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Samantha Brown Shares Her Expert Travel Advice

As someone who’s often on the road, I’m always asked to share my expert travel advice.

Earlier this month, I launched ‪#‎traveltips101‬: My top 101 bits of advice and best practices I’ve learned traveling the globe. I’m sharing every day on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest, and they’ve been so popular that I decided to make a dedicated spot for them on my site. Here’s the latest batch (and be sure to check out the first installment here.)  Happy travels!

1. Pack extra candy or postcards (they make great thank yous!).

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2. We all know shoes eat up prime luggage real estate. Simplify!

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3. Nothing like a homey breakfast to start the day off right.

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4. This might be the best piece of travel advice, ever.

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5. A great tip for those looking for culinary adventures.

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6. Trust me on this one: strip malls are your friend.

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7. The early bird does get the worm. Or at least a clean plane and well-rested crew.

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8. Between turbulence and bad aim, you’re going to want those shoes.

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9. Also goes for getting tattoos on vacation.

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10. I never travel without a good pair of earplugs.

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11. Not to be alarmist, but I’ve seen some crazy things happen.

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12. It’s never a bad idea to have the flight crew on your side. You never know when there may be an extra seat in first class (or a free cocktail!).

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13. Touristy stops are less annoying when you plan strategically.

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14. A little red lipstick goes a long way.

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15. Organization makes a big difference once you’re off the grid!

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16. Little things make a big difference.

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17. You can’t always get what you want… especially if you don’t ask.

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18. All these items are my travel non-negotiables.

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19. Your own knife makes a big difference!

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20. Early bird gets the worm… unless you’re traveling to Europe!

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21. Works better than you’d even believe.

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22. Not to be a Debbie Downer, but…

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23. You know this one is true!

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

This Post Has 30 Comments
  1. A comment on #12 from a pilot friend of mine:

    “I honestly don’t know how many of our FA’s drink coffee – and it’s not the coffee itself that’s the problem, it’s the water. The tanks are rarely disinfected, which is why airplane coffee is always so hot.”

  2. I always wear a comfy cotton sweater when I fly. It makes a great blanket for cold planes or a pillow when folded. Also the small pre-loaded toothbrushes are wonderful to have for refreshing in the morning after an all night flight!

  3. A tip related to #20: If you take a long flight, make sure to get up and walk around at regular intervals to avoid the danger of deep-vein thrombosis or blood clots in your legs. A doctor also advised me to alternately move each foot while in my seat, also at regular intervals, as if stepping on a gas pedal, to avoid the blood from pooling at the bottom of your legs. Not to scare anyone, but an ounce of prevention doesn’t hurt.

    1. With all respect, I recommend people NEVER stand up on a flight, threats of DVT nonwithstanding. I’ve never known anyone to contract DVT on a plane, but twelve years ago, I was on a flight from LAX to SYD that put five people in the hospital who weren’t seated and belted. When the Captain tells you that unexpected turbulence can occur at any time, he means it. When I use the toilet on a plane, I wait till there is no line, walk right in, then right back to my seat/seatbelt.

      1. Au contraire, my husband contracted DVT on a flight from Cancun to Boston. Ever since, we book aisle seats and also exercize our legs while seated.

  4. I always pack a pr of flip flops in my carry on. I wear them inside my hotel room rather than walking on the carpet and they can be used if there is a pool or if your feet need a break from other shoes. I also bring antibacterial wipes and clean knobs, remotes, and the telephone off.

  5. In addition to #10 (earplugs), I bring my trusty Bucky eyemask, or other high quality instantly room darkening set. On long flights, after inserting earplugs and donning the eyemask, I can sleep to the Descent message. I also bring the scarf and a small bottle of perfume/essential oil to ward off the body odors of fellow travelers. Don’t ask. Also, ALWAYS feel your seat before you fully commit to sitting down. Another don’t ask international flight disaster. I now pack a kitchen trash bag in my carry-on.

