Packing and Travel Hacks: Tips from the Gnome!

Packing is always an essential part of having a successful trip.   I am always amazed, as I look around at my fellow travelers, at how poorly some have planned for their journey.  They look miserable, dragging that heavy, large suitcase up and down flights of hotel stairs and through cobblestone streets.  I think to myself, did you really think that would be fun when you brought all that crap?  They forget to notify the bank of travel plans.  They go to Ireland in the spring planning for 1 type of weather.  This can make what should be a very enjoyable, relaxing time very stressful.  You forget something…heck, we’ve all done it.  Have to run out and buy this or that. Really, who wants to mess around with such things?  The gnome humbly presents to you these these packing tips that I have picked up along the way.

Before you Travel:
1. Know what currency you will need for the country you are traveling too.  Exchange currency at your local bank.  Exchange rates at the airport or those places on the street are generally much higher.  DON’T bother with those silly money pouches, fanny packs or passport necklaces.  They scream tourist.  DO divide up your cash into various sections of your luggage and daypack.  That way if someone steals something, they won’t have gotten all your money.   I tend not to take ridiculous amounts of cash with me, as I have my debit and credit cards.  I know people who might take between $1500-$2000 for a 7 day trip.  That is overkill to me, and I find $30-$50 a day is enough to get me around and grab a bite to eat.  A good place to look up currency exchange rates is XE Currency Converter.

2. Take 2 credit cards and a debit card with you.  I would always use your credit cards and keep your debit card for back up.  Notify your banks of your intention to travel.  This may seem silly, but you will thank me when your card is never declined abroad.  Many allow you to do this right online in your account.  Be sure to know if your company will charge you foreign transaction fees.  Capital One is famous for being one of the first companies not to charge you foreign transaction fees, but many more are coming on board with that now.  Often merchants and hotels will ask you if you want your transaction in your currency, and it is really easy to say yes to this, but just be leery, especially with hotels, as they generally have an exchange rate that is worse than the going rate.  I stayed in an airport Hilton in London once, and got a great deal on the room, but I paid in pounds because there was a full 10 cents on the dollar difference between their exchange rate and that standard exchange the bank would have charged me.

3. Enter your Emergency Medical ID in your iPhone.  Sorry Android users, you can skip to the next one.  If you have an iPhone you may not be aware of this fantastic feature.  I, like most of us, have a passcode on my phone which makes it impossible for you to enter my phone without knowing my code.  You can enter your emergency information, so that if there is an accident of some kind and the police need to identify you or know what blood type you are, your emergency contact, they can find all this information without having to enter your phone.  See the video below for full instructions how to do this.

4. If you are American, definitely look into the Global Entry Program and TSA Pre-check!   It has saved me waiting in many a passport line coming back into the country 🙂  TIP:  You MUST register your TSA pre-check with each airline company for it to show on your boarding pass, and it must show on your boarding pass for you to go through the TSA pre-check line.  Best $100 I ever spent as it is good for 5 years! See video below for an short explanation of the program.


What’s in the Gnome’s suitcase?

I have learned to try and keep my packing to a 21 inch carry on. I use the Samsonite Lift2 Spinner.

Photo courtesy of Amazon.
Photo courtesy of Amazon.

I know what you’re thinking.  How can I possibly fit everything I need for a 1-2 week trip all in a carry on?  Believe me, with clever organizing it can be done.  You’ll thank me later :-). The first thing I do is put a collapsed tote in the bottom of the carry on.  This is for anything extra I might purchase along my travels, such as various souvenirs. I also choose the souvenirs I spend money on with much more discretion today.  I like to get a piece of jewelry, made by a local artist, or a christmas ornament.  My favorite souvenir is a carnival mask I bought in Venice, and a typical Portuguese doll.

  1.  Undergarments – I normally plan on 2 pairs per day of travel.  If you are traveling for an extended period time you can pack a small snack pack baggie with some detergent so you can rinse them out in the hotel sink.
  2. Socks – I pack a pair per day of travel, plus a spare or two.  Depending on your trip, and the types of things you plan to do, you may want to consider packing different types of socks.  If you are going to do some hiking, and wearing boots,  you may want to consider packing some thicker socks.
  3. Tops – Bring layers.  Check the weather.  Bring a top for each day and 1 spare.
  4. Bottoms – I’m a bit of a princess in this respect, and I don’t wear pants more than 2 times.  But try to bring leggings, and lighter bottoms, rather than the heavy jeans that take a lot of space in the suitcase.
  5. Shoes –  Bring a pair of tennis shoes and one pair of sandals or shoes that can dress up an outfit.  Again, think about where you are going.  If you are going hiking in Norway in the dead of winter, you will not be needing any sandals or the like.  Wear one pair on the plane.
  6. Personals – This is really a personal thing, but you should make sure to bring any medications you need, shampoo, toothbrush, etc.
  7. Outerwear:  Taking into account where you are going, I always like to bring a waterproof jacket and/or a nice bubble vest.   I found this nice jacket at Lands End.
    DSC_0513
    I also found this nice Primaloft down jacket from Lands End, which I would recommend as well 🙂

    Photo courtesy of Lands End.
    Photo courtesy of Lands End.

    For a vest, I found this at New York and Company last winter! I love the color!
    DSC_0512

  8. For a Day Pack, since I bought a new Nikon D3300 DSLR camera, I found this Camera backpack by Evecase and I love it!   It has a compartment below for the camera, and then you have space above to put your iPad, wallet, and whatever other essentials you think you might want.
    Photo courtesy of Amazon.
    Photo courtesy of Amazon.

    Believe it or not, yes, this can all fit quite nicely into the Samsonite Spinner I mentioned using above!

    All packed!
    All packed!

    Lastly, we can’t forget a little mascot for our travel adventures!

    Hermione the Gnome, ready to go!
    Hermione the Gnome, ready to go!

Have fun packing for your next adventure!  Remember, layering is the key!

Buen viajes, gnomies! 

Have any packing tips to share?  Let the gnome know!


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Comments

  1. Pamela says:

    The iPhone medical ID thing is brilliant! Doing it right now!!

    1. The Gnome says:

      thanks! enjoy!

    2. The Gnome says:

      Thanks!

  2. verushka says:

    Great post ! Loads of good tips ! Love how you pack so cleverly.

    1. The Gnome says:

      Thanks!

  3. Dash the Map says:

    Thanks for the tips! I’m always looking for travel tips and always veering whether I should take a luggage or backpack.

    1. The Gnome says:

      thank you for the comment! I had gotten a bunch of spam so I think this got lost in the mix…but all is well now. Happy packing!

    2. The Gnome says:

      Thanks! I appreciate the comment!

  4. Soraya says:

    This is a fantastic post and the tips are all so useful. I always notify my bank when I travel, which keeps everything in check. And I agree, split your money up in different places! And I just discovered the Medical ID on the iPhone – so good! Great post.

    1. The Gnome says:

      Thanks!

  5. Really interesting tips ! Thank you for sharing.

    1. The Gnome says:

      Thanks!

  6. Jessica says:

    I really need to do the TSA precheck. It’s something I keep talking about and haven’t done yet. Great tips!

    1. The Gnome says:

      It’s fantastic! Gotta go through the screening in order to get it, but it is so worth it!

  7. Anita says:

    Oh, it’s a lot to pack! Nice tips, great pictures! Thanks for sharing!

    1. The Gnome says:

      Thanks, Anita!

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