How to Travel: Six Things to Improve Your Traveling Experience

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Going on vacation is about more than the destination. Sure, the destination is great. Adventure or leisure are the reasons we go on vacation, but what if the actual traveling part could be fun, too? I’m one of those people who like to experience the journey. I love the hustle of airports, the energy from people, getting on and off the airplane, AND the destination. However, it wasn’t always like this. Previously, I would dread the journey and couldn’t wait until I arrived. So, what did I do to change my outlook?


To put it simply, I learned to focus on the things that I could control and accept the areas that I couldn’t. To do this, I focus on reducing my interactions so I can get through the airport maze as easily as possible. Here are six things to improve your travel experience.


Table of Contents


1. Avoid paying baggage fees by carrying your bags on the plane

2. Embrace minimalist travel

3. Purchase a travel backpack

4. Avoid the long lines

5. Use the Trusted Traveler Programs

6. iVisa Program: Simplifying travel around the world

 

1. Avoid paying baggage fees by carrying your bags on the plane

I have to admit something. I really dislike paying baggage fees. If you can believe it, U.S. airlines collected $5.8 billion in baggage fees in 2019. I used to pay baggage fees all the time; I would go on a week’s vacation with a large wheeled suitcase for an island adventure and check my bag. I accepted that the frustration and cost of it was just part of traveling. However, over time, I realized that this was part of my issue. I may not be happy with the airlines charging this fee, but there is something I can do about it - I don’t have to check my bag!


The other problem with checking your bag is that you are handing over all of your things to a company that has the potential to damage or lose your items. According to Claim Compass: “Out of the 28 million mishandled bags, 5% are lost each year. This means that there are 1.4 million lost luggage every year. By comparison, 18% are damaged and 77% are delayed, which means that 5,040,000 baggage gets damaged during transportation and 21,560,000 checked bags are not returned in due time to their owners.” So, how do you go on vacation and bring the stuff you need?


2. Embrace minimalist travel



Minimalist living is the way that I want to live. Just like homes, the bigger the space, the more you will fill it with. The same goes for luggage. I had big luggage with wheels and I would fill it with clothing that I never used. When I would come home from vacation, I would unpack and think…why did I bring this with me? This is a great deal of hassle for something that I MAY wear instead of putting more thought into my clothes. If you have fewer things, then you only need a smaller bag. A smaller bag means you can carry on your luggage.


What about if you are going on a long trip? When I went to the Middle East, I had to bring a suit and shoes for a ten-day trip for a wedding party. My trip included travel, sightseeing, adventure, the wedding, and being casual. So, how did I do it?


I packed my suit in my carryon. Next, my everyday clothes are my travel clothes and they all fit inside my carryon when I travel, too. Not only that, but they are performance clothes. I’m not packing several pieces of clothing for several occasions, I’m using the same clothes. What separates travel clothing, everyday clothing, and adventure clothing? Nothing, AND everything fits in my carryon!


If you are interested in the clothes I bring on a trip, take a look at this blog post. Purchasing clothes that won’t compromise style or performance and can be put in an airline overhead compartment is the way to go. Western Rise makes clothing for men that are stylish, lightweight, comfortable, water- and stain-resistant, stretchy, easy to wash, durable, and pack small.


3. Purchase a travel backpack

One of my travel game changers is a travel backpack. A travel backpack is just like it's described. It’s luggage that you wear as a backpack. It has all of the features of a roller bag and more, but you put it on your back instead. I’ve had this bag from Nomatic for years and have used it on trains, planes, boats, and automobiles. This bag is super practical, thoughtfully designed, and versatile. It’s not only stylish, but it has space for everything. The bag is sturdy and holds up to the pressure of all of my things. It has been with me all over the world and I have used it for both business and personal travel. Read my review on the Nomatic Travel Backpack.



4. Avoid the long lines

When you use a carryon for either international or domestic travel, you won’t have to wait in line at the airport baggage claim. You also avoid many of the bottlenecks and the anxiety involved in navigating the airport both coming and going.


5. Use the Trusted Traveler Programs

One definite way to reduce friction with traveling is to participate in the DHS Trusted Traveler Programs. There are several programs that you can apply for to become a pre-approved traveler. You submit an application, pay a fee, and complete an interview. Once approved, members can use the expedited lanes at U.S. airports, which saves you valuable time in getting to your destination, whether that’s home or just starting your adventure.


Another option is using a CLEAR lane. CLEAR uses your eyes or fingerprints instead of an ID to verify it is you and allow you access to board the plane. The wonderful thing is they are going beyond the airport. According to CLEAR, the system can be used at hotels, stadiums, offices, and more.


There is also the mobile passport option Mobile Passport Control, which streamlines your U.S. Customs and Border Protection processing experience by filling out the form in a mobile app and going straight to the “Mobile Passport Control” lane. This is a great option especially because at the time of this writing, there is no fee. We have skipped hours of waiting by using this app!


6. iVisa Program: Simplifying travel around the world

iVisa.com provides information on the requirements for entering a country and works to get the documents for you. Through their online application, they can acquire the visas, health declarations, or passport photos you need from the comforts of your home. With customer support available 24/7, you get to enjoy your travels more and stress less. This website is worth reviewing even if you don’t use their paid services. Take a look at their free services on the required documents to enter a country and their FAQ which provides additional information.


Being on vacation is one of the best things we get to do in life. Many people like the vacation part but hate to travel. With the checkpoints, the long lines on both sides of leaving and arriving at your destination - especially if you are traveling internationally - and potentially dealing with lost and damaged luggage, it's no wonder people don't enjoy this. Of course, there are also unhappy, frustrated, tired travelers as well that can interfere with your journey – to me, the best way to manage those people is to just ignore them.


However, if you plan it right using the above tips like a travel bag with the right clothes to go in it, you will start to enjoy not just the vacation, but the travel part, too.


View from Beirut ocean and rocks

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If you are interested, we wrote a financial series to learn how to become financially independent or retire early. You may also enjoy our car camping series and how we traveled across the United States and back. We also recently completed our thru-hike on the Appalachian Trail and wrote a series on how to do it.