    1. Great idea about feeling the seat ???? before sitting. And the bag just in case. Also, I pay attention to the announced arrival time and head for the bathroom about one hour prior. Seatbelt sign usually lights up a half hour prior to landing.

  6. I wear a scarf on all flights. I cover my nose/ mouth when my neighboring travelers are sneezing/ coughing or unpleasant odors are in the air- heavy perfume, food or body odors.

  7. I take a small flashlight just in case the power goes out in the hotel. Ziplock baggies…wet a hotel washcloth and put it in a Baggie for those super hot and sweaty days while sightseeing. I always make sure bottled water caps are sealed prior to opening them…want to avoid used bottles that have been filled and re-sold to unsuspecting tourists. I take flip flops to wear in hotel rooms too-they are super easy to pack! Great ideas here! ????

  8. Whenever I have to make a connection and I have time to grab a bite to eat, I ALWAYS go straight to my gate first just to make sure nothing has changed. Once I check things out, THEN I make a trip to the nearest restroom or food court. This way I’m in earshot if they announce a gate change or I’m fairly close if I have to get back there in a hurry!

  9. Airplanes don’t go on roads. And when you spend time on the road, you csn pack tons of stuff. Trust me. I spent 4.5 years visiting 47 states.
    Oh, and not tipping is NEVER appropriate. No one cares about cookies snd trinkets from your hometown. They’re trying to rsise a family.

    1. @Dave

      Actually, in some places in France….tipping is considered rude. Everything is included in the meal price.

      Yes, it is beginning to be customary to round up the price to the nearest Euro….but in some of the oldest, most traditional places?? It can be rude.

      20 years ago, when I lived in France, I brought a bouquet of thank-you flowers to someone that helped me out. It was more considerate to do so than any tip that I could have given to her. It meant something; a gesture of kindness rather than a cash token that meant nothing.

      So, yes in North America…please tip. But in Europe, check before you go to see what are the local customs.

      Something considerate in one place is rude in another.

    2. There are countries where tipping is an insult. Workers are paid differently. Always read up on tipping before you leave home, if leaving the country. There are even international tipping apps. It is disrespectful to go to a different country and not acknowledge it’s customs.

  10. Use the paper cups thT are wrapped in plastic and sealed or wash the glasses with hot soapy water BEFORE you drink out of them. The people who clean rooms don’t really wash the glasses and they dry them with dirty towels! Have you seen stacked glasses on their cart for rooms, NO, they no longer put them through the sterilizing dishwashers, they just clean them in your room!

  11. Remember an adapter is not the same as a converter. When going to Europe, make sure your accessories can handle the voltage. If not you will need a converter. Ladies, this is especially true for your hairdryers and flat irons. There is nothing worse than busting your $150 flat iron, creating an electrical shortage in your bathroom, and wearing a ponytail or bun the rest of your trip.

  12. I keep a “Travel Checklist” on my iPhone notes, so I don’t forget to pack important things that I am prone to forget. I keep a small flashlight on a clip to use on the plane or dark hotel hallways. Try to avoid taking a purse. Use a fanny pack or money belt you can keep covered under clothing. The world is full of pickpockets ( it’s getting real bad in Spain)and there is nothing that can ruin a trip faster than having your wallet stolen.

  13. When I travel to an unfamiliar city, especially overseas, I take a business card from the hotel desk with me when I go out for a day’s sightseeing. If I take a taxi back to my hotel or need directions, it’s easy to show the card with the hotel name and address on it when getting directions from a local.

  14. I always travel with small, medium and large zip lock bags as well as an insulated cup that can be used for either coffee or cold water.

  15. No matter the weather, I wear a light jacket on the plane. It does extra duty as a light blanket, bunched up as a pillow or a cushion for an uncomfortable armrest.

  16. Since lost luggage can be a challenge, I tag my bags on the inside of each one in addition to the outside. So if the outside tag falls off, when airport personnel open my bags, my name, mailing address and phone number are attached in an easily-seen place.

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