Q: Can you share your travel ‘hacks’?
How did this question come about? Well, a couple of weeks ago, I asked my Instagram fam what content they’d like to see more of on my YouTube channel. So I’ve stolen one of these questions to blog about, which is perfect timing considering the UK has now relaxed travel restrictions and I’m sure a lot more people will be travelling this weekend and in the near future.
Because I travel a lot – in a personal (visiting friends abroad or within the UK and solo trips to new places) and professional capacity (athletics), I think I’ve learned a lot about the dos and don’ts of travel. Hopefully my tips help make your travel experience a smoother one!
Travel Vlog: Rome, September 2017 – Visiting my ‘lil sis’ who was there on work experience with the UN at the time.
Three Tips to Increase Your Hand Luggage Allowance
 Duty Free Bag
Purchase anything (mine is usually a bottle of water) in duty free before boarding the plane and ask for the largest bag they can give you. This way, if your hand luggage is overflowing, you can redistribute into this bag to avoid extortionate airline charges! This works because most airlines will allow a duty-free bag that has been bought at the airport alongside their standard hand luggage rules. EasyJet, British Airways and Virgin are airlines that allow this, to name just three. I have personally never had an issue with this ‘hack’ (even on Ryanair flights) but following a quick search, found news that Ryanair can be finicky around this baggage rule from time to time. Read more.
Travel Series: Solo Trip to Marbella (whilst on crutches and in a boot) where I met the wonderful Aimee who later introduced me to FCN founder, Vicky Huyton.
 Large Jacket with Pockets
Travel with a light rain or wind resistant jacket. My personal favourite is the Adidas RAIN.RDY series. Some of these options have extra large pockets! The benefit of this wardrobe staple is two-fold: the weather wherever you go is unpredictable. You don’t want to be caught off-guard! The weather when you return home (if you’re from England) will most probably be miserable. And…again, if your jacket has a lot of pockets, you can add any (small) extra items that don’t fit into your hand luggage into these pockets!
 Tripp Hand Luggage Case
Get a Tripp bag – expands a lot, but not too much so that you get caught out by the boarding baggage checks! If you’re not a heavy packer, you may be able to ignore the two travel tips above when flying with only hand luggage and just follow this tip. The £49 upfront cost (updated 1/Nov/22) is so worth the savings you’ll make from no longer incurring baggage charges or having to pay to put your luggage in the hold.
What To Pack – Essential Travel Checklist
Create a travel list and stick to it. (This must now include a face mask to protect others and yourself!) The beauty of a travel checklist is that it reduces the amount of thought you have to put into an already stressful experience (packing and wondering if you’ve forgotten anything). I have a ‘Comp Travel Checklist’ saved in my notes app on my phone that I now use for every type of travel – personal and professional. It includes simple, obvious things such as: passport (always have a copy of your passport in an online folder for easy access in case of emergency), slides and phone charger and some not-so-obvious, easily-forgettable items such as lavender scent (helps me sleep well in a new hotel room), paracetamol & ibuprofen (in case of emergency!) and tea bags (always nice to have home staples when travelling).
I print a copy of my travel checklist out every single time I pack to travel. And I generally save a printed copy inside my pink Tripp hand luggage bag...just in case! It also includes certain ‘rules of travel’ so that my sleep isn’t compromised, particularly when travelling a lot in season. One travel rule is this: ‘travel back between 1-3pm (not too early so I can take my time packing and getting ready & not too late hanging around with baggage!)’ I am often filled with regret whenever I break this travel rule.
Hand Luggage Essentials
If you are an athlete, ALWAYS travel with your kit, spikes and whatever else you NEED for race-day in your hand luggage. For me, my needs include a 12 inch softball for self-therapy pre-, post and often even during competition. I also travel with this on personal, non-athletics related trips because it’s a great tool for ironing out any travel kinks. Do not risk leaving competition-day essentials in the hold. There have been so many occasions where athletes have reached their destination, but their bag didn’t… at least not on time for the competition anyway! Those who followed this ‘essentials in hand luggage’ rule were put out, but at least able to compete without too much drama. Those who didn’t…well, they were panicked and rushing around asking to borrow people’s spikes. I guess the same rule can be useful for travellers in any capacity – always travel with your essentials, e.g. medication and one change of clothes as a bare minimum.
Other items to add to your list for personal comfort and hygiene:
Your own pillowcase. I’ve been called a ‘diva’, ‘extra’ and ‘pretentious’ for doing this. Lord knows I was extra bothered about cleanliness pre-COVID, but my obsession for travelling with my own items is definitely heightened with this virus raging on. Why do I do this? 1/ A satin or silk pillowcase is good for black hair. And, 2/ I love that I can be assured that I am placing my face on a clean, well-washed pillowcase that only I have used. (If I could travel with all of my own sheets, I would!)
Your own water bottle. I’d suggest a Swig Life 20 oz bottle. I’ve never taken a lukewarm sip from this bottle, even in Phoenix sunshine and this lovely hot British spring/summer weather we’ve been having. They truly keep their promise to keep your drink cold for 8 hours (or hot for up to 3 hours). Their bottles are stainless steel, triple insulated and absolutely unbreakable (the amount of times I’ve dropped this and it is still doing doing its job well).
Compression socks and leggings. Get up and walk around every hour if you can, too! Who wants DVT? Not me! And I’m sure you don’t either!
Baby wipes, Dettol wipes (travel size), hand sanitiser and now, of course…a face mask!
I hope this helps!?
I will share my full travel checklist soon on a resource page. Subscribe to this blog if you’d like to be informed when this is released.
Love, Abs xx
Please note: Due to my participation in Amazon’s Associates Program, I receive a small fee when you purchase any of the items listed above via the link with Amazon.co.uk.