra work by keeping your coat strapped to your bag.
  • A large clip: Heavy duty clips like the ones you find in clothes hangers can be your best friend in hotel rooms where those stupid curtains don’t completely close. I’ve used mine to clip them together for a darker room and more security many times.
  • Ribbons with velcro: If a relative has ever given you a pajama set or bed set that comes with those fabric ribbons that fasten with velcro, don’t throw them away! You can re-use them to hold clothes together in your luggage or, as with the braided belt mentioned above, keep your coat strapped to your bags so you don’t lose it.
  • Sarong: I have a couple and always stash one in my bag. They’re thin and don’t take up much room, and they can serve a variety of purposes: a shawl when it’s cold, a blanket to sit on, and even a belt or strap to hold things together.

Now that you’re better prepared, what travel tips would you like to share?

You can also check out Courtney’s Traveling 101: Flying, Geek Style and Traveling 101: Cruising, Geek Style articles.

Featured image credit: Arnel Hasanovic/Unsplash

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