15 Small but Ingenius Upgrades That Vastly Improve Your Travel Experience

Want your travels to go as smoothly as possible? Want to skip the stress and enjoy a problem-free trip? Here are 15 simple things you can do that should make a big difference.

Traveling is a beautiful, life-giving process of exploration, discovery, and making memories. But it can also be stressful! Things go wrong, accidents happen, and a wide range of minor (and major) inconveniences can negatively impact your trip.

Thankfully, there are all sorts of clever ways to mitigate potential problems and make life easier on the road. A few smart changes to what you pack and how you travel can make a surprising amount of difference.

In a recent online forum, people shared small upgrades they’ve made that have vastly improved their travel experience. Some were genuinely clever, so I thought I’d highlight them here! Here are 15 simple tips and tricks to keep in mind next time you go away.

1. Using Packing Cubes

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Packing cubes can make a surprising amount of difference. These zippered cuboid bags come in different sizes and help organize your clothes and items in your backpack or suitcase.

It means everything is neat and tidy and has its place. Instead of rummaging through a giant jumble of clothes for something you need, you simply open the designated packing cube you know it’s inside.

As one person wrote: “Before using them, I ended up having to remove half the contents of my bag to rummage around for that one item, then everything had to get refolded/rerolled to go back into my bag.”

2. Packing a Seat-Pocket-Sized Case for the Plane

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Boarding a plane can be surprisingly stressful. It’s like a slow-moving human traffic jam. Hundreds of people are crammed into tiny aisles, gradually making their way to their seats.

One thing that makes life easier is having a small, pre-packed bag that fits in your plane seat’s pocket. It means you don’t hold anyone up when you find your seat. You simply pop your main cabin bag in the overhead locker and slide on in. The bag keeps everything organized and in one place, too.

That means you’re less likely to lose or leave items behind. Put your phone, e-reader, charger, headphones, meds, toiletries, etc in there.

3. Owning a Second Toothbrush

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One person described how they bought a second toothbrush that they keep in their travel toiletry bag. Why? Because it stops them from forgetting their primary toothbrush when they go away.

We’ve all been there: you pack everything apart from your toothbrush so you can clean your teeth before you leave. But then you arrive at your destination and realize you forgot to grab it. Having a second one already in your toilety bag stops that from being a problem.

4. Having a Permanent Travel Toiletry Bag

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Someone else took the previous idea to another level. They said they have two of everything as far as toiletries go (e.g., toothbrush, toothpaste, and hairbrush), which they keep permanently in a designated travel toiletry bag.

When it’s time to pack for a trip, they just grab their pre-packaged toiletries and away they go. This might be overkill if you don’t travel frequently. But for those who go, it’d definitely prevent you from forgetting things that could be harder to find overseas.

5. Packing (and Getting Rid of) Older Clothes

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This idea is a bit out of left field, but it’s clever in a unique kind of way. One person on Reddit said they deliberately pack old clothes in their suitcase to wear while they’re traveling. Why?

Because they don’t mind getting rid of those unwanted shirts, pants, undies, and sweaters. They throw/give those clothes away before they leave, which frees up space in their luggage. It lets them bring souvenirs back without having to pay extra for another check-in bag.

6. Taking a Power Bank

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A power bank (portable charger) is a fantastic bit of kit to take on your travels – especially if you a) use your phone a lot and b) like getting off the beaten track. Essentially, it means you’re not reliant on mains power to recharge your electronics.

They’re also relatively small and lightweight, making them easy to transport. Better still, with a decent-quality one, they’ll recharge your phone multiple times before needing to be charged back up themselves.

7. Putting GPS Trackers in Your Luggage

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It might sound like something from James Bond or Mission Impossible, but this idea’s actually really smart. Every traveler’s nightmare is landing at their destination to discover their luggage has been lost en route. It’s an awful start to any trip.

With a tracker inside synced to your mobile, though, you can see exactly where it is. For one thing, if you see it’s a thousand miles away, you’ll know not to wait at the conveyor belt. You’ll be able to go straight to customer services to sort out a solution.

