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October 15, 2017 8 minute READ

Expert Tips to Kick Off Travel Season

tags Travel | Inspiration | Adventure
locations All

Last August, Mast Store's blogs featured our employees' stories about their favorite visit to a National Park in celebration of the National Park Service Centennial. This May, the traditional beginning of travel season, we're sharing travel stories from our employees along with travel tips and tricks learned along the way. Please join us!


Over Stuffed SuitcaseDeb, one of our former community outreach managers for Mast Store, has spent the majority of her career as a road warrior. She’s what we’d consider an “expert traveler.” Deb’s checklists and tips are extensive and very useful. Below, you’ll find her top traveling suggestions. Take it from a professional who puts more miles on her car in one year than most folks do in 10 years: Deb’s ideas will help you streamline your packing and traveling experience for good.  

-    Make a list of what you want to take and check each item off the list as you pack. You’ll be less likely to miss something when you use your list.

Packing System-    Be organized!  This is crucial.  Deb uses the Eagle Creek Pack-It system to keep herself organized. This also prevents you from leaving something behind.  Eagle Creek’s Pack-It cubes are incredibly durable, stain and water-repellent, and provide organization for all your clothing and small accessories in just the size you need. You can easily customize and save space in your day bag, backpack, or luggage. Don’t forget to return your Eagle Creek Pack-It cubes to your bag or suitcase after you’ve returned home, so you’ll always know where they are when you need them.

Deb raves, “Eagle Creek’s Pack-It cubes and sacks are my #1 go-to for traveling. They’re awesome and have endless uses to help organize my suitcase. I can’t travel without them. I even use them to organize my purse and brief case. Eagle Creek also offer helpful tips and checklists for packing. Definitely check out their Travel System for all kinds of great ideas!”

Clothespins-    Take 2 clothes pins. They’re super handy and have more uses than you might imagine: Clothespins help keep hotel curtains closed or opened, use them to hang wet clothes up in the shower, secure a towel over the A/C vent if it’s too cold in your room, or use one to clip the sides of a fan together to decrease rattling. You can get creative with this idea. Clothespins are a big help in a pinch!

-    Have a dirty clothes bag. You can get one an inexpensive one or use your own pillow case. This will keep your clothing tidy and prevent you from piling your dirty clothes on the floor.

-    A small night light always comes in handy as sometimes rooms are very dark.

-    Lock your suitcase when you leave the room. It’s always better to be safe than sorry. The Travel Safe TSA Lock by Eagle Creek is a solid selection. The Travel Security Administration (TSA) has a secured set of codes and tools to open Travel Sentry™ Certified locks when necessary for inspection without damaging the lock.  

Packing List-    When you’re ready to leave your hotel, remember to double check and triple check the room and bathroom. Also, it’s always a smart idea to keep your phone charger by your purse or wallet so you don’t forget them.

-    Use a twist tie or small carabiner to hold zippers closed on any bags you check on a bus, train, or airplane.  This little trick prevents your belongings from falling out of your bags when you retrieve them at baggage claim. We like the S-Biner Slidelock #2 because it’s made of stainless steel and has two independent gates that can lock independently from one another.

-    When flying, use a day pack for your carry-on luggage. It fits easily under an airplane seat, plus it’s easier to carry than large backpacks and bulky suitcases. The North Face offers a Women’s Vault Pack that has flexible attachment points on the back of the pack that are contoured especially for a woman’s torso. The Vault Pack has a generous main compartment, a floating and padded laptop sleeve, organizational panel, two mesh water bottle pockets, and a sternum strap with whistle buckle. The North Face Vault Pack comes in unisex, too.

KAVU Rope Bag-    Always carry your purse across your body or take a cross body purse that zips like the Keeper Cross Body Bag by Kavu. Yes, guys, traveling with “man purse” is not a bad idea, either. We like Sherpa’s Vale Reversible Crossbody for men. Pick pockets are professionals and many avoid cross body bags because it’s much harder to access zippers without the owner knowing it. Placing a cross body bag across your front is a great idea, too.

