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21 Travel Tips That Will Ensure Your Trip is a Success

As a travel expert, I’m always asked to share my best travel tips, so here are my top bits of advice and best practices I’ve learned traveling the globe.

1. Hang that Do Not Disturb sign proudly.


2. Drink coffee wisely.


3. The seat pocket is not your friend.


4. Hello. Please. Thank you. Enough said.


5. Keep your crummy ol’ shoes for your next vacation.


6. Check out the gym, even if you don’t plan on breaking a sweat.


7. Restaurant week. Know it. Love it.


8. Free wifi isn’t always free.


9. It’s a long shot, but you never know. #CYA


10. Make the neck scarf your #1 travel accessory.


11. Get lost.


12. The best way to board an airplane with a baby.


13. Explore the side streets!


14. Rituals make travel so much more meaningful.


15. We’ve all been here.


16. Zap the stress out of your morning.


17. Forget your charger? Don’t worry, you’re not alone.


18. It’s always important to get your bearings!


19. Playgrounds are a parent’s best friend.


20. Peanut butter = a traveler’s survival food.


21. It’s subtle, but important.

What are your best bits of travel advice? Share in the comments!

This Post Has 87 Comments

    1. Always pack coffee mug & Via coffee packets. Almost all hotel rooms have a microwave. You will great coffee within seconds without leaving your room. Also NEVER unpack must have items in your carry on when you arrive home. Save for next trip. Cuts down on packing time next time!!!!!!!

  1. LOVE this Sam! So informative and entertaining to read, apply, and EXPERIENCE! You. Are. The. Best. ~ Jim in Orlando. 😉

  2. Not only do I leave old sneakers behind, I also pack older underwear and pj’s — I wear them, and then discard along the way. That makes for lots of room to bring home the souvenir goodies!

    1. Lol, I thought that I was the only one who dies this. And I love coming home to a new selection of undies!

  3. Thank you so much for the great tips . Things that seem obvious are not . I appreciate what you do . Happy traveling

  4. As usual, you have very good suggestions, like an old one of never missing the opportunity to pee : ) I follow that faithfully! I love the idea about the hotel gyms and the usual free water and fruit available. I’ll have to try that out! Thanks!

  5. I have been watching your programs on Foxtel for a number of years now. Sadly, in Qld, Australia we no longer get them.. We all miss you. I love that I can now see your wisdom via this medium.

  6. I love to take peanutbutter, too, to supplement carb-only breakfasts. Was so disappointed to know I can’t take it in a carryon. Bummer.

    1. Check your grocery store for PB2. It is a low calorie powder peanut butter that you can travel with and just add water after security.

    2. Did you know that peanut butter or almond butter comes in to go packets? Can be found at Whole Foods.

    3. There is a powdered PB available in US stores and on Amazon. PB Fit, I think it’s called. Just have to add water.

  7. Enjoyed your presentation at the San Diego travel show today. I always want to go on a trip the next day after hearing you speak. Traveling is all about meeting new people, experiencing cultures and adventures and going with the flow.

  8. Good suggestions Samantha. Also would like to add, remember to bring ample cash. Atms don’t always work specially in off-beat destinations, save on foreign transaction fees too. US$ & € are easily convertible.

  9. Great tips. I would add to # 15 identify the shampoo and conditioner and separate them. In the morning you can’t tell the difference most times.

  10. Thank you so much! I’ve watched your shows for years (I know — you were 2 when you started.) I am almost an empty-nester, and plan to make tour directing/management/guiding my second-chance career. I’m prepping by learning tips and hints for successful travel.

  11. Thank you Samantha for the wonderful tips. Traveling with your know how and luggage makes a trip more enjoyable! It’s the little things that count the most!

  12. I also take shirts that are a couple of seasons old & leave them over there.
    Additionally, panty liners save slacks!!

  13. Love the peanut butter idea and “old shoe” trick! Someone also told me once that she did the same think with her older undergarments. Headed on a two week trip in October, and think I might just have to try them all!

  14. I love the old shoe idea – I’ve thrown out so many pairs over the years. I do it with clothes, swimsuits and especially underwear. Just started following you on twitter. Thanks for the tips!

  15. I swear you must have been an anthropologist in a former life. Such great, practical tips. I think you are helping so many with these ideas, especially women. Looking forward to learning more!

  16. We found #14 to be great in Barcelona. Our breakfast place was friendly and over the few days we were there we saw how they took care of their elderly regulars. They seemed to like seeing us each morning and treated us so well.

  17. Hi Sam the tips are great I will take some with me on the next trip me and my girlfriend take i like specially the one to take a pic of your passport and drivers license you never know what could happen my girlfriend has not traveled much like me but now she is starting to love it just like me . We have been to a few places in SoCal allready . As always you do a great job thank for the tips .

  18. We were leaving from Edinburgh to come home and I decided to leave my paperbacks for our host to put in her library. I left them on the bed and didn’t say anything about them. About a month later they arrived in the mail! I wrote them a note thanking them for returning them!