As one Redditor wrote, “On the last trip, I [could] tell the moment I landed that my bag was still stuck at the connecting airport. 13 hours later, I [could] track the bag moving and heading to my home at 3 am.”

8. Wearing Compression Socks on Planes

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Compression socks are exactly what they sound like – tight-fitting socks you wear on your feet (and that usually pull up over your calves).

Experts recommend wearing them on long flights because they facilitate circulation, thus reducing the chance of discomfort, swelling, and even deep vein thrombosis (blood clot). I’ve never worn them personally, but some people swear by them, including some in this Reddit thread.

9. Taking Less Stuff

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One person said their biggest “upgrade” was taking fewer things when traveling. Packing light isn’t for everyone (some people enjoy taking lots of different clothes away on vacation, for example), but there are definite advantages to the “less is more” approach.

For example, when you realize how little you truly need, you can fit everything in a carryon and forgo the price of checked luggage. Everything’s easier to transport. And having less stuff means there’s less to forget, lose, or worry about. Ultimately, it can feel quite liberating.

10. Taking a Digital Suitcase Scale

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There’s nothing worse than getting to the airport check-in desk and being told your backpack/suitcase weighs too much – especially when you’re in a hurry to catch a flight.

Packing light helps, but so does investing in a small digital suitcase scale that lets you check the weight of each bag. You can take it on vacation with you, too. That way, you can check whether your luggage still falls within the airline’s weight limit on the return journey (e.g., if you’ve bought souvenirs or other items on the trip).

11. Making a Travel Checklist

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It’s never fun to arrive at your destination (or back home) and realize you’ve forgotten something important. One way to prevent this is to create and take a travel checklist. Whether you use a physical sheet of paper or make a digital list on your phone, you can run through it when packing to make sure you don’t leave anything behind.

One Redditor who does this wrote: “I never worry about forgetting anything. I just review my list before leaving home. It reduces my anxiety SO much.”

12. Paying for Bottled Water

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Tap water isn’t safe to consume in many countries. In others, it’s safe but unadvisable – especially for people with a sensitive stomach. In both cases, paying for bottled water can save you a world of discomfort.

It may feel excessive, and you may hate buying single-use plastic bottles. Yet if it stops you from getting a bug and spending your trip in the bathroom, it’s the lesser of two evils.

You could also invest in a filter bottle, like a LifeStraw. They remove nasties from most water sources, meaning you can drink local sources safely, save money, and reduce plastic waste.

13. Packing Clothes in Zip-Lock Bags

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Want to save space and keep things more organized in your suitcase or backpack? Try packing clothes into zip-lock bags. Roll the clothes up, put them inside the bags, and zip them almost shut. Then squeeze out the air inside. When it’s nicely vacuum sealed, zip that final bit shut.

This should significantly reduce the size of your clothes, making it easier to pack everything you want to take. The fact the bags are see-through makes it easier to find things, too.

14. Having Good Travel Credit Cards

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Many people on Reddit swooned over the benefit of travel credit cards. These cards let you earn rewards, miles, or points on qualifying purchases you make with them. You can then redeem those rewards for things like travel bookings. If the card’s associated with a certain airline or hotel, for example, you get rewarded for using the card with those brands.

While they didn’t mention what they had, one Redditor said their travel credit cards earned them points on everything that they could transfer to valuable partners, global entry/TSA precheck, phone insurance, theft insurance, priority pass, rental car insurance, and trip delay insurance.

15. Taking a Laundry Bag

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Don’t want to stuff your dirty washing in with the clean stuff? Take a separate bag for it. You don’t need anything fancy – many people just have a drawstring mesh bag. It keeps everything separate in your main suitcase/backpack, making it easy to grab/find the dirty clothes when it’s time to do laundry.



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Author: Danny Newman

Title: Writer and Content Creator

Expertise: Travel, Digital Nomadry, Outdoors, Blogging

Danny Newman is a writer, content creator, and digital nomad from the UK. He founded the travel and lifestyle blog What’s Danny Doing, a popular resource for people seeking more adventure, self-discovery, and purpose. A nationally syndicated writer, Danny’s work features in dozens of online publications, including MSN.com and news sites across the US.