-    Make sure your carry-on and day bags have a zipper closure. Again, use a lock or twist tie if you are in a high pick pocket area. This will also help prevent you from accidentally dumping things out of your bag.

-    Include an empty zippered bag that will pack down in case you need it. This bag should pack flat in bottom of your luggage and will likely come in handy for shopping and bringing home souvenirs purchased during your trip.

-    Especially when traveling for business, make a copy of all important documents. Leave one copy at home or with someone you can call. Put the other copy in a safe place away from your original documents.  If your bags are lost or stolen, you’ll be able to act quickly.

-    Prepare a list of emergency numbers and keep it easily accessible.  “I keep my emergency contact numbers on a little note behind my driver's license.  Under stress, you might not think clearly, and you’ll always remember where they are,” shares Deb.

-    Try to pack just what you need by thinking about the number of ways you can wear items packed.  Deb also advises: “Do pack a few comfort items if you want to have a great time.  My comfort items are usually my pillow and coloring book.”

-    To keep necklaces from being tangled, use a straw! Simply cut a straw in half and feed a single strand through the straw, one at a time. Clasp your necklaces shut and the straw will prevent them from tangling.

Sorting your jewelry-    Consider bringing along a small tackle or multi-pocket craft box to keep earrings separated and organized.

-    Just in case, pack at least 3 extra Ziploc bags for incidentals. Vertical snack bags come in handy for storing shampoo and soap bottles upright. Travel bottles are perfect for liquid restrictions on flights. Nalgene’s Travel Kit has leakproof bottles for every need.

-    For kids, put all of their items in a large zippered bag inside each of their backpacks. The inner bag will make it much easier to take items out and put them back in their backpacks without jumbling all of the contents together.

Travel size bottles-    NEVER put anything of value in your luggage, especially if you plan to check it through baggage claim.

-    Always make sure that you never take the last flight of the day. At the latest, take a mid-day flight. You never know when weather and mechanical issues may strike. Departing earlier in the day will increase your chances of getting on another flight, if necessary, and will help prevent a sleepless layover in the airport.

-    When traveling through an airport, avoid wasting money on their expensive bottled water in the terminal stores. Simply take an empty water bottle with you and fill it at the gate after you’ve passed through security.

-    The biggest thing that surprised Deb for car travel: “People don’t think about how hot vehicle interiors may become. Solids deodorant melts and pens often leak ink and explode. Don’t leave those items in your car. Take them into the hotel room right away.”

A few quick, but essential last tips:
-    Always be mindful of your surroundings.
-    Think about what you say because people are listening.
-    Dress appropriately.
-    Use TripAdvisor and Facebook for reviews, ideas, and suggested attractions in the area where you’re traveling.

Looking ahead, Mast Store employees are sharing their favorite traveling tips throughout the month of May. Please check in with the blog for their timeless travel stories and suggestions.

Get Out MoreFor more tips and ideas for smart traveling, check out the Get Out More Tour 2017 with Backpacker Magazine this month at select Mast General Stores. The Get Out More Tour is your opportunity to learn how to pack for all kinds of outdoor travel: from day trips to deep forest expeditions.  Trail travel expert, Randy Propster, brings the pages of Backpacker Magazine to life with his trail-tested tips to help you prepare for and enjoy your outdoor adventures. The 75-minute interactive media presentation also allows time for attendees to ask their own questions. You'll love the information, inspiration, and motivation to take advantage of getting outside more! Click on the calendar for more information:

Mast Store Columbia, SC – Wednesday, May 10th, at 6:30 p.m.
Mast Store Boone, NC – Thursday, May 11th, at 6:30 p.m.
Mast Store Knoxville, TN – Tuesday, May 16th, at 6:30 p.m.


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