  19. I love your tips! We took our first trip to England/ Scotland at the first of the year and I agree with another commenter about taking old wash cloths- didn’t have one in any hotels we stayed- one small thing, just a personal preference, there were no top sheets on the beds, just duvets- I’m not a fan, is there a solution? Or a just-have-to-deal-with-it situation?

      1. Since my trip to Cornwall, England in 2016, I have not used a top sheet. I just hang our duvet out to air out. And wash it as needed.

        Our feet feel so much more free.

    1. As a Brasilian, I always travel with sarongs. Great for the beach, but also use as a small sheet, scarf, warp, etc.

  20. Totally agree about the travel with old clothes and leave them. I always wear old undies and an old tshirt on an overnight flight and pitch them as soon as I get there. I’ve even done this with pants. Love all these tips.

  21. Downy wrinkle releaser……….. Never I mean NEVER leave home without it! It’s great for a quick fix for those wrinkly clothes in your bag.

    1. You think you can find your way back to your hotel, but our last trip we took a walk after dinner the first night, to the business district in Seville and ducked into a big department store to look around. When we came out it was dark and we unknowingly exited a different door than we entered. We walked and walked and nothing looked familiar. Unfortunately, no one spoke English. Luckily, my husband had picked up a card at our hotel reception desk so we finally stopped at another hotel and showed the night clerk the card and he walked us outside and got us started on our way to our hotel. It was a little frightening to be lost after dark walking in a strange city.

  22. I travel with a 15′ multi-plug extension cord. I can charge my phone and iPad at the same time. Or dry my hair while my curling iron is heating up. There are never enough plugs in hotel rooms nor are they ever in a convenient place. Now you can use the one across the room while you sit in bed and use your computer.
    We were in LA waiting for the last leg of a flight home. The wife of a newly married couple sitting across from us in the waiting area realized she hadn’t charged up her phone and they were waiting to get on a 12 hour flight. I gave her my extension cord so she could charge her phone before they left. Honeymoon disaster averted.

  23. Thanks for the great tips Sam, and maybe I’m stating the obvious, but as a frequent and spontaneous traveler, my best weapon is to download onto my iPad before I leave, your show! Rick and Anthony are also complimentary.
    Watch on the plane, arrive completely informed!!

  24. I have learned to take a picture on my phone of the front of b&b,hotel, etc. In Europe especial! So many places look alike! I also take a few photos of streets as I leave. It has saved me from wandering in circles!

    1. In addition to taking a picture of your hotel, try to have one member of your party take a picture with a cell phone of your cab or Uber as it is driving away. Get the license number in case there has been some kind of skulduggery or theft.

  25. My uncle taught me this one- always travel with a small flashlight. Very useful at night when going to the loo!

  26. Great tips! One thing I always do is take enough money that I think I will need that day and put it in my wallet that goes in my crossbody purse. Then extra money goes in a lightweight money belt around my waist. If I need more money, I just use the bathroom stall to extract more out of my money belt.

  27. I’ve done the sneaker trick for years. The only problem is some of the older ones aren’t so great for support. I buy some fresh insoles before I go to help with that.

    And not just undergarments as well, but also pajamas – old t-shirts and shorts that I can leave behind to make room for gifts. I try to make about 1/4 of my departure suitcase “disposable” items.

    I also carry a cheap empty duffle bag -if I need to suck it up and pay the extra $25 for an extra bag, at least I don’t have to buy the bag too.

    1. It is now 2023. Checking bags are no longer$25! Many times it’s over$100, and weight restrictions in cabin make checking a bag often a necessity.

  28. Pack light, and if you need extra clothing, stop by the Goodwill or a second hand store. I was in Colorado during the summer and suddenly there was a cold snap and I wasn’t prepared. Found a great sweatshirt at the Goodwill for under $5!

  29. I’m curious whether she has first hand experience with the passport/licence phone photo actually working. That tip sounds extremely unlikely, akin to an urban myth, rather than a fun helpful travel tip.

  30. We always travel with a smoke/carbon monoxide portable devise, put it on the night stand. It doesn’t matter where you travel, in the US, abroad or on a cruise. It’s not expensive and may save your life.

  31. Great tips!! I also pack a couple of kitchen zipper bags (Zip Lock) at least one large and one small. It never fails that I find some use for them.

    One trip, I gathered snacks along the way; cookies, tea bags, crackers etc. We ate a late lunch and didn’t want dinner so we raided the snack bag. We also have stopped at local grocery store for snacks, pastries or a light meal.

  32. #9 is most definfelty FALSE in the US. I used to work for the TSA and they will not accept that AT ALL as a valid form of identification. It will assist them when they make calls to verify your identity but there is no guarantee they will let you pass through security at all.

  33. Bring clothes that don’t need ironing. Leave your expensive clothes at home unless you will be attending a wedding. One nice outfit will be good. Get your pictures taken in front of landmarks with your own camera. That way you can get inexpensive reprints of the photos. Try to bring a pocket size camera or a point and shoot camera. They are easier to carry around but put the camera in your bag that you will be taking with you on the plane personally. Bring a small flashlight with you just in case you need to find something in a dark location or if there is going to be a blackout. I got mine at Walmart for about $3.00, and it is four inches long. Bring backup batteries. For those of you have long hair bring a wide tooth comb. It can serve as a brush also, and it is not bulky. If you have to wear jewelry bring costume jewelry. Just in case your jewelry get stolen it won’t be an expensive lost. My sister has her real wedding ring set and a costume wedding ring set. She wears the costume wedding ring wet when she travels.

  34. Getting some great info all around. My husband and I check out a local grocery store for inexpensive gifts/ souvenirs. Can’t go wrong with European chocolate or Japanese snacks!

    And unless you need to be up at 3am, check that the alarm clock isn’t set before you go to sleep- have had a couple blaring wake-ups in the wee hours when we forgot that one! Hard to identify the small buttons in the dark and turning the light on just blinds you.

  35. I always carry a nylon string backpack rolled up in my purse. We usually start the day wearing jackets, but as the day warms up we want to shed those. Out comes the backpack and we’re still hands-free. It’s great for souvenirs or snacks purchased throughout the day.

  36. Thanks for the great insight! I just started traveling with my toddler (13 months) and can’t wait to follow your advice and take her to some playgrounds and connect with the locals. On that note, I have found that window gels are a load of fun for her on the plane. They can also be used in a hotel room on their sliding glass doors. It helps when there are only the few toys you have packed as well as when weather is too poor to go to the playground.

  37. Take pictures of everyone’s passports and use those when completing customs forms. Easier to go through pictures than flipping those passport pages. You can also zoom in the passport numbers.

  38. If a scarf is a female traveler’s best friend, then a male traveler ‘s best gadget is a cotton handkerchief. Use it as a bib, cellphone prop, emergency bandage, bandana and for mopping you face. Probably many more uses too!

  39. Love ALL the travel tips, thank you. We carry small bills in the native currency for tips and small purchases. Food wise, we travel with wholesome, homemade, easy-to-pack oatmeal cookies–tasty and nutritious. Odd but true, our car was valet-parked (at a great hotel) and..surprisingly, among other things, spare glasses and a small make-up bag tucked in the side door were taken! Lesson learned.

  40. These are really great ideas, many I have never thought of before. One thing I always do now is pack several days of extra medications. You never know when your flight will be cancelled and you will have to stay over another day or even two.

    1. I agree with you Peggy. I always carry extra of my important meds. Ones I must take everyday. One never knows when a flight could be detained and you need an extra stay over.

  41. I like how you said to hang a do not disturb sign proudly at your hotel. We are going on a trip this summer and I really want to just relax. Thanks for the travel tips!

  42. These are really great ideas, many I have never thought of before. One thing I always do now is pack several days of extra medications. Also pack some foods so that whenever you are unlucky and had a cancelled flight or delayed flight, you can munch on your food although there’s a canteen or a store somewhere inside an airport but those things sells foods over priced!

  43. My favorite tip that you put was that Hello, Please, and Thank You are the most important words you can know in a country’s language. My sister and I are considering traveling to Europe in the summer, and it can get a little overwhelming when considering all the different languages that are spoken there. Only having to remember three words in those languages would make things a lot easier, and that’s always a good thing.

  44. Leave/donate your gently-worn clothes throughout the world. Many times the ladies who clean your room could use your hats, scarfs, blouses or other items. Ask them, then leave a note indicating that you are “gifting/donating” the items (so that the housekeeping dept mgr knows your intentions). This has always worked for me and it has been a blessing to the recipients. While in Italy, a young pregnant girl begged for money outside the hotel. I asked if she wanted some clothes and suggested that she could keep the clothes or sell them. She agreed, so I gave her a large shopping bag of clothes and also gave her 20 Euros.
    We are so blessed. Pass the blessings along to others! Happy travels!

  45. I lost my passport in Rome and it was a weekend when the Embassy was closed. I tried to get a room at two hotels, but neither would accept my real US drivers license with a photo copy of my passport. Only the real passport was acceptable.

  46. I lost my passport in Rome and it was a weekend when the Embassy was closed. I tried to get a room at two hotels, but neither would accept my real US drivers license with a photo copy of my passport. Only the real passport was acceptable. This was Rome. I can’t speak for any other city in Italy.

  47. Love these. The gym one would never have occurred to me.
    My tips : – all my toiletries are solids – (toothpaste, shampoo etc), no leaks and no pulling out at security.
    – A simple twist tie, like you get with garbage bags, is a great way to secure zippers of backpacks or purses if you are walking in areas where you are worried about pickpockets.
    – Take a picture of any bags you must check, if they get lost it is much easier to look for when they have a picture, but obviously, never check bags if at all possible.
    – I don’t take real pajamas as pajamas. Depending on weather i either take a pair of lightweight leggings or black bike shorts, and a tank top or tshirt that I intend to use as pjs. but, they also can be used for active wear if I really need them.
    – bring a laundry sheets (the sheet form of detergent), again, no spills and easy to wash some things in a sink if you need too (and a flat rubber sink stopper is good to have if you are staying in lower budget places, they often don’t have sink plugs!)
    Happy travels.

  48. These are all great! Some made me laugh but those are spot on! I travel quite a bit, but I still picked up a few pointers from this. Thank you